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. Note that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. We always welcome you to share your own successes and wisdom in the Comments. Let’s keep busy and be ready!

Jim Reports:

We had a fairly busy week, preparing for our family Thanksgiving gathering. I had to spend several days out on errands, with shopping, vehicle registration renewals, picking up mail, and visiting the dentist’s chair. The latter was necessary, but no fun. l also spent nearly one full day cleaning, lubing, price-tagging, and cataloging the seven antique guns that I had bought last weekend at the Lewiston, Idaho gun show.  There, I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few nice 1890s-vintage antiques.  I’m confident that I’ll be able launch Elk Creek Company (an Internet-based sales company), in February. My goal is to have at least 60 pre-1899 antique guns in inventory.  The current receiver count is 38, so my goal of 60 pieces seems realistic.

The weather was pleasant for Thanksgiving, and we had a joyful yet muted celebration. One of my sons was not able to attend, because of the hospitalization of his Mother-in-law. Her prognosis, we are told, is poor and her time is short. But we take heart in the fact that she is a woman of strong faith in our savior, Jesus Christ. With the assurance of her final destination, we can rest well. Please pray for comfort, for her and her family.

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,
We do hope that you all had a wonderful and special Thanksgiving time with family or friends.  I must say that in my department, there just wasn’t much of anything done towards prepping.  I spent the early part of the week homeschooling Violet and the latter part of the week prepping for our family get together and entertaining.  We did all of the usual stuff when preparing to entertain folks:  baking, cleaning, vacuuming and turning the indoor garden back into a guest room.  I moved the plants to the west and the south windows, for four days.  On Sunday they’ll return to the guest bedroom.

The day before thanksgiving the girls and I baked pumpkin pies (from my own home grown pumpkins which I baked), apple pies (from the apples we picked this fall), and cakes for two birthdays that we celebrated, since we were all together.  The girls and I had a good time working together, peeling apples, etc. and singing while listening to the the soundtrack from the “Sound of Music”.  We love those songs.  We, also, enjoy singing  many other types of music together: worship songs: contemporary, Messianic, and old hymns; Pop songs, Celtic, John Denver, and many other styles, too.

I will say that the LAM brand Tiller Broad Forks arrived in the mail this week, as well as the Neem oil, which I sprayed on some of the plants.  I sprayed it on the one lone pepper that was beginning to take on a population of both mites and aphids.  I sprayed it on the plants for three days in a row and did not notice a reduction in the population, at all.  Therefore I put that pot outside to freeze, too.  The list of precautions/hazards with using the Neem oil, includes, not getting it on your hands or eyes or breathing it, “It will harm  you if you absorb it through your skin”  I don’t like this idea.  Because it’s an oil, that means that it won’t wash off of greens easily.  I don’t wish to ingest it. Therefore, I do not think I will use it again.  What are your thoughts with using Neem oil on vegetable plants?

I cleaned out the baby chick enclosure again. I hope to have more to report on next week.  I love reading about what you folks have accomplished during the past week.  So please share with us, while maintaining your OPSEC.  😉

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. Celebrated the good harvest and gave thanks to God for the abundance of this year; we feel we have been blessed.

    My sons finished up the hoop house so we are now planning the interior. We hooked up and tested the propane heater and under normal winter weather it will work fine. If we have more of the severe record breaking cold next spring we will need an additional heat source. We do not have electricity in the hoop house so ordered some grow lights for seed starting in the house. I think this is going to be a trial and error learning experience for us.

    Mostly normal farm chores this week and not a lot of actual prepping this week. FD another turkey and hoping to find more on sale. Also looking for more 50 pd bags of grain on special.

    Tried to hand make a few gifts this year but ended up doing most of our gift shopping on line to avoid the craziness in the stores. Many of the gifts have a preparedness theme.

    If any of you bank with USAA be sure to monitor your accounts closely as they sold the investment division to Victory Capital and have begun the transfer of funds. The employees have not been well briefed on this and are confused about the process.

    May you have a safe and productive week.

    1. Our neighbor has done cold smoked cheeses, notably cheddar and mozzarella. Both were wonderful. Remove the smoke after about an hour. After trial and error he’s got it right.

  2. re:
    Neems oil

    Near our organic teaching farm outside goofball central, Eugene Oregon, we hear reports of indoor marijuana growers using Neems oil.

    Some growers are getting sick, with tremors and lesions.
    They attribute the illnesses to the concentrations of the oil and its vapors inside a closed environment.

    Based on these problems, many indoor growers switched to using moon-suits and SCUBA tanks with respirators.


    As an aside, 2019 is the ‘1853’ in the 1849 Gold Rush.
    Too many growers, too much product chasing too few users.
    Despite the benefits of marijuana-based derivatives, despite all the new uses of all the new products, growers are seeing their warehouses over-flowing with unsold product.

    Like the pendulum, events are swinging in another direction.
    Could we anticipate millions of cubic feet of warehouse space coming available soon?
    And hundreds of thousands of marijuana workers out of a job?
    How permanent are Neems oil related illnesses?
    Nobody knows.

    As a Physical Therapist, I can tell you:
    Anything on your skin is absorbed into your body.
    My jurors are still out on Neems oil.

    1. Dear Large Marge,

      Thank You for answering my question, concerning Neem Oil. Well then, I will never use it again! I hate chemicals and do not trust them at all. Especially since the kind I bought, had only .09% Neem oil and 99.1% inert ingredients? They won’t tell you what else is in it because it is their “Patented secret ingredients”. I didn’t trust it. I held my breath while applying it and ran right out of the room, shutting the door, before breathing again, and washed my hands immediately. Glad I did. We live in a fallen world where pests are some of it’s consequences.

      May you have a blessed week!


      1. I use diatomaceous earth on plants along with soapy water sprayed for aphids and squash bugs (I HATE squash bugs). Seems to do ok without resorting to chemicals. I even use D.E. for my chickens dusting holes in the yard to help with any mites. It’s even edible. And can be used in food storage. It’s great.

  3. As longtime preppers we find ourselves in essentially ‘maintenance mode’. Our meds are stored in stackable totes. Purchases were made at random without a defined plan.

    Now was a good time to take an inventory and look for gaps to fill in. We added some nitrile gloves, N95 respirators and OTC medications. It was time well spent having each tote is organized, inventoried and numbered. Contents of each numbered tote are conveniently listed on one ‘Medical Inventory’ sheet.

    1. Amen, brother. Getting the bountiful stores organized. That is my growing edge these days. In so doing, I am actually clearing paths and open space in my basement.

      My sweet spouse is very glad her fella is tossing stuff out and getting the remainder organized. Having less stuff means less distraction to making our marriage and ongoing experience of joy.

      Carry on

  4. So far this week have ran 7.5 miles, checked and updated all the contents in my medical kits, updated and improved bug out bags, made sure every vehicle has a trauma kit within reach of the driver.

  5. Moved some older Firewood to the pallets out front by the basement door so we can use it up. Picked up 50 pounds of beef from the neighbor and paid him for another 50 pounds when he slaughters then next cow.

    Picked up 2 new, in the packaging, wool “Disaster Blankets” at a local thrift shop for $3.50 each. Wife got me a new pair of Merrell hiking boot, that I wear every day and then 2 days later I was at Gabe’s (local discount chain) and found a pair for $30 so I bought those and put them on the shelf. Found 2 nice universal meat/food grinders and a chicken waterer at the Salvation Army. Ordered a Kevlar “Mystery” box from Atwood Rope. I’ve been wanting to add some Kevlar rope to my EDC bag so their “Black Friday” sale was perfect timing.

    Spent about 3 hours in the Barn workshop sorting and organizing hardware and supplies. Started to design and work on a small shelf in our disaster preparedness storage room in the basement. I have a 2’x2’ area that is good for much of anything else and I HATE to waste space. Worked on setting up our “gym” in the basement basically a treadmill and a weight bench. Still trying to put our house in order from our move.

    The neighbor asked us if we would take care of his 12 cows (including one that is still being bottle fed) and 40 chickens. Everyone in the family was excited which is good because soon they will have our own to take care of.

  6. Quiet here this week. The fall projects are finished and were successful. We might not have enough wood split and stacked for a couple years, but should be good for this winter. The sled slides well (made with wood scraps on an old pair of skis the same width as our snowmobiles). What veggies and fruits we had to preserve are put up. The snow is here and I am happy to continue my indoor efforts.

    Both pair of long underwear pants and tops (in two different weights) arrived. My husband is outside all winter. Prices were very good. I am on a mission to have our house in order. Recently I was reminded that there might be a day where what we have is what we live with for a bit.

    Still walking everyday with the dogs. I’m working on leash training. I am also stretching and strength training inside. It’s all time consuming, but so necessary. Blessed.

  7. As the snow fell and temperatures dropped, the electricity finally was finished in the all season greenhouse, the heaters and lights tested. The pump & house were built next to the pond with piping many feet down, trenched down 6′ all the way to the greenhouse. We will be testing the water system inside this week and then begin transplanting once all is right. The only way such a project could have been done is inheritance money, as it was very pricey, but I can’t think of a better way to spend a windfall – the ability to grow food. And… I did the nuttiest thing. I ordered what I thought were fleece blankets, 70% off – about 26 of them – for everyone in my large family – really cute designs for all the different personalities. When I received them, I realized they were blanket “kits”!!!! So I’ve been sewing like crazy early and late. I have 13 completed and more to go. I realized again, it’s about Money or Time. We went out to eat for Thanksgiving because we were all exhausted. LOL. I think I’ve only done that once before in my life. We all agreed that nothing beats homemade pies, mashed potatoes, etc., and a turkey and ham roasting all day. Watching for the after Thanksgiving sales to stock up on frozen turkeys (and ham). We decided that I will cook a traditional dinner one of these days soon or maybe after Christmas! I also stocked up on bulk coffee beans and organic sugar, waiting on a new hand gun and will be giving ammo for Christmas. LOL. Worked on winterizing a door, replacing a water heater blanket, cleaned out the garage, made a dump run, whined over the fact I didn’t get my flower bulbs in the ground and hoping I can still plant them next year. Lowest temp so far has been 10 degrees, altho in October we had a 2 degree night. Looking forward to the upcoming weeks of snow. I noticed some of my very large dual paned windows have broken seals, not seriously so, but cha-ching! I’ll have to plan for those replacements. I have no idea if they can be fixed. It’s a busy time of year!! May God bless you all – every one.

  8. Had a quiet but wonderful Thanksgiving as I was able to spend it with my son, unlike last year, when I was overseas. I love Thanksgiving! Getting to cook and feed those we care about and be thankful for all we’ve been given; my favorite holiday of the year!

    I’m still a “nomad” as I haven’t found the right house and land yet, so I’m limited in terms of prepping. This week though I realized I could get a community garden plot to grow in this summer so I’ll have a place to garden which will provide lots of good veggies and cost so much less. I’m going to apply for another plot in a different garden across town too so if I get that I’ll have 2 plots. Community gardens here tend to have lots of disease and insect issues as well as weed problems due to poor management by some of the gardeners so having 2 plots in 2 different gardens may help reduce my vulnerability(2 is 1 and 1 is none). I’ve ordered some row cover already from Johnny’s. Looked through the seeds I picked up at a yard sale this summer for $5(all High Mowing) and have found a great deal on #9 wire for making hoops for the row cover on Amazon of all places; the shipping cost is crazy if I buy them pre-cut so buying in coils will save me a lot that way.

    I also redid my “BOB” which also has to do double-duty for my “get me home” bag should I get stranded on one of my out-of-state pet/house sits like the upcoming one 200 miles away. I added some things to it and tried to cover the bases as best as I could without making it too heavy; if I end up having to walk 200 miles I don’t want even a 35 lb pack on my back!

    And I went to the library’s awesome winter booksale and scored really good books to rebuild my collection like a 35th aniversary additon of Carla Emery’s Country Living book, insect ID, and the Bubel’s root cellar book; all in perfect shape for $1 each! Picked up 20 books, all of which will be super useful to me and to others.

    re; Neem oil. I’ve never used it myself. I’d prefer to use a dish detergent and water spray or add crushed garlic etc depending on the problem.

    1. I’m on my old ex-community’s garden blog (moved out of state). They are in a major city and have suffered crop and garden tool thefts due to a homeless encampment nearby. Find a couple of small garden sheds that you can lock up for any tools you wish to leave at the plots and for any harvests you leave that you might want to share the next day with patrons. Just suggestions.

  9. Here’s a link that may be helpful with information about Neem oil:

    We haven’t tried decoy plants, but this is an interesting possibility. This article suggests the use of decoy plants among other information and ideas:

    This article offers the idea of reflective mulch which may be helpful as well.

    There is some competing or conflicting information related to harm that may come to foraging bees, and this is something to consider as well. Understanding the critical importance of pollinators, we are always cautious about anything that might adversely affect bees.

    Indoor environments add layers to the challenges of gardening! Rather than recreating an indoor environment for outdoor plants, the option of a different direction might be worthwhile. Maybe indoor production of microgreens as an example? The ability to control humidity in an indoor environment may prove to be a significant advantage.

    When using “chemistry”… A mask and gloves are always a good idea when working with anything that might be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. This is part of our own SOP.

    Hope these ideas are helpful!

  10. If you make homemade soap, then directing spraying(under leaves) the aphids/mites with soapy water works( has some oil) and cheaper. The idea is to swell Aphid body with water, and oil adds smothering. Then if it warms they literally explode. Water alone during summer and bright summer days can sometimes be enough to kill. These are not instant contact kills though. At same time, recognize the plant is weak from onslaught of pests. It needs a dose of balanced readily available nutrients and a higher calcium phosphate. Ignoring the plant/soil and getting hung up on only the pest killing just keeps the vicious cycle going of more and more aphids/mites. It becomes tweaking back to a more balanced grow rather than getting into decomposition realm.

  11. Avalanche Lily, I sent your hubby an email with pictures of our indoor gardens we use to supplement our food supply with small veggies. This year we’re going to start some fruits too. Here’s a link to our daughter andher project for NASA; our growing units are an off shoot of her research at NASA.

    Dr. Gioia Masa:

    This is the link for the AeroGardens we use:


    Here in the arctic overwinter gardens are not possible … especially in our area with permafrost. Hope this helps.

  12. Have only used neem oil as part of dormant spray for orchard trees. Even outdoors it seems hazardous to get some on my skin or breathe in any vapor.
    Had a big fail on curing olives. Tried packing them in salt for a month. Pulled out lots of moisture, but left a lot of bitterness. Have moved them to a brine bath that I will change weekly and see if that will get them to a palatable state.

    1. For olives, what you want is not too salty a brine, but a pickling type of operation. It’s the same process as pickling vegetables or making sauerkraut. Too much salt will prevent fermentation and leave the olives full of the bitter taste they have on the tree.
      Too little salt and they will rot. The traditional method in our area is to mix in enough salt to float an egg so that an area of the egg about the size of your thumb nail pokes out of the water. In some other areas where it’s less trouble sea water is used, if you are next to clean unpolluted seas. (we’re a half hour drive from the sea so thats not very convenient). If you are lucky enough to be in an area, with olive varieties which sometimes undergo a natural on the tree fermentation, so as to make them sweet and edible right off the tree, then taking one of these to drop into the jar with your other olives can also help seed the ferment with the beneficial bacteria as opposed to whatever’s around.

  13. Avalanche Lilly, I wanted to add this video to my previous post:


    In this video Gioia explains the efforts to grow veggies in space. Our AeroGardens have supplied us with tomatoes now for several months. They are small, golden color, sweet tasting and outrageously fruitful in bearing constantly. We only have three plants in the pods for now, and our plan is to get larger set ups for more veggies to eat.

    My wife uses a solution of nutrients to inject into the water solution that feeds the veggies, and it pretty much takes care of itself since the lighting system is programmable to turn on and off, feed nutrients, etc. I’m certain that this could be replicated in the house for a much larger system, and provide produce to feed a family year round just like the goal NASA has … only much cheaper than what it costs NASA.

    As preppers we need to consider “Garden food pods” for production indoors during times of darkness (lack of sunlight and lack of SON light) and this may be a solution that meets the needs of families and even communities.

  14. Our annual Thanksgiving was a lovely time. Sweet Spouse had made a huge pot of mashed potatoes and forgotten them at home. Aggravation…followed by the news from two people who had brought plenty of mashed potatoes to share. All id well.

    I had found about twelve pounds of organic brussels sprouts, in the plastic bag they were shipped in at a local dumpster. Got a recipe for roasted brussells sprouts that people at the potluck loved. Several took home a good portion of the raw sprouts for their own use. Sharing the bounty.

    We played a cooperative game called Cahoots: https://www.google.com/search?q=cahoots+card+game&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-1

    Great fun, that game.

    Carry on

  15. You hear that? Its finally silence! After nearly 2 weeks of separation our herd of spring calves are being weaned in lock up in the barn. They finally lost their voices and the moms out in pasture are slowing giving up on them coming back out. Then the real work of tagging and castration of the bulls happens before they are returned to winter pasture. Love to get this work out of the way before winter hits.

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