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:

I’ll be in transit the day that this is posted, and the following day, so I don’t have a lot to report. All that I can say is that I’m greatly looking forward to getting back to the Rawles Ranch.  I’ll have a lot of catching up to do there, and it looks like I’ll have a lot of orders to pack, since our shopping cart system has been reactivated.

“Meanwhile, back at the ranch…” my lovely wife Avalanche Lily has some details for you.

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,
This week was cloudy and rainy.

I froze most of the plums and made six pints of plum preserves. Really, it’s for Jim and the kids, since I don’t feel well when I eat anything with cane sugar in it.  I wish I could have dehydrated some, but I currently don’t have a dehydrator and conventional ovens only go down to temperatures of 170 degrees.  What a stupid design. It was probably made that way on purpose…Money!  The best temperatures for dehydrating plums is between 130-135 degrees Fahrenheit. Personally, bacteria-wise, I am not comfortable drying them in the car or out in the sun.  I know that it was done that way in the past, but it took days. I won’t use those methods until I have to.

I weed-whacked the main garden paths.

I pulled weeds in one spent bed of the Main garden, where the onions and Delicata squash grew.  I rototilled it and seeded it with clover and rye grass as a cover crop.

I’m thinking of observing the Shmittah next summer in the Main Garden.

The Shmittah rest is an agricultural rest for a year every seventh year.  According to the Rabbinical calendar starting on Rosh Hashana, the feast of Trumpets, 2021- Rosh Hashana 2022 is a Shmittah year, the ground is to lay fallow. Therefore, I am letting all of my Main garden lay fallow for this next coming summer and the left side of the Annex garden.  Therefore I am planting grasses and clover so it will crowd out the weeds and look nice next year, if I choose to mow it.  I might not though…  I will repeat this process with several other sections as the greens, broccoli, carrots and leeks are harvested later this fall.

The plan for next summer is that I will spend the summer building up compost, foraging, working on improving our meadows, and bushcraft skills. Additionally, I will grow greens and some other things in pots in the Greenhouse, in new soils, but not in our three Greenhouse four-by-twelve beds, I think that I will be removing all of the soil in them and replacing it, I have a mite problem in the greenhouse originating from one bed in particular.  I might grow some crops in the Right bed in the Annex garden that grew only thistles this past summer. In effect, I had left that fallow, though I rototilled it once and had not planted anything in it at all, soo… This is an on-going learning process, so as I feel led to do something or not do something, I will share it with you if the Lord so leads me to do so.

I was just thinking of another benefit of letting the land lay fallow for a year. It probably reduces the species-specific insects that attack certain crops.  If the crops don’t grow there a year, the bugs that overwintered and feed of them have nothing to eat and die off?

I removed the hog panel trellises that I used to support the tomatoes and I pulled up the black layment where the Spaghetti squashes, watermelon, cantaloupe and tomatoes grew. The black layment was full of grass, Japanese weed and other weed seeds.  I rolled it all up and threw it away. Then, I raked half of it and planted rye grass seed and clover and some dandelion seeds, I had and harvested from some blooming heads around the garden paths. Then I just spread the grass seeds and clover on the other un-raked half of the bed.

Then, in the beds where I am still growing Broccoli, leeks, lettuces, kales, etc, I just spread grass seed around them.  The ground is to lay fallow, not be plowed, so for the rest of the garden, I guess I won’t be plowing it for the rest of the year.

I kinda have mixed feelings about this, since I suspect that we are entering a time of famine.  But we have a large quantity of stores, and our Bible study leader said that we should test our trust in the Lord to provide.

One thing that I did do, out of curiosity, was to spread/throw out and not cover with soil, a large number of very old seeds over five years old that I have, in the bed where the Delicata squash was located.  It was a mixture of onion seeds, kale, beets, turnips, lettuces, etc.  Very old seeds that probably won’t germinate.  I won’t be weeding these or anything, I’ll just see if they will grow and will then harvest them to eat, as in “that which grows of itself”.  It has to overwinter anyhow. That may further kill them. I also did plant a row of garlic next to my other garlic in the herb garden.  I think that I will also leave that bed alone,  for the year. But there are perenniels in herb gardens that grow up in there each year on their own, and garlic can keep itself going anyhow year-to-year, if you don’t harvest all of them.

I’ve been told that we will not receive our new Chicken coop that we are having built until late October, or early November.  The skunks are still trying to break through my bulwarks around the chicken shed. (Unlike the coop that we have on order, the shed lacks a floor.)

Ghost Skunk Chronicles

The other night as I was wrapping up projects after dark, putting objects away before the rain came, carrying a flashlight. I walked over by the chicken shed and was about to retrieve a work sled that Miss Violet had left out behind it. Suddenly I saw a skunk walking through the Shed garden, which Miss Eloise used as her garden this year.  I had my Glock 30, so I aimed and began to shoot.  The stupid beast ran right at me, I shot again, and it kept coming towards me and got to within five feet of me. I did not want to get sprayed or bitten by a possibly rabid skunk, so I turned and fled up into the parking lot. I again whirled around and saw it heading into the woods outside of the shed garden, I followed it and shot at it a couple of more times.  It ran right towards me again!  Geez. Hey knock it off! You’re supposed to be running the other way!

I turned again and ran up the slope onto the parking lot.  I whirled around again and saw it go into a very small patch of tall Lamb’s quarters near the horse trailer where the parking lot slopes down to the woods.  I walked very carefully towards the Lamb’s Quarters and peaked into them shining the flashlight, looking for it.  I didn’t see it.  I flashed the woods, flashed the parking lot, and flashed under the trailer.  I looked at the Lamb’s quarters again, thinking that there was a den in the ground that it went into.  Nope, the beast had completely vanished in a split second.  What in the world?  Where did it go? It’s a freaking Ghost Skunk! There is no way it could have disappeared that quick on me, no way. I would have seen it going down into the woods.  It could have gone under a small low branched fir tree, but I would have seen it go across the grass to reach it.  I’m telling you it’s a Ghost Skunk which is why I couldn’t hit it with a bullet and is the reason it disappeared on me just like that!  Maybe it suddenly sprinted into the woods, skunks don’t strike me as possessing any kind of speed.  The cows and horses were off to my right and I flashed them and my matriarch cow was staring down into the woods with the look on her face that says she is looking at a wild animal, but is not alarmed.  I was always only shooting towards the ground about ten to twenty feet in front of me, towards the woods, nowhere near them. The horses did their usual nervous lap run after hearing the first set of shots.  Funny beasts.

One of these days, I will kill those skunks.  I no longer have adrenalin when I shoot at them.  I’m getting used to the idea.  I just don’t want to get sprayed or stink up the ranch and I do not look forward to carting carcasses off to be buried….

As for my other projects:

I spread grass seed throughout the house meadow.

I am cleaning up additional bussing trays in the greenhouse and l planted more greens seeds in them.

Please pray for Jim for travel mercies as he will be on the road home on Saturday.  Thanks.

May you all have a very blessed and safe week.

– Avalanche Lily, Rawles

o o o

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.