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:

I’ve had a couple of fairly frustrating weeks, attempting to buy antique guns at various auctions and gun shops. I’ve learned that antique gun prices are accelerating far faster than the rate of general currency inflation. I found very few guns that were: A.) Actually made pre-1899. B.) Mechanically sound. C.) Chambered for practical cartridges, and D.) Affordable.  I did manage to secure just a few. These included a dandy little 1895-dated Swedish M1894 Mauser 6.5×55 Carbine sporter in a Mannlicher walnut stock, a couple of NFA-exempt short-barreled Stevens New Model (Second Issue) “Pocket Rifle” single-shot .22s with detachable skeleton stocks, an H. Pieper (Belgian) Single Shot .22 Rifle, and a Winchester Model 1887 12 gauge lever action riotgun that was made in 1888.

I also was providentially able to buy an extremely rare original 1880s-vintage Bridgeport Rig slotted revolver holder on a lightly-tooled vintage pistol belt. (The one that I bought is pictured, above.) All of the other bidders at that auction must have overlooked this item, because it was thrown in with a large lot of assorted holsters.  Deo Volente, I will have that item listed at the Elk Creek Company online store by the second week of July. The asking price will probably be around $2,000. Yes, they are that rare.  Please note that my store’s shopping cart system will be shut down until July 1st — when I plan to return from my travel.

My winning bid on the Bridgeport Rig reminded me to mention something important: We are mortal. We will all meet our maker, possibly much sooner than we expect.  That item was probably a prized possession of some avid Colt revolver collector. But when he passed away, his heirs just sent his “stuff” off to an auction house, and they failed to recognize its significance. It was just thrown in with a lot of oddball holsters and pistol belts. There is a lesson in this:  It is important to carefully catalog your gun collection and keep  that as an appendix to your Will. If need be, tie tags on items that you have tucked into your vault. That way, your heirs will know the relative value of various items (for divvying up your gear), or they’ll know an approximate value (best described in the number of ounces of silver–since we live in an era of inflation), so that they’ll know how much to ask for them, once you have become “unavailable for comment”.

Even more importantly: Get right with God. Ask for forgiveness of your sins through the cleansing blood of Jesus (Yeshua). The pile of tools, toys, and trinkets that you leave behind is meaningless, in the grand scheme of things. The condition of your soul should be your paramount concern!

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,
I spent several days and many hours re-rototilling the new Extension garden, chucking rocks (literally hundreds of pounds worth: an old glacial river bed) and grass roots and other weeds from the soil, preparing the soil to plant.  The soil in there is now looking great!  There, I planted Hubbard squash starts from the Indoor Bathroom Green House and seeds. I also planted Jacob Cattle Bean seeds and Sweet Potato slips that I had started on my window sill.  I want to keep trying for sweet potatoes… Additionally, I planted Rainbow Swiss Chard, those tomatoes that I started just a few weeks ago to make up for the ones I lost to frost, Red Russian Kale, Red Salad bowl lettuce, Arugula, mixed lettuces, and beets.  I still have room to plant some more items.

I re-planted a large amount of French Green bean seeds.  Something ate their secondary leaves on the first planting… I am harvesting many broccoli flowerets, now.  This is the earliest I have ever had broccoli.  This is because I started them in late February in the Bathroom Greenhouse.

I planted cucumber seeds next to my other cucumber plants.

The strawberries are almost ready to begin ripening!!!!  We can’t wait!

I planted more Blackberries in the Orchard.

Miss Violet, Miss Eloise and I, have been weeding many garden beds together.

I mowed the paths of the Main garden.

I reorganized the propane freezer and was able to get almost all of our meat into it.  In order to do that, I needed to remove eight packages of beef bones. Those, I boiled down for two days and pressure canned the broth.  We are trying to work our way through the frozen veggies in the freezers.  I tried dehydrating some of them a few weeks ago but they turned out blackened.  So, we need to just eat them.

Horsey Friend came over for a visit and to give our horses a workout with Miss Eloise.

Wildlife Sightings:

This week as I went out to the barn to feed the beasties one morning. I lifted a tarp and took one step into the barn. A quick movement stopped me dead in my tracks.  I saw three healthy, beautiful black and snow white striped skunklets prance toward me from the back of the barn wall.  Their fur was fluffed up. Their black fur had that beautiful sheen and their white stripes were bright and clean. There was a  pile of hay between us in the middle of the floor.  They pranced towards it and disappeared behind it.  I didn’t see them reappear, so I slowly and carefully walked into the barn and looked behind the pile and saw a small hole under the pallets that they had disappeared into.  Ah Ha, I had been smelling the slight odeur of skunk lately while in the barn, but thought we had just had some night-time visitors, this year. But no, they were obviously born under there, yet again, this year… Though they are cute, I hate having skunks on our property. They stink, is my understatement of the year!!  I wish they’d stop calling our open-sided  barn their baby nursery every year! Grrrr! Last year, Jim shot about five of them, but they keep coming back…

I tiptoed around the floor to get hay that is stacked on the back wall, for the bull.  I don’t want to set them off, now that I know exactly where they are hanging out..

Next week, I want to finish planting the Extension Garden and then work on the last section of the Annex Garden.  I will be putting short season veggies in that plot.   I will also have to plow it numerous times. It is not a part of the glacial river bed.  There is very little rock there, but it is full of Bull Thistle… Frankly, I prefer to deal with rock.

The girls and I will be babysitting the grandsons this weekend.  So Jim will be fielding most of the comments, since I won’t have too much time to be on the computer.

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. Roseman, you are so right. I have so many beans coming up right now, so I cheered our cat on as he stalked and killed a baby bunny. Sweet spouse and I now playfully call him “bunny killer”. Think he cares?

      Lily, Sweet Potato slips that I had started on my window sill. I want to keep trying for sweet potatoes. Good on ya. My efforts in that direction have met with failure each time. Sigh.

      Look forward to your report in a few months.

      Carry on in grace

      1. Once a Marine,

        Good to hear that you are giving sweet potatoes another try. I grew them once about 15 years ago in a local heirloom garden on the front lawn of the local county museum when I lived in another county, one county over from where I am now. They did OK. Not super fantastic, but at least I got more sweet potatoes back than what I planted. The locality was westcentral Minnesota, just for reference. The summers here are warmer than most parts of the Redoubt, particularly the nights are much warmer and sweet potatoes like all the heat they can get. You probably knew the last part, but I just mention it for everyones benefit. I actually intended to be growing some of them myself this year, but with an unexpected late frost the last week of May and a sudden influx of cucumber beetles that I had to deal with ended me up a little behind schedule, but I might still give them a try if I can. I do have some okra growing which is a southern crop and so far they seem to be “on schedule” as far as plant size at this time of year.

        Garden on in grace

        PS Couldn’t resist “borrowing” your byline with a slight change. Hope you like it.

        1. I do, indeed, like it. I have no attachment to it, friend.

          Are you still in Minnesota? I have lived in different parts of the state over the years.

          Carry on in grace

          1. Yes, I am still in Minnesota. I’m now in the northcentral part, about 68 miles away from the previous heirloom garden at the museum.

            I should mention something else about the cucumber beetle “battle” that I had last week. In my zeal to exterminate them I inadvertently exterminated some of the squash plants as well. Ouch! I also exterminated some of the weeds (mostly lambsquarter which is edible) along with the squash. Hmm? There are a bunch of thistles out in the old barnyard pasture that I have been slowly getting the upper hand on, but there are a few left. They are either Bull Thistle or Plumless Thistle. Both kinds look very similar, to me anyway and I’m not sure which one they are as the University weed department lists both kinds here in the state. We have Canadian Thistle in the oat fields, but it’s not that kind in the pasture. Anyway, I might try my “squash killing experiment” on this thistle. If it works and Avalanche Lily finds out about it she’ll be after me for the secret “recipe”. It might take me a week to spray them and then wait for the results. Time will tell.

  1. Re: Skunks. A friend of ours found a skunk in his garage years ago. He grabbed his nearby bow and arrow and shot the skunk. And when I say ‘shot’, he pinned the tail of the skunk to the garage wall. To this day, when it is humid there is a faint odor of skunk in the garage. (Don’t get rid of your skunks like Greg did – lol.)

    Ordered and received an Excalibur dehydrator. I’m looking forward to dehydrating all the things. I’m curious, why do you think your veggies turned black?

    Planted the last of my basement greenhouse tomatoes. I’m pleased with how well they are all doing. I processed rhubarb and put a bunch of snow peas in the freezer.

    Next week the peach truck comes to town. They usually have blueberries and pecans as well. I plan to buy twice as much as I did last year – if there are no limits. Strawberry picking will probably be the week after that and my kitchen will go into high production canning mode.

    Seems like my little corner of the world has gone a bit bonkers. We received word that our transfer station may have to close. Both employees quit due to rude, abusive and aggressive behavior by some of the patrons. The attendants have had to be more strict about not allowing folks who don’t have the town permit to use the facility. This has resulted in the above behavior. The issue has been widely reported in our area and there are no applicants for the job. We, personally, don’t generate enough garbage to justify paying $30 a month for pickup. We will have to find another means of disposing of our garbage. Remember when coffee came in metal cans and mayo came in quart size canning jars? I miss those days when garbage could be pressed into service for other means.

    Grandma and Grandpa had a pit behind the garage. It was basically for paper and greasy stuff. Every once in a while Grandpa would through a match in the pit. They reused glass and metal for projects around the farm.

    Yesterday, I was just beginning to pull out of a local business when a truck with two young men came speeding around the corner. I stopped abruptly. I was not in the road at all, but the passenger gave me the finger and yelled at me. Whatever, I had done nothing wrong. I proceeded to pull out in the road after they passed. They immediately pulled over to the side and did a u turn right in front of me. Now the driver gave me the finger and yelled. They headed back from wherever it was they had come. What was that all about? Maybe they should apply for the jobs at the transfer station. They seem to have the same temperament as the difficult patrons.

    My sweet mother used to sign all her letters, ‘Love and Prayers’. I have been working with my niece who is a graphic designer on memorializing this. She digitized Mom’s ‘Love and Prayers’ and put it on mugs. I am sending these to my sibs and spouses and to Mom’s brother and sister-in-law. Doing what I can to bring sweetness and gentility to the world. It sure needs it.

    I’m looking forward to reading all of your stories this week.

    1. Wormlady,

      Must be the “moon”!! We had state police all over our quiet rural community searching for a murder suspect and accomplice (reportedly have killed at least two people and one person –who he carjacked their vehicle– is missing. Had state police helicopter flying overhead. Quite the talk of the town. They also broke into several homes, in his fleeing from the law. They are caught now, so back to normal. Never know when you might run into evil.

      1. Wish it were just the moon. When bad behavior is given validation, it increases and others that might have been on the fringes, follow. Those leaders, especially in Washington state, are inciting these behaviors. I used to teach in a self contained behavior classroom and fully understand these behaviors based on that micro environment. I expect things to get worse before they get better. Enmity abounds. Be vigilant and be safe.

    2. Oh Wormlady… People are acting out. We saw this in our area briefly just before the pandemic lockdowns began. I endured an exchange much like the one you described around that time with a foul-mouthed menacing young woman driver who was quick to flip a middle finger. Protesting what? I have no idea. It was just bizarre. My best guess is that she was raging angry, and looking for an easy way to express that anger. Thankfully the bad behaviors seemed to have been short lived (generally), and everyone appears to be behaving well (again, generally) at this time. We also know this can change in a moment. We remain concerned. We pray that it all settles out in every good way possible, and for everyone.

  2. Oh, good grief, skunks! So sorry you are hosting a family in your barn! They are so destructive to a farm; I can’t list any redeeming qualities of skunks on farms. If we see them any where on the property they are shot immediately. Trying to trap them causes more problems than you need in your life right now. We put up fencing and hot wires to protect the areas closest to the house, barn, chickens and feed sheds. Babies or not, they need to go and if you can’t fence the area they are in, then try gravel or cement to keep them from digging. Good luck!

    Went to the city this week to get our monthly supplies from grocers, feed store, and hardware. Added 1 month usage and one month extra maintain a 6 months supply of animal feed. Got 5 gal paint bucket for out-buildings, extra building and hardware supplies and usual pantry replenishment. Also increased the meat purchases while available and affordable. PC’d several beef chuck roasts, pork and chicken and froze some hamburger.

    Continue to put up broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, oregano, thyme, kale and collards. Made more strawberry preserves, pie filling and syrup. Put up some jalapeno relish and dried other jalapenos for hot sauce. Summer squash is coming on strong so will be PCing them as soon as I have enough for a batch. Cukes are delicious so pickling some while eating others fresh.

    Harvested more seeds. Collected seeds from onions, cilantro and various lettuce which bolted in the heat. Mint doing well so put a batch of peppermint and spearmint in the dehydrator. Basil still producing well so it went in the other dehydrator.

    Groomed two of 5 long haired dogs into their summer cuts, trimmed nails and tweezed the hair out of their ears ((vet shamed me for not doing this)). Not perfect but good enough for the farm. If I were rich I’d take them to the groomer but going rate for dogs under 40 pds is now $50 plus tip.

    Made time to email House Reps and Senators to express my displeasure with all of them. Also railed a bit on McConnell. Won’t do any good but it felt good and it lowered my frustration level a little.

    May you week be healthy and productive.

    1. What a busy, productive week! Inspiring! We are in zone 3 so we aren’t quite ready to ramp up production. Checking all the canning jars for nicks and cracks so I’m ready to go.

    2. I have tried to email my Rep and my Senators. To say it doesn’t do any good is an understatement. My Rep is Debbie Dingle, what a useless piece of democrat trash. She has a form email for anyone who criticizes her that basically says I’m not in her district so she won’t respond. I give my name and address as required. I guess I’m not considered to be in her district because I disagree with her and the policies she espouses. My Senators are Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters. Peters won’t acknowledge at all, Stabenow sends a form letter that says she will look into my issue and get back to me, never happens.

      I have no representation in Washington, zero, zip, nada.

      In the coming election, I’m voting for the black guy, John James. He seems to be a good man and certainly a better choice for the job. Here’s praying he wins over Gary Peters, the white racist democrat.

    3. Animal House, We must live near each other. I’m sick of Mitch, but not enough to vote for the opponent.

      We had big drama in our town this week, the mayor decided he had the right to have flags taken down because he’d heard a group was coming through with bad intentions. Hundreds of citizens called him on it and showed up to refill the flagpoles themselves. Never been so proud.

      Lady Lupus still rules the roost in my house, so I haven’t gotten a lot done except working full time outside the home. We did look at some more prepper friendly homes, I know the Lord will provide what’s best for our purposes in His timing. We did pay off some more debt, on our way to being debt free soon. Hubby had 5 strokes Jan of 2019 as well as torn retina. His eyesight is still not right even after all the appropriate surgeries; it has helped us learn to live moment to moment in God’s grace and provision. I did get the first part of a closet purge done this morning — lots of things I’d been hanging on to will go to bless some other person tomorrow after church.

      I’ve been listening to the Tate-Gallagher Prepping 2-0 podcast a lot. What is happening in their area is so frightening, I pray for them daily. Same for you sweet folks. Although we’ve not met, you feel like family and we speak of you occasionally. Sometimes with a laugh or a smile, always with a prayer for health and happiness.

  3. Spent most of my “prep time” working on the shed. I just have to put on the metal roof today and the daughter has to finish putting on the stain. I’ve already moved a few items inside it.

    I did manage to buy a bulk pack of 250 .22 magnums. I really like the 22 magnum round.

    Did not have a lot of free time this week- it rained twice this week which is A Blessing. When it rains it literally frees up about an hour of our time since we don’t have to water. Can’t wait for the 1500 gallon tank to get here.

  4. Another busy week. I pinched a neighbor’s tall and lanky garden mums so they’d get bushier, then brought all the cuttings home for rooting. They should make a nice border in the garden when they’re blooming next year.

    Got some late tomatoes planted and I’m still planting sweet potato slips as they come on in my window sill. The purple sweet potatoes all rooted well but the orange ones took forever to start producing cuttings. The 5 varieties of dry beans I planted are all progressing well but I saw some deer tracks among the rows one morning. My deer fence consists of my regular fence, plus tall poles with bailing twine along the top and middle, with bits of red cloth tied on here and there. It works well, but one corner pole was on the menu at the termite buffet and had finally fallen over. That was like a flashing Enter Here sign and Bambi came in to browse.

    The cat likes his breakfast on the veranda this time of year so he can enjoy the cool air and the sun filtering through the trees. One morning after he had finished his last cup of latté and gone hunting, I kept hearing a banging. I looked out and a bluejay was landing on the edge of the cat food bowl causing it to tip up and then bang when it came back down. Mr. Bluejay finally ate his fill and went away but he’s been back every day since. The baby wrens who were holding up progress in my shop last week flew the coop this week. They spent a full day in the rafters by the skylights wondering how the heck to get outta this place. Mama and Papa Wren were hanging off the side of the open shop door, making twittering noises instead of their normal singing, saying to the kids, “Over here! Over here!” but two of the five kids weren’t getting it. It took them two days to finally figure it out. I see little phoebe beaks sticking above the edge of the nest on the front porch. By next week I should be able to tell if they are attached to heads or not.

    One quick reminder for everyone not to forget your civic duties this time of year. The flower gardens in front of your local government buildings have dead flower heads which need trimming off. Can’t have those dead brown seed receptacles making the gardens look ugly. One of my local buildings had some drop-dead gorgeous red poppies growing in front of it. I’ve been eyeballing them all spring, watching the progress of the seed heads, and finally on my last trip to town, several of the seed pods had turned brown and opened. I did my civic duty and removed them. The garden looked so much better without those old dried up things ruining the view. There are about 15 more waiting for me to be civic minded. It will be way more seeds than I can plant but they are the same as bread-seed poppies so I can use them to top home-made rolls. The marigolds and zinnias are progressing, and better colors than the ones I got last year. I just love doing volunteer horticulture work.

    Wednesday was honey extraction day. I took an aptitude test once. A week later going over the results, the gal said to me, “Wow, your manual dexterity is off the charts!” Unfortunately, she meant off the bottom of the charts. As near as she could pinpoint, my manual dexterity is somewhere between a quadriplegic starfish and a sea sponge. So the honey extraction left the kitchen, living room, the back deck, and the cat a big sticky mess. But manual dexterity be darned, I still managed to get 22 pint jars filled. I’m making some equipment to ensure that future honey extraction days are less messy. As I was taking a photo of all the jars of honey sitting on the counter, I couldn’t wipe the stupid grin off my face. I’ve always had a feeling of empowerment when I’ve taken photos of all my jam, chutney, tomatoes, potatoes, and other home-canned items, but this honey was something different than that. Whatever it was, it was very rewarding. I highly recommend bees for anyone who has thought about getting into beekeeping.

    Hoping everyone has a great week ahead! 🙂

    1. Genius idea! I’d rather do my civic duty your way than any other. Do you perform your civic duty in broad daylight or under cover of darkness?

      I often take pictures of my canned goods and if I’ve got a spare minute I love to browse pictures of pantries filled with home canned goodness.

      1. Hey wormlady, I do my civic duty in broad daylight during business hours. Since most people aren’t seed savers, anyone who sees me just assumes I’m being nice and cleaning up the gardens. I let them think what they will. 🙂 If there are any extra huge weeds, I pull those as well.

    2. St F, any man who enjoys birds and flowers is one I want as a neighbor. I appreciate your noticing of small things and taking opportunities for win/win situations. I will begin looking for times to gussie up my local municipal flower beds.

      BTW, I very much enjoyed your story of the British dessert, with the link, you thoughtful fellow.

      Carry on in grace

      1. Hey Marine, glad you liked the British story. I finished Homecoming that you recommended. I’ve never read a book that took me through so many emotions. Rage at the people mistreating returning soldiers, tears that people could be so kind to returning vets, and some laugh-out-loud stories. And I think I already mentioned Bryson’s book One Summer, America 1927. That was very different from his other books and a fascinating read. You definitely recommend some good ones. I loved the line about Babe Ruth hitting more home runs on hot dogs than today’s guys are hitting on steroids. What a hoot. 🙂

  5. Agree so much. Your Soul and Eternity matter most of all. Align those first or nothing else matters.

    I am in what I hope to be my last house before Glory. I have already started my first two small gardens. This is my first attempt at gardening in about 25 years. It is coming along nicely, but we shall see about the final products. I already have designs to make for next year’s expansion, very excited. I have gone through, and made my list of dehydrated foods, and other buckets of long term food stuffs. While not a year’s worth, it is a good 2 month’s worth. The dehydrator will be going soon and buying other buckets for filling out other necessities. I am unable to thank all of you enough for your Wisdom and encouragement through your articles.

    1. We hope this is our last house before HOME as well, Dan. I’d like to echo your thanks to JWR. and AL. We have no idea, I’m sure, what goes in to keeping this going and moderating the ‘cast of characters’ who comment here.

      Have fun with your grands today, AL. We are hanging out with 5 of ours today to celebrate a birthday.

  6. Skunks! My arch enemies. I’ve trapped as many as a dozen during the spring/summer.
    Even got sprayed once. Once.
    Right on my head. Had to shave my hair off. I stunk for a week. Even work said I needed to take a few days off.
    Yes, I know they are part of the eco-system and are probably needed in some niche for a healthy bio-diverse…. no. They need to die.

    I am content in my life with not having hate in my heart. But skunks? I have a very strong dislike for them.

    Kill a skunk, save a grub.

    Got to see our local piebald deer again yesterday. Just couldn’t get close enough for any photos. Guess I’ll have to lug the big lens on the DSLR.

    1. What can I say?
      I laughed so hard I went into a coughing fit, and I don’t even cough!
      Oh, my gosh. This just struck me as so funny, I just keep laughing each time I reread it.

      “Yes, I know they are part of the eco-system and are probably needed in some niche for a healthy bio-diverse…. no. They need to die.”

      After that, I enjoyed a hearty encore:

      “Kill a skunk, save a grub,”

      Lord, please bless Tom in Oregon for improving my day with laughter.
      Thanks, Tom. Krissy

      1. Full story, hopefully for a laugh…

        Skunk(s) kept coming in the backyard at night, stinking the place up, so I bought a have-heart trap thinking I would take it a couple miles away and let it go.
        Next morning, got one!

        Looked at the cage and thought, now what? It can see me! Uh, hmm, well? Uh…

        Aha! Grab old blanket, hold it up spread out, walk up slow, drape it over the cage, pick it up and go.
        Plan in effect. The cage is against the house, I get about 3-4 feet away when I hear the skunk getting riled up. Then I hear this weird squirt-hiss noise. And feel a wet glop hit my head.
        The skunk had sprayed against the house, it ricocheted up, over the blanket and landed on my head.
        Drop blanket and run away, screaming like a little girl. The wife saw what happened and locked the sliding glass door. As soon as I stopped moving, I smelled it.
        Then I threw up. Multiple times. My eyes were watering so bad I couldn’t see.

        I was forced to strip in the backyard and throw my clothes away, got tossed a bar of lava soap and told to wash with the garden hose. Only then could I come in the house and go directly to the shower.
        The kids, 9 and 11, just stared at me like I was crazy. After a few showers and different soaps, I still smelled.
        Next step, shave the head. That helped a lot, but I still stunk.
        When I showed up to work the next day, everybody would just walk away. So they politely asked me to take a few days off.
        That’s when I found a pretty good recipe for reducing that horrible smell. I think it was the university of Colorado who came up with it.
        Hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dawn dish soap. Lather, rinse repeat…

        Have a great day all. Think I’m going to take some advice and work on my soul today.

        1. I had to quick grab a pillow and stuff it over my face so my gales of laughter wouldn’t wake the baby! I am so sorry that happened, but thanks for sharing it with us, and I can’t blame your wife for locking that door! Lol!

        2. Oh, my gosh. What a story.

          My laughter was continuous stop & go, stop & go.

          I would read a little and start laughing so hard my eyes would close, and I couldn’t read anymore.
          Laughter would subside, read a little more, laughter began again and couldn’t read… Repeat, repeat, repeat until the throwing up part. Oops! That wasn’t funny. That was awful!. I felt really bad for a moment…

          Until I started reading again, and then the laughter returned, stop & go.

          Thank you for sharing your painful skunk adventure. It is good medicine.

          This is right up there with some of my brothers’ stories from Africa, so I am going to read your story at Thanksgiving to share the laughs.

          Blessings to you and your family, Krissy

        3. One of my dogs has an ongoing unrequited love affair going on with a local skunk. As odd as it sounds, and after enduring her rebuffing of his affection second hand many times…a thorough soaking with a drug store brand vinegar based douche is the single most effective de-stinking mechanism available. Trust me, I have tried EVERYTHING!

    2. Tom ,,skunks ,,,,oh ya,,,,about 3rd grade I found a skunk kit , and kept it for a pet ,that worked well for a while , I never got sprayed ,directly ,,i loved my skunk it loved me ,problem was it was afraid of other people , and things happen ,i was pushed off to the back corner of the class room when school started in the fall ,now mind you I could smell it but it was not strong or bad to me. Was forced to keep it out in the barn ,it never did anything bad in my bed room , Was a great pal for a kid to have ,,still laff about it ,probably a good thing I wasn’t intrested in girls then ,kits like kids need to be started right ,,
      Thanks for bringing back such good memories,

  7. We had a setback this week in our relocation efforts. They elderly lady whom we had been in agreement to purchase her acreage backed out of the deal for the immediate future. She had lost her husband a couple of years ago and approached us about purchasing the property. It is ideal for us in the prairie states, off a road from a road from a road. 5 acres with an entire section of pasture land around it. We had agreed to wait a year so she could sort her things and have an auction. The year came and went, we weren’t terribly upset, that gave us more time to save toward the purchase, meaning less we would have to finance. We started pressing her earlier this month to get a date finalized for the closing on the property, after setting on her porch and talking, she told us she wasn’t ready to leave, but we would still have first right of refusal. We have two early teen sons, we want them to grow up outside of our little rural town, but she has plans to sell in 5 or 10 years. Very frustrated and disappointed with the whole situation.

    I am sure that God has put this obstacle in our way for a reason that will only be revealed to us later, but that knowledge doesn’t make it any easier.

    On a positive side, the hog that we had been waiting to have processed made it into our butcher this week (we had been waiting since early March). We will be in the process of clearing out room in the freezer this week as well!

    1. Trevor… We were very sorry to read about this lady’s change of heart, and change of plans. It can be very difficult for elderly people to make decisions that come with some sense of finality for them. We have seen this among older family members too. They appear to be ready for change, but are not always as prepared as they seem to take steps that bring closure to any particular decision. We do believe you are right. God has put this obstacle in your way for reasons that may not be clear in the present. We have seen this very thing in our own lives many times over. Trust in His plan, and that He will unfold something good (and even wonderful) along the pathway of your lives.

    2. Trevor,
      I agree with the sentiments of Telesilla of Argos, who commented above and would like to add my “two cents worth”. First off is that 5 acres seems a bit small for a family of four. However if the property has a good house that is insulated well, a garage or storage shed in good repair, with a cleared area for a garden / orchard (you mention that this property has “… an entire section of pasture land around it”), perhaps a small creek or stream flowing through it or a pond, is very well isolated from town and all the problems that go along with them and is priced right with good terms on part of the seller then I might be inclined to consider it, but if not I would probably want to look for another piece of land to call “home”. Jim has recently written an excellent article called “Strategies for Buying Rural Land“ right here on this blog at the following link:


      For those that might have missed it I would strongly encourage everyone to read it. Print out a hard copy of it and use it to “weed” out land that does not measure up to a list of requirements. I work on a farm and in the summer I only have a chance to get on the Internet once or twice a week so that is why I posted the link to the article so “weekenders” like myself might get a better chance to take advantage of that information.

      Additionally regarding the 5 acres is that if you were not going to have any animals, particularly livestock, then it might be big enough for you, but I would really like to double or triple that size at a minimum. Livestock can literally eat up a lot of land as far as acreage requirements go. If the land is poor ground or is in an arid (dry) region of the country then the size of land needed also increases as well. My personal preference would be no animals. I know that goes against what a lot of people want and recommend as a survival property. Part of my reason on that topic is as follows: If there is a drastic shift in weather that causes one to loose a hay crop (either extreme drought or extreme wet / rain) and you were depending on that hay to feed your livestock to feed yourself and family then where does that leave you? It could very well leave you hungry.

      You also mention “ It is ideal for us in the prairie states…” and my question on that is does it have any trees on it? Trees = firewood = house heat in the winter. Trees also = privacy or at least they help as they can hide from public view houses, other buildings, cars, etc. A prairie with no trees does not offer this. If it has a house on it how is it heated in winter. Take careful consideration to this. The three necessities in life: (1) food, (2) shelter and (3) clothing. If this property does not provide for item (2) then it would flunk my test. The same goes for the first item as well. The third item is rather independent of the property so unless one if growing cotton to provide for clothing then it is irrelevant at this point.

      An overall impression of mine as I read your post is to agree with your statement of “I am sure that God has put this obstacle in our way for a reason that will only be revealed to us later, …” and I think you are probably correct on that. Best wishes finding the right piece of land,

    3. Fear not ! It will all work out according to God’s plan. Years ago, we were in a tough spot. The town where we lived condemned our home, and issued an eviction notice. We looked around and found 6 lots together in a nearby town. We were ready to move a mobile home there and live, so we bought the land. Then we found out that the town would not allow a 14′ wide mobile home even on 6 lots ( ! ), it had to be a double-wide. So, we got out of the deal, and we had less than a month to get out of where we were. The real estate agent showed us another property that suited us much better, and we are still there. It is so perfect for us that we knew God placed us where we are on purpose. He wanted us to be happy, healthy, and safe. We are God’s children and God treats His family THE BEST. Be patient and look at what becomes available. Pray, and God will find you a place, probably even better than the one you want now. Or you may get that one at a later time. Pray and God will look out for you. He has a plan for all that will listen. Have no fear ! Rejoice !

  8. A busy week working the zucchini harvest… We blanched and froze zucchini with just a minute in boiling water (no salt). This kills the enzymes that can discolor the veggies, but doesn’t overcook the squash. We place the blanched zucchini chunks or slices on cookie sheets (covered with parchment paper), and then freeze the pieces. Once frozen, we put those in FoodSaver bags — labeled and dated. We’ve found that the FoodSaver bags do a great job preserving food quality during freezer storage.

    We’ve also got quite the cucumber production going, and have used the blender to process cukes for freezing in ice cube trays. These will be good for future smoothies and for use in chilled cucumber soup. We also made a microwave version of bread-and-butter fridge pickles, and have plans for some delicious homemade pickle relish too.

    After trimming back our tomatoes in the greenhouse, the plants are almost ready for fresh production, and we’re excited for this progress.

    Winter squash are forming and growing well. Our pie pumpkin patch is producing quite a few flowers, and we’re hopeful.

    We also expanded our garden area, and have been working on fruits — more strawberries, grapes, blueberries, and thornless blackberries.

    Prayers for restful and lovely weekend for everyone, and the very best week ahead. Summer is upon us!

    1. Hey T of A, cucumber soup?? I did a search and found a recipe, it sounds awesome. I’ve never even heard of it, thanks for the tip!

      I’m glad to see a fellow cucumber smoothie fan. I drink so many in the hot summer I just slice them, put them in gallon freezer bags, and freeze them. I usually have 3 or 4 bags at the height of cucumber season. I save the primo ones for bread and butter pickles and freeze all the rest. Since I started growing them on the garden fence where I can see the cukes hanging down, I have a lot fewer get away from me.

      I never thought of the ice cube tray trick. That would work well for my blackberries. Run them through the Squeezo to get rid of the seeds, then freeze the puree. You’re just full of great ideas today. 🙂

      1. Hello St. Funogas!
        Delighted for the news of your chilled cucumber soup discovery. ENJOY!!! This year we’ll make our own yogurt to go with it — a first for us, and it will be fun!

        From one cucumber smoothie fan to another — have you tried a combination of cucumber, mint, lime, lavender, sugar to taste, and club soda? Just another great reason to grow a lime tree in the greenhouse — although our larger tree didn’t flower this year, and we’re researching the cause of that hiccup!

        One more freezer trick for fun! If you enjoy fruit pies, freeze your fruit filling in a pie tin, and then seal it up in a good quality freezer bag. When you’re ready to bake your pie, just pop out the frozen berry pie mix, and pop it right into the pie shell. It’s ready for the oven!

      1. Great question re: thornless raspberries! Gurney’s got ’em, although our raspberries will have those pesky thorns. For some reason our raspberry canes are not greening up as they should. Curious… We purchased our thornless blackerries from Gurneys as well, and those are doing very well! We have the starts in small pots, and will transplant them to their permanent place in the garden shortly. Hoping this helps!

  9. I had to chuckle at the skunk encounter. Years ago I to had skunks in my barn. It had a wooden floor so I was stuck with what went on under it. Anyway it was spring so the grass in the field was about a foot tall. It was evening and I looked out to see a tall tail and three shorter tails moving about in the grass. It was a sight that made me smile. That fall I dispatched them all, that to made me smile. On a second note if you can get rid of pallets do it. Lay down rock or pour concrete. The pallets are a great temporary fix but everything that can will live under them. And worse they are ankle breakers. Price concrete then price the cost of a broken ankle and time lost while you heal. Just a thought….

  10. We didn’t get as much done this week as we hoped because we had the two youngest grandkids all week. We have enjoyed them though.
    We did manage to get the fencing up to triple the size of the hog pen.
    Also made progress on the garden fence.
    The corn, squash, & beans are up. I expect with next weeks expected heat everything will really grow.
    We have a busy week ahead though.
    Peace and blessings to all.

  11. The garden continues to come along nicely, with tomatoes and green beans ripening and squash really starting to put out. I was concerned that I would have to hand pollinate, but it doesn’t appear that will be necessary. Unfortunately, it appears some have developed powdery mildew, so I’m going to try Neem oil treatment for that. Blackberries are coming in strong, and it appears we’ll have a strong harvest this year. Muscadines and scuppernongs are also looking promising, though the blueberries are disappointing.

    Our church safety team also met for some firearms training, including basic pistol marksmanship, target transitions, reloading drills, and offhand shooting. One member, “J”, also brought his newest acquisition, a PA-9 from Palmetto State Armory. I tried it out for a few rounds, and I think it would make a nice home defense weapon for CQB. As a result, my Lady has told me I’m no longer allowed to play with J.

    Stay safe, folks.

    1. A comment on squash for future reference: There are now varieties that are resistant to powdery mildew and are usually listed with “PM” either in the variety name or in the description in seed catalogs. A number of summer squash and zucchini are this way now. I realize that won’t help for this year, but something you might consider for next season. Once I had some powdery mildew on some squash in a public demonstration garden so I mixed up a weak solution of hydrogen peroxide in just plain old water and sprayed it on and it took the mildew right off the leaves. Be careful if you use this method and don’t have too much hydrogen peroxide as you will “burn” the leaves. I did a small test experiment on one leaf and waited a while (15-20 minutes) and when the leaf started showing a browning color I decided to dilute the spray with more water. After retesting I succeeded in the right amount and it worked. I honestly don’t remember the proportions as it’s been so long ago. I’ve never tried the Neem oil treatment, but it does sound interesting. Maybe sometime I’ll have a reason to try it – perhaps later this year. Time will tell.

      Blueberries need fairly large amounts of iron and manganese and that is probably why they are lagging behind. My choice would be to add those two elements. A good friend of mine is a soil consultant and works with a lot of blueberry growers and this is his approach instead of the more common traditional approach which is to acidify the soil. Since I’ve moved around so much and never had land of my own I don’t have any first hand experience with blueberries, but do have lots and lots of first hand experience with many garden vegetables all the way from artichokes to zucchini, which are all annuals.

      1. David,

        Thanks for the tips, I’ll definitely look for the PM variety next year, as well your suggestions on the blueberries. I’m thinking our cooler weather may have contributed as well. Gardening is still fairly new to us, and it’s a continuous learning process.

  12. Trevor, sorry for your setback. We endured a similar situation for a number of years with owners waffling back and forth about selling. One day I was out and about and came upon this place and despite all odds here we are, without a mortgage to boot. We firmly believe the Lord made it possible for us to be here. Don’t give up and pray about it.

    I had to smile about the skunks. My granddaughter when she was little would get so excited when we would see mama skunk leading her babies. She would say, “look there is a stunk of skunks grandma!” Haha.

    Tom in Oregon, I relate to how you feel about skunks because that is how I feel about raccoons! They are not cute, they are insidious chicken killers.

    1. I have a raccoon and possibly babies in my walls. There is a large space around the very large fireplace and it or they are in there. When I went up in the attic the other day something was growling at me. The raccoon appeared up over the edge of the large space by the fireplace. It or they are causing a huge amount of noise in the walls and I am afraid they will damage wiring. Got up and closed they attic access in the middle of the night hoping it was out eating and drinking. I was hoping to block it outside. No luck. Still there today when I went up in the attic today. Appeared up over the edge of the big space area again. Any suggestions. I have a live trap but not sure its big enough. I definitely am not set on sparing its life.

        1. This idea is brilliant. I have a boom box up against the wall with the mega bass on. Found some old rock and roll tapes. Couldn’t get them to keep playing continually so found the CD’s I had taped them from and am experimenting with getting them to loop so it will go all night. I am sleeping at the other end of the house. I have bedrooms on each end. I finally found how it is getting in and out. I thought it was getting up into the attic through the pull down stairs in the garage but that has been closed for 4 days and I knew it was having to get out to drink and eat (cat food I’m sure since I feed a feral cat colony). It is the prime suspect in killing young chicks and pulling them out of their cage. Haven’t had a problem with the cats doing that. They all now go in a hardware cloth cage at night so no raccoon hands can get in there. The bigger ones go in the cage with slightly larger holes during the day. I checked all the screen vents on the house and didn’t see the hardware cloth was missing from one because of the overgrown cecil bruner rose. Spent several hours pruning that before it got too hot today. Some of those canes were 1 1/2 inches across. The base is 3 1/2 inches across. Cleared a big enough area for a ladder that is staged to move at 3:00 AM so I can put hardware cloth up on the vent before it goes back in the attic and then down in the wall. I hear it scrabbling back in as it is just getting light. I am hoping the music will get it to move the kits if there are some. I put a big tray with rodent bait and chicken and raw hamburger laced with antifreeze up in the attic but that didn’t seem to work. Well my CD seems to be looping finally so I can go to bed and get up at 3:00. David and Goliath ; thank you so much for your suggestion. Again brilliant. I am glad the nearest neighbor is a mile away. Other suggestions were great too but I can’t get close enough to the chimney to get anything down there because the coon comes up and growls at me. It doesn’t look too friendly. Considered trying to shoot it but I’m not a great shot and balanced on rafters didn’t so too house friendly if I missed.

      1. If you have ever seen the 1979 movie, “Alien,” that is what comes to my mind regarding how vicious fighting raccoons can be. I watched two of them fight each other over burnt gravy I had set on the deck to cool down. They were outside of my French door, literally within arms reach except for the glass. While this was years ago, it is a sight that cannot be forgotten.

        Please exercise all caution in protecting yourself from attack.

        With that said, what about shaking a couple pounds of cayenne pepper down the hole? Bear spray or pepper spray? Lower a sponge/s on a stick or string soaked in ammonia should make them leave if you can bypass wiring… Let us hear the rest of the story when you figured out what worked. Best wishes. Stay safe.

        1. Krissy, great ideas but I can’t get that close to it. I have to walk through the attic balanced on rafters. No quick retreat. The nasty raccoon comes up next to the chimney when I go up there and it growls at me. Thank you for your warnings about how vicious they are. Hopefully it will leave tonight with babies if it has them and I can get the vent covered before it comes back in at dawn. Alley Oop is playing on the boom box now up next to the wall where it spends the day. couple of other play list items are Great Balls of Fire, Kansas City, Rockin Robin and That’ll Be the Day. Hope it will be the day the raccoon leaves.

  13. This week came and went so very fast. We had rain at the beginning of the week and hot weather at the end. Our veggies and fruit truly don’t know what to expect. Our pear tree has some kind of orange mold on it. I’ve removed the branches and need to do some investigation.

    We have been putting up both strawberries and rhubarb for a few weeks now. We still have another week of strawberry harvesting. We’ve frozen it, made jam and did some freeze drying as well.

    Peas and early potatoes are finishing up and we need to remove them and replant with a summer crop. Just finished clearing another section of our property and planted melon, squash and pumpkins.

    The heat returns next week so I need to mulch more than I have.

    Be well all,

    1. Hey Cal, that “orange mold” on your pears is almost certainly a rust, which is a kind of fungi. It has what’s called an alternate host and if you’ve ever seen orange blobs of jelly hanging off cedar/juniper and related trees after a rain, that’s the alternate host. It grows there, then puts out spores which infect members of the rose family like apples, pears and service berries.

      If you do a search, there should be more specific info for your particular area as far as the best way to treat it.

      Glad your strawberries are doing so well. I need to get some planted. A family member who lives in the Redoubt sent me a message this week. She said, “I heard cow manure is great on strawberries so I tried it. It’s terrible! I’m definitely going to stick with whipped cream!”

  14. Had a skunk in the house years ago. I used a trail of cat food to get it out of the house. I followed behind with a large white towel on the end of a broomstick to keep it moving. Got it out with no spraying. The big problem will be keeping them from returning.

  15. HI ALL ,,,,some shorts from the ranch ,,,my virus adventure continues,,went to WM and did my first walk around the store since the virus , Was hard ,,,will use a scooter again next time know better but had to try ,,,
    New info ,,,data coming in that you can get it again after you have had it ,short lived immunity for some , and a shift to younger generations ,
    Info coning out of Costa Rica are telling me with many on HCQ not having big problems , HCQ is taken a lot for malaria ,cost 10cents a pill ,
    In other news large land owners in Montana and Idaho are being approached with offers to buy by unusual people with as I was told,unlimited funds ,wonder who?,problem is if the ranch close to me sells unrealistic high ,the new tax base hits us too ,real ranch /cattle ground,is/was based on the number of head it would feed /feed value,not view,,or eco value, with the hard times in the cattle bz I see large tracts of land being locked up by eco people ,
    Oh well who is john galt ?and no we will not allways produce,
    Preps this week more drums of fuel ,a hundred pounds more frozen chicken ,flats of canned tomatos ,mushrooms ,peaches , some thoughts on food , we can grow most anything we need so why not just grow and can it ?? I did a cost benefit analysis and it was better to buy at this time ,than can our own , that will most likely change as availablity declines,but for me time is like money ,one must spend it wisely, and as one gets older you realize time is limited,
    Lost a nice 4 1/2 month Angus hef think to poison plants. Sad to see mom stand over and cry
    Yes cows have fellings ,,,,oh yes cows ,need to go amoung them and see what they have to say
    Tea and chocolate with the girls

  16. Just a thought on trying to dehydrate your frozen vegs. I often just cut up and freeze my vegetables. But when dehydrating, is necessary to blanch many of them first. Of course after you’ve frozen them that’s not a viable option. Store bought frozen vegs seem to have been blanched as the dehydrate really well.

  17. Lily, you may be sitting on a gold mine! Get yourself a Garrett pan kit and do some testing. That glacial river bed may produce some gold. It’ll be some awfully small stuff normally, but might get you a few pickers.

    Just finished the construction of our new raised bed garden. Now, I have to fill the pathways with stone, and weed and fill the ground level beds. Have to wait to clear the runaway raspberries, as the canes are incredibly loaded with berries this year. They must be doing this to save themselves knowing they’re going to get cut down. The tomatoes have exploded in the new beds and already have fruit. The new asparagus roots we just planted are showing shoots, and the old roots I dug have been producing well. The blueberry bed suffered a setback as the small amount of compost I added swung the Ph to 6.2, so I had to add acidifier. Starting to get new growth on the affected plants now. Must have been the ashes that were in the compost.

    Had to break into my Alaska trip food. Looks like Crystal Lite production is on hold right now. Been 4 weeks since I saw the peach tea on the shelf, and bought the last of it. Still bare. Have 60 gallons worth in the trip supplies. Working outside, I’ll go through a gallon a day easy.

    Garden has kept me from going out mining, and I’m getting the fever bad!

    The meatpacking plant that my nephew quit in January has been hit hard by the CCP virus. About 100 infections there. We’re happy he got out in time! So far, the family is safe.

    I still can’t fathom the number of idiots not wearing masks! Had one tell me that we don’t need to wear masks anymore cause the lockdown is over. Lord, please make murder legal and give me a gun!

  18. All I did this week was run around like a chicken with my head cut off.
    All of your adventures are wonderful to read about.
    Keep the Faith!

    1. Sara Sue: After we recovered from a near stroke from seeing the price of DAK HAMS on this
      week’s recommendations we followed your idea and checked with WalMart. The price was ok but questionable availability.
      So off to AlbertsonsNot
      and bought a dandy Cooks butt portion ham. 8.2lbs. for $19.62.
      Five pint pressure canned jars,a soup bone,and dog scraps.
      Not bad huh?

  19. Nathan Hail… very wise words from you regarding the land and sharing your story… “ and My sheep will hear My voice “ … The Lord does care for us beyond anything we can imagine… He tells us to “ wait upon The Lord “ …TY for your contributions to the SB community

  20. There is a saying I enjoy that is akin to “Careful what you wish for.”, it is “Don’t set a trap for a skunk until you have a plan for a skunk in a trap.”

  21. I’m a long time reader of SB . Never commented untill recently. I get a lot of good from the comments. Some preps this week over and above the stay-even work: canned the first fruit off our one fig tree- more to come later in the main crop Aug-Sept- we canned six half quart jars of fig chutney; quite good! There would have been more did not my wife LOVE them fresh. Also did eight pints of strawberry jam . Bought the berries at a ranch market . In this heat you bring them home and process the same day or they spoil fast. Bought brake and distributor parts for 1972 F-250 to install next week. Plus some pork loin roasts on sale at a local market {.99 cents a lb.} to can up next week. I sometimes say “if we had money it would be too easy”. Regarding Capt Nemo: “…can’t fathom the number of idiots not wearing masks!” I reckon I’m one of them, neighbor! No hard feelings, though. Methinks we have much more in common than in difference. Probably most regular readers here are developing their common sense muscle as well as the don’t tread on me attitude as well as other virtues. KJV 1 Tim 6:20 “…keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called;”

  22. Just a really quick question for Lily–

    Not to be “nose-y”, but which method of preservation do you use most–drying/FD/canning? The reason I ask is because I’m thinking of getting a FD–but the price is holding me back. I work full time and take care of my Mom full time too (dementia)–so time is of the essence. I think that the FD would take less time to use–but I’ve got the mechanical ability of an earthworm and heard it takes a bit of work to use. Thoughts?

    1. Also interested. Have been stalking FD pricing for a couple of years now. Encouraged to see oil free option for less maintenance but cost is definitely prohibitive especially considering my estimates of increased electricity spend. Currently can most things and dehydrate with done freezing, but definitely aspire to FD if I can find a cost effective solution.

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