Editors’ Prepping Progress

To be prepared for a crisis, every Prepper must establish goals and make both 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 the Odds ‘n Sods Column or in the Snippets column. Let’s keep busy and be ready!

Jim Reports:

I had to make a trip to Spokane this past week. It was one of those catch-all combination trips, including picking up my #2 Son at the airport, and visiting the Army Surplus store. The latter draws me like a magnet, since it is one of the last of the old-fashioned surplus stores in the region

I also stopped by NorLift, a company that sells Rivetier shelving, because I needed a few components to finish building the last two sets of shelves for our workshop. It will feel good to finally see those go up.

On the way home from Spokane, my #2 Son and I did some shopping at US Tactical Supply, in Post Falls, Idaho. They are a full mil-spec manufacturer that mainly does government contracts and mailorder sales. But they also have their tidy, modern Post Falls store with an amazing assortment of web gear, ghillie suits, optics, first aid equipment, military caliber ammunition, helmets, body armor plates, and plate carriers. Most of their ammo inventory was made by RUAG, a Swiss-headquartered defense contracting conglomerate with factories in Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Hungary, Austria, and the United States (in Tampa, Florida).  This was my first visit to their store. I will definitely be back there for some more shopping, soon!

Now, Lily’s report…

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,

This week we had both rain and sun, with temperatures in the thirties and low forties. The days are just absolutely flying by!

I wanted to tell you about the changes we’ve seen in a week and a half since taking our animals off of commercial feed: chickens, cats, and our dog.

We have been feeding our chickens our self-made mix for their food, (split green peas, oatmeal, ground flax, barley, quinoa, wheat berries, some old Masa corn flour, garlic powder, kelp powder, food grade diatamacious earth, grit, and ground oyster shells. I also put a splash of Apple Cider vinegar in their water each time I change it. I have noticed five changes in particular:

First, they are not drinking as much water as before.  Before when they were eating store-bought they were seriously thirsty all of the time and I had to give them water three times a day, their container was always empty when I went to change it.  Now, I change their water once, and sometimes twice a day, and there is always water left in the container.

Second, they are not eating as much.  When I fed them the dry grain, they went through about six large scoopers full per day, (the scooper holds about a half gallon), now they are eating only three scoopers full of the homemade mix with some left over.

Third, their egg production is increasing. It has gone from zero to one egg a day to five eggs a day, thus far in a week and a half. We have about twenty pullets that should begin laying any day now. I have about a dozen three year old birds that are taking a break and less than ten birds that I am caring for that belong to our new neighbors that just went into production in November. There are egg eaters among the lot of them.  I’m hoping this new diet will also help them not be interested in eating eggs.

Fourth, they are not producing as much manure.  I only had to clean them out once this week.

And Fifth, their energy level is off the charts.   Their activity is crazy in their house!  We do have more roosters to butcher this coming week.

Cats: We have three, an older female — more than a decade old. She is a gorgeous long-haired, very petite, eight-pound little girl. S. is a real love bug. And we have two three year-old short-haired siblings, M. and M.  Our female M. is FAT! She is fourteen pounds! I want her to lose at least two pounds.  (I’ve been walking around the house chanting in a cutesy voice, whenever I see female M., “Oh what a riot M.’s on a diet” ) 😉 And Male M. is not so fat, at eleven pounds.

Up until a week and half ago, the cats had constant access to their dry store-bought cat food.  They were quite lazy, sleeping all of the time, and dull eyed, not interested in what is going on around the place.

Last week I took away that constant access and have been feeding them, all together. I round them all up to feed them at the same time, a couple of times a day.  They are getting some sardines, eggs, chicken meat, beef liver, a few salmon scraps, cod, cod liver oil, ground beef, tuna, etc. I will be adding carrots, broccoli, rice, et cetera, as time permits. And, of course, they get additional nutrients when they hunt and eat mice and birds when they are in the garage, or outside!

Since we’ve cut back on their dry food and increased a natural food diet, I’ve already noticed weight loss in both M. and M. and a noticeable increase in their energy and playfulness at all hours of the day, and a keener interest in what I am doing around the house. They are also more ready to engage with me, constantly seeking me out, staring at me wanting to be held, played with, and loved-up.

One other thing that I noticed is that Female M. seems to be very addicted to the store-bought cat food.  When I first took it away she was constantly begging me, even desperately, for it. She would grab at me, swipe me with her paw, much more frequently than her usual when I’d pass her, every time I went down the hall where I usually fed them and kept their food containers.  I walk that hall constantly for various reasons, sine our bedroom is at the end of it, and it adjoins the laundry, pantry, cleaning supplies, etc. I felt bad for her. When she’d beg, I would pick her up and put her where the real food was located, and show it to her. Sometimes she would eat it and sometimes she would shun it.  Since I know her body needed to adjust to this change somewhat slowly, sometimes I gave her a very small handful of the dry food, to appease her, but then always made sure she had some real food too.  We caught her eating the dog food a few times and had to move that bowl back into Miss Violet’s room.  This week, I also completely removed the dog food. I think these changes are very healthy for our pets.

As the week wore on, M. stopped begging so frequently and I have been feeding them all less frequently. The first few days I fed them about five times in one day to help with the transition. Now I am feeding them twice a day, and less food.

One more thing about the store-bought cat food.  Over the years we went back and forth with feeding them Friskies, Kit and Kaboodle, and sometimes, Kirkland brand cat foods before we stopped shopping at Costco.  At the end of the week, I finally took the time to read the ingredients of the dry cat food bag of Friskies–a Purina brand. It is full of corn, corn gluten, soybean and a whole bunch of added vitamins, additives, and fish and chicken part meal by-products, etc.  I don’t want a corn and soybean fed cats!!! It’s not normal fare for cats.  No wonder Female M. seemed so addicted, getting fat, and lethargic.  She has calmed down now since we began this process.  She is getting used to eating when I give her the food at set times and not eating whenever she wants. Miss S, our older female cat has always been an outdoor cat and loves her fresh meat of mice and birds and likes beaten raw eggs.  I very rarely saw her eat very much dry food.  So she has not had trouble adjusting.  I think it’s a similar case with Male M.

Our Dog, H.  I don’t notice that much of a difference in her, since I already had been feeding her a lot of table scraps and the same foods listed for the cats, in addition to her previously always available store-bought dog food.  I also have a lot of frozen left over meats in the freezers that I am thawing out and giving to her.  She doesn’t much care for the dry dog food Pedigree Puppy anyway.  It’s something she will eat when she isn’t seeing us give her other goodies.  I’d prefer that she not eat it and will only offer it once in awhile from here on out. I am very happy with the changes we’ve seen in our animals since we have stopped using store-bought commercial feed.  I highly recommend it for you and your pets.

Our second son is home for a visit, and is occupying the guest bedroom, where I had the grow lights for the seedlings. Thus I had to curtail any additional seedling starts for now.  And the ones that are in there, currently,  are just going to have to survive the dark for two weeks or intermittent lighting when he is out visiting friends.  I might be able to put a few of them on a windowsill.  I’m not complaining, I’m super glad to have him home.  I’m just stating reality. When one doesn’t have a heated green house or a basement, an extra room, it makes starting seeds difficult in a cold dark winter climate. The grow lights are too powerful to have on in a regular living space.

I spent time with Miss Eloise this week.  We sorted through a tote that had all of her business papers, pay stubs, car insurance, repairs, etc. I helped her organize them and decide that which to keep and that which to burn, etc. She is heading off to study a trade in the coming month. She is super excited about it. We pray that she will have great success in learning it and gaining employment in the near future.

I spent time studying an herbal book, reading up on the ancient history of medicinal herbalism and the ancient uses of some plants. I read this week that Stevia is a natural very effective contraceptive that is used in South America.  Since the time it was introduced in the USA as a “safe natural ” alternative to sugar and sugar substitutes, we have had a marked decline in births!!!  I have never trusted sugar alternatives, ever.  They are poison!!! If I need a sweetener, very rarely, because we eat fruit if we want something sweet, I use real honey or real maple syrup and once in awhile, real cane sugar.

I puttered around in the green house, cleaning up more trays that I planted last fall from the seedlings, that died during the deep cold weather we had in November and December. When it warms up next month, I will reseed them.

H. our pup and I walked around the ranch numerous times on the snow crust.  We had a light snow fall.  As we walked in the south pasture, early one the morning, I saw fresh Mountain lion tracks…not large ones. So the big kitties are hanging in tight in our neck of the woods.  I wasn’t worried that it was still there because, H had just run the whole perimeter.  It was long gone.   Every now and then this week, H. will bark facing the south pasture fence…

I again read through Daniel and did some research on Grecian and Persian History. I worked on reading First Corinthians 4 in Hebrew and read some of Second Corinthians in English. Our Shabbat bible study group is studying Matthew, currently.   We are in Chapter 26.

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.