To be prepared for a crisis, every Prepper must establish goals and make long-term and short-term plans. In this column, the SurvivalBlog editors review their week’s prep activities and planned prep activities for the coming week. These range from healthcare and gear purchases to gardening, ranch improvements, bug out bag fine-tuning, and food storage. This is something akin to our Retreat Owner Profiles, but written incrementally and in detail, throughout the year. We always welcome you to share your own successes and wisdom in the Comments. Let’s keep busy and be ready!
This week has been hectic. In addition to catching up on my blog writing, I’ve been quite busy cataloging the new inventory for Elk Creek Company. Because almost everything I sell is in “used” condition, I feel obligated to take photos and to write detailed descriptions. This gobbles up a lot of my available time.
I’ve also been helping one of my consulting clients, by working up a detailed retreat stocking plan. In the Army we were fond of saying: “The logistics are daunting.” The Army’s solution was to try to cram everyone into a “One Size Fits All” logistics solution. And we never had to match a “budget” for anything except space and weight. Well, stocking a civilian retreat for a large extended family to provide for a period of five+ years is a true logistical challenge. You can’t just place one big order, based on National Stock Numbers (NSNs). Each product and vendor must be evaluated. The constraints of time (and shelf-life), space, and budget necessitate some trade-offs. And there are umpteen variables, some of which are colored by the local climate, ages of the family members, dietary restrictions, and in this case one older individual with physical infirmities. Further complicating things are the current pandemic-induced supply chain difficulties. Have you tried to buy a 1,000-round case of 5.56mm ball ammo or a propane chest freezer, recently? “Daunting”, indeed!
I did take the time to go for a hike with my wife Avalanche Lily, to see where a recent Mountain Lion visitor had been padding around in the snow, here at The Rawles Ranch. I’ll let Lily describe that.
Avalanche Lily Reports:
The weather has been quite cold this week with intermittent snow showers and sunny weather. the temperatures warmed up by the end of the week with an arriving storm front that is dropping snow.
This week I planted two trays of onion seeds and put them in the Indoor Bathroom greenhouse.
The girls and I tried ice-fishing again, twice this week. We are trying to catch pike and trout. No, we didn’t catch anything. Grr! But we are practicing and learning more and more about bait and lures. Miss Eloise, enjoyed reading aloud to us while jigging her fishing pole.
In addition to my snow hike with Jim, I have had two other snow hikes and a hike around the inside of the house wearing a weighted backpack, while listening to scripture.
This week, I finished listening to the books of Mark and Luke.
Hey, hey, hey, I have another critter story for you. 😉
On Sunday afternoon, as I was talking on the phone with a friend from our Bible Study, I happened to look out the picture window which looks out to the Near-House Meadow, and noticed S. our dominant horse was in high alert mode, staring intently through the fences of our orchard. Our orchard is fenced in with 11- foot high fences but it’s south fence line was added to our four-foot high field fence line that separates our house meadow from our south woods and meadows. I continued to talk to our friend while watching her. She began running back and forth along the north orchard fence, then ran away from the fence and ran a tight circle then went back to the fence and stared through it, her whole body erect and ears forward. Hmm, I thought, there must be some predator there in the south meadow.
I continued to talk on the phone for another ten minutes, all the while watching S. who continued alternating between staring, running along the fence, and then running tight circles, then running up the fence, stopping short and staring. When I hung up, I told the girls to look at S. and that I thought that we had a predator on the ranch and that it was probably a Mountain Lion, because, the horses were not this excited when the wolves came through. Near the end of the phone conversation, our bull named Sh. had joined S. in the meadow, but had not gone all the way up to the orchard fence.
I then phoned our neighbors, who have a good view of our south meadows and asked if they could see anything near our orchard, but they couldn’t. There are quite a few trees blocking their view, but I thought I should ask, just in case.
It was late afternoon, and Jim wasn’t yet back from traveling to the gun show. It was time to feed the animals their afternoon meal, we feed them twice a day. I went out onto the porch, with my Glock 30 strapped on. As usual, I had it loaded with a 13-round Glock 21 magazine. I heard S. do that nervous snort and whoosh sound that horses make when they’re very nervous. Then she actually charged the orchard fence and snorted and whooshed again! Wow, I thought, she is really not happy with whatever is on the other side of that fence in our south woods.
As I stepped off the porch, I could see the cows were in the barnyard watching S. and Sh. They seemed to be on alert, too.
I continued to the barn, which is in the opposite direction from the orchard. I threw out hay to the animals, and none of them came to eat! This was very unusual behavior, on their part.
I went back into the house to get my binoculars. Miss Eloise, ordered me, “Mom, you’re not going into the woods to see what that animal is!!” I laughed, and said, “No, not this time, I promise. But I am going to walk along the tree line north of the of the near-house meadow, which will allow me to see at the same angle through the orchard fence at exactly the same area that S. is looking at.” I felt pretty safe, because I would have two 11-foot fences between me and it, and a whole meadow to shoot across if it went around the orchard and hopped the other fence to come at either me or my beasties.
To put it mildly, Miss Eloise had been very upset with me for walking out to the meadow the recent time that our neighbor called and reported seeing the pair of wolves playing in our open meadows. (I had went out to catch a glimpse of them and then saw one of them come running towards me.)
I went back out onto the porch. My beasties were still in their original positions from when I had last seen them before entering the house. I walked over to the barnyard to where the cows were standing — along the north trees — and walked down the tree line until I reached the spot opposite of S. who was across the meadow from me near the orchard fence.
The bull, located in the meadow but closer to where I was headed, watched me approach, he was standing very erect and alert, looking like a very strong bull, a serious specimen to contend with. He gave me an intent look that I interpreted to say, that he was very concerned about this predator being on our ranch and that he was glad I was paying attention to their warning behavior, and was aware of what was going on. His eyes are so expressive. He is my very handsome buddy boy! I pulled out my binoculars and panned the fence line looking through the two fences into our south meadow. It has just a few trees.
Suddenly, I saw it under a cedar tree, right up next to it’s trunk. A big kitty was crouching and watching the horse, intently. It was a beautiful animal. It didn’t move at all. It just stared! That kind of surprised me. Eerie! I’m not sure it saw me… It had to have seen me, but it didn’t move or appear to acknowledge me being there. I didn’t like it. I don’t want Mountain Lions to think our ranch is a great place to get a meal. I was thinking: “Big Kitty you cannot stay here. It is time for you to go.” I put down the binoculars and pulled out my Glock, aimed it upwards, aimed toward a cliff to the northeast, and shot the gun, once. Then I shouted a few times.
At the report of the Glock, S. and the Bull ran a bunch of circles. They hate the sound of the gun. The cows bolted up to our northwest woods. I pulled out my Binoculars and looked through the fences under the tree. The Cat was gone! To make sure it kept running, I shouted a bunch of times “Hey, Hey, Hey!” Then went back up to the parking lot to Miss Eloise’s car and honked her horn a dozen times.
I went back to the porch where Miss Eloise was standing and told the her that I actually, had seen a Mountain Lion.
Miss Eloise called our neighbor and told them that I had seen a Mountain Lion. They then told her that a young female lion had been hanging around their place for the past week. They do not have livestock. She is young and probably hungry. That would explain why she didn’t run when I came into view. They speculated that she was probably a member of a family of Mountain lions that became separated from her family group when the lion hunters were hunting.
A few moments later, Jim drove in the ranch lane. We told him about the Mountain Lion.
When we were all in the house, executive orders were broadcasted about the house, to not let out any of the pet cats for a couple of days, until we could determine if the cat was no longer lurking about. We don’t want any of our kitties to become a big kitty snack.
Miss Eloise and I, went back outside to check on our beasties while Jim unpacked the SUV. Our horses, cows, and bull were now over at the barn eating their dinner. I wanted to close up the cows in the barn, for the night, but they weren’t obeying me. They were eating. So I figured that they would probably be all right. I have no idea how many other times a lion has crossed our property at night when they were loose and they dealt with it without human help…
The next morning, we “locked” the cats and kittens into Miss Violet’s room, while we were running in and out of the house doing chores. I went out to feed the beasties their breakfast. It was a bit earlier than usual and not yet broad daylight. I saw the horses standing between the barn and the corral fence very close to it’s open gate. I looked around for the cows and then called for them when I didn’t see them. I thought they were somewhere in the woods. They came out from the stalls which they had access to through the corral gate. I laughed at the sight of that, because, the bull was the first one out and had been standing in the open doorway protecting his girls who were in the stalls. What a good boy. The horses were in a position to protect the cows in the corral by blocking the open gate to the corrals if a predator had approached them. My animals are smart and can take care of themselves.
I fed them their hay and refilled their water tanks and went into the house for a while. Later in the morning I went back outside and looked to see if all the beasties were still eating their breakfast. S. — my dominant horse — was not with the others. She was now in the arena, on extra high alert, staring down into our north woods. Oh, great, I thought, that Mountain Lion is still around. So I went back to the house and retrieved some ear muffs and went and stood in the parking lot and shot a half-dozen rounds from my Glock into our north woods to scare the mountain lion away. [To clarify: The target was a cliff face beyond our north woods. It is a safe backstop impossible to reach by foot in the winter time.]
I went back inside. I re-filled that depleted magazine. A couple of hours later, I again checked on the beasties. By then, they were staring into the woods north of our property fence line. At this point, I just hoped that the lion would keep going that way, because it would re-enter the national forest.
On Tuesday, the animals were back to their relaxed selves, no longer in alert mode. Properly armed, Jim and I took a hike together all around the perimeter, south meadow, and north woods, to see the mountain lion’s tracks. They had been softened by a recent light snow, but the tracks still told the tale. It was interesting to see how the cat had made several 25-foot circles, as it transited our property. It had apparently been both eyeballing and “casting” for a scent of game. That afternoon we permitted our cats and kittens to return to their outside recess activities.
May you all have a very blessed and safe week.
– Avalanche Lily, Rawles
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As always, please share your own successes and hard-earned wisdom in the Comments.