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:

While Lily has the garden harvest in full swing, I was catching up on a few projects:  Replacing a frost-free yard hydrant, replacing a few rotted-out corral fence rails, and taking a trip to town to pick up our Troy-Bilt tiller from the repair shop. This time it was the carburetor.  I almost always combine these trips with other shopping.  This time, I had to get some plastic bins (American-made only, of course) at Walmart, a stop at Home Depot for some plumbing parts, and at an auto parts store for a replacement car battery.  Sometimes, I find entropy discouraging. Watching things wear out and fall apart makes part of my life seem a bit futile. Coincidentally, Lily has been reading the classic survivalist novel Earth Abides for the first time. That novel delves into infrastructure entropy quite a bit.

Now, Lily’s report…

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,
This week was very sunny and warm, quite beautiful fall weather. It looks as though we are not getting our first frost until around the 24 of September.  That is rather late for us, but I will take it.  It is allowing for my greens, winter squashes, cukes, zuchs, and sunflowers to mature nicely.

I finished cleaning up the Annex gardens.  I mentioned last week that I weedwhacked the Annex gardens.  This week I finished raking the whacked thistles, Lamb’s quarters, Amaranth, and other weeds.  This week I weedwhacked the Annex gardens again to get all of the stubble knocked down to soil level.  We got our rototiller back from the shop this week and rototilled the annex gardens and seeded them with cover crops and set up a sprinkler.

I weedwhacked the tall grasses in the orchard.

I cut down more Balsam Poplar saplings for leaf fodder (aka “tree hay”).  I bundled them up and put them in the barn to dry for food supplementation for cows and sheep for this coming winter.

I have been dosing the sheep with Amprolium/Corid this week.  It’s been a sheep rodeo for five nights in a row, catching them and drenching them.

This week I began carding wool with the hand carders.  I have a spinning wheel that I need to learn how to use.  I am also interested in learning how to use the drop spindle.  I have been watching videos to learn the differences and uses of different size spindles and how to use them. It is so interesting to me. We don’t have any drop spindles. I don’t want to buy one. I have been watching a few videos on how to make them.  I am formulating a plan to use some apple wood branches that we’ve pruned and are currently drying along with maybe, Hazelnut wood.  We’ll see.  It’s in the planning stages right now.  I have so much else happening

I cleaned the hen house, the sheep shed, and the cow stalls. I put all of this manure around the fruit trees in the orchard.

I have put our nine-month-old Heifer in our cow stalls/milking parlor to work on taming her and to halter break her. I watched videos this week to learn how to make rope halters for my bovines.  It was fun making them. Every morning, especially, when I feed her, I spend about five to ten minutes petting her, scratching her, rubbing her belly and legs, and trying to lead her around the stall gently with the rope halter.  She is the heifer that I definitely want to keep.  I’ve mentioned in the past that we’ve not ever sold any animals before. We usually butcher or have given away goats and a cow in the past.  Selling livestock isn’t something that I really want to do, but we now really have too many for our ranch’s grazing capacity.  Therefore, we may sell two of our other cows.  We need to reduce our herd population a bit. We have two others that we will butcher for meat this winter.

The ones we keep, I need to tame more thoroughly.  So far, our beasties have pretty much run wild.  Though they will come whenever I call them, day or night, when from out in the meadows, we have not yet succeeded in halter-breaking any of them.  But now I think I know a good method. Let them wear a rope halter around with a trailing lead.  When they step on the lead it tightens up around their head.  They learn to step off the lead to relieve the pressure.  Then, after they have learned that for a while, begin working them with leading with snacks.  The only problem is that up to this point no other foods, other than hay entices “M”.  So, we have to just work her without them.

I have two cows that I have never milked.  Since we may sell them, I need to start milking them soon and get them used to the idea of being milked and handled…  We have to redo the rails of their corrals. Entropy has caused them to rot during the past four or so years since they were last replaced.  We also need to set up strong dividers again, so that I can separate the calves from their mamas overnight.  I will milk them only in the morning and let the calves have their mamas for the rest of the day.  They are now two months to four months old. They can now handle being separated for the night. So as soon as we have dividers up and I can separate them at night, I will begin milking again.  We will make cheese and butter, ghee, drink some of it, and give the rest to the chickens or even spread it in the garden.

We have bought a new yearling bull. He has an “M” name.  Our senior bull, “Sh” has been returned to our bullpen with his son, a yearling steer, “W”, to keep him company.  Even though I don’t usually like to sell our animals, and really, I’d like to keep him, he is a part of our family. Jim wants to sell him for someone to use as a herd sire.  We want him to have much more life.  He is the father to all of our current cows and calves, except for one of our cows. He is such a nice boy, though is hard on our fence infrastructure.  He is friendly and respectful to humans.  We are hoping that a friend will buy him…He is six years old, has a mixed lineage, has A2A2 genetics, and is quite large. He is a real specimen to look at and he has great personality.

I picked, blanched, and froze another gallon’s worth of broccoli.

The golden raspberry primocanes are in full production.  I’ve been harvesting the razzes and freezing those that we are not eating fresh.

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.