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:

This past week was typical for our summers: busy! 

In addition to my regular writing tasks and ranch chore and projects, I helped a neighbor repair a piece of his haying machinery. As is typical in this country where it is a long drive to the nearest hardware store, this turned into a multi-day project.  Life in the country does have its own set of frustrations. But overall, it is a joy, and I wouldn’t trade it for any other sort of life.

Lily will describe how our new heifer is getting settled in. Other than doing the driving (with our horse trailer in tow), I was only peripherally involved in that little rodeo.

This weekend I’m attending a gun show, so my input to this column is brief. Prepping for the gun show took just a few hours.

Now, over to Lily…

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,

This week consisted of three trips off the ranch which took big chunks of time.  One of those trips was to pick up a heifer that we bought from a friend, and also to collect some beef in little white packages.  Our new freezer is now 1/2 full.  Hopefully we’ll finish filling it with venison this fall.  I’m very happy to now have our 3 and a half freezers full of produce and meats.  Some of these meats, I will be canning and dehydrating in the fairly near future.  I’m feeling very strongly that it will be very important to have most of our stored foods canned or dehydrated.  I very much prefer to eat fresh, but sometime in the very near future that might not be possible.  It’s just a gut feeling I have/Holy spirit prompted intuition.

The time in-between the trips was occupied with picking berries, berries, berries and more berries, raspberries that is, and zucchinis, mint, and green beans.  The berries were frozen and dehydrated.  The same for the zucchinis.  I did two more batches of green beans with pressure canning. Miss Eloise and Miss Violet helped me with the picking, washing, snapping, and they observed the rest of the process as I did it.

I tend to pick the berries alone.  Nobody else wants to brave the thorns, mosquitoes, spiders, horse flies and wasps. We recently purchased a “Zap It” tennis racket-like bug zapper.  I bring that outside with me.  When I disturb the berry foliage, the Mozzies, who are resting under the leaves, get all excited and come in for the attack. I grab the zapper and swing it all around me, and wave it up and down and zap all of those mozzies before they have a chance to come at me. Let me tell you it is a very satisfying feeling to see and hear the electric sparks as the racket makes contact with those blood sucking terrorists, and to smell the burning of their carcasses, just knowing that there are a few less in the world to torture me and suck my blood. Once I’ve cleared the area of the Mozzies, I resume picking.  Every new berry section requires a repeat of the action before I can pick.  Unfortunately for us, the mosquitoes will not go away until the first frost.  Hopefully, we won’t get a frost until September or October.

I also bought 8 more cases of canning jars of various sizes, half gallons, quarts, and pints to add to my already large supply of jars.  I was also replacing the half gallons that were used this week, see below.  Half gallon jars are so handy.  One can never ever have enough jars.

We bought a very large amount of spices about a month and a half ago.  This week all of the spices were transferred into half gallon and quart jars, labeled, and vacuum sealed.  Additionally, the berries, mint, and zucchinis that were dehydrated were put in quart jars and were vacuumed sealed.

For the Fall garden in the greenhouse, I planted seeds of spinach, broccoli, various lettuces, beets, chard, and kale.  The kale seeds were from the seeds that I harvested a few weeks ago and dried.

I still need to plant carrots and turnips and maybe more broccoli in the main garden.

This week, I attempted hoof trimming two of our horses, S and C. S’s hooves are terrible: splaying out in the front and sides and cracked.  Her hooves don’t do well in our climate.  And it is worse this time of the year because it is the hooves growing season.  C’s and Ch’s hooves do, do well here, and just look a wee bit long. Only one hoof of C’s has a crack in it, and it’s small enough that I can file it out.

While trimming, I tired out fairly quickly and the inside of my right knee is a little bruised from the pressure and weight of the hooves. I need chaps.  Oh, I just remembered that Miss Eloise has a pair.  I will use them next time.  Smile.   My hands are not the strongest.  I did three of the hooves on each horse, before tiring out.  I clipped the hooves and filed the bottoms and the front.  I did each horse on a different day.  I was going to finish them up on Friday, but I needed to rest.  I will give them another go on Sunday.  The three hooves on each horse look much better than before.  Both of their fourth hoof is a back hoof.  I also need to get another tool to shave away at the inside of the hoof around the frog, not the frog itself.  I also need to watch a few more videos.  I think, I need to use on of those hand squeezers to work my hand muscles to strengthen them so that clipping the hard nail will be easier.  Thankfully, I can work on the horses a little at a time and every day to get the hooves where they should be, and this also will allow me to build up the strength in the muscles that I need to develop to do this job over a period of time.

Our horses were fairly cooperative with me.  Our last farrier had a very quiet and peaceful demeanor that the horses really respected, so I am emulating him, and am also being very calm and peaceful and consistent with them.  They know that I am serious and will make them give their hooves until I am finished.  When I get tired, I drop their hoof and spend the next few minutes hugging, talking to them, rubbing their bug bitten bellies, and throats and kissing them.  They like that attention. Then pick up their hoof again to continue the job.

This week I wormed all of our cows and horses.  I put the worm medicine in wet COB in the rubber animal feed dishes and give it to each animal to eat so they get the right amount of medicine for their weight.

Then I gave the 8-way shot to our new heifer, and the booster to our other cattle.  Last year we lost a heifer to a hemolytic bacteria.  Up until that incident, we had had seven years with no problems and never vaccinated our cattle.  But now, we have to, since clearly something is in our soil. Typically, we now use UltraBac8, and Bovi-Shield Gold.

Our new heifer (“A”) was put into a corral.  Jim had to unload her by himself, because we had picked up another vehicle that had been worked on at the shop, while on our way back home, and do some grocery shopping. We both arrived home at different times.  While Jim was closing the gate some of the horses and cows ran into the corral to meet the newcomer.  This was fine.  A few hours later, they came out and we kept the heifer “isolated” for two days, until we acquired the vaccines and worm medicines.  We then let the other cows come back into the corral with “A”.  Then by turns, I did the worming and vaccinating.  Now, I am keeping the cows and bull all together in the corral to bond for a few more days.  Once they have all bonded and A. knows that she is a member of the herd, and we, humans have spent some quality time with her, I will let her out to run the ranch with them.  I know that she will stay with them and that they will “show her the ropes” and help keep her safe.

I have a huge list of things that I need to be doing in the next few weeks.  Hopefully, I will be accomplishing them and telling you about them in the coming weeks.

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. Get or make a hoof stand. You and the horses will like it. To make it easier to pick their feet up always remember that if they are picking up the right front, you can also pick up left rear. If your having trouble picking up a hoof have them take a step and they will switch their balance. It’s like kicking out a leg on a table if you’re fighting them. They have to be in the correct stance. Just remember right front, left rear, or vice versa, left front, right rear.

    1. Hi Roadkill,

      We do have a hoof stand, but, I cannot clip hooves while they are resting upon it. I use it to file/rasp the front and sides of the hoof. I know how to get them to give me their hooves, but they also like to take them away. Therefore we have a bit of a battle of the wills.



  2. When picking blackberries, I use a pair of anvil pruners to clip thorned vines out of my way, makes picking several gallons thru the year easier and faster.

  3. I just plowed out our second crop of sweet corn and purple hull peas. We have had adequate rain in this region this year. Our first crop of corn did really well. Our first crop of peas did not. Too much rain made the grass and weeds go crazy. Purple hull, miller, black eye and crowder peas usually do better in hotter dryer weather. I helped our neighbor plant about 18 rows of peas in his garden this week. Got a 2″ rain and it’s already coming up. Teaching gardening and building community at the same time. Our small patch of heirloom pencil cob corn is almost dry enough to pick. We try to keep a fresh crop of seed corn every year. Looks we might have enough to take to the local grist mill and have some corn meal ground. we have a hand mill for times when no other way is available. Took 50 pounds of rice and had it ground last week. We made our first rice bread with it. Need to get started on our second cutting of hay, but the rain is still threatening too much. We need a high pressure area to come in and settle over us and block the rain for 10 days or so. I would like to sell some of our beef calves at the local auction, but the prices are way down and appear to continue a downward trend.

  4. Here at the “Ondarosa Farms,” succession planting has been the name of the game. As mature plants are harvested and canned, the ground is prepared and new seeds go in. The new plantings consist of all sorts of beans, Jade II, Yellow Wax, Henderson Bush Green and Lima’s. Yes, we like our beans.

    Rainwater collection has been a priority at our sanctuary for many years. We presently have about 2,000 gallons available. It was time for our small side porch with an 8′ metal awning, no guttering and no rainwater collection system to get one. This will provide us fairly “clean” water just outside the door.

    Have you ever assessed a new project, drawing from your past experiences, looked at the available materials you have and said, “This shouldn’t take long?” How many of you are familiar with the phrase, “goat rope.” That is exactly what we experienced over the course of the next THREE days! In retrospect, “Keystone Cops” come to mind so I won’t bore you with all the excruciating, and painful, details.

    My takeaway from this experience is reflected in the the British Army’s 7P’s adage, “Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents P Poor Performance.” Yes, I know there are a number of variations on the 5th “P” but in the future I need to stay focused on the first 3 “P’s.”

  5. This week I had to work on the vacuum pump on the freeze-dryer (FD) and since I am a novice it has been a try-this-and-see-if-it-works situation. At first the pump would not come on; then it came on but the pump seemed hotter than before and the drying time seemed longer than usual. Finally, after a couple of days, the pump function is back to normal and I am FD-ing normally. I used carrots as a trial since they are cheap and don’t spoil easily. In order to get everything preserved in a timely manner, I still pressure can veges and some of the meats. While running tests on the FD I canned corn and beans. I’ll be working on tomatoes the rest of the season. Put in the last planting of corn and sunflowers this week.

    Doctored up a few chickens who got tangled up in baling twine that had unraveled and blown in to the chicken yard. Half the hens are molting so they are not laying eggs thus they are getting into trouble while roaming about. Had to put some blood stop on a few of the hens and trim some feathers. It looks like I’ve got about 3-4 young roos which need to be harvested; bone broth coming up!!

    Went into a local grocery to and found the produce section half empty due to the recall alerts on various vegetables. There was a sign that said all suspect veges had been removed and what was left was FDA approved. For the time being, I’ll go back to the farmer’s market for things I don’t grow.

    We’ve gotten control of the cow flies and beetles but the no-see-ums (chiggers) are back along with mosquitoes. We are sensitive to bug bites and even though we wear long pants, boots and bug spray, they still manage to chew on us. In early spring we laid down an insect preventative on the yard around the house to keep the nasties under control for a couple of months. Now we have to lay-down another layer to get thru till the cold weather comes.

    Have a safe week.

  6. Very busy at work this week so it was hard to get any “work” around the homestead done. I did manage to get some electric wiring done in the pole barn. I purchased 2 retractable extension cords to cut down on the number of outlets I need. Completed the pegboard in the barn workshop. Still trying to get everything organized and in its place in the two barns. Picked up a nice pair of used Bushnell binoculars at the Salvation Army for $8.

  7. I had to laugh at the ZapIt description. I can imagine the murder in Mrs. Rawles eyes because it is visible in my wife’s when she goes after bugs.

    If there are a few flies in the house, she pulls her trusty fly swatter off the top of the refrigerator and commences the “hunt”. It is a little unnerving as she gets this little smile on her face that looks like the way a villain would smile just before conducting an axe murder in a horror movie. You stay out of her way as she commences the “stalk”. That satisfaction when she makes the “kill” is amazing.

    And now my wife wants a ZapIt.

    1. Hi JBH,

      Yes, I too, keep the fly swatter on the refrigerator. But now, I have that Zap It. Yes, for your wife’s peace of mind, and great satisfaction, you must acquire a Zap It, ASAP. Order it today! Amazon sells these delightful “tools”, uh, insect murder weapons! 😉



    2. Oh, my gosh. Thank you for that good laugh! My version was, I put a bounty on the flies. I offered my kids a $1.00 a fly. My youngest became quite adept at getting them. It was common to hear him say, “Mom, you owe me a dollar.” I was extremely happy to pay up.

  8. This past week I walked the farmer’s market and pickling cukes were abundant. I picked up 20 pounds and canned bread & butter pickles. Blackberries are also ripe so we put up blackberry jam and have been grazing daily on the remaining berries. I’ve also been taking inventory of my fruit in our chest freezers and older canned goods. This next week will be dedicated to trying some other options for putting food aside. I want to can applesauce in late August as our trees are loaded. In the meantime I am going to take the already canned applesauce and try freeze drying it in our Harvest Freeze Drying. If it works out well I will be freeing up space for newer canned goods and yet keeping the food we have already put up. We’ll see how it turns out.

    1. Please eventually post about how your freeze dried applesauce turns out. It sounds amazing. I have considered that freeze dryer but do not have one yet.

  9. Bovishield Gold one has to be careful with as it is a live virus vac. The BVD and IBR portions of it can cause abortion in bred cows unless they have prior immunity. I think all this is on the label . It is a good vac other than this. Also as it has to be reconstituted so unless you have several animals to give it to at the same time there is quite a waste. The advantage of modified live virus vacs is that they are generally less expensive and give better immunity. It really is more of a stocker and grower vac vs a pregnant cow vac.

    RS DVM

  10. “trimming hooves” When I pick up a horses hoof, I get them stuared up so they can hold their weight on the other three, then I lean into the horse to switch it’s center of balance and it gives them more confidence that they aren’t going to fall over. Never let them lean on you , if they start, lean away to give them the feeling they are tipping over. Work with their feet and teach them to give you their hoof, and NEVER, NEVER drop their hoof, everytime you relax your grip, eather in your hands or your legs they try to slam their foot down so they won’t fall. I pick up a hoof then hold it a few seconds and then push (gently) down, work the time the hoof is up until they hold it 3-4 minutes. when the horse knows your going to tell him when to put his foot down, he will hold it. Now a horse can’t put himself into trimming and shoeing position, but they can hold it a couple inches off the ground and flex when you lift. Most importantly he is balancing on the other three and holding himself up. It takes time and trust but it is worth it.

    1. Hi Vcc,

      Very interesting! I didn’t realize the balance issue. I’ve only been around our horses for about seven years. I love them very much, and there is still a lot that I don’t know about them. Thank you for this information. If you feel lead to tell us more horse information tidbits, we would love to hear about them. I will start training our horses to hold for me.

      Thank You for chiming in.



    1. Hi Katie,

      Please forgive us, but, no. She came to us already named with a name that we like very much, that we’re keeping.

      For our operational security (OPSEC) we can never use real names for pets, livestock, or family in this blog. All names are our pen names.



  11. I grew up with horses in hot and arid Southern Arizona. The climate made our horses hooves very tough. This can make hoof trimming a very laborious task. During the hot and dry season, we would often try to get our horses feet muddy. This seemed to make the hoof softer and also seemed to prevent cracking. The easiest way to accomplish this was to flood the area around the water tanks. This would insure they would stand in mud several times a day. It worked well for us, and our farrier appreciated it.

  12. I broke down and bought cases of spam at Costco. LOL. And cases of canned corn. Case lot sales coming soon at the local Ridleys. I canned another 10 pints of cucumbers. It’s been pretty hot, so I stopped canning for a few weeks. Found a large used chest freezer local and just ordered beef from a local rancher. I went whole hog on planning this year replete with a spreadsheet for inventory and tracking. You know, you can go broke stocking up, so I’m trying very hard to be methodical and logical. I don’t want anything to go to waste. I had one of those fly zappers a couple of years ago, and I took great pride in the number of dead flies in my kitchen!!

  13. Storage issues abound now that we are getting closer to our goals. And that is without animals or a garden this year.

    Lots of organizing going on. With the NY cabin as done as it is going to get (move in ready should that be necessary), my focus is now the Redoubt cabin.

    Getting the fire barrier under control and the wood cutting, splitting and stacking going strong. Also eating through the fridge freezer to make room for summer bounty…even if I wasn’t able to grow it myself.

    BTW, Lilly, I grew up with horses and admire your ambition on tackling the hooves. Cleaning them was always my job, but my father always did the trimming.

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