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:

We had a mostly rainy week here at the Rawles Ranch. Three of our four grandsons came for a four-night visit. That was mostly fun. While they were here, we assembled outdoor survival bug-out bags for them, and taught them how to use most of that gear. (The compass training, of course, will come when they are older, with some solid math skills.)

I replaced a post-mounted electrical outlet and light switch near the middle of our barn. They had been bashed by tumbling hay bales so many times over the past 17 years that they were becoming a hazard.  I replaced the cracked blue plastic (interior construction style) boxes with galvanized steel ones.  And now the outlets and the switch have proper heavy-duty outdoor covers.

I also kept busy packing and mailing Elk Creek Company orders.

Now, Lily’s report, with far more details…

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,
This week was mostly cloudy and rainy.  We needed the rain for our meadows and gardens.

This was also the week we ran Camp Rawles for the grandsons as soon as homeschool let out for them for four days. All four be coming back again later this summer for round two, maybe a round three and four, of Camp Rawles.

We had a great time with them.  They tagged along with me and helped with the animal chores.  I introduced and taught them how to milk a cow.

I showed the boys how to card wool.  Yep, it turns out that Jim found our Ashford Drum Carder the day after he had ordered another one.  (He thought that ours had been given away.)  It was buried behind boxes in the shop and he found it while looking for something we were storing for Miss Eloise. Isn’t that always the case? Thankfully, he was able to call and cancel the order before it was shipped to us.  Those now cost $700.

I’m terrible about getting gifts to the boys on their birthdays.  So when they come to visit, we always use that time to buy them good and useful, fun birthday gifts.  This time we kitted them out with survival/camping gear.  Their Dad is buying them bags that he wants for them, but with their Dad’s okay, Jim and I, thus far, this week, bought them each a Lifestraw water filters, compasses, folding saws, First Aid Bag to stuff with First Aid gear from home, fishing lures, flies, and hooks, Bug jackets, 6′ by 8′ brown/green tarps, fork/spoon “Sporks”, and Waterproof matches.

At home, we collected items from the ranch house and JASBORR for them.  For their First Aid Kits we gave them each Band-aids, a tube of Neosporin, cotton balls, Q-Tips, Alcohol wipes and make-up wipes.  More will be added to their kits, later. We gave them each a Jack Knife, a small compact New Testament, Emergency Reflective blankets, Parachute cord,  Ferro Rod Magnesium fire starters, and a small Bic lighter.  Jim cut sections of a hack saw with holes in them to attach to the chain, so that they can use that to strike tinder instead of dulling their Jack Knives.  We gave them a Tinder kit that had fat wood and cotton balls, and we cut Jute string and frayed a lot of it.  Finally, thus far, we began building emergency fishing kits for them and put them in an Altoid tin. They have hooks, lures, flies, sinkers, and metal leaders for Pike fishing.  Jim has ordered them some other stuff that will come soon. We have other ideas on equipment to give them, but that will come in time.

The boys really wanted to go fishing in a lake.

I wanted to show them Tenkara fishing,  which is fishing for trout in small streams with telescoping fishing rods, that are generally 8-13 feet long with about a nine foot line and flies.  I showed them two videos of Tenkara fishing. After the videos, they were game to try it. I made them smaller fishing rods with hazelnut wood, trout line, and a fly.  We, me and them, tried fishing in the streams that flow through our meadows, and the Unnamed River. Then Jim and I and the boys hiked to a mountain stream nearby and tried there and back in the Unnamed River where that stream runs into it.  It was an adventure.  It was showery, windy, and the temperature only 46 degrees Fahrenheit.  But the boys were troopers and enjoyed the adventure.  We will try stream fishing a bit later in the summer.  We didn’t catch anything, I think it’s because the waters need to warm up a little bit more and the fish need to migrate from the huge rivers into our river and mountain streams.

One afternoon, I had each boy build their own fire using their new gear and to cook their own dinner over the fire they built. Each boy collected two large pieces of wood, then kindling and small pieces of wood.  I lined them up in a row in the meadow, one, also for Miss Violet.  Then they placed their two large pieces of wood in pairs with about a six-inch gap.  They put their tinder and fat wood between the two large wood pieces.  I showed each of them how to scrape the magnesium over their tinder and then how to strike the striker with the saw blade. The two older boys, almost nine and age seven, did it on their own. Once their fires were  burning well, I gave them cast iron pans to rest on the large pieces of wood with the fire beneath them and spatulas and a Lamb burger patty.  We also washed potatoes and they sliced them up.  I also pre-prepared a flour mixture for them to make pan bread, later. Once their Lamb patties were partially cooked they added their sliced potatoes and cooked those.  Then when those were finished, they added water to their flour mixture in a ziploc bag, kneaded it and then squirted it out into their pans and fried up their pan bread.

The two older boys did everything on their own with a tiny bit of oversight.  The burgers cooked well, the potatoes were a bit crunchy and tasted like smoke, their pan bread burned a bit — but was mostly tasty and had some doughy sections.  But they enjoyed building and lighting their own fires and cooking their own dinner and eating it. I basically did it all for the youngest who is almost five. He did manage to throw sparks with the ferro rod striker, and did light the fire with the waterproof matches. He watched me cook his food and enjoyed eating it.  Miss Violet made her pwn and enjoyed the whole process.  Afterward, I cooked up over one of the fires Lamb Burgers and potatoes for Jim and I.  Jim ate some of the leftover bread from the boys.  We formed some great memories.  The oldest boy said that he wanted to stay longer with us so we could do a whole bunch more stuff.  Maybe they can?

We took three of our grandsons on an overnight camping trip with the intention of lake fishing from our canoes.  The boys brought their Emergency Backpacks with them. The weather forecast for “a chance of showers” was incorrect, and we received 1.5 inches of continuous rain in one night. The boy’s tent leaked. The boys woke up, one crying, because his sleeping bag was soaking wet. I listened while they worked out their situation for about ten minutes.  The tent that Jim and I were in was two feet away from theirs, with their entrances facing each other. Miss Violet and the dog’s tent was about five feet away from us.

I could lean out of my tent door and lift up their vestibule flap and unzip their door without leaving my bed.   So I was talking to them throughout their discussion of what to do about their situation. I couldn’t really hear what they were saying but they knew I was aware that someone had gotten a wet sleeping bag. Then I asked If I could come in and help them.  I crawled out of my sack and went over to their tent. When I entered their tent I was pleased to see that they had been troubleshooting their dilemma. Their suggestion to me was to put down a tarp under them on top of their sleeping pads.  Then since two of the sleeping bags were still dry, they would open them both up and put them on the tarp and all three would share that.  They needed help with executing that plan, so I took over.  I asked them all to move to one side of the tent.  We worked together to lay down the tarp. I unzipped their bags, lay one down on the tarp, asked them to get on the bag.  I unzipped the second bag and draped it over the three of them.  Then they asked if the Reflective Emergency Blanket would help them.  I said yes. So since they had already tested one out earlier in the evening and had lightly folded it, we unfolded it and spread it over the top of them.  Then the three of them were as snug as bugs in a rug — and I could go back to my tent.

I loved how they worked together and mostly get along so well together.  I love reaffirming their behavior to them by singing to them this Psalm for the past three years.  In English and Hebrew,

Psalm  133:1

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

He-ney Mah Tov Oo-mah Nah-eem, Shevet Acheem Gam Yah-chad. La la lai, la la lai.

So the boys woke up once more in the night to go to the loo.  Other than that they slept the rest of the night, despite the POURING RAIN, ALL NIGHT LONG!!!!

The campground we stayed at is only about a half hour from the ranch, so therefore, as soon as everyone woke up, about 6AM, it was still raining, we started the SUV and loaded up the boys, the Dog, and Miss Violet. Then Jim and I quickly loaded the wet sleeping bags, took down the tents, packed up everything, and went home to do animal chores, to make and eat breakfast, and to dry out. It was a great learning experience for the boys. They were good-natured about the whole thing and were real troopers.  Obviously, we were not able to go canoeing and fishing, yet.

I am reading them the book, “The Sign of the Bear” By Elizabeth George Speare while they are with us this week.  They really are enjoying that book.  It is about a twelve-year-old Pioneer boy who builds a cabin in the wilderness of Maine with his father.  As so soon as the cabin is built, his father leaves him to tend to the planted corn and to finish chinking the cabin while he returns to New England to get his mother sister and new baby sibling. The father is delayed in returning and the local Native Americans help and teach him how to survive in the wilderness. There is a lot of information in it about how Native Americans lived during the mid-1700s in Northern Maine/Canada.  It is a very fascinating book.

The first two days the boys were here, I kept the nearly three-week-old chicks in the house for them to play with.  By the second day, the chicks were well into their molt and the Great room was becoming dusty.  So we quickly cleaned out the little chicken coop within the Hen house and Jim fixed an electric outlet so we could have power in the Hen house for the heat lamp.  Then we moved the little birdies out to the hen house and scrubbed the Great Room from top to bottom.  😉  It was worth it.  The boys loved playing with those chicks and were so good with them.  I loved seeing them get so much enjoyment for those cute little bundles of life  😉

Another afternoon was spent in archery practice.  All three boys practice archery, already, at home.  I was very impressed with their shooting abilities. They each took turns with our kid bows and the two olders tried out my new bow.  Even though they are small boys, they actually did very well with it.  When we started shooting another set of clouds were coming in and the horses were in the meadow. Therefore we were shooting toward the South pasture.  Suddenly a huge bolt of lightning struck the unnamed mountain.  I immediately ushered the boys to the porch to wait out the storm.  I figured it would be short-lived.  They have been, thusfar this spring.  The following clap of thunder was as loud as a gunshot.  The horses spooked and ran out of the meadow into the woods, leaving the meadow clear of beasties.  The boys and I commenced shooting off the porch deck out into the meadow.  We had a contest as to who could shoot their arrows the highest and the furthest.  It was a very good time.  Sure enough within ten minutes the sky cleared and the sun came back out and we retrieved our arrows and shot a few more rounds.

With Jim’s help to haul compost and rototill, I prepped a section of the garden and planted four rows of potatoes.

This week, I will be putting in the rest of the garden, Lord-willing. I must!!!!

May You All Remain Safe, Blessed, and Hidden in Christ Jesus,

– 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.