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!
This week was a flurry of activity, as I prepared for more out-of-state travel: Chicken slaying, firewood cutting, hay hauling, slash piling, building a new chicken tractor, erecting a sun shade for the bull pen, a post office visit, various errands, and packing for my trip. My hands are still sore–several days later–after slaughtering, skinning, and butchering 8 young roosters, and then 10 more, two days later. I should reiterate that we have never been “plucker” types. Since we only rarely eat chicken skin, it makes more sense to skin our chickens. We then either freeze them whole, or immediately boil them and save the broth and bone out all of the meat. This was the first batch that we’ve cooked, de-boned and then immediately pressure-canned.
Avalanche Lily Reports:
This was an amazingly jam-packed full week of activities and happenings on the Rawles Ranch.
First off, I would like to wish our Jewish Readers and those who understand and celebrate Shavuot/Pentecost: A Chag Sameach Shavuot! The first Shavuot occurred when Moses received the two tablets, of the Ten Commandments from God the Father on Mount Sinai after the Exodus. It is also the time that the Holy Spirit, the Counselor was given to the Believers in Yeshua in Jerusalem. May the Lord fill you all with His Holy spirit and give you his clear guidance and comfort in these momentous days ahead.
On Sunday this week, I woke up early and started working on putting more veggies in the Main garden. I rototilled two sections of it and transplanted ten black Zucchini plants that were started in the bathroom greenhouse at the beginning of March, and planted five mounds with zuch seeds that I harvested from my zuchs. last summer. I planted in the Main garden one-hundred and twenty tomato plants: Orange cherry, Glacier, Rutgers, Willamette, Purples, Black Krim, Yellow Sweets. I planted fifty-two cucumbers: Space masters and Early Fortune, Thirty-six Middle Eastern Zuchs., four 12 foot rows of French Green beans, Thirty-seven Spaghetti squash and twenty-three yellow zuchs.
In the greenhouse, I transplanted the rest of the mixed peppers (fifteen) into bussing trays and planted nine more tomatoes of various types in beds in there. I also planted seven more bunches of celery outside.
Miss Violet helped me plant many of the tomatoes and also helped me lay straw around the broccoli, Zuchs, and tomatoes. All the while that we were planting, every rock I came across got chucked over the fence. I am constantly chucking rocks. This was a very busy day!
Miss Eloise asked for a garden section of her own this year and is very serious about it, unlike previous years. Therefore, I gave her a sizable plot in the Extension garden. I gave her the portion that did not get manure placed on it, when our neighbor was laying down manure on a section of that garden. So she is essentially starting from scratch and can have all of the learning experience. She spent time in there working on building the soil.
Miss Eloise also provided strict supervision to the horses while they grazed in the orchard for an hour or so.
All four of us spent some time working on bringing in the firewood. Jim sawed, I tossed the wood into the wood shed, while both girls stacked. That took about an hour of the day.
Before I get a comment from someone, again, this week saying “Isn’t that a lot for one family to plant”, or something in that vein. Let me report that two weeks ago, I noticed people writing in and commenting on how much I was planting. I made a comment in the blog of which I wish to expand on more, but here is the comment. This was a general comment not addressed to anyone in particular. It was:
“Do some of you people understand just how much food we would need to grow in a year to supply all of our calories for a Year? It’s a lot more than many people are thinking, a whole lot more. It scares me, very much to know how much we eat in a year, and how often we go to the grocery store to buy fresh. Can we actually grow enough to survive, once all of our dry stored goods are consumed? We buy such a huge variety at the stores, but can only grow limited varieties. How are we going to fare when the food selection becomes so narrow? Do people realize that a biblical famine is coming? It’s not just been brought on politically, but is already in the works from the Grand Solar Minimum. Many on this blog are awake, but I fear that many others are still in their normalcy bias. Time is running out!”
Now I’d like to expand on this:
Dear Readers: The food scarcity and food price inflation that is coming, along with famine that is coming is going to shock you! You folks need to put in huge gardens to sustain yourselves for what is coming. If you don’t already have a deep larder, you had better keep stocking up and had better grow as much food as you can in whatever container and soil you can get your hands on. I’m telling you that little gardens are not going to do the job for you! You need to think about how much corn, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, salad, potatoes,that you eat and start growing accordingly. We are approaching serious food shortages, world-wide. People must wake up and get serious or they will suffer terribly.
On Monday we woke up early again, and did animal chores, and cleaned the kitchen to prepare for butchering and canning chickens. I washed a case of pint jars, did dishes, and cleared the sink area, prepared two large pots for Jim, one to hold the skinned and gutted birds and one for very warm water — to rinse his hands. I prepared two other large pots to boil the chickens down and put them on the stove. I sharpened some knives. Then I went out to the chicken coop to divide the birds that we wanted to keep from the ones we wanted to butcher. Jim killed, skinned, and gutted eight birds before his hands gave out. The skin was too tight on the flesh of the birds. I cleaned all eight birds. Seven of them went into the pots to be boiled down, while one went to the freezer. I scrubbed and bleached the counter and sink. The birds boiled for a few hours and then were cooled and put in the fridge to can the next day.
Then I vacuumed the whole house, and did four loads of laundry. Miss Violet and I, laid more straw down around the tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchinis. I watered everything in the green house, weeded the newest strawberry bed (It has weeds other than grass in it, that I do not want to take over the bed) and I pulled long grass from the black raspberry beds and brought it, some very large armfuls, to the bull in his pen and to the cows in their pen. They loved the fresh grass treats. I planted the trays of Marigolds and Nasturtiums which were started in the bathroom green house all around the garden. Then I made dinner, we ate, and I, “hit the wall”. Jim and I watched a movie together.
On Tuesday, I was quite tired from all of the work from the previous two days. I pretty much crashed after the morning chores and a spending time outside praying, reading the Word and observing wildlife on the edge of the meadow. I heard the Cooper’s Hawk, once again, Wilson’s snipe, Red-winged Black birds, Crows, Gold Finches, and many other birds, and saw a Great Blue Heron, Mallards and a Bald Eagle. I spent the day on the Internet and in the afternoon, on the phone talking with two different friends. During one conversation, Jim went out to feed the cows and bull their evening meal, he came right back in and interrupted the phone conversation to say that a calf was born to our heifer, A. during the afternoon.
Yes! It was her first calf birthing, and she handled it well on her own. That is exactly what we want from our cows. The calf was already dry and walking around by the time we saw it. During the phone call, I took out my binocs and went onto the porch and looked 60 yards away to the corrals. I could see the calf standing next to her mom. It was fun reporting this excitement to our friend. Preliminary reports from Miss Eloise, who ran out to greet the newcomer, indicated that she may be a heifer. Later I went out to make sure she was nursing well. She was.
Later still, I went back out to check up on mom and baby. As I had approached the corrals, I saw a Bald Eagle lift off into flight from the corral. I thought, “Whoa, what was that bird doing in the corrals?” I really wasn’t too concerned about the calf, but…? I walked into the corral and immediately looked around for the calf. She was between her Momma, and my matriarch cow, L. and F her now five month old heifer calf was also right there. Baby was fine. Then I walked around looking for any trace of the placenta that I may had missed earlier in the evening when I had gone out to check for the first time. It was not seen by me the first time I had gone out to see the calf. Since I hadn’t seen it then, I thought that it had already been dealt with by the mom. I didn’t see any trace, where I was standing, so I walked over to two pine trees in the corral looking at the ground. I saw some white feathers… I looked around some more and saw more white feathers, they were floating around the trees. I looked up into one of the trees and there was a mass of white feathers floating down from several branches way up high. So then, I surmised that the Bald eagle had caught a male Common Merganser and carried it up into that tree to eat his meal. Wild Kingdom!
On Wednesday, I woke up early again, and went right outside to feed the cows and chickens and to check up on the baby calf. I was able to confirm that Baby was indeed a heifer and she was doing well. Then I went right to the kitchen to de-bone and can the chickens that we had butchered and boiled two days before. While I prepared the jars and de-boned the chicken, strained the broth, and prepared the Pressure Canner, Jim went out to finish butchering the last ten roosters that we had wanted to do. Miss Eloise helped to clean the birds while, I worked on the canning. Those last ten birds were also boiled and canned, though three quarts of them were frozen. Miss Violet vacuumed and practiced piano, while we worked.
By the end of the day I had pressure canned 23 pints of chicken, in broth. Also overnight, we boiled down the carcass bones to make broth — also to can.
In the evening I went out to check on the calf and mom, A. and to feed them their dinner. After bringing all cows their hay, I stood nearby watching them eat. Baby is fearless. She came right up to me and sniffed me. She let me pet her. I watched Momma to see her reaction to me. She was watching, but was not nervous at all. She never mooed at me or shook her head at me, or warned me off. As I watched, the calf ran off and began running slightly wobbily, crazy loops around the corral. She was so cute. At this time I moved right up between the two cows and kneeled down between them, to get a closer look at A.’s udder. It looked very packed/full of colostrum and milk. Poor mom. That is so uncomfortable. First time Fresheners tend to develop really packed udders for the first few days until the baby gets the knack of nursing from all four quarters. Therefore, I decided that I needed to relieve some of her pressure and milk her out. I decided that I would do it right after my own dinner. Just then baby came right up to me. Momma was less than two feet away from me. She didn’t make a sound at me as baby sniffed me and bumped into me and I pet her. You know what? That calm accepting behavior of Momma towards me is amazing! She totally trusts me. Even my Matriarch cow will warn me away from her newborns for the first two week or so, but not A. Wow. That makes me feel very privileged.
I left them to go eat my dinner and let her eat hers. I prepared the bowl (I milk into a bowl and pour it into the milk bucket. Therefore, if I spill some or it gets contaminated, not all is lost.), milk bucket, bucket of warm water with commercial udder wash, washcloths and paper towels. I went out and grabbed a bucket put the wet COB in it. I set up the milking parlor. I tried to chase A. into the barn, but she wasn’t going in. She kept running past the open door. So I retrieved the bucket of COB and enticed her a little, but no, she still wouldn’t go in. So I blocked her sneak by route with an empty water tank, the extra one, and ran her around the loop again. Each time I chased her, her calf was right by her side, sticking really tight next to Momma. So cute. They finally went into the milking parlor and I was able to close her into the crush stall. Baby was all over me, next to me, bumping into me, going between my legs, and peeking her nose through the “window” sniffing her mom, through which I milk. Silly baby.
I washed A’s teats with warm water and udder wash and washcloth. She didn’t even flinch. Mind you now, this is the first time any person has ever touched her udder and teats. Her udder is beautifully formed. She has nice large teats, not too huge, nor too narrow, nor too short, nor too long. She had two quarters that were quite packed but the other two were fairly supple. She kicked slightly, twice, as I worked around her four quarters. It had been a a very long time since the last time I had milked. I enjoyed doing it. I kept chuckling inside at how sweet, trusting, and compliant A. was with me. I just wasn’t expecting such good behavior from her and was quite surprised. I didn’t strip her out. I just relieved the pressure. She is an easy milker. She is a keeper. I was able to get an easy half gallon from her. It was mostly colostrum, so I froze it, just in case we would ever need it for another newborn calf, in the future.
A Family Excursion
On Thursday, we took the day off and went to Beaver Bay in Farragut State Park on Lake Pend Orielle near Bay View, Idaho to picnic and visit with our #1 Son, his wife, and our grandchildren. We all hiked a loop trail near the lake. We had a great time talking with each other, and looking at and identifying insects, birds, flowers, trees, and birds with the grandkids. I gave the two older ones lessons on how to use my binocs while looking at sailboats on the lake and flowers on the hillside. It was a very sweet family time. This week’s header is a picture that one of us took of Beaver Bay looking northeast at the eastern side of the bay at the southern Cabinet Mountains.
Friday was another crazy busy day. I had been slowly simmering a large amount of chicken bones in a large pot for broth since Wednesday evening. So, as soon as I went out to the kitchen,first thing in the morning, I prepared canning jars and my Pressure Canner to can the broth. I canned nine quarts and one pint of Chicken broth.
Jim, Miss Violet and I, built a chicken tractor out of 8 by 4 foot Hog panels, chicken mesh, baling wire and zip ties. We put a hog panel over the top which covered half of it and a tarp over the second half to give them shade. I put four dowel sticks in the corners for roosts and a 8-gallon glavanized trash can on its side–as a nesting box. (We’ll see if the hens will accept it as a nesting box.) I scrubbed and bleached their rubber bucket feed containers and refilled them with water and grain, and we moved them in to their new home for the summer. We will be moving their chicken tractor-home once or twice a day for the duration of the summer. I, then went and began to clean out their chicken coop. It still needs to be scraped washed and bleached. It’s a very dirty place. I managed to get all dirty straw out but I will finish cleaning it next week.
I began to mow the orchard. The horses are not keeping the grass down enough in there. I will also finish that chore next week. We are now rotating sprinklers around the gardens, in between rain storms.
Sh., the bull bawls when he can’t see his girls. They can go to another area of the corrals where he cannot see them from his pen. He is so “Rone-ry” (lonely). Jim and I keep visiting him and rubbing his ears, nose and neck. He is so happy to see us and for us to spend time with him. I feel so bad for him. 🙁 He is such a good boy.
Dear Readers there is so much to do here right now, this coming week, I have to mow the garden paths in the Main garden, We have to get the beans and corn and last of the squash planted. We need to finish cleaning out the chicken coop, and the corrals and stalls need a very good cleaning…
In the news: Contact tracing. You don’t want this to be happening. This smacks of the Stasi state!
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.