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’ll be brief, as I’m right up against my Monday deadline to turn in my manuscript for:The Ultimate Prepper’s Survival Guide — An Advanced Preparedness Handbook for Uncertain Times. This is a nonfiction book  that is scheduled for release in (or before) October, 2020.

The only prepping that I got done this past week was a bit more chainsawing. Oh and I bought and swapped a few pre-1899 antique cartridge guns. Now, on to my wife Lily’s weekly report…

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,

This week…, Hmmm… I harvested my Alaskan/Yukon corn and brought it into the house to continue drying.  I’m not impressed with it.  I tried to harvest it when it was young to eat fresh.  It was not sweet.  Then, I waited a couple of weeks and it had matured and was too starchy to eat fresh.  So either, I missed the fresh eating window when my mom and dad were visiting here, or it’s just not what I want for a fresh eating corn.  Honestly, I have grown this corn for three years, but wasn’t interested in trying to eat it fresh, until this year.  I’m kind of disappointed.  I was  growing it during the past few years to increase my seed supply of it in case we would need it in the future.  A friend gave me about five cobs of it a few years back.   I also have not eaten it as a dried corn, yet. After it has dried this fall, I will make corn bread from it and see what we think of it as a dried corn.   I am growing Mandan corn to see what I think of that as a potential dried corn meal.  I checked on it on Friday afternoon.  It is beautiful.  I think I will be harvesting it on Sunday and drying it out in the house. I will also be doing more research this coming winter for a good fresh eating corn for our region.

I harvested my mature French Green beans and put them into the green house to continue drying.  They will be used for seeds for this coming year’s crop.  We really like French beans for fresh eating and freezing.  I still have another patch growing for fresh eating as long as the growing season lasts.

I harvested some summer crookneck squash and froze a gallon’s worth.  It’s interesting how around here it’s never ripe until the very end of the summer.  This year it is doing better than ever.  I usually only had enough to eat a few meals with but this year I will be getting more than enough for freezing and perhaps canning

Speaking of canning, recently our propane company came and refilled our tank.  The service man mentioned that our level was really low compared to the usual.  I just said, “Hmm. Okay”, I didn’t tell him why it was probably so low.  I know it was low from all of the canning we’ve been doing lately.  Have any of you readers canned over an “open” fire?  I’m thinking about doing that and would like to hear of others experiences with it.  I’d appreciate your comments concerning this, or even a full article that we could publish from someone?

I harvested some of my tomatoes/brought into the house green tomatoes from some clearly nearly dead tomato vines.  The tomatoes were at risk for rot, and bugs were beginning to attack them.  I have others out there of which their greenery is looking healthier, thus those tomatoes can remain outside longer until the threat of frost arrives.

I harvested the most ripe of the spaghetti squash.  For my first ever time of growing this, I got about 30 of them.  A few rotted on me, because, I guess I didn’t check on their ripeness soon enough and we’ve been really wet, lately.  Those I will retrieve seeds from, for next year.  I’ve still got a few green ones out there that I will let grow a little longer.

In the greenhouse, I threshed and sifted the seeds from the large chaff of turnip, mizuna and kale. I will winnow them with the fan later.

We have had a pack rat in the greenhouse, too, during the last two weeks. So I had to reorganize it, and search to make sure that there wasn’t a nest anywhere and make sure that there was no place for it to build a nest.  I had been leaving the doors open day and night during the summer because it was too hot in there during the day and I just didn’t close the doors at night.  The rat must have just been visiting during the night, since no nest was found. I swept up it’s waste and sprayed down all of the shelves (it smells better in there already) and will now close the doors at night from here on out.  It’s too cool now day and night to leave the doors open, anyway. I also walked the perimeter outside of the greenhouse looking for holes in the gravel that the beastie could squeeze under the foundation and enter the green house, but there wasn’t any.

Miss Violet harvested the very tiny onion bulbs from the onion seeds I planted in trays and kept in the green house all summer.  Their greens completely dried out and, I assume, caused the bulb to go dormant.  The bulbs were put in a paper bag and I hope they don’t continue to dry out and turn to paper over the winter.  Question for those in the know:  Do onion bulbs have to experience cold and dormancy for a few months before re-sprouting and continuing growing again, or can they be put back into soil to continue growing, now?  And, how does one keep them from turning to paper over the winter?

I’ve begun pruning the spent canes in my very large red raspberry patch.

I’m in the midst of proof-reading the last half of Jim’s manuscript.  I am really enjoying the task. There are very few typos, mistakes or content issues, and am learning and gleaning more information from my incredibly intelligent and insightful husband’s writings.

The girls and I squeezed in a couple of flat land walks this week.

The cats and traps have done their jobs well.  The mouse population in the house appears to have dropped dramatically.  Yes!

I also spent time following world events…  The perfect storm is approaching and is nearer every day.  We need to be repenting and confessing on behalf of our country’s sins and for ourselves. We need to be praying for ourselves our families, friends and other believers, non-believers and for government leaders.  We all need to be asking God to speak to us to help us discern His voice and to hear Him and His instructions clearly. We need to be reading the WORD of God so we know who He is and what He requires of us and what is coming upon this earth. We need to be preparing every day for the coming famine, wars, chaos, and not being able to buy or sell.  Every day is an opportunity to put away some food, to acquire needed prep items and to practice skills and to get into better physical shape.  I pray for you all that you will hear the Lord’s voice that you will endure and persevere in your prepping and in your walk with the Lord and in the days that are coming.

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. Mr Rawles, it was an honor to meet you at the Kalispell gun show. More importantly, earlier this year you educated me to the plight of Schaeffer Cox. This man deserves to sit in the seat of a king some day for what he has been through while still maintaining his faith in our heavenly father. He needs our help right now. Pass the word along to your readers please.

  2. Dear Lily- open fire canning is very difficult due to lack of heat control.
    During the Great Depression, prior to AC electricity on my grandparents farm, butchered meat was kept frozen in a “cold room”
    When the spring thaw came, they worked around the clock to can any unused meat to preserve it, both pork and beef (no chicken, that was just butchered and used)
    They used a kitchen coal stove and a summer kitchen wood stove, both had draft control for the fire, with the wood stove offering quicker temperature control to draft adjustments and fuel burning quicker, along with hardwood providing more heat.
    The only option I could see today for canning over open fire would be a “rocket” tile stove, constantly feeding the flame channel for precise temperature control, watching the gauge on the canner.

  3. While I haven’t tried canning over an open fire myself, I have seen some Amish women canning over 100 quarts of tomatoes at one time in a maple sugar pan. They said as long as the water stays boiling and is over the top of the jars, it works fine. They had a separate supply of coals to shovel under the pan as needed.

    1. Hmm,

      Thanks for the replies, James, SC, and Wingfootjr. I will look into the video links and, since, I’m a born North Easterner, I have always wanted a Maple Syrup Pan Evaporator… Now I have another reason to acquire one, not that we have Maple Sugar trees here in our area of the Redoubt, but still…Jim?? It is an excellent idea, and would allow us to water bath can fruits in larger batches. Therefore being more cost efficient in time and fuel… 😉

      Blessings to Y’all,


        1. Hi BillyRayBob,

          I don’t think galvanized metal is a stable metal for high heat?? I think I’ve heard that it leaches lead??? Please somebody correct me if I’m wrong. Or, it leaches some other kind of metal or chemical from the way it’s manufactured?? Whereas Stainless steel is proven to be stable and safe enough to cook in. I would buy a stainless steel Evaporator Pan. Feel free to chime in dear readers.



          1. I’m not a welder, but if I remember correctly, if you heat galvanized metal too much you’ll cook off the coating, which is zinc and probably some chromium from the steel. If you breathe in too much you’ll get something called metal fume fever and feel like you’ve got the flu for a few days.

            You can make syrup from any maple and also birch, it’ll just take a lot longer.

  4. Spaghetti squash recipe:
    Preheat oven at 375*
    Trim ends
    Cut I half, clean out seeds
    Place upside down in pan with 1/2in water
    Bake on center rack 40min or until tender
    (Usually the outside of shell will indent easily)

    While squash bakes:
    Cook up sausage in pan – enough to top the amount of squash
    We like to spice it up with salt, pepper, onion, green pepper, garlic and tad of hot pepper

    Remove squash – flip right side up and fork most of the squash inside loose
    (Careful not to cut shell as it will be your bowl)
    Slather each squash half with 2tbls of butter/ & top with sausage
    Cover that with a generous amount of your favorite shredded cheese
    Return to 375* oven for about 10min ~ then broil till cheese browns to you liking

    Thats a reason to grow more spaghetti squash


  5. Don’t take your suppliers concern about your propane level too lightly. Propane is extremely dangerous in a home, especially one with a crawl space. A small leak in the line running from your tank to your home can result in a disaster. Even a small leak can allow the propane to move along the micro-annulus surrounding the line into the crawl space where it can build up over time. Since it is heavier than air it can accumulate to explosive levels until an ignition source like the starter on a fridge kicking on and an explosion can result. I have a friend that exact thing happened to. Luckily he was away for the evening. His home was total leveled. The explosion and resulting fire left nothing taller than a foot and a half!

  6. Made my semi-annual 4-hour round trip to the commissary to stock up on basic items which were better priced than the local stores. However, found the prices have gone up so much it is hardly worth the drive. Can do just as well at warehouse stores and local grocer weekly specials.

    Ordered non-GMO garden seeds from Seeds for Survival on this blog site and found they were having a sale on certain packages and saved $15. Also ordered more non-GMO organic seeds from Seed Savers. Ordered more hunting supplies (:>)

    Cooked then freeze-dried 8 pds of chicken breasts, 9 pds of shredded beef, made spicy pepper beef and put it in the cold freezer, then canned 8 pints of beef broth. Put 2 pds of brussel sprouts and 2 pds of carrots in the FD this morning. Dried more herbs. Making hot pepper sauce and jalapeno relish is a weekly chore until November.

    OBTW, Pickles and brine did stop my back muscle spasms. I think the ACV I use in the brine may be the hero.

    Have a productive week!

  7. Thats excellent advice James L!
    Yes, use a very large water bath, and you can can just fine! I’ve seen people do it with an old pig scalder during tomato harvest. The whole Fam Damnily came out and brought their harvest and canning jars. Mamaw had a 50 lb sack of salt and a plastic table cloth setup on the big picnic table. Fresh herbs were brought in with the vegetables, and everyone just pitched in and went to town!
    They had welded a frame from rebar and plate steel that elevated the jars at the right height for easy access in the water column. An old set of iron fireplace tongs were used (cloth rags tied to parts that touched the glass with bailing twine). Buckets of fresh water were added between batches…. everyone brought a covered dish and a cooler full of beverages, there was some trap shooting… fireworks at the end of the night. It was quite a time.

  8. Canning on a wood cook stove works just fine. That’s what I did when I lived in northern Canada. I also canned the meat from a bear on an open fire in a Presto Canner. Just kept adding fuel to keep the weight on the top rocking. I now use just an electric hot plate for my American Canner. I have a glass cooktop and one isn’t supposed to can on them because the canner is too heavy and even if it doesn’t break it may crack over time from what I’ve read. So I just bring in the double hotplate from the garage (the canner only sits on one side-it doesn’t reach both burners) and place it on the counter and can on that. I am sure a single hotplate would work as well. Since you have electricity this might work for you.

  9. Wood-fired canning is no problem. We also have done water-bath canning in maple sugar pan, a hundred or more jars at a time. IMO water does not have to, and should not be over tops of jars, as long as the canner has a good lid. Steam temperature is essentially the same as water temp, and water over the lids often makes its way inside and dilutes the contents.
    Pressure-canning I do regularly on the wood cookstove. You need to watch the gauges and slide the canners around to hotter or cooler parts of the stove-top to keep the temperature/pressure where it needs to be, but it is really less trouble than it sounds. You do not need to maintain precisely 10 0r 12 PSI, as recipe calls for…I just make sure it does not drop below 10 nor approach 15.

    1. Exactly, just watch the gauge. I have pressure canned many greens over an open fire in my backyard “summer kitchen”, a repurposed barbeque grill.

      As the wood is burning, I tend to the garden, pulling weeds or harvesting beans or…

      BTW, as a grammarian, my sweet spouse says “word cop”, I appreciate your use of the word “dramatically” instead of the all to common and incorrect “drastically”.

      The mouse population in the house appears to have dropped dramatically.

      Thumbs up, Lily.

      Carry on

  10. Not much this week due to most of the family suffering from allergies. Went to the flea market and was really disappointed although I did pick up a very large saw vise for $5. Added some information to my prepper books. Will be putting an order for wood handles for various axes, picks, mattocks, etc. one of the local auction houses is having a “fall Sportman’s auction” on the 25th and I have been going through my “stuff” to see if I want to get rid of anything. I’m considering getting rid of my CZ52. As a prepper resource it doesn’t make the cut- looking at using the funds for addition Freeze Dried food.

  11. Finished a frenzy of canning earlier in the week and then went camping for a couple of days. Canned stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Processed and froze jalapeño peppers to use in pepper jelly in the next few weeks. Canned our crab apples yesterday making spicy crab apple jelly. We love the taste of the jelly and it makes us think of the up coming holidays.

    Finished freeze drying two batches of previously canned applesauce. This was an experiment and a chance to rotate my canned products. Both batches turned out great although we found we could reduce the overall time quite a bit by pre-freezing before freeze drying.

    I went to the farmers market last Saturday to get a supply of veggies I didn’t grow this year but came away disappointed. Prices have risen dramatically and it appears that many times I can get better prices at the local grocery store.

    I still want to can cabbage (we use a lot in stir fries) and squash. I’ve made a similar spaghetti squash recipe as Cord7 detailed and we love it!

  12. With the amount of wood we burn each winter, I do pray I never have to can over an open fire even though I know how. Very time consuming all the way around. I am again reminded how useful a maple syrup evaporator is.

    Keeping on with wood and preservation activities. Exercise through walking/hiking was interrupted by a bear and rain. The bear was caught (was getting into trash cans) and the rain should be gone today. We’ve altered our walking route to accommodate and I’ve tightened the dog training. Did some additional leash training as well.

    Ordered a small indoor wood/kindling rack and a large fireproof rug for the fireplace. They make such a difference. Also ordered more warm slippers, a long flannel nightgown, and lined duck boots for winter. Looks to be an especially snowy one coming up. Time to replace the essentials. I used to make the nightgown, but the material costs more than buying it online.

    Finally, we were given a supply of parsnips. I’m going to try dehydrating them. They are not my favorite, but I won’t turn down food nor the opportunity to put more into the pantry for the future.

    1. Parsnips? Oh, they are so delicious! Parboil, then slice and sauté in a pan with butter and a bit of salt. They are spectacular! I could be quite happy with a meal of only parsnips but they are a nice side dish with beef.

  13. Lilly , my son market farms in Alaska , there some tricks to a good harvest with sweet corn ,he starts in a green house in tree starting cones when soil temp is high enough hand transplant outside to soil prewarmed with a poly row cover ,don’t remember what seed ,will ask him for you ,also does zunks,carrots,maters ,DIL family does spuds ,75 to 80 day outdoor grow season
    Just remember some years you win ,,some you will lose ,

    Tea and chocolate

  14. Canned up 42 quarts of really tasty cabbage vegetable soup this week.I will start canning carrots on Monday.
    Look for a good source of turnips and canning apples in Flathead,Lincoln,or Lake counties.
    Can anyone help?
    I recall an advertisement a few years back in either Grit or Mother Earth News for a rocket stove that was suitable for pressure cooking with an All American canner. I will try to find it again.

  15. Propane: ( This will be long, please bear with me as I hate typing): I suggest placing your propane tanks at a distance from any buildings. My sister had a house fire, her tanks were attached to the house, they over heated and blew their valves and the propane caught fire turning them into rockets. They broke loose and flew across the field then slid around like jet fired race cars. One smashed into the barn, went through the wall and burned the barn down, the other lost pressure and spun like a top catching the field on fire. Luckily no one was hurt and there was no animals in the barn at the time. I suggest digging a trench from the house to the tanks and then past the tanks. make the trench grade higher at the house end and lower on the “drain” end, make the bottom of the trench flat and pack it well so there are no pockets for the gas to settle in. If you have a leak the propane will “flow” down the trench and out the drain and dissipate away from buildings. The propane from the tank is under pressure so it will travel up to your appliance. Fill the trench with crushed stone so the leaked propane can flow through the stones ( it will not be under pressure and will need an easier way to flow out.) Use Flexable propane line from the tank to your appliance (it costs about 3 times more than standard pipe, but it will flex if the ground shifts or if you move the appliance for cleaning. This trench will gather water so make sure the trench is open at the bottom, a pile of large stone at the end of the trench will hold the crushed stone in place and keep the trench from caving in at the end. Build a small shed around the tanks to keep the sun and snow off them, make it very vented so the propane can “drain” if the valve developes a leak ( when they are filled there is always some escape of gas during the hook up and unhooking of the filler hose, and that needs to be able to disapate also. Propane gas is heavier the air so the venting needs to be at the bottom. You can make the shed look nice so its not an eyesore in your yard, a garden shed with hanging pots on the eaves in the summer, or a fake corn crib, or out house or hunting blind, what ever will fit into your landscape to look nice. Propane is safe as long as you respect it’s nature. Now is the time to prepare your place to be as safe as possible, that also includes keeping your woodsheds or piles 30 – 50 feet away from buildings, and your fuel supply shed away also. If you ever came under attack these would be prime targets to force you out of your shelter. Hope I didn’t bore you too much, just my opinion.

    1. Bore us? Are you kidding? VCC, your information is invaluable. The vision of the explosions that happened at your sister’s homestead are something I will not forget. Thank you for taking the time to share! I am so sorry for their barn loss, and thank the Lord lives and animals were spared. God bless your family.

      1. Thanks for the supportive comment, like many who have learned from parents and grandparents and are self taught by years of research, we tend to under estimate the value of our ideas. I will try to be more forthcoming in the comments , perhaps a seed will fall on fertal ground and help someone in the future. Again thanks.

    2. That’s why our two 1000 gallon tanks are buried and no closer than 16 feet from any tructure. The gas guy said they’ll never blow just short of a tomahawk missile hitting it.

  16. Lots of dehydrating still going on here. Mostly kale. Then it’s powdered. A couple pounds fits in a little spice jar and is great for shaking into smoothies, soups, etc. I am concerned about having greens when we need them and kale is plentiful and cheap right now. Bought two more jars of local honey. Got my battery-operated cordless clipper/trimmer, the Peanut, made by Wahl. I tried it once and I think I’d make a great barber when the time comes – lol! Ordered extra running shoes. We have tons of socks around here already. Picked up a couple packs of sponges, dish soap, paper towels. Several were BOGOs and sure save a lot of money. We’re using the Food Saver a lot too. Do not want to be disappointed when it’s time to open stuff. Stocking up on chocolate, tomato soup, cereal. Like Lily, we pray for wisdom, discernment etc. We buy several of whatever we need now.
    Prayers for y’all.

  17. My friends sister did a lot of canning over an open fire. I would think water bath canning would be no problem as long as you kept the water boiling ( I personally believe it’s best to keep the jars covered with water as recommended). When pressure canning it would be Very Important to keep the pressure high enough the whole time. ( You don’t want to mess with food poisoning). This would take a lot of careful attention to the canner. It can be done but I would question whether it should be done unless it’s absolutely necessary. But it’s always nice to know you can if it’s needed.

  18. I’ve been trying to get the garden ready for fall and winter, but its been so rainy here that the only thing I got done this week was pick and plant back my garlic. The trees I planted last spring when I started up my backyard orchard are looking good, as are the ones that I planted this spring to replace winter killed trees. Hoping to have minimal winter kill this year. Also been taking advice from JWR and picked up a few AR lowers and built out a couple of kits from PSA since I had some free time during the rain. I’m wondering, does anyone know of a good resource for info on how to properly prepare an AR for long term storage? Thanks to everyone for sharing their progress.

  19. With low 30 degree temperatures in the forecast this coming week. I started harvesting my still green tomatoes and all the green chiles that I could find. I have 14 pints worth of green enchilada sauce reducing on the stove right now. I also started harvesting three varieties of pumpkins including 8 lakota, 2 cream cheese, and 3 sugar pumpkin vatieties. There is still about twice that on the vine and not ripe yet so i will give those another week or two If I can. I also have one giant pumpkin for my three boys to turn into a jack-I-lantern that is still yellow and about 3 feet tall and 2 feet in diameter. Hopefully the frost is mild and I can just cover with straw and sheets for protection. Our goat kids are almost ready to go to the butcher abd out three does are all producing large volumes of milk. We were tired of making cheese so we ran 4 gallons through our cream seperstor and are turning the skim milk into sweetened condensed milk for use during holiday baking.

  20. For short season sweet corn, check out Jackie Clay’s blog. She lives in Northern MN and has success most years. She also saves and sells seeds through her site.

  21. Our greenhouse garden was harvested 3 weeks ago, last night (Sept 22) the night time temp was below 32 and we had a heavy frost. The 2 green pepper plants left in the greenhouse with blooming peppers on them also got hit so we brought them in the house and put them under grow lights to see if maybe they can recover and continue to grow a few more peppers.

    The tomatoes this year were prolific and we have enjoyed them all summer and have plenty frozen for this years use. Next year we will grow more and can them. Our experiment on growing potatoes from seed stock that was nothing more than some spuds germinating in the storage bins in our utility room proved to be a nice bonus attempt. Due to permafrost we’ve never been able to grow potatoes on our land; we found a barrel that had drinking water in it and turned it into a potato pot … and we were pleasantly surprised how well it worked. Next year we plan to have 10 barrels for our spuds.

    Snow will fall soon … lesson learned: we need a much larger heated green house and a lot more barrels for growing crops in if gardening for a years supply of food to be available for supporting life in the arctic. Also soil that can support growth since all the bacteria and nutrients normally found in growing soil will be needed since we cannot compost up here that well.

  22. A rocket stove should be good for pressure canning and as long as you don’t let the water level get too low or the fire too high a stock tank will not get any hotter than the water. Just like heating a paper cup of coffee in a camp fire. PLEASE NOTE this is just my thoughts on the matter.

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