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.  We always welcome you to share your own successes and wisdom in your e-mailed letters. We post many of those –or excerpts thereof — in this column, in the Odds ‘n Sods Column, and in the Snippets column. Let’s keep busy and be ready!

Jim Reports:

This past week I attended another gun show. I also busied myself with several projects around the ranch. A lot of that was fence work.  I also dropped a dead-standing 40-foot fir tree with a double top that I had girdled two years ago. After I had limbed and bucked it into rounds for splitting, our daughters helped me haul the limbs to a couple of slash piles. The splitting may have to wait a few months, but at least the wood is all now piled near our main woodshed.

I’ve been trying to catch up on cataloging recently acquired guns for Elk Creek Company. There have been a few rare examples, including a C.96 Broomhandle Mauser that was made in 1897. But I still have a half-dozen guns awaiting photographs and descriptions.

I’ve been amazed to see how prices for pre-1899 cartridge guns are galloping — both at gun shows and at the auctions.  I attribute part of that to the planned “Universal Background Checks” scheme (that would thankfully exempt pre-1899 guns) as well as general currency inflation. Get your guns before prices really take off.

A Special Request: I’m looking for up to a dozen good-quality complete AR-15 rifle uppers, preferably complete with bolt carrier groups. I’m mainly interested Picatinny rail-equipped M4 style with 16″ or 18″ barrels. I can pay cash, but I’m also willing to trade any of my Pre-1899 antique guns or percussion replica guns listed at Elk Creek Company. Trading uppers for pre-1899s, no FFL would need to be involved–that is unless you live in a horribly gin-deprived state like California or New Jersey. Let me know what you have available, and let’s trade!

I expect to be busy with the chainsaw next week. I also need to buy a couple of more tube gates, for a planned cross-fencing project. There is never a shortage of things to be done, even on a small ranch. (Yes, our ranch is relatively small. Some of our neighbors have hundreds of acres.) Now, over to Lily…

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,

This week I feel quite chatty.

It was a beautiful spring week this week.  Again, it was mostly all about gardening with some deep spring cleaning thrown in.

I emptied a freezer, moved much of it to the, kitchen freezer, the deep chest freezer, and the propane freezer.  Some of it, I composted and some we ate.  I defrosted it and scrubbed the inside.  I refilled it with bulk tree nuts and peanuts that we had stocked up on recently.

I cleaned a section of our pantry hall.

I have been weeding the green house beds and all of the seedlings in trays that were moved from the Indoor Bathroom greenhouse out to the outside greenhouse, this week.  I’m thinking that the nights might not go too far  below freezing, now, or if they do, the greenhouse will be warm enough for the cold sensitive plants.  I had moved the squashes and cucumbers out there, this week.

I checked in on the tomatoes that I had thought I had fried last week in the greenhouse under the totes.  There are some actually sprouting.  Okay, so I will continue to water them and will leave the totes off of them.  I did do that  for a few more days, but then decided to replant many of them and then moved them into the Indoor Bathroom Green House where it is consistently warmer and the grow light is on 24/7 to give them a jump start.

I planted another eighteen red Stupice tomatoes, just in case…

I planted two types of watermelon seeds in seedling pots.  Miss Eloise planted cantaloupe in seedling pots. These were also brought inside to the Indoor Bathroom Greenhouse.

I picked and dehydrated dandelion flowers for tea.  I’ve never tried it before, but I have been eating dandelion greens in my smoothies several times this week.

Miss Eloise and I received a chick mailorder this week.

So the three girls here are all in their own chicken businesses once again. For now all of the babies are in the one chicken coop.  Miss Eloise is going to build her own coop, later. Miss Violet can keep hers in the current chicken coop. My adult birds are out in the chicken run.

I helped Miss Eloise with placing her order, last week,  and happened to ask them if they had by any chance a certain type of chicken that I really like.  The sales associate said, “Yes, it’s your lucky day, we have them and they will be able to go in your daughter’s order.”  So, I ordered 25 of them, right then and there. My birds when they are older will go live with my few adult chickens that our friend gave us out in the chicken run.  I might put them in the chicken tractor in the orchard, later, when they are bigger for awhile this summer.

Critter Stories:

This week I have several stories to share.

It appears that we have a wood duck nesting in a hole of an Aspen tree at the edge of our nearest meadow.  Twice now, while, I’ve been working in the Annex gardens, as I walked pass the tree, I have heard a high pitch whistle of wings fly just above me and straight to a hole in the Aspen tree about thirty feet up.  The bird lands with feet splayed out, hits the edge of the hole and dives in.  It’s very exciting to me to think we have ducks nesting here.  At first I thought it was a Woodpecker, but it’s too big for the general woodpecker, and too small to be a Pileated Woodpecker,  so it must be a duck? Wood Duck?

Next story:  As I was preparing for the arrival of my set of baby chicks, one morning, I heard a very different bird cry, one that I recognized, but doesn’t belong in our neck of the woods.  I was carrying straw to the Chicken coop to put into the shallow tank that would hold my baby chicks.  Immediately, I dropped it into the tank and ran back outside. I kept hearing the call in the meadow.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  “Here?”  I prayed,  Oh, Lord, Let me see it, before it flies away, please?”  I crept down through our north woods to the edge of the open meadow and hid behind a tree and began scanning the meadow looking for it.  It had gone silent. Then it called one more time and I saw it standing there, a solitary, Sandhill Crane!!!  A poor lonesome wayward Sandhill crane.  “Oh you beautiful majestic bird, you are far off your usual migration course.  You are all alone.  What happened?  Where is your flock? Please do take your rest in our meadow and take some sustenance, for as long as you wish. I pray that you will continue your migration north with strength and will find your family flock at your destination. Thank You for visiting us!  You made my day!” I watched it for a few more  minutes then crept back up to the house to retrieve my binocs.  Then crept down to the meadow again, to watch it.  I observed it for about twenty minutes.  Then I had work to do, so went back up to the house.  I do not know how much longer it stayed around.   But I looked for it again about two hours later and it was gone. What a gift!

That same morning as the visit of the Sandhill crane, our first Rufous hummingbird returned.  They are the first of our three types of Humminbirds to show up every spring. I stepped out on the porch and he buzzed me and flew right up to me.  I said, “Well, Hello there!  Welcome back.”  I ran into the house to prepare the sugar water and when I came back outside,  to ward off our cats, without it, he flew right up to me, asking, “Well, Where is the feeder?”  I said, “You just be patient.”  I went back into the house to finish the cleaning job and filling it.  When I brought the feeder back outside, the bird was gone, but he returned the next morning. I will have to discourage our cats from going after the swallows and hummingbirds. Somehow teach them that they are off limits.  They already know that the chicks are off limits and are scared of them!  😉  Hah!

The next morning, when the Hummers and swallows were coming to the porch, I sat out on the porch with the cats for about fifteen minutes and every time a Hummer or swallow flew up M. the female kitty, our little huntress, would do that jaw thing, shaking it up and down and make that  quick “thet, thet, thet, thet”  sound that cat’s make when they’re excitedly hunting.  As soon as she did that, I would I “Pssst” at her and waved a glove. She knew exactly what I meant when I “Psst”, each time a swallow or the Rufous flew to the porch  She meowed each time I said it, in protest,  but ducked her head in submission. I praised her.  I do think it is a bit funny!  Her brother kitty, M. was hanging out up on one of the rafter beams of the porch observing us teach his sister.  So he, too, knows that the swallows and hummers are off limits. I will keep doing it periodically.  I know they can learn to distinguish between that which is fair game and that which is not!  If I had my druthers, all birds would be off limits, but I cannot control that which goes on off the porch and further away from the house.  If I can teach them to stay away from the chicks, hummers and swallows.  I’m happy enough!  😉

We recently had a pair of Elk walk down the other side of the river into our view.

A cute cat story:  Our young male kitty, is an absolute love bug.  He loves being with me whenever I am quiet.  He also loves to lie across our shoulders when we are busy, doing jobs.  Sometimes we have put him the the empty wheel barrel between loads of manure and have given him rides back to the manure piles. He really seems to enjoy the ride, because he usually flops right down in the barrel.  One evening this week, I was sitting on our porch swing when M.  jumped up and cuddled with me while I was swinging.  A few minutes later, I decided  that I needed to check on my few adult chickens. I don’t sit for too long these days.  M. protested when I stood up, so I put him up onto my shoulder and started down the stairs.  My bike was at the bottom of stairs and I decided that I also needed to put it away.  So I gently and slowly leaned over and picked it up. M.  didn’t budge.  “Okay,” I thought, “Let me get on the bike and see what he does.”  I slowly placed my body on the bike, got into position to ride, He still didn’t budge. I put my feet on the pedals, stood up and blanced and began to pedal slowly forward.  He still sat on my neck.  We slowly rode across the parking lot to the Chicken run.  I carefully dismounted from my bike and went into the run to give the chickens some fresh water.  He just sat there, from his perch on my shoulder, watching everything I was doing and the adult chickens .He went with me to the faucet and back to the run, but then jumped off my back, before I reentered the run.  I said “Goodbye, M” to him. When I had finished the chicken job, I decided to take a spin around the house on my bike, before putting it away.  I pedaled around the house once. As I came back up the driveway, M. was laying right in the middle of the road.  I looked at him and stopped the bike, laid it down slowly and approached him.  He acted as though he wanted me to pick him up, so I did,  I put him back up onto my shoulders and situated him well.  Then again, I slowly picked up the bike, mounted it and started to ride it up the driveway. I quietly crooned to him saying his name over and over again. We reached the gate, and I turned around and went back down the driveway and around the parking lot and back up the driveway. Then I pedaled the trail around the house slowly.  It is quite bumpy.  M. just sat there.  I came around the house and went to the parking lot and over to the chicken coop where Miss Eloise was working with her chicks.  I yelled to her to come out and see M.  She came out and I told her that I had already gone around the house with M.  on my shoulder.  She twas amused and said, “That is M. all over”… I continued to ride around the house three more times.  Miss Eloise was about to go and call for Jim to see this sight.  Just then M’s sister came running by us.  Her playful run-by was her invitation for him to join her.  It was too much for M.  to resist. He just had to chase her. Therefore, he leapt off my back and gave his sister chase.  He is such an amazing and special cat!!  I pray for his safety on a regular basis and thank our Lord God for the joy, love and fun that he is, and gives to our family.

A different story concerning a day when everything events just flowed together, dovetailed together with each other and also for those of you wondering how Jim and I work out our differences, here is an example:  Jim and I, had a brief tiff.  I was hungry at the time and not thinking super clearly.. Jim was busy watching an auction that he had bids on and was distracted.  It started in the morning when I looked out at the garden and saw six large panels of framed tempered glass leaning against the house that we had bought from a friend many years ago for cold frames.  The glass was too heavy and dangerous for me to lift off of the cold frame and were put aside for some future use.  In the past we had talked about using them to make another greenhouse, but never got to it, too many other projects and demands for our time. Fast forward a half a dozen years, and I’m really sick and irritated at looking at them.  I want to get rid of them. Take them to the dump!  I ran to the office and interrupted him, telling him I wanted to get rid the glass panels.  We had a brief tiff. He immediately objected saying that he paid money for them and wasn’t going to throw them away. I said that they were too heavy for me to use and since they are tempered glass, we cannot cut them smaller.  Jim suggested that we give them away for someone else to build a greenhouse with them, and told me to call a few certain folks.  But, I know those folks and they’re not interested, already have a greenhouse.  Then, I suggested putting them out on the road, as a giveaway, but Jim objected saying that they could break out there and be a big clean-up headache for us.

Well, anyway, I wanted them moved from a spot next to the house to another spot.  So Jim came out, later,  after his auction had finished, and helped me move them.  As we moved them, we talked more about us using them to build another smaller greenhouse.  Then we talked about design possibilities and where to put it.  We settled on a plan that has made us both happy.  We’re going to have another greenhouse, shortly!  Yeah!!  More to come on it’s build when we get to it…

Now that the glass panels were moved away from that section of the house.  I was able to survey this section of the garden by the house. There is a small rock wall and flower garden there from previous owners over fifteen years ago.  I had started removing some of those rocks of that bed earlier this spring.  A few years ago, I had planted Day Lilies there and, I saw them growing, there is Chives growing on one end of it.  It has tons of purple Columbine type flowers growing in it each summer.  I just want to clear all of it away.  As I began to clear away the old dead growth of these flowers and grass that grew under the windows, I thought of Miss Violet’s recently, often voiced desire to have a flower garden. I looked at the Day Lilies, and thought , “They’re edible”,  and the chives,  and thought, “Hey, Miss Violet can have an edible flower, flower garden and put some herbs, here.  Then God, forbid, if the cows ever got in here again, they wouldn’t be poisoned.”  I immediately ran into the house and summoned Miss Violet and told her to come outside for a chat with me.  She came out and I showed her the small flower garden and told her that here she can have her flower garden as long as we put in flowers that are edible for us and the cows and that she could also plant some herbs.  She said, “Wow, okay, thanks.”  I then put her to work clearing the rest of the vegetation then we’ll take out the rocks together and rototill the area, maybe, carefully, fertilize it and plant flowers.  We already have a bunch of edible flower seeds and will do some research on others.  Miss Violet is getting her own flower garden, Yeah!  She doesn’t want her own veggie garden, yet.  She has said that she just wants to help me with the family gardens.

During this time frame, as Miss Violet was beginning to work on the Flower bed, I returned to the kitchen to check on the salmon and potatoes that I was baking for lunch.  Suddenly, Miss Eloise came in the house and said to me, “Mom, the wasps are bad today.” We need to set out the Wasp traps early this year.”  I said, “Yes, they are, I am seeing them everywhere, today.  I think this is going to be a bad year for them.”  The past two or three summers hasn’t been too bad with them in our neck of the woods.  I had noticed that the wasps around here love salmon and honey, therefore I got out the traps and loaded them up with some of our lunch salmon and drizzled some honey over them and hung them up in various places.

Things just flowed so nicely together that day!  I would say it was “Divinely orchestrated”  Yeah!  😉


May you all have a very blessed and safe week.

– Avalanche Lily, Rawles

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As always,  please share and send e-mails of your own successes and hard-earned wisdom and we will post them in the “Snippets” column this coming week.  We want to hear from you.