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:

This week, while out of state to gather inventory and to assist an elderly relative, I’ve been keeping busy. Starting on Wednesday, I have been stripping, sanding, priming, and painting the very heavy duty deer guard bumper on our SUV. The bumper was made by the skillful folks at Reunel, down in California. This bumper has served us well for more than eight years. It has surely saved us from thousands of dollars in collision repairs. (Deer collisions are very common, in our region.)  But it was starting to show its age. So it was time for this rust removal and repainting project.

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,

This week has not been as productive as last week.  It’s been too quiet here, since Jim left.  My motivation umph cratered.  🙁  I’ve mostly been just maintaining the ranch feeding the animals, moving the chickens around in their tractor.  Did you know that chickens can drive?  😉

I did mow the orchard, and main garden’s paths, finally.  I roto-tilled the Annex garden, several times, that had been growing Buckwheat and Field peas since April.  Those crops are being plowed under to rot and provide more nutrients to the soil. There, I will be planting Mandan Painted corn, beans, squash, and other veggies, next week.

I did clean one of our cow stalls.

Miss Eloise is planting her garden.

I did some serious deep cleaning in the Pantry hall this week.  We have a coat section located there.  I have taken every coat, sweater, jacket, ski pants, Camo clothing, etc., washed them and am relocating them to different closets in the house.  I want to use that area for storing cleaning supplies.

We had some lovely guests for a night this week, and this of course also precipitated the deep cleaning spree of the kitchen, Pantry Hallway, and rest of the house.

I planted Acorn squash seedlings in large planter pots.  I planted seedling Buttercup squash in the Annex garden.  I planted watermelon seeds in the greenhouse. I planted a Yellow Sweet corn and Yellow and Green beans in the Main Garden.

The mosquitoes have returned — in force.  I have been running around the house, inside and outside, and our porch with the Bug Zap it killing them with murder in my eyes.  Miserable beasts they are.

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.




80 Comments

  1. Last evening at sunset, I watched the neighborhood bats chasing mosquitoes.
    Their incredible flying skills are perfect for harvesting those pesky insects!

    And as I write this, I realized the darnedest thing… not once did I consider catching some bats for a stew.

    1. I’ve never had a desire to eat a bat, but as a little boy I spent a lot of fun evenings tossing pebbles up in the air and watching the bats dive after them. That and catching lightning bugs!

        1. Dear Avalanche Lily,

          Maybe there is hope yet. I was told by a Native American artist friend that the Blackfeet of Montana told him that generations ago, lightning bugs used to be present on the high plains in the summer time, flitting around their teepees…. Wouldn’t that be something to see?!

          1. Hmmm, Grits,

            That would have been something to see. I wonder what happened in the environment for them to disappear from the plains? Less humidity? Cooling?

        2. That is very interesting, I never knew that you didn’t have them there. I reckon I had just always assumed that they were everywhere. They’re one of my favorite things about being outside at night.

  2. I have to admit I have been very sad this week with all the protests, riots and terrorist attacks in our major cities. It appears everything went as planned by TPTB; organized criminals let out of prisons during CV19, evil people providing bricks, pipe bombs and gasoline filled bottles to frustrated, quarantined and jobless people, law-breakers back on the streets within 24/hrs without bail, “community organizers” bused in from out of state and angry people attacking and burning anything in their paths. To top it off, elected “leaders” bowing on their knees to Antifa and BLM while family-owned businesses burned to the ground.

    Spent almost a whole day getting a medical test in the city, which annoyed me as there is so much to do at home. Busy week of preserving various food items. Took advantage of in-season fruit to make strawberry preserves and syrup, put up some early peaches, jalapeno peppers, sweet peppers and cabbages. PC-ing beef, pork and chicken while it is available thus saving my own animals for a future time.

    Investigated a couple of direct-to-customer whole/half beef sales by small ranchers. Added my name to a September processing date with a rancher/processor not far from our area. Right now I have no more freezer storage available so need to resolve that issue.

    Gardens are doing well, corn and beans looking good, cukes and zukes coming along, tomatoes blossoming, potatoes growing well, grapes clustering, carrots, celery and peppers growing well. Summer heat has arrived so lettuce and cilantro have bolted and onions and chives have flowered, so will be harvesting seeds soon. Received another order of fall seeds; heirloom prices have gone up! Need to reorganize my saved seeds and new seeds.

    We worked in one of the meadows marking out a new natural spring which has surfaced. My son plans on felling some trees bordering the north meadow to get more sun light for field planting next year.

    Electric power has been on and off for short periods causing the standby generator to come on multiple times. Thinking about adding another propane tank for the genny, but got to think thru the options. A friend of mine just had standby generator connected to their house and put in a 1000 gal propane tank to the tune of $3000 and it’s not filled up yet.

    May your week be healthy and productive.

    1. Hello Animal House! Take heart. There will be brighter days ahead, although we’ve been enduring much darker times recently. The news has been very, very sad — even for those of us who have prepared. Maybe especially so for those of us who have prepared because we have a deep understanding of the implications of these kinds of events. You are surrounded by friends within the SB community, and you are in the prayers of our family and most assuredly others too.

      We have also been working on the question of additional freezer space. We might be able to secure another freezer by mid-summer. Freezers have been in short supply in our market (and probably others too). We have one on order, and will hope for timely delivery! With that in mind and in process, we are also gearing up for another meat order from a local supplier. It’s good planning going forward!

      1. We have ordered a freezer as well. It will arrive in August. Hubs wanted one back in December and I talked him out of it. Little did I know they would be hard to come by a few months later!

        1. Hello ForwardPreppers! Yes…freezers have been hard to find. In fact, when we placed the current freezer order, we initially intended to order one like another freezer we already have in place — but the shopkeeper had no idea when or even if they would be receiving any more of this particular brand and design. There was only one option for us — different brand and style — also a good quality freezer. We’re watching for signs that other shortages may yet be coming, or if existing shortages might intensify. The good news is that at least some shortages seem to have abated — at least for now — and we’re thankful for this!

    2. get roll out propane gene if propane is your fuel of choice so main standby doesnt run continuously depleting the large tank this way you use as needed.

      cost less a few hundred bucks and keep the grill size tanks as a back up etc.

      1. sounds interesting, thanks. Last time we lost power for any duration I turned the non-essential circuits off and left the frig, freezers, lights and fans on. A lot to think about.

    3. I was dismayed to see the vandalism to the Lincoln monument. I can’t understand the reason for that one in particular. Fortunately I was able to spend a week in DC over the Thanksgiving holiday this past year and see these historic monuments to our history intact and undamaged (but I found the FDR memorial perfectly suited to his socialist ideology – blocky, ugly and full of socialist slogans).

      I went through the expense of adding a standby generator (Cummins 20 kW) and additional 1000 gal. propane tank about 5 years ago. Fortunately I keep my tanks topped off each summer when gas prices are on-special around here, but then I only use about 50 gallons a year.

  3. Very busy and productive week. Purchased and planted 3 apple trees to replace 3 that did not make it last year. I also purchased and planted a peach tree. We got a late start on the garden this year due to Covid and the weather. I had been working 12 hour days in the beginning and then the weather was still cold and snowy up until the 2nd week of May. To make up for the lost time we purchased a number of plants from a Mennonite owned green house. Tomatoes, peppers, onions sets, seed potato, broccoli, horseradish, squash, watermelon and several Herbs all made it home and got planted. Have two raised beds that we got soil for.
    Attempted to till up a plot for corn but it was very mudding and didn’t want to risk getting the tractor stuck. Will try again this week.

    While at the greenhouse we also looked at some very nice sheds. Next year we want to work on setting up our outdoor/summer kitchen.

    As we were driving home from the nursery we saw a Mennonite store so we stopped in and picked up some meat and cheese from their deli, and some quick groceries. They had several types of Amish made salves, ointments and creams. We got a drawing salve (I usually use Prid), a muscle/arthritis pain reliever, and a wound cream that has honey and several types of herbs in it.

    Disassembled and reassembled the small chicken coop besides the Large coop. Needed it moved since that is were we are building the petro/propane shed.

    Decided to go to an auction on Thursday. They had advertised several things that I have on my “want list”. They had an egg incubator that ran on kerosene but it went home with an Amish guy. They had an old press/sausage stuffer that went for $250!I picked up a tote of assorted hammers (claw, blacksmith, rubber, etc) for $4. I got a large and in very nice condition saw vice but had a pay more than I wanted since a dealer wanted it. They had a buck saw arbor set up to run off a PTO and 4 nice blades that went home with me for an amazing $7.50; a 20 foot long logging chain for $17.50; 2 older (made in US) meat grinders with one set up to operate via a “V” belt ($8); a 125 gallon fuel tank with hand pump for $20 (no I did not forget a zero); 5 sickles for $1, 2 US Military metal Fuel cans ($45); 5 boxes with 22 new sets of made in the US 2 1/2” brass hinges ($5); a bee smoker made in the US ($12.50); an egg basket ($5); a slaw/kraut cutter ($7.50), a miscellaneous box that had about $15 worth of new Dremel tool accessories, staples, 2 magnifying glass lenses, and other odd and ends for $7; a brass gas/kerosene blowtorch ($4), another box of odds and ends that had a military style lensatic compass made in Japan for $1 and a little, made in the US hand cranked scissor sharpener. There was a lot more that I would have liked to gone home with but I spent my “allowance”. Now I get to spend some time cataloging, cleaning and putting it all away away. (I catalog my purchases that are second hand for insurance and legal purposes.)

    I was planning on filling the fuel tank I got at auction with gasoline and after much contemplation I decided it was better for several reasons not to use is for gasoline and it is now for sale at a New/used farm equipment store. The neighbor cut the hay last night so I’ll be on watch for ground hogs to hone my shooting skills on.

  4. Avalanche Lily! Would love to hear more about your acorn squash in the planter pots. Do you grow out the squash this way? Would love to hear about this! We have been using raised beds for our squash, but would love to expand to planter pots if these work well.

    Our squash challenge of the moment is that our zucchini leaves have grown so large and thick that we think pollinators are not spotting the flowers! We’re not getting nearly the squash production we should see — time to trim out some of those leaves. Readers with experience, please chime in if you have tips to share on this too!

    More blueberries are incoming, and will be added to the garden. Among our goals is the expansion of our berry growing.

    Meanwhile… The cucumbers are producing like crazy in the greenhouse. These are delicious with dinner salads. We’ve been enjoy salads with lots of mixed greens including lettuces, mustard greens, basil, lemon balm, mint, Swiss chard, and bok choy. These are wonderfully nutritious, and very tasty!

    Summer heat is setting in, and even though it’s still officially spring, we’re already looking forward to the fall and winter. We are trying to accomplish a series of checklist items across the coming weeks that will steady the journey into the coming months. Among the goals as the weather cools is the addition of more raised garden beds.

    We also continue to resupply pantry stock using mail order as we can, and to maintain medicines. Life has changed tremendously with SARS-COV-2 and COVID-19 in every way. We are working in earnest to steady the course of life even in the face of the challenges — and understanding that there are likely more to come!

      1. Tunnel Rabbit! Yes… This is a GREAT video! We really enjoy MIGardner’s gardening videos. Thank you, thank you. It was a reminder that we can really trim out lots of leaves, and we admit we’ve been a bit shy about this. Happy gardening!

    1. Hey T of A, I’ve had some squash plants, for reasons I never could figure out, produce lots of male flowers and very few female flowers. I’m sure you know the difference, the female flowers have the teeny little miniature squash below them, the male flowers just a long straight toothpick stem. If you see that those mini squash are just dying and wilting with the flowers instead of developing into larger squash, then you know you have a pollinator problem. If that is the case, have you tried hand pollinating? Pick some male flowers when you are sure they have loose pollen on them, peel the petals away and then rub the anthers with the pollen onto the stigmas of the female flowers. That should do the trick.

      1. Hello St. Funogas! Great tips, and we’re definitely going to hand pollinate! We seem to have a nice balance of male and female flowers, but did wonder if the leaves were so thick and dense that they might prevent exposure to our insect helpers. We do have some additional Leafcutter bees coming probably next week, and will place their house at the raised beds.
        Good news! No powdery mildew this year (grew from seed, so none came in from an exposed nursery plant which helps tremendously). Thanks so much!

      2. Commonly when squash plants produce male flowers and no or few female flowers it is due to nutritional stress. There can be other factors involved such as water stress or the plants being in the early life cycle before they have both types of blossoms.

        As far as hand pollinating goes I found a YouTube video that shows the procedure fairly well. Many of them I watched were of poor quality or lacked proper detail, but the one I’m posting is fairly informative and shows the procedure quite well.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rk8_tEPFHks

        The procedure is the same for cucumber, pumpkins and watermelons. The author mentions “rockmelons” in the video which is what muskmelons are called down under in Australia. As a plant breeder I do this many times a year in my plant variety experiments.

        For future reference I would recommend the book called Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth. JWR has also recommended this one in his book list.

        Good luck.

    2. If you have plenty of pollinators leaves will not hide them from their work.

      Mason bees are a worthwhile investment as they are very good pollinators (even better than honey bees) and work a much smaller radii from their nests so unlike Honey Bees not so likely to be destroyed by a Neighbors “Scotts Yard” treatments that has killed off many a Bee Keepers business.

      Why anyone would think dandelions are less attractive than plain grass is beyond me. At least you can eat their young leaves as salad, cook the older leaves as greens, roast the roots for a coffee extender, make healing teas from all of it.

      BTW using long term “Weed Killers” like Roundup and Scotts Yard products also kills off your heirloom vegetable patch for years afterwards. Takes a long time for biological actions to break them down, MUCH longer than they “Work” on “Weeds”.

      1. Great comment about dandelions! Last week I picked some dandelion flowers and ate them for “desert” at breakfast time. Of course there were no weed killers or other chemicals sprayed on the lawn. I have had dandelion “coffee” before and think it is quite good. Just roasted dandelion roots and nothing else. No sweetener either. My grandfather would pick dandelion leaves from the yard and eat them as a salad. He lived to the age of 89. Not bad.

        Also your comment about Roundup is right on target. I’ve commented about this before, but it bears repeating. The halflife of Roundup is 60 – 90 days, but on heavily contaminated soils that are biologically diminished it can be as long as 22 years. Yes, years! People need to understand that this chemical can be present in the soil and still be affecting the nutritional quality of crops that are grown there for years after the “chemical warfare” has ceased. Crops can be “certified Organically Grown” and still be lower quality than what can be grown at home in ones own garden.

        Additionally lambsquarters (considered a weed by most people) is also another edible native plant. As a young boy, my mother would have me pick this from our family garden and would cook it with fresh green beans. Mmm good! She did not know that pigweed is also edible as is purslane.

        1. Hi David ‘n’ Goliath, Amen on lambsquarter. I could never seem to find enough at any one time so I actually collected some seeds, then grew out a large patch in my garden, collected that seed for future plantings and ended up with several pounds. Quinoa and lambsquarter are both Chenopodiums so I put some of the seed in my rice cooker, mixed with rice like I do with quinoa and it wasn’t bad. I’m guessing it’s very high in protein just like quinoa. Lambsquarter is excellent if you microwave it with butter and salt. I had one batch where I accidentally gave it too much time and it turned out like potato chips! Yummy. It was crunchy, crispy, buttery delicious. Unfortunately, it’s high in oxalates so I have to eat it sparingly and drink lots of water that day.

          Thanks for the tip on dandelion “coffee.” I leave them in the lawn because the bees like them and the goldfinches love the seeds, but the ones in the garden get pulled so I’m going to try roasting the roots.

          1. Thanks for your comment. This year about 99% of the broadleaf “weeds” in the garden are lambsquarter with a very few pigweed, Canadian thistle, etc. Last year there were about 80% lambsquarter and I think the difference was the time the garden was tilled and planted which was very late last year. Different environmental conditions favor different native plants species to thrive. This year things are on a more normal schedule. I love Quinoa as a grain, but did not have much success trying to grow it. I only tried it one year so maybe I should retry it again and see if I have better luck. The first and only time I tried it was about 30 years ago. Yes, it is high in oxalates, so it’s wise not to overdo it.

            Back to dandelion: They say it’s fairly high in calcium which a lot of people are lacking. The first time I tasted dandelions I thought it was a little too bitter for my liking, but I have gradually retrained myself to include more of the “good for you” category and less of the “send you to the dentist” category.

            Another thing I should mention is burdock. They actually grow it under cultivation in Japan. It grows prolifically in the abandoned pasture by the barn on the farm where I work. I pulled up one dead flower stalk with seed burs on it and it was almost three feet long where the root broke off. So I’m assuming the root must have been 4-5 feet long. It was about an inch and a half in diameter. Burdock is part of the Essiac herbal blend that Renee Caisse made. She was a nurse from Canada and just used her last name backwards for her formula. The story is that she learned of this from some Ojibwe Native Americans. An interesting link I found about edible plants actually mentions burdock as the first plant on their list:

            https://morningchores.com/edible-wild-plants/

          2. I am so glad to see this discussion.

            I have been eating “weeds” for years and loving it. This time of year, that is the type of greens I am able to harvest. Kale will be big enough in another week or so.

            Eating burdock root is a very good thing. And eating rather than roasting the dandelion root gives one excellent nutrition. I cook them with a half onion, several kinds of greens, and maybe a carrot. Well cooked, seasoned with olive oil, a bit of salt–Yum.

            I just picked up a couple of great books on this topic: The Wild Wisdom of Weeds by Katrina Blair and Backyard Foraging by Ellen Zachos.

            I think I learned about at least on of them here on SB. I am eager to continue my culinary education.

            Carry on in grace

          1. I don’t use any man-made chemicals in my garden. Nothing with a warning label. The local farmers in surrounding fields do use some chemicals, though. I live in farming country and work on a 1,100 acre farm and am trying to get my boss to go more natural, but it’s hard to retrain peoples thinking.

      2. Thank you, Michael! Much appreciated help… We do have more Leafcutter bees coming, and have employed these assistants in our greenhouse. We’ve been reading about the placement of the bee house, and hope to do well with this in our outdoor garden. This year we did also try Mason bees early in the season in the greenhouse, but aren’t sure what happened to them! The Mason bees disappeared, and we wonder if they nested under the decking boards in the cool earth below. The early availability of the Mason bees is very appealing, and we’re going to try working with them again for sure!

  5. Good morning,
    This week I made an effort to declutter my pantry and wiped down all the shelves and reorganize our supplies.

    Took mom to the eye doctor for a regular appointment.

    FINALLY ordered a new refrigerator as the one we have is not keeping things cold enough. I’m tired of losing produce and lunch meat a few days after getting stuff. I didn’t go nuts and get the most fancy newfangled model. I got a great deal (probably because I don’t like any of the models that don’t have the freezer on top). This new one will arrive in Late June.

    Cooked and packaged up food for us and mom and dad for the week.

    Tried and failed to not listen to coverage on all the riots going on.
    It’s been quiet here, Thankfully

    Yesterday I finally had enough of all the doom and gloom so I went to the nursery a couple towns over. It was a wonderful escape from what’s going on!!. I bought a hosta to plant in a space that I have some but needed one more. I also got two Burning Bushes! I absolutely love the colors of these! In the fall they turn Bright red. It was also not lost on me the irony of the burning down of our country that I got something named Burning Bush 🙂

    I also got notice yesterday that my LONG awaited freeze dryer was shipped!! So excited to get my hands on this and learn how to use it.

    Vegetables in the garden seem to be doing well.
    Indoor hydroponic vegetables are really coming along

    Lily, I know how hard it is to have your husband gone traveling. I can tell it’s especially hard for you during these times of unrest in our country. I’m thinking of you and praying that Jim remains safe away from home.

    Thinking of you all in these uncertain times
    Have a Rockin great day

    1. Good Morning RKRGRL68,

      I am glad that Jim is able and very willing to care for his relative, it is a very good thing. However, I am more worried than usual considering the uncertain days we are living in. I am praying that he will remain safe and will return home to us. God is in control and His WILL will be accomplished in our lives. I remind myself nearly daily that our lives are in His hands and that He is our creator. All that I can do is pray that He will be merciful to us.

      Thank You so much for praying for us. May you have a Rockin wonderful day.

      Blessings,

      Lily

      1. Avalanche Lily,
        Yes, it is very Scriptural for family to care for family. I know from first had experience what Jim is going through now as I “walked the same path” three years ago with my terminally ill mother. When I received the call that mom had been admitted to the ICCU of the hospital I dropped everything I was doing and spent the last four months with her before she passed away. The words of my father “David, you take good care of mom because she has taken good care of me.” were lived out. Those were the last words from my father before he passed away. His instructions were followed to a “T”. When mom was distressed about something I would pray for her and she would be at peace. I would tuck her into bed at night. The last few weeks of her life I would feed her because she was too weak and shaky to feed herself. I would do it all over again if I had to. Been there. Done that. Prayers for Jim and his travels are on the way.
        On other topics: I became interested in gardening at age three so I always read your gardening column on SB first thing. Several neighbors have started a garden of their own so some people are starting to “wake up” to the reality of the times that we are living in. Even my boss, a medical doctor, has expanded his garden.
        Blessings to you and your family,
        David

        1. David ‘n’ Goliath… A bittersweet sharing, and we thank you. What an important reminder. The time we have with one another and those we love is precious. There is no greater gift, and we are thankful for the time you had with both of your parents, and most especially your Mom.

      2. Your family is in our prayers, Avalanche Lily! We believe and trust that God will see JWR safely on this journey, and that he will return home to you as soon as he is able. What an amazing gift it is that he will, for now, have time to help care for such a beloved member. Your love and faithful prayers will help sustain him now and through to the moment you see him motoring down the drive on his arrival at the ranch!

  6. Have been very behind in the garden due to the crazy weather all May and early June; record heat, snow, cold and then light frosts the beginning of June! Add to that several weeks with no rain! It has finally begun raining again and the temps have moderated.

    I’m out working on other people’s gardens a lot so that takes a lot of my time(and energy). I’ve taken 3 whole days off over the weekend to finally get stuff done here.

    I didn’t really get to harden off the seedlings I’ve grown due to the crazy weather so they’re just going to have to deal with it! Planted the brassicas, cucurbits, peppers, eggplants and am in the middle of planting the tomatoes. It just started raining so they’re being nicely watered! Ran out of tilled space so now I’m going to have to hand dig another row for the tomatoes through sod. Ugh.

    I’ve been trying to use row cover to cover up any crops I think the deer will enjoy. The next morning after planting the brassicas I realized that big holes had been ripped through my brand new row cover and all but one cabbage plant demolished(or eaten). Some damage to brussels sprouts and broccoli but not too bad. This stumped me. Deer don’t do this. Never heard of a groundhog ripping big holes through row cover. The chippies won’t. Was totally puzzled until I spied what I thought must be the neighbors dog outside my house. I raced to the door, pushed it open and prepared to yell to send him off when I realized it was a black bear! Just a few feet from me. Not sure who was more surprised. Looked young and not full grown. He loped to the other side of the house and I raced through the house to the porch and yelled and screamed til he took off. So I suppose this is the culprit. Not sure what to do with him. Never had bear issues before. Evidently bears are a real problem here with too many people leaving out bird feeders, trash cans etc. Add to that all the summer people who truly don’t get it and I guess this area is a bear magnet. So I have to figure on building a garden fence to hold out deer, bear, rabbits and chucks!

    Decided not to do chicks right now after all; no time to build a solid coop. In the general area bears have killed goats and chickens inside their shelters recently so it’s a concern.

    Otherwise, besides trying to get the garden planted I need to finish stacking the firewood. Trying not to get too depressed over the news but for me the riots, looting and arson as well as all the acrimony and hate is the final straw on top of the pandemic. I truly fear for this country and don’t understand why so many don’t realize they are being manipulated by others who have ulterior motives. [Bolded by Lily]

    1. Amen to that. As a (now retired) HS teacher, I think they slept through their HS history classes. Even with the unfortunate revisionist history, we still get to teach about “useful idiots.” Am sad as well. Prepare accordingly as able all.

  7. Lily,
    Mosquitos love me and I could barely be outside in the evenings until I started researching herbs. The last couple of years I have planted various herbs around my deck in the ground and in pots on the deck and I can now sit outside without being eaten alive. Some of these herbs also keep fleas and ticks away. Look into planting lemon balm, any type of mint, oregano, rosemary, and tansy. Once you plant them they come back year after year. The only maintenance is cutting them back right before winter. Glad you took it a little slower this week, I get tired just reading everything you do each week!

    1. Hey wnycountrygirl, thanks for the tip! I try to work in the garden in mornings and late afternoons when it isn’t so hot but that’s when the “musky toes” work too! I’m going to try some oregano, catnip and peppermint on my arms and neck and see what happens. Heck, I’ve got so much more oregano than I can handle I’ll just braid myself a crown and wear it like Julius Caesar. That should keep the musky toes at bay. 🙂

      https://gerson.org/gerpress/6-herbs-that-naturally-repel-mosquitoes-and-fleas/

  8. “Grammie, are you ‘abailable’ to do a Zoom call with me?” asked my 4 year old granddaughter.

    That was my highlight this week. Her mama told me she had been playing ‘pretend sleepover at Grammie’s’. The separation is hard on all of us. We have gotten to see them a time or two in the last few weeks, so that helps. A lot.

    My 93 year old aunt is struggling with the stress of everything. Her hair is falling out. She told me she watches and reads the news constantly. I gently suggested she sit down and play her piano instead of watching so much news. That is my therapy.

    I went to the grocery store yesterday. Since this whole thing started, I only go once a month. It is no longer a leisurely stroll through the store, visiting with friends and neighbors (small town), it is a tactical mission.

    After I checked out at the self checkout, the only thing available between 6:00 and 7:00 am, I told the service clerk, ‘see you in a month’. She replied, “I wish more people shopped the way you do!”

    Updated my food inventory and started making my list for next month (I always seem to forget one or two things!). There seemed to be a decent supply of meat and there were no longer limits. But the prices! Woo boy! That will limit you.

    Yeast is now in stock again. Plenty of rice and beans. I picked up toilet paper (we have enough, but there was plenty on the shelves).

    My sister in Minneapolis did get her insulin, thanks to those who prayed. Their church was not damaged, although a call had gone out through social media to target churches last weekend (why???). They got down to the church with other members, boarded up windows, removed valuables and got home one minute before curfew was to take effect. The National Guard was beginning to close down highways, but my brother-in-law was born and raised in Mpls and knows 100 different ways to get home.

    My nephew had a court date on Monday afternoon. It was cut short as protesters were approaching the court house.

    I talked to my cousin in upstate New York yesterday. She runs a farm stand and they have never been busier. Everyone wants to buy local now. Their main product is sweet corn (just like our grandpa!) but they have meats and jams and jellies now as well as early vegetables. Apparently the town she grew up in (90 miles west of the city) is not allowing any rentals this year. That will greatly impact their economy. She said cops go around in the evenings and chase people out who are occupying rentals.

    All of our fourth of July activities are cancelled. We continue to work on weeding, watering and maintaining the garden. I collected a bunch of apple blossoms, crabapple blossoms and pansies to dry to decorate my granddaughter’s birthday cake in a few weeks. They look so pretty on a plate on the dining room table.

    As I type this, I am looking at a cute little myrtle warbler tugging fibers out of a coconut fiber basket I have sitting on a stump. It is building its nest and we are too. Putting in another fence so we can grow more food (hello deer), reorganizing the garage so we can work more efficiently, washing up and storing all my bedding pots so they are ready for next year, beginning to preserve food for the winter.

    Always looking ahead. Praying for our country. And when the stress levels start to rise – I sit down and play some old hymns on our piano. Or make myself ‘abailable’ for Zoom calls with the grands.

    Love hearing all your stories!

    1. Thank you for sharing, Wormlady… Reading your message, we could relate to your experiences completely. The separation has been so hard. We have not been able to visit in person with our #1 son and his wife, and we miss them desperately — and their kitty too. We’re so thankful for phone calls, text messages, and video calls via Wire (end to end encryption — a great feature).

      We also understand the stress of older family members, and have seen this in Mom too. She loves where she is and feels safe and secure, but this has been very, very hard on her — mostly from the standpoint of life perspective. Older people want so much to know that the world is a good place for their children and grandchildren, and they fear the possibility of leaving their earthly lives and loved ones behind in times of real trial. We assure Mom that there are better days ahead every day, and we believe this to be true.

      Really smiled about the description of your grocery store trips as tactical runs. Although we have not gone to the grocery store since we started self-isolating, we have talked about how this might be — and the word “tactical” has come up often in those conversations!

      Thank you for sharing with us!

  9. It was a super busy week now that I have two months of work to catch up on.

    I sharpened the blade on the push mower, all three blades on the riding mower and put some stop-leak in the tires, then started mowing down the jungle that formed around my place while I was kidney stoned. I didn’t find any pyramids or lost civilizations but the place looked a whole lot better and was a nice psychological boost. If I get the timing right on the pasture then the wildflowers overtake the shortened grass and the bees love it, but I think I may have been a little late this year. Time will tell.

    I got bee swarm #2 out of the tree and it was wonderfully uneventful. No arboreal acrobatics this time. I got them installed in their new hive the next afternoon. A bunch of the bees spent the afternoon up in the tree wondering where their home went. I guess they’ve never heard of mobile homes? Since a swarm trap only holds five frames and a hive holds 10 frames, I guess you can say they upgraded from a single wide to a double wide.

    I got the catnip and lemon balm cut and put into the solar dryers. I never have enough lemon-balm tea to make it through the winter so I always have to ration it. My plants are coming into maturity now and a new patch is starting to size up so I ended up with almost a gallon of dried crushed leaves. It’s going to be a great winter. I still have more harvests over the summer so I may even experiment with some lemon-balm ice tea.

    It’s been raining so I still have to get the oregano cut and into the dryer. If anyone has a good method for separating the dried leaves from the super-tiny fine stems, I’d appreciate some tips.

    I managed to do something that very few gardeners ever accomplish… I lost a mint patch! Normally peppermint and spearmint will take over your whole garden since they spread by runners, but I somehow managed to lose 90% of my 4′ x 30′ chocolate mint bed. I’m going to get excommunicated from the SurvivalBlog Garden Club for sure. Chocolate mint is like (Peppermint Patties x Thin Mints)² on steroids, makes a wonderful tea, and I get several harvests every summer. Fortunately I have smaller patches which have infiltrated other areas that I can use to restock the large bed. I need to figure out what happened.

    I broke out the diamond hoe and gave that baby a real workout in the main garden. (That snickering you just heard was my diamond hoe, “Who gave WHO a workout?!) In the “I should have figured this out decades ago” category, while raking up the smaller weeds after doing a final cleanup before planting, instead of using a rock rake as I normally do, I used my new leaf rake just because it was sitting right there. Wow, so much better. It only gets the weeds, no soil like the rock rake does. So soon old, so late smart.

    Lots of wild critter stories but I’ll have to save them for next time.

    This year I’m continuing my experiments with dry beans in the garden. I’m certain I can produce more dry beans than what I need for a year. I planted five varieties yesterday, only one of which was a tall trellis variety (Cherokee Trail of Tears) and another which was a short trellis variety. The rest were bush types which of course produce fewer pounds of beans per row than a tall trellis. I have a few more varieties to plant today. I never did get any kidney bean seeds so I just grabbed some from a bag of kidney beans in the pantry and planted those.

    Against my better judgment I gave the cat a flea bath before putting on his new flea collar. The scratches and bites are healing up nicely and by week’s end he was talking to me again. Said if I ever scratched or bit him again he was calling the SPCA.

    I hope everyone has a great week coming up! 🙂

    1. Bees and mobile homes! HILARIOUS. Thank you, St. Funogas! We are smiling with you, and so enjoy your wonderful sense of humor.

    2. Good Morning, St. Funogas,

      What? How could you? How could you lose a mint patch? It’s Absurd, unheard of! You’re definitely, temporarily, in the doghouse for THAT! An experienced gardener such as you? 😉 However, no worries. We won’t excommunicate you on that. We love your style of writing too much to do that. Anyhow, stuff happens in gardens and life that is often beyond our control. Therefore you are exonerated. 😉

      If you figure out what happened, do share it with us.

      Thank you for another very entertaining post. We all here are super glad that you are feeling much better these days.

      Many blessings to you,

      Lily

      1. Hey Lily, I think what I need is a cup of coffee, a box of Thin Mints, and I’ll just sit out there on a cool morning and then I’ll be able to figure out what happened. Who knows, maybe the county agent will want me to write a pamphlet, “How to Eradicate Mint.” lol.

        Thanks for the well wishes. Glad to see you took it slower this past week, it makes the rest of us feel less guilty. 🙂

    3. Another artful rendition of the life and times of an adventurous gardener! Inspirational indeed. How *do* you do that? And in stark contrast, here is my dry and technical approach.

      Headed out soon to pick up some more GSL chicks. Due to modesty, I’ll spare you the actual name of these prodigious egg layers. Going to triple the flock. Under ideal conditions the GSL is said to produce 300 eggs a year, or .82 eggs a day during the first 3 years. This strain is known to burn out early and after the first year, so it would be best to diversify the flock. https://www.backyardchickens.com/reviews/golden-sex-link.11355/
      With the price of beef projected to be $50.00/pound next year in the big cities, I’ll start eating and preserving more eggs to extend the supply on hand of deer, elk, bear, trout, and salmon. Eggs will likely become expensive for a time as well. If these babies punch out too many eggs to pickle, store, or otherwise, a few extra fresh eggs, or a good laying hen could be handy in a barter situation. I also anticipate a friend will have a need for a layer or two in the near future. Already I have to pay $4/chick. I’m also going to pick up some large tomatoes starts from an Amish woman who is an expert tomato maker that has a fast growing hybrid, the Jetsetter, an indeterminate tomato, that promises fruit in 64 days. My others are time tested heirlooms, but I feel the need for speed and production, and the season may prove to be shorter than normal. At $3 bucks each, these are cheap hedge for their size.

      I will also plant acorn squash, along with several other varieties including the weird looking 45 day Patty Pan in a 6 gallon bucket. It may prove to be a flash in the pan, but if the season becomes shorter, at least there might be something to eat. I find buckets can be moved from a small inexpensive and hastily constructed poly tunnel directly into the garden proper. Maintaining a higher soil temperature is key to production, and containers provide this advantage. For the purpose of germination, the low to the ground poly tunnel has much less area to heat up, and soil in a containers remain wonderfully warm all night. This novice gardener observes that the poly tunnel is an effective option for the purpose. Given the 6 foot fencing needed for deer around here, the plan is to experiment, and attempt to put everything on a trellis as possible. If it turns into an jungle, we can always break out the Malaysian parang and rediscover lost civilizations.

      http://www.myparang.com/buy-malaysian-parang/

      Off the beaten path and into the jungle, this farming implement, a South Eastern Asian machete, with strikes at 30 degree angles, can separate up to a 3 inch in diameter limb with two blows. Don’t mess with Malaysians, or Ray Mears. Fortunately I’ve learned how they make these.

      1. Follow up post.

        Picked up some Barred Rock chicks that should get along well with GSL (Golden Sex Linked) birds that are bred for egg production. The Barred Rock has been a popular breed in this country for several centuries, and was a mainstay during the Great Depression, as it is a good all around choice.

        In recent decades, some strains were developed more for their egg laying ability, and reportedly produce up to 280 eggs per year. That ain’t too shabby, especially if they are extra large. The original strain produces 200 plus, and make good meat birds, verses the scroungy modern day egg producers. And not only do they make enough meat, they are also docile, or friendly, and are proven survivors. Recognized as a breed in the 1860’s, they are the oldest in the U.S., and probably for several important reasons. Hopefully the Barred Rock brought home today can punch out 280 extra large eggs per year, and can become a good meat bird after they are done laying eggs. This would be ideal. Regardless, they diversified the flock. It is best not to have all your eggs in the same basket. With this bird, we can also build up a future flock of meat birds.

        The Rhode Island Red chicken was the other heavy weight contender, a hybrid created latter. It would be a good choice as well, yet they can be ‘flighty’, and aggressive, and may not mix with other breeds comfortably. There are at least 2 strains of Rhode Island Red. One is larger than the other, and may also have a slightly different temperament. The local strain is known to be ‘flighty’. I chose to play it safe, and had to quickly choose, as the chicks were flying out the door to new homes. And there was only the limited selection that a small local business offers. Was it Hamlet who said, “a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush”? I would get what I could get, and get some eggs coming.

        Hopefully the flock is now a sensible balance of the best characteristics of what can be found in chickens available in these parts. They were selling them fast and furious. Feathers every where… After next Monday, they will probably be no more to buy, all gone in under 72 hours. This trend is not our friend.

    4. @ St Funogas

      You are a riot! Re: chocolate mint though, I have found that it doesn’t seem to be nearly as invasive(or competitive) as many other mints and I’ve had it disappear on me as well. It’s yummy stuff though!

      1. Thanks Ani, I’m feeling much better and worrying less about a public flogging if my neighbors find out. Since you mentioned it’s less invasive, I think I’ll leave it where it showed up north of the oregano patch and just take tip cuttings to move to the old bed. The oregano patch is 60′ away so no idea how it got there.

        It is wonderful stuff. Sometimes I open the jar and just smell the heavenly scent within… and it’s much less obesity inducing than Thin Mints.

    5. I had to commiserate with you. I’ve lost 3, yes 3, rhubarb bushes over the years. Always thought this was a foolproof plant anyone could grow. Lol!

  10. I so enjoy reading everyone’s weekly garden update. Imagine if we were all in the same room, we’d suck the oxygen right out of it with the furious and fast paced garden talk!

    Good news for me. My leg break is really healing and able to sort of walk unaided for short bursts during the day, and more with a gain. This is making my husband smile that his duties are about to end. Lol!

    It was so wonderful to be working in the garden again. Thinning radishes, planting onions, beans, tomatoes, nasturtiums, Marigold all around brasicas, and a few other spots of color. Almost finished with potting 60 large pots to add to greenhouse.

    A strong and forthright Christian friend and I brought lunch to older neighbor. It was a lovely day so sat under at a table, watched baby goats frolicking plus all other farm animals, pigs, chickens, cows, horses, donkeys, goats, dogs and cats. We spoke about Jesus in our lives and need for a Savior. She has so graciously allowed us use of some of her large garden plot for extra spuds and large patch of corn.

    All week we’ve been very mindful of praising God and His protection, goodness and provision for His people. Praying for spiritual courage and boldness in the times ahead. And wisdom to follow scriptural lessons in our daily lives and interactions.

    Praying for a blessed week for Survival blog family.

  11. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy all of you and how much I learn from each of your experiences! I truly look forward to each Saturday. My postings are much drier.

    We finally finished building the last of our raised beds and will finish putting in the last of the first round of veggie plantings today: beans (bush and runner), squash, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, carrots, onions, peas, potatoes, cabbage, and turnips.

    Part of our property is in traditional veggie gardens and the remaining land is more permaculture like. We’ve added additional fruit trees, honey berry and blue berry plants, korean cherry bushes and and I still feel like we are not even close to having enough to sustain us. I noticed yesterday that our normally well producing apple trees have very few young apples on them this year. Applesauce is a mainstay since some of us cannot eat eggs so we are going to need to source out apples. Fortunately there are plenty of orchards nearby assuming they have fruit.

    Started canning this week as well. I found a wonderful and easy recipe for taking our rhubarb and turning it into rhubarb vanilla syrup. Strawberries are also coming on. Right now we are dehydrating the strawberries, but we will also make strawberry jam and put some up in the freezer.

    As many of you mentioned, the riots have us very worried as well. We have had local destruction and many of our businesses have suffered. The activities have further reinforced the need to be self sufficient in as many ways as we can so that we are not relying on access and businesses that can be taken down on a moments notice. This also means our prayers are critical for so many right now.

    Wishing you all a calm and safe week

    1. Just a quick comment: Honeyberries (botanically known as Lonicera caerulea) are easier to grow in a wider variety of soils as Blueberries require such a high amount of iron that they don’t do well unless either (1) the soils are acidified or (2) the soils are amended with proper amounts of iron, manganese and a balance of other minerals that the plants need. Option #2 is better than the first one, but is also harder for most gardeners to attain.

      1. 4 cups of rhubarb, chopped
        2 cups of water
        1 cup of sugar (original recipe called for 1 1/2 cups)
        1 vanilla bean, split

        Place all ingredients into medium sauce pan, stir to combine
        Bring mixture to a boil, reduce and simmer for 15-30 minutes
        Place a wire mesh strainer over a bowl, line with a double layer of cheese cloth, strain and let syrup drip (I put this in my frig and let drip for the night)
        Can syrup in water bath for 10 minutes

        1. This sounds so delicious! …and a tip for the remainder of your vanilla bean. Recycle a spice-sized jar, place the vanilla bean inside, and fill it with granular sugar (something like Sugar in the Raw, or a similar product). Allow those amazing vanilla oils to infuse the sugar, and enjoy!

  12. Thanks Tunnel Rabbit for the info regarding squash pollination. I was just commenting to my sister-in law regarding some of the squash not maturing, and I was thinking maybe it was because of all the rain we had. Now I know I need to do some leaf pruning.
    They grow huge in those wicking tubes. I am enjoying those that did get pollinated though. LOL I enjoy looking at gardening videos too.

  13. I enjoy reading everyone’s homesteading adventures for the week!

    Regarding the situation in our country, I find myself on edge. As I look at the images on the news, I keep saying “This is what it looks like… This is how a civil war starts.” I worked in a third world country torn by civil war back in the early 90s. There would be small flash points, then those flashpoint would spread like wildfire to all parts of the country. They resulted in horrible and nonsensical destruction of critical infrastructure (like when they bombed the hospital I worked in, which provided free medical care to all). When I left that place, I said I would never again have to see the horrors of civil war. Now, as I look at the news, I think I was very wrong… It is hard to see third world civil war images recreated here. I never thought I would see this. I comfort myself with the fact that I understand what’s coming. I also know that NO place is safe during a civil war. Wilmer McLean is a perfect example of this. At the start of the American civil war, he was a grocery store owner whose home took artillery fire in the First Battle of Manassas (also referred to as First Battle of Bull Run by northerners). To escape the impacts of war on his business and to ensure the safety of his family, he moved 120 miles south to Appomattox. Here, his new home ultimately became the location for the signing of General Lee’s surrender. McLean is reported to have said “The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor.” We will be where we will be, and most resign ourselves to make the best of it.

    We expanded our ~1000 sq. ft. garden by another 500 sq. ft., and every time I look at it, I joke to my husband “I’m so bored… I don’t have anything to do!”

    Coddling moth traps have been hung in the apple tree. The Juliette cherry (a little gem that requires no cross pollinator plant), yellow currants, chokecherries, and haskaps (our version of blueberries) are all covered with green berries. Rhubarb has already been harvested, used, and the remainder chopped and frozen. Over 50 new strawberry starts have been planted and seem to be doing well. The hops vine is gorgeous. I still have more veggies to plant. All this going on and it’s only the first week of June! This is my favorite time of year! My days continue to be very long at work and I took some vacation time just to be able to get things done in the garden. A purple pavement rock rose, chosen for its color and rose hip production, needs to be moved to a sunnier location this coming week. I am a mosquito’s favorite snack, so I spray myself with my homemade bug spray blend (made from essential oils) before I step outside to work, and I use it on my cows too, to keep flies from bothering them.

    Like Rckrgrl, I enjoyed spending time at various plant nurseries this past week. I was delighted to find several elderberry bushes. I also found a zone 3 hardy hydrangea. My Southern heart swooned! (Yes, the hydrangea came home with me.)

    I think that in both good times and bad, flowers are a critical component to a successful homestead. I devote considerable time to finding perennial flowers that provide beauty and *something extra*. They can have edible components (like roses and day-lilies), a lovely scent, or be a preferred food source for pollinators. The existing 100% organic veggie garden (translation: I must enjoy hard work and pulling weeds) is surrounded by and interspersed with flowers to ensure the neighbor’s honey bees are happy and my veggies are pollinated.

    Being a resilient and optimistic sort, I am giving horseradish a 4th try. I have failed repeatedly and really want horseradish to serve with our homegrown beef. How can I grow artichokes and roses in Montana (both considered difficult to grow here by most gardeners’ standards), but I kill horseradish? I don’t know….but I will try again!

    Once the garden is fully underway, I look forward to going fishing with my grown daughter. My “bum” ankle is usually a mess by the time I finish getting the garden in, but after just a few hours of fishing, standing in the cold river water, it’s pain free! There’s nothing quite like looking at bald eagles and other wildlife while the trout taunt me with “you can’t catch me!” moves as they jump out of the water right next to me! Some years I wonder why I don’t just stand there with a net instead of bothering with bait and a fishing pole. 🙂

    Hoping y’all have a safe and prosperous week, and saying many earnest prayers for our country.

    1. In addition to roses and day-lilies you might want to consider some of the following as edible flowers: Batchelor’s Buttons, Nasturtiums (my favorite) and a few garden plants like Okra, Chives, Kale, Mustard and Squash. I found a rather extensive list of flowers at the following link:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_edible_flowers

      I’ve never tried to grow horseradish before so maybe I should see if I can “kill” it too. If I fail at killing it I’ll have to tell the rest of y’all how I did[n’t] do it.

      We are living in very serious times. Pray hard. Garden hard too.

      1. Thank you for the link!! I have used squash flowers before, stuffed with ricotta cheese, lightly battered and fried, but I haven’t tried the others. I really appreciate the ideas, thank you.

  14. Wow! No one can ever say the grass grows under any of the Survival Blog family! Y’all stay seriously busy. Which is the same reason I didn’t post last week, we have been furiously working outside building garden infrastructure. We got 6 more large garden boxes made and a couple of small ones. Our mountain soil is pure clay so I did my own twist on hugelkulture and raised beds. My husband works for a garage door company and when they take out old garage doors hey have to dispose of them. We decided the metal, insulated, powder coated panels would be great recycled into raised beds. They are much taller than a lumber raised bed which is great for weeding and harvesting. After the box is built and leveled I line the bottom with chicken wire. The way I got around having to fill them with so much dirt is by putting bales of wheat straw (remove twine after you set the bales in the box). Then we put in 6-8” of our clay, top it with compost and plant. In the fall I plant the boxes with a cover of wheat, or whatever I have on hand and in the spring turn it over for green manure. The straw holds moisture so your watering is used more efficiently and it also eventually rots and adds to the soil. Every year the soil in the boxes gets better as we add green manure and compost.
    I finished planting yesterday. We have had a lot of rain! Now this week we have 10 trees to plant and we need to work on expanding the hog pen.

    1. Such a great idea, TeresaSue! Those bails of hay — terrific! We’re with you all the way on the use of metal for the raised beds. We used a corrugated steel product in ours, and that was a great solution also.

  15. @ Tunnel Rabbit, thanks for the video. It was informative and I will use the info if I need to. Just planted the zucchini and am jealous of those who already are harvesting, but ya live with the climate ya have. : )

      1. We love zucchini too. We used to batter slices and deep-fry them and eat them with ranch dip. Yum ! But recently, we have been coating them with cracker crumbs or Shake-and-Bake and bake them. Much less hassle and very tasty ! We also add very thin slices of zucchini to our lasagna (not veggie lasagna, we just add the zucchini to our regular recipe).

  16. More dry canning. We are adding to our basic food stores. Also meat as it is now back in stock. We’re trying out the Gardening with Leon method of raising plants in buckets and containers.

    Our town is a pretty much evenly split between black and white. Throw in a few hispanic/latino and asians. Absolutely no problems here. I think one purple haired girl with a bunch of earings was protesting at a local park. Everyone is being very respectful of each other so far. Maybe it’s because no out of town agitators have shown up. Or maybe it’s because we have a lot of God fearing people who live here.

    We are preparing for a yard sale next weekend. Neighbors are joining in. It is part of getting rid of clutter in preparation for moving. Still don’t have a location or destination but we are still preparing. It will also be good to clear out our storage unit and get out the chain saws, etc and get them back to peak running condition.

    The truck we bought is now on the road and I’m using it to run errands. Gets a new windshield this week, and all fluids flushed and replaced (coolant, brakes, power steering, rear differential) except for the transmission which is drain and fill. That will take a full day as I’m also replacing gaskets at the same time. Waiting for a new OEM wheel to arrive to replace a damaged one then new tires. Old toolbox is getting sold off in the yardsale and replaced with a new one (or preferably a canopy cap if we can find one in the right color). Other more advanced maintenance stuff will have to wait – valve cover and intake manifold gaskets, maybe the head gasket, etc. I look for the best videos on each subject and get them ready to play in sequence. Then bring the iPad out with me and play/pause through the entire process.

    On the financial front we’re still waiting for silver premiums to drop. They have been stubbornly high.

    1. Thanks for sharing that Chris. All my kids live in racially diverse neighborhoods and there are absolutely no problems. They all help one another, especially when someone is sick or has a new baby or just needs emergency help. I’m really proud of my adult children for not buying into the racial division. We need to stick together as Americans.

      1. The divide is not really racial. It is between Good and Evil. People are being lied to, tricked into supporting criminals and criminal activity. The police who killed George Floyd are criminals, and George Floyd was a criminal. Do not be tricked into supporting the criminals on either side. This whole thing is NOT GOOD. The enemy is the only winner here.

  17. I love reading everyone’s stories. I have no idea what even happened this week… LOL. It just went by so fast and I’m pooped! My new wood stove was installed this week and the old broken propane stove removed. Cords of wood are being delivered this coming week and the neighbor boys for hire will help me stack it. One thing I’ve learned about living in snow country is everyone comes alive in the spring and races to get repairs done, gardening going, and they prepare for the next winter right away. If you wait until fall and try to source cord wood, you can end up without it or pay premium prices or worse, end up with green wood. No bueno. Out here, I can source it for $250/cord in spring. I know you guys that all cut your own firewood are feeling pretty special (or sore) right now, but I can’t do that, so I rely on others. I chose a small Jotul stove. Cute little thing, but heats the place up like crazy and will last “forever”.

    I was able to find a handyman, after months of searching, to handle my “fix it” list, so that’s done. I baked my buns off, LOL, for our farm store, quilted a baby quilt, sewed some custom aprons for a local shop, worked in the greenhouse, and hit a brick wall this week… like groaning in my sleep because this old body was in so much pain. I’m hoping to get help with putting in raised garden beds soon, although I have 15 potato plants thriving in pots on the deck, some carrots and radishes. I purchased some medicinal plant seeds and am hoping to get that little section going on my property. We still have a frosty night in the forecast this week and it’s raining like crazy, so who knows, maybe a little snow? God bless you all and Keep the Faith!

  18. Might try this for insect repellent Patchouli oil or clove oil – I get the patchouli oil for about 60.00 per 1 kg from a large oil distributor. One oz is about 660 drops so lasts a long time. It only talks 1 drop around the forehead and on the collar also about a drop on shared on legs – keeps the ticks off to .. I used this when I was in the amazon jungle. Clove oil works great to. I’ve used near Lake Erie and other places and bugs stayed away. The patchouli might leave a stain on a white shirt but sometimes it takes several washings to get the smell out so it keeps the insects away to. I prefer it to other repellants I was in a guard unit and they used it instead of Deet.

  19. It has been hot here off and on since the end of March! Our garden is already producing a lot of green beans, cucumbers, yellow squash, tomatoes. We are now seeing cantaloupe, watermelon, carrots, butternut squash, acorn squash and potatoes making progress. Our corn is not doing so well which is unusual because we normally get about 4-5 hundred ears! We didn’t plant that much corn this year, so this will be a disappointment. We have about 28 fruit trees, pear, peach, plum, lemon, orange, pomegranate and fig. We had hundreds of small peaches and then we had a late freeze, which killed them all. LOLi had one peach survive and I think a squirrel got it one day before one of my grandsons was going to pick it! We picked about 12 gallons of dewberries this year on our property, and I’m hoping to get a lot of mustang grapes soon. Our freezers are already full so I need to start canning soon! I have been baking a lot of bread lately, and our daughter who lives with her family on property next to ours has been going crazy baking all sorts of bread and rolls. She is a great cook and makes everything from scratch, her kitchen help consists of a 2, 3 and 5 yr old, who love to get involved, she has made them all their own cute aprons and they even have their own small rolling pins, her kitchen is a wreck when the kids “help” but they are learning a lot.

    1. Wow. Living in a place where I just planted my tomatoes, squash etc, the idea that you’re already eating all of this stuff is amazing! It sure does make me realize that there is a definite downside to living so far north(besides the snow removal and home heating costs!).

      1. Ani,
        While living in Central Texas is great for long growing season, it becomes so extremely hot here it’s almost unbearable sometimes. I joke you have to carry water just to walk to your car!!

        On another positive we have a pretty diverse population here, with many Hispanics and a small mix of other ethnic people, we all get along usually very well and have few problems. The closest big city is Austin, about 50 miles away. That city has become so liberal it has begun to destroy itself, in a few years it will be like SF or Seattle! I rarely go there anymore, the homeless people are slowly taking over, and are allowed to camp almost anywhere. Unfortunately with the homeless comes big drug problems. That is a very difficult thing to try and correct, and difficult to try and help people who usually don’t want it. I have seen that get so much worse over the years at the hospital.
        We live out in the country with neighbors we have had for many years, we all work together to help out where needed regardless of race. Not so many bad apples here, and I hope it stays that way.

        I wish we had more change of seasons here, with some longer cold weather….. maybe snow once a year instead of once every ten or twenty years!!
        Take care everyone.

  20. While nationally it’s been a rather interesting week, things here have been mostly quiet. There were some problems in a couple larger cities in our State, but only a small, peaceful protest in our nearby city and some meetings with law enforcement leaders and some community representatives. And while our local LE leaders have vocally condemned the death of Floyd and have supported peaceful protests…they ain’t kneeling, either. I think this new trend of “you must kneel or you’re racist” may be the most troubling thing I’m seeing.

    The second batch of blackberries are ripening, and looks even better than the first. Peas are continuing to come in, though I think we’re getting to the end of that. I was able to harvest my first squash and cherry tomatoes this week as well. Everything else continues to look good with the exception of the blueberries. And we started giving our baby chicks, who are about 6 weeks old, some more freedom, though still within the fenced and covered chicken run. I also got to use some of that new (to us) cast iron cookery I picked up last week, including some corn bread yesterday.

    As I sit here on my front porch, having just enjoyed some Johnny cakes cooked on that “new” cast iron griddle (had some leftover corn bread batter) with honey and butter for breakfast, sipping coffee and listening to Southern Gospel on my pad, watching our cat stalking squirrels, I can reflect on how much I’ve come to love the peace on my simple country homestead. Not something I would ever have imagined 10 years ago, but hopefully, our Lord is helping me to mature and grow into whatever role He has in store for me next.

    Have a blessed week, folks, and stay safe.

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