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’ve recently had problems with skunks getting into our compost pile. Lily had me set a double-ended treadle box trap a few days ago, and I baited it with tuna fish — my favorite skunk bait.  Sure enough, there was an adult skunk in the trap, the next morning.  But before I had the chance to tarp the trap and kill that skunk, our 8-month old pup decided to check out the trap, and got herself skunked. Yuck!  The pup then was given her first tomato sauce bath.

This past week I also replaced a couple of cedar fence posts. They formed an “end of the line” H-Brace, that met a pasture fence tube gate. So it required re-tensioning the fence wire. The original posts were just 8 inches in diameter and had rotted out, after 15 years. Those were a bit small for a H-Brace. I replaced them with a pair of cedar posts that measured 17″ and 14″ inches at the butt. The larger one of those took a little engineering to get in position, since it probably weighed 700+ pounds. I carefully positioned it at the hole and parked one of our quads at the far side. Taking my commands, our #2 Daughter controlled the quad’s winch to angle up the post, while Lily and I gingerly raised and guided the post and dropped it into the hole. It dropped in with a satisfying “Thump!” These new larger-diameter posts should last at least 20 years, even in our valley’s wet microclimate.

Later in the week, after a two-hour hike up a mountain into the National Forest,  Lily helped me re-hang a 16-foot heavy-duty tube gate that had been dragging. Just another day on the ranch.

Now, over to Lily.

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,
The weather this week was very trying.  Early in the week we had a three-inch snowstorm, then a lot of rain and snow showers.  The temperatures were quite cold.  One day we had rain and snow showers interspersed with sunlight.  This day literally fullfilled the old saying, “if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes”. The next day was quite nice but only in the fifties, followed by a rainy day and then another sunny day with warmer temperatures in the fifties. This kind of weather seriously hampers gardening activities.  A neighbor mentioned to us that the cabin fever — even among the locals, those who have lived here for several generations — is incredibly high in our region this year.

On the day with the intermittent snow/rain showers and sunshine, our family was suffering from serious cabin fever, therefore, Jim and I, Miss Violet and her pup, went for a bushwhack hike, in between the showers, along a creek bed in the National Forest.  It is a beautiful little crick.

The next day, when we had much more sun and blue skies, I decided to see if I could get H. our pup into my canoe. H. follows me all around the ranch, because I am the adventure girl and will throw her toys for her to run and fetch. I asked Jim if he would bring my canoe down to the meadow pond on the quad.  H. was with me. We went to the barn to retrieve the canoe.  I decided to test H. right then and there, before we loaded it onto the quad. I got into the canoe and invited her into it.  I told her to “Load up”. She jumped in and sat down between my legs, I told her to “stay”.  We sat there for a moment, together, while, I picked up the paddle and paddled the air.  Then I gently rocked the canoe back and forth a little bit.  She was fine.

Jim and I loaded the canoe transversely onto the back of the quad and drove to the house to get my lifejacket. Then we drove down to the meadow pond with H. running after us the whole way.  Jim watched while, I put it into the water, climbed in, and invited H. to load up. She was running around all excited trying to understand what I was doing and asking of her.  She jumped in the canoe, then immediately jumped out.  Then I asked her again, to “Load up”  She jumped in again, sat down between my legs. I said, “Stay.” And was able to push out into the pond.

The pond is very narrow.  A moment later, H. Jumped out again.  So I paddled away for a moment to make her “jealous” and kept calling her gently.   I approached the shore and began to paddle down a very narrow channel that opens up into a wider stream that dumps into the Unnamed River.  H. jumped across the channel in front of me a couple of times.  She is so agile, springing high into the air. It’s fun to see her do this.  I then coaxed her into the canoe, again.  She sat snug between my knees for warmth, comfort and reassurance.

This time she stayed with me as we paddled down the channel. It is less than two feet wide and into the stream.  I talked quietly to her the whole way, saying, “We are canoeing. Isn’t this fun? You are such a good girl”, et cetera. We paddled down the stream to the culvert.  It is a crossing of the stream from one meadow to the other. At this point I wanted to see what H. would do if we went into the the “big” waters of the river. We got out of the canoe, and dragged the canoe over the culvert to the stream on the other side and to the mouth where it dumps into the river. I climbed into the canoe.  It took some more coaxing to get H. back into the canoe.  But she came in.  We paddled around in the middle of the river for a few minutes.  The river is about fifty feet wide, is about 43 degrees Fahrenheit and at this point about fifteen feet deep. The air temperature was about 45 degrees.

At this moment, the water level is low, and the river is crystal clear, because the temperatures have been very cold, locking up the snowmelt runoff.  We have received more than a hundred percent of our snowpack this year in our mountains.  We will be flooding later in the spring when the temperatures finally warm up.  Then we won’t be canoeing for some weeks until the river comes back down.

We have some new neighbors about a mile away, as the river flows.  They are away, currently, and have asked us to keep an eye on their place.  They have taken deliveries of things that they need and are having them dropped off at the house. They have asked me to put them inside the house every day.

Before I had gotten the idea of trying H. in the canoe, I was thinking of hiking up to their place with H. and had put the keys in my pocket.

So since H. was behaving so well in the canoe as I paddled the river, and I had their keys in my pocket, I headed in their direction. The water flow velocity was low so it wasn’t hard to paddle with or against the river’s flow.

H. sat up, again, snug between my knees, her hind off to the side of the center, a little bit, facing front. She was on high curious alert.  He ears were up, sniffing the air, observing everything.  She was so cute.  I pet her a few times and gave her a couple of kisses on her head.  She was being so good. I was still a little bit tense.  As I paddled, I counterbalanced her off-balanced rear until, I thought she could handle me shifting her more  to centerline. I did so, and she stayed where I had shifted her.  Then I could relax a bit more. I had to paddle two strokes on each side.  H. quickly got used to the idea of the paddle regularly passing over her head from side to side.  I do know the J stroke, but it also slows me down when I’m trying to go swiftly.  After a while, I slowed down.  Just in front, we had a pair of Mergansers trying to paddle away from us.  Sensing that I was too fast for them, they flew the river in front of us.  H. keenly watched them.

There was a rock jutting up out of the river with vegetation growing on it’s point.  H. kept staring at it as we passed and turned her head to continue staring at it.  So, I decided to turn around and go up to it so she could check it out more closely.  After she saw it up close and sniffed it, her curiosity seemed satisfied on that front.  We continued paddling.  It was a bit cold.  My paddle is made of aluminum. It was cold and made my hands ache. I wished I had worn my leather gloves. There were huge white billowy cumulus clouds that covered the sun for most of the trip to the neighbor’s house. There was also a cold breeze.

We arrived at their home.  I pulled up into an inlet between the banks of the river.  H. jumped out, I got out and pulled the canoe out, went up to the house, put a few packages inside, looked around to make sure everything was in order, and we went back to the canoe.  H. stayed with me the whole time.  She is such a good girl.  On the way back to the canoe, I saw a Canada Goose nest with four eggs in it.  I prayed for their safety.  H. saw it and sniffed the eggs.  I immediately called her away and she obeyed me. She is so responsive to me.  She amazes me. I love her. In the past, for many reasons, I did not want dogs.  I was not a dog fan, mainly because my parents always had beagles, most of them, rescue beagles that were anxiety ridden, barkers, demanding, sick, sadly, they never obeyed, and could not ever be trusted off a leash. They were so annoying and frustrating to me. I also had other reasons.

H. loaded up in the canoe after a bit of coaxing and we paddled towards home. The sun came out warmed us up, and I was able to see through the crystal water down to the bottom.  I began looking for the trout: rainbow, brook, brown, cutthroat, and bull trout.  When I first moved here, eleven plus years ago, one would see so many fish.  Now one doesn’t see as many.  We think it’s because of eagles, osprey, otters, and bureaucrats…

A moment later, we scared up four Canada Geese.  They flew off.  I told H. that they were geese.  I went back to looking down at the bottom of the river.  I counted four trout.  The wind came up for a bit, which messed up my deep water viewing. We paddled along.  Two Mallard ducks took off from the river.  I told H. They were Mallard ducks.

We came around the bend to a straightaway where the wind died down.  There were a lot of trees, shrubs, and brush lining the river.  Suddenly, I saw a male Mountain Bluebird fly over me and perch on a tree branch on the edge of the river.  He watched us paddle by.  I stopped paddling to watch him.  Suddenly another male flew up into the branch behind him, then I saw two females delicately flitting around.  I paddled slowly forward and saw some more males flying around.  They lined the whole bank of the river watching us, calling each other in their sweet thin chirp. One male flew directly over us, hovered swooped and caught a gnat out of the air and landed on a branch, less than twenty feet from us.  So, so beautiful. I love the color blue.  The Mountain bluebird’s blue color, is just exquisite!  I was so amazed to see so many pairs of them, about eight, in this stretch of the river.  It is the perfect habitat for them.  They love grasslands with lots of trees and shrubs. They nest in tree hollows and on rock cliffs and crevasses, etc all of which are plentiful right in this area. They hatch between four to eight eggs and have one to two clutches every season. They are omnivores.  There are plenty of bugs in the meadows and fruit-bearing shrubs.

I am so pleased that they choose our area to nest.  I didn’t know we had so many of them.  But then again, I had not ever canoed the river in April before…I talked to them and prayed aloud for them that our Lord God will protect them, that they would have successful hatches and all of their babies would survive to adulthood and survive their migration south this winter and their return migration up here, next summer…

I also saw lots of swallows — both tree, and barn.

We also saw two Cooper hawks.  May they not eat the bluebirds.  Eat the sparrows, please.

H. was so well behaved during our paddle.  She so wants to please me and be with me. She just fills my heart with bubbling joy and laughter. So I now have a canoeing buddy.  I guess, I needed her more than I knew. Not all dog breeds are the same.

The wind picked up very strongly, so I had to paddle hard the rest of the way home.  In all, I saw about ten trout.  We arrived home to our ranch safely, just in time to help Jim and Miss Violet place in the heavy post to the new gate of our South pasture. (Miss Violet was studying something when I left, and doesn’t want to paddle until it is much warmer outside.)

That skunk, I think, appeared to have eaten a bunch of the Asparagus that I planted last week.  I am not happy!  It was rather discouraging to me to make that discovery. I want to clear out most of the skunks in our vicinity. They have become a real problem.

The incorrigible bull broke down the post to that gate of the south pasture that Jim fixed this week.  He led all of the cows out into the meadows. I was talking on the phone with my mom when I looked out and saw them in the meadow.  It had only been about an hour since I had fed them their dinner.  So thankfully, they probably had just gotten out.  I went outside while still on the phone.  They saw me and headed towards the barn.  I got off the phone to put them in the corrals. I brought the phone back to the house, came back out and went to the loafing area. The cows were outside the barn and the bull already was pushing on the bar gate to break into the area where we store the hay.   I arrived there before he managed to break in. With a flake of hay, I was able to lure him and the rest of the herd into the corrals.  I closed the doors to the cowshed and secured all of the gates.  They now should not be able to break out of there, again.  We are trying to keep them penned up to allow the main grasses to grow so they actually have something to graze on in a few weeks…What a concept!  Bovine delinquents!

The horses are now down in one of our meadow pastures until they flood with the spring melt. I brushed out their dead winter hair a few days in a row and dosed them with worm medicine in a lovely snack of oats, molasses, carrots, apples, and sea salt. They very much enjoyed this attention and their snack, although, S. our dominant horse, tasted the medicine and didn’t quite finish her snack without some coaxing. She did take most of it though.  When the weather warms up, I intend to give them a proper shower.  They are so dirty.

I’ve also been brushing the fur of my long-haired cat and of H. our dog.  It is shedding season.

This week, I did not do anything extra towards prepping, at least that which I would want to talk about.  I did the usual chores and cleaning, cooking, laundry, organizing, etc.

I am continuing to order different foods from a food company and shopping to get the items that we think we would need in the future of broken supply chains…

At the end of the week, we went for a hike up a trail of a mountain for two hours to start getting in shape. Up until this hike, our hikes have been on relatively flat ground.  Enough snow is off the ground at lower elevations to start hiking up trails.  We’re not too into snow hiking.  That takes a lot more energy and fitness than we possess at this time.

I listened to the book of Matthew and read part of Exodus 13 in Hebrew.

I don’t know how you are all feeling, but I am feeling like we are in the lull before a great and terrible storm and that is forever overshadowing us.  I am holding my breath for what seems like it’s lasting forever and wearing me out waiting for the impending doom.

There is a part of me that is so, so thankful for the continued peace in my part of the world but the other part of me, of knowing that it’s most likely, inevitably, going to reach our area in the future, wishes that it was already over and done with and that we were already with Jesus and He has come and conquered and judged all of those exceptionally evil Elites who, through the direction of their father, Satan, are orchestrating our death and destruction and the destruction of the earth.  I say with even more fervency, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

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.