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:

We had a fairly quiet week here at the Rawles Ranch.  As an answer to prayer, we had a couple of days of rain. That good soaking will go a long way toward ending the fire season in the region.

I’ve been very busying gathering inventory and packing orders for Elk Creek Company. Take note that I will be putting the biz on hiatus for the month of September, while I travel. I really need to get out there and find more inventory!

This week, I helped my wonderful wife Avalanche Lily tote in her crop of potatoes.  She’ll provide all of the details on that…

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,
This week started out very hot, then the rains came.  We had a lot of rain during a two-day period! Our parking lot even puddled up.  It was awesome!  Our area got a great drink and washing from this dusty summer drought we’ve had since June. After the rains passed the weather cooled down into the daytime highs of upper sixties and low seventies.  Just a heads up for the extended forecast.  There is a possibility of a frost in some areas of the Redoubt next Wednesday and Thursday nights…watch carefully and protect your sensitive plants if need be. I do not think that NOAA properly forecasts the temperatures or gives the right warnings, at least for our area. If I hadn’t known what to expect here, there are times, I would have lost plants if I hadn’t covered some of them.

In the Main Garden I planted lettuces, and spinach.

I pruned most of the Golden Raspberries, picking and eating the few ripe ones that were left on the brambles. Yum.

I also planted more spinach and lettuces in the Greenhouse.

I weedwhacked the paths of the Main garden. My mower won’t start currently, and the grass was too tall for the non-mechanized push mower.

I planted some Sunchokes in my herb garden and in a few other places about the Ranch.

Recently our horses had a visit from the farrier.

I harvested the forty-foot rows of the Yukon Gold and Adirondack Purple potatoes and half of the forty-foot row of Fingerlings. I didn’t weigh them, but we have A LOT of potatoes, not to mention the Kennebecs and Russets that will be harvested sometime in the next few weeks. It has been an exceptional year for potatoes.  I grew a lot of one pounders.  I kept saying to myself, “Look at that lovely one! Look at all these lovelies!”  I was totally praising the Lord and thanking Him for this harvest.

I remember reading a post that a previous commentator thought that it was a good idea to let chickens have free range in the garden…  I never thought it was a good idea and never let our birds go into my garden until this year….  They are NOT behaving themselves.  This week they discovered and have begun to eat my Zuchs and unripe Spaghetti, and Delicata squashes.  I am NOT a happy gardener! I spent half of Friday chasing them out of the garden and tying on chicken wire to the few places where we have hog wire that they can squeeze through.  But they are still getting in.  They are not taking the “No” for an answer.  They will not be allowed out of their Chicken tractor for the next few weeks, now, starting on Saturday, until I harvest my squashes…I’m thinking it’s time for Freezer Camp for a certain lot of them!!!

A New Puppy

We deep cleaned the house at the beginning of the week, because this week,  Miss Eloise’s long-awaited puppy, came home to us..  He is a beautiful and already well-behaved little guy of the age of seven weeks.  Already so devoted to Miss Eloise and will not leave her side and cries when she goes to the shower, etc.  He is so cute, he will go play with a toy and then immediately come back to her feet and stare up into her face.  He is so dedicated and responsive to her. He is a perfect companion and will be a great guard dog for her.

As you can imagine there was a lot of consternation with our cats, the first few days.  We chose to keep the cats inside for forty-eight hours with the puppy to get to know him and to see his behavior and the discipline that he was receiving. And to give them all loving in the sight of each other.  It was a lot of fun to watch their reactions.  Briefly, I’ll tell you, M. our male, kitty was slightly alarmed at first but within hours would walk within two feet of the puppy and sit down and observe him.  S. our head female cat was far more circumspect, but also wasn’t terribly concerned, SH. a male cat, attacked the puppy when he came too close.  The puppy has great respect for him. And M. our female kitty’s first reaction for two days was “H*ll no!” You should have seen her big eyes and looks that if they could, would kill.  I gave the cats lots of loving and reassurance for three days, allowed them into our bedroom, etc. They even kept coming to me for pats, hugs, and loving reassurance.  I let them know that they were very loved.  Once we could see that they weren’t so alarmed about the puppy being a new member of the household, we allowed the cats back outside again.  We were a bit worried that they would run away.  But they didn’t.  We were particularly worried about M. our female kitty, but she’s okay with the puppy, now.

A Short Backpacking Trip

I mentioned last week that Miss Eloise and I went for an overnight backpacking trip to an Alpine lake in the region.  It was a wonderful mother-daughter hike.  The hike was about two miles in length with a one thousand foot elevation rise.  It was just enough of a hike for Miss Eloise’s first backpacking trip, ever.  And I had not been on a backpacking trip since I was in my mid-twenties.  I carried thirty-five pounds and Miss Eloise carried twenty-five pounds. The temperature was in the high eighties as we hiked.

It took us three hours to get up to the lake. Miss Eloise is not in heart shape.  I keep encouraging her to walk and run to get in shape.  Being a newbie hiker, she preferred to hike fast, then stop and sit down to rest for a fairly long time.  I, having had lots of years of hiking experience in my early years, preferred to plod along slowly and not stop to rest, much. However, we never got far out of each other’s sight and were in talking distance of each other.  After two hours of this type of hiking, Miss Eloise finally, “caught” her “second wind” and was able to hike steadily, nearly non-stop for the last hour.  We both did have to stop and rest once because we were very tired about ten minutes from the top, high elevation, at above five thousand feet.  That is high for us.  But we knew we were so close, so after that last rest, we powered through to the lake.

We walked past four primitive tent sites and went straight to the lake.  There was nobody there! We had it all to ourselves!  I dropped my pack on a flat rock and ran right down to the lake and went right in.  It was not too cold on the surface. I sat in the water on a log and dipped into the water, to cool off and rinse the sweat off. I didn’t swim because the deeper water about two feet down turned out to be super cold, I wasn’t sure about the integrity of the bottom, I was having quite a number of PVCs: because I was  hot, dehydrated, had low blood sugar and was at higher elevation, about 5,300 feet, than I am used to, and was probably a little bit nervous, too. Miss Eloise also rinsed off.

We then ate our cold dinner of sardines, salmon, Larabars, tomatoes, cucumber, peaches, cherries; cheese, scones and jelly (for Miss Eloise) and mixed seeds and nuts — all this while watching the trout jump. We didn’t have a campfire because of the very high fire danger weather. The weather was too hot for any hot food. We then set up our tent, sleeping pads, and sleeping bags.  Afterwards, I went and collected lake water and filtered it through our Sawyer filter. That water tasted so good! I drank nearly three quarts that night.

Later, we went fishing, but didn’t catch anything. They weren’t interested in our flies.  Therefore we just practiced our fly fishing casting techniques. Then, when we were nearing bedtime, I went to put our food bag up into a tree.  We were in Black bear and Grizzly territory. I tied paracord to a one to two-pound rock and began tossing it up to a branch about forty feet up, about a hundred yards from our tent.  I almost knocked myself out, twice. Yikes!  I changed trees and Miss Eloise came and gave me moral support, and soon the food bag, trash, and clothes that we had eaten in, were forty feet off the ground. We both then went to the tent and settled down.  We both tried to sleep. A little after dark, Miss Eloise heard bears give their hooting call.  [Actually, seriously, as I am writing this Friday night, our bedroom sliding glass door is open and I just heard bears hooting to each other.] Black Bears do have a type of hoot when communicating with each other.  I didn’t hear them the night of the hike.

I actually fell asleep for a couple of hours, then woke up to Miss Eloise talking to me about the stars and the meteors she was seeing from the Perseid Meteor shower.  She expressed how beautiful they were to her. Our tent’s roof is a screen.  Because I knew we had clear weather, I didn’t bother packing the rain fly. Anyhow, we both watched for meteors and had some sweet conversation for an hour or so.  I was very hungry in the night.  But wasn’t going to get the food bag, or eat anything in our tent.

Later, since she couldn’t sleep, she was too nervous to, though we had both prayed and felt that God told us that everything would be fine, she asked me if I had brought anything to read, (Miss Eloise always brings a book with her so this was surprising news to me that she hadn’t brought any, this time.) I had only brought two small New Testaments, one English and the other Hebrew. So I gave my English one to her. I then said,  “Since she was “standing guard” that I was going to go back to sleep.” I fell asleep and woke up at four-thirty.  Miss Eloise was still awake reading.  We talked for a bit, then we both slept for another hour and a half. At six-thirty we got up. I woke up very hungry!  I immediately went and retrieved the food bag.  We ate breakfast then packed up the sleeping pads and sleeping bags, took down the tent, packed them and everything else into the backpacks, got all ready to go, then went fishing again for a half-hour.

At 8:20 AM, we decided to hike out.  It took us exactly one hour to hike down.  As we hiked down the last stretch just before the last switchback that was a hundred yards from the car, among thousands of huckleberries, that we didn’t want to pick at the time, (too tired from lack of sleep, we just wanted to go home) we heard a massive scrambling, branches breaking, and a general ruckus.  We stopped dead in our tracks and began shouting, “Hey bear, hey bear, hey, hey hey.”  We got really loud and a bit high-pitched, sounding.  We kept hearing the scrambling and branches breaking, going away from us up the mountain.  We then continued walking down the road towards the area where we heard the first sounds, shouting. We walked around the bend in the logging road and there was the car, just ahead.  As we walked the rest of the way, Miss Eloise quipped.  “You know, Mom, hearing the bear scrambling away is actually a very comforting sound, huh?  “Yeah, because it means the bear is acting normal. It is healthy. It wants to get away from us as much as we want to get away from him. We laughed.

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.