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 did quite a bit of wood cross-cutting and splitting. Our daughters helped me with toting and stacking the firewood in our main woodshed.  By the way, the photo is of me splitting firewood, way back in 1995. That was while I was building my first ranch house on 40 acres near Orofino, Idaho. I was 35 years old then. I’m now 60 — and a lot more gray — but I thankfully haven’t accumulated a gut. Now, over to Lily…

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers:
The weather has been very cool and fall-like this week temperatures ranging in the high sixties and mid-seventies. NOAA did give a warning of a possible frost on Monday night.  Therefore, I covered a lot of sensitive plants and then prayed.  Thankfully, we didn’t have a frost that night. We woke up to a cold forty-one degrees. I had brought out over twenty old sheets and blankets to cover my squashes, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and melon plants.  The next day, because of the heavy dew on them, I had a marathon of drying them in the clothes dryer.  I hung a few out to dry in the sun, but didn’t have space for all, and I didn’t want them to become dirty and thus have to go through the wash.

My comment on that picture of Jim.  Today, Jim has filled out some, not too much, but is no longer that skinny rail of a man, and has handsome gray hair and doesn’t look so nerdy anymore.  😉

I harvested my Transparent apples, about fifteen pounds, and made cinnamon applesauce, one quart was frozen and the other two quarts were eaten. Yum! Only one of my two transparents produced this year.  Both are still very young trees.

I harvested and dehydrated more cabbage, broccoli, and zuchs..

I bought a twenty-five pound case of Black cherries. I picked them up on Friday and processed them on Monday.  Sadly, about a fourth of them were rotten. A big Bummer that was…I halved them, pitted them and dehydrated them. They are super yummy.

This week, Jim and I tried to band (castrate) the third bull calf born this summer. But found that only one of his testes had descended. The other escaped back up to his tummy and I couldn’t get it to come back down.  Therefore we had to wait another four days and then tried again. That time we were able to get it.  I’m glad because I was a little bit worried that Miss Eloise and I would have to do it after Jim left on his trip and both Eloise and I didn’t like that idea too much.

When we castrated him, we had separated the calf with a buddy from the herd. They’re a duo, always together, side by side, in the corrals.  We put two panels up to keep them from running back to their mamas. Then and ran them into the cowshed, separated the buddy out and took care of the calf needing the castration. Then we let him back out into the corral where his buddy was. We started to walk away, didn’t get more than ten feet, when I heard all the adult cows bawl.  “Oh yeah, sorry cows, I forgot to feed you your breakfast”,  and I looked up and realized we also had forgotten to reunite the two calves with their herd. They were still in the other corral and we needed to open up the bar panel. (A lot was on my mind, I was heading to my next project. No actually, I was heading to the house to put the elastrator away immediately, so it doesn’t get lost.)

As I opened up the panel and chased the calves back into the other corral where their mamas were, Jim sang, “Be true to your herd, now…” — a variation on the Beach Boys, “Be true to your School, Now”.  😉  He is always changing the lyrics of familiar songs in clever ways. Then we fed them and the bull — in his separate super-stout bullpen. Then, Jim and I went and filled up their water troughs, together, and chatted. Then, Jim put away the elastrator. 😉

A quick bull story: When Jim and I were about to fill up his trough we noticed it was shallow enough to be dumped and rinsed out.  Therefore, I climbed up the bar panel, stopped at the top and looked at the bull who was eating his hay. He looked at me. I stared right at him, to asses his mood. Then turned my back and climbed down into the pen. I stopped and turned to SH. and looked at him again.  He lifted his head stared at me benevolently, then gave it a very tiny shake as he very abruptly dropped his head back to his hay and resumed eating.  I interpreted the look to say, “You Lily, are my trusted woman caretaker, you alone may come in here unchallenged to do what you need to do to care for me. You are my boss and are accepted in our cow family, therefore are to be very respected.”  I know that he would challenge Jim a little bit, and the girls for sure, if they went into his pen, which they don’t and won’t.  (Safety first!) Jim, sometimes will, but hasn’t in a very long time. I dumped and rinsed out his stock tank. While Jim filled it, I walked across the pen within ten feet of Sh.and climbed up the bar panel and over to the other side to inspect the cows’ water tank in their corral. Then walked back over to where Jim was standing. SH. is a good boy!

Several times this week, the girls stacked the firewood that Jim gang cut and split. So now most of our wood supply is in for the winter.

I planted Black raspberries that I bought and arrived a couple of weeks ago in the orchard and in the Main garden.

I planted another row lettuces for fall crops:  an Italian mix in the Main garden.

We helped a neighbor and member of our Bible Study move some furniture to a new — but still local — home.

Kitty Story

Last week we kept all of the cats in the house for two days to acclimate them to the puppy. On the third day, I decided to let them go back outside, since they love playing out there.  I figured that they were probably okay with the puppy and still knew that we loved them, therefore wouldn’t run away.  So then early in the morning, I let them out and went to do chores.  They hung around the porch and yard for a few minutes.  Then they all disappeared.  After the chores were done, I decided to look for them after I retrieved my Glock and clipped its paddle holster on. Also, I wanted to take them for a walk. Sometimes when I walk around the ranch the cats  will follow after me.  I went down the “road” that goes to our south pasture.  Just before the gate I saw S. our mature female cat disappear into the ferns.  We have lots of bracken ferns in the woods that adjoin the South Pasture.  They are about three feet tall. I climbed over the gate. (Hey, it’s adventurous to climb over the gate. It keeps me limber.  Also, I like to say, “use it or lose it.”)  :-0

As soon as I dropped to the ground, I began to call the male and female kitties’ names, “M, M, M, M, where are you?”  All of a sudden, I saw a streak of the color of the male kitty’s color leap out from under a bunch of ferns and run right up to me. I scooped him up and gave him lots of hugs and kisses on his forehead, then let him down. He ran off a little way then stopped and looked back at me as if to invite me to play with him.  I gave a bit of a chase towards him and he ran up a tree. I watched him.  He came down then ran out to the open area that has lots of ferns and is really quite large. I trotted after him. There, I saw the female kitty.  She and he began stalking each other among the ferns pounced on each other and wrestled with each other.  The male kitty was so excited to be out and free that he suddenly ran out from under a fern, leaped four feet into the air over another bunch of ferns and raced full on out, body stretched to the limit, across the meadow to another set of trees and raced up one of them.  Wow! His muscles rippled, he was a streak of kitty lightning, sailing at least six feet across the ground between bounds. I was so impressed with his agility, strength, and speed. I was also thinking, “I’m glad you’re not 150 pounds, M.”  Anyhow, he and the female tore around the meadow with me watching them for another ten minutes or so. Also S.–our mature female–was watching all of the activity. Then I went for a walk along the fence line to check things out and he followed me the whole way until I returned to the house, then he left me to go find his sister to play more games.

What I am also trying to convey is the sense of inclusiveness that the cats had when I joined them in the south meadow.  They wanted me there with them.  They include me in their world outside, not just in the house.

The Puppy, K.

K. is a a wonderful puppy.  He is adjusting well to his new home and his new family.  He is Miss Eloise’s and he knows it, but he needs to love and obey all of us in the house.  He follows Miss Eloise wherever she goes and if he can’t go with her somewhere, like the bathroom, he sits at the door waiting for her to come out.  Earlier he was crying for her but now isn’t.  He is getting very used to his crate in which he sleeps in and is put when Miss Eloise needs to do something and cannot be interrupted. He still has a number of accidents even though we try very hard to bring him out at least every two hours, after naps, after games, after eating, etc. Thankfully, we have mostly tiled floors and we rolled up our oriental rug and are storing it in the guest cabin for a season. Additionally, we have put up a baby gate between the one part of the house and the other.  Basically K. has free run of the Great room and the hallway to the girls’ bedrooms, while the rest of the house is off limits to him, except for a few orientation tours. We do want him to understand the layout of the whole house and where Jim and I spend a lot of our time.

As far as interactions with the rest of the family, in the morning when he greets me, he is becoming very gentle.  I am gentle and quiet with him and I do not like being mouthed.  I distract his mouth and pet and croon to him very lovingly, hugging him gently.  But don’t get me wrong at play time he is still trying to bite me and I am training him also not to bite.  I usually get a toy or stick or leather glove for him to mouth. At the end of the week, Miss Eloise noticed how quiet and gentle he was with me when he greeted me in the morning.  I took the time away from dishes to get on the floor with him to love him up.  He plays with Miss Violet, but tries to dominate her and we have taught her to put him in his place.  She will be getting her own puppy of the same breed in two months. So this puppy is a great training ground for her.

Now with Jim, even though Jim is not around the puppy as much as we girls are, K. knows he is the alpha male of the house. Jim will get on the floor to play with him at least once a day and the puppy, isn’t sure what to do with him and often will run away with his ears back.  It’s kinda funny.  I am very concerned about the puppy’s behavior towards Jim when he goes for the next month and then returns home.  I mentioned it to a friend who raised this kind of dog and he said to get a very Jim-smelling shirt after he was worked hard and to not wash it.  Then. every couple of days to rub the shirt on the puppy’s face to get Jim’s smell.  Then the puppy will know that Jim belongs to us and him, when he returns home. Our friend said that when these dogs are trained for certain individuals in the armed forces, that they obtain a smelly shirt from the individual and rub it on the face of the puppy.  When the puppy is ready to go to said individual’s home, having never met before, that the puppy recognizes the individual and goes right up to him the first time they physically meet.  Puppy behavior and training are fascinating to me.

One more thing… One evening as I was playing with the puppy he snapped at me. Immediately, I slapped him on the nose and I said “no snapping”. He was shocked. I don’t remember if we reconciled at that moment. I think I got up from the chair and went out of the room to get at some work. I know we should not slap with our hands but it was important for me to correct him immediately. Snapping behavior is BAAAD!  The next day he was biting in rough play, though I’m not entirely sure if he was playing, Miss Violet. I smacked him fairly hard with a newspaper.  He yelped and sneezed a few times, looked at me, then ran up to me apologetic for some loving of which I was to him. So interesting.

We want to teach him what is good and acceptable, yet have a great relationship with him.  So we are always loving him, and playing with him and disciplining bad behavior.  We want to have well-behaved dogs.  I also helped Miss Eloise give him a “bath” using the detachable shower head in the master bathroom. This was his first-ever bath.  Miss Eloise held him while I washed him. He whined and cried most of the time.  I loved him up while washing him and was super gentle and talked non-stop to him. When I washed his face with a washcloth, at first he fought me when I went over his eyes, but I did it a couple of more times and at the end he was very still, looking at me with love and enjoyment in his eyes as I very gently washed his eyes and nose.  It was so cute and heart-warming. He is so cute!!! Just a baby!

Miss Violet and I went for an uneventful three-mile bike ride up into the National Forest one morning. And I have ridden the bike two other times around the ranch. I have for the past few weeks been doing sit-ups and lifting weights on a fairly regular basis.

Last week our Bible study went back to the book of Revelation.  We’ve discussed Chapter One, and a little bit of Chapter Two. This week, I am reading through these first two chapters while looking up many of the Greek words and their definitions.  I just want to say that through reading these definitions that I have more of a sense of the incredible seriousness of God’s Word to us.  We must take Him seriously.  He is a loving and forgiving God, but He means what He says.  Truly, truly only a few will be saved. We need to take Him seriously and we need to repent of all our sins and plead His blood over our lives and our loved ones.

Keep stocking up and preparing, one of these days, soon, the “authorities” are going to say, “No Jab, No food”  meaning you cannot enter the grocery store.  Keep growing, canning, drying and buying, until you run out of storage space — or money.

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.