Homestead Design from a Practical, Tactical, Agricultural Survival Perspective, by C.F

Let’s talk about practical, tactical, and agricultural survival principles and details that pertain to developing land in a way that will facilitate agricultural productivity, sustainability, and security.

Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house. Prov. 24:27.

Assessing the Land

The Land

First of all, we are likely to be constrained by property boundaries. Therefore, in selecting property, what are our priorities?

Not everyone has the same priorities, and priorities change as the world around us changes. For example, a property that is perfectly usable today may become untenable if grid power is cut off. This occurs because the ample well water is too deep to access effectively by primitive means. Or, it may be too public, or too inaccessible.

Agriculture being our focus, the first priority is soil. Meadow silt, especially when found on a bench partway up a … Continue reading

Letter Re: Cats Moving into the Neighborhood



In response to the comment about cats moving into the neighborhood: be grateful. The Lyme spirochete has been around for millions of years. Lyme disease started to explode in the 1970’s and 1980’s, which is when the national spay-neuter programs got started, and the population of outdoor cats dropped like a rock.

I remember as a child in the 1950’s seeing kittens running around outdoors in the summer. In the last thirty years, except for my own protected outdoor cat colony, I’ve seen only one outdoor kitten.

The ticks that carry Lyme have a two year life cycle. The first year they spend on small animals; mostly mice and other rodents. The second year they move to larger animals such as deer, dogs and people.

Cats were selected by people for thousands of years to over-hunt, in order to protect farmers’ crops from rodents. A … Continue reading

The Editors’ Preps for the Week of June 12th, 2017


To be prepared for a crisis, every prepper must establish goals and make long-term and short-term plans. Steadily, we work on meeting our prepping goals. In this column, the SurvivalBlog editors share their planned prep activities for the coming week. These range from healthcare and gear purchases to gardening, property improvements, and food storage. This is something akin to our Retreat Owner Profiles, but written incrementally and in detail, throughout the year. We also welcome you to share your planned activities for increasing personal preparedness in the coming week. (Leave a Comment with your project details.) Let’s keep busy and be ready!


At the Rawles Ranch we are in full Summer Mode, which usually means lots of gardening, fencing,  and construction projects.  Since we live at a fairly northern latitude, the days are very long when we get close to the … Continue reading

The Editors’ Preps for the Week of May 29th, 2017


To be prepared for a crisis, every prepper must establish goals and make long-term and short-term plans. Steadily, we work on meeting our prepping goals. In this column, the SurvivalBlog editors will share their planned prep activities for the coming week, ranging from healthcare and purchases to property improvements and food storage. We also welcome you to share your planned activities for increasing personal preparedness in the coming week in the Comments. Let’s keep busy and be ready!


Dear SurvivalBlog Readers,
This week, the weather is expected to be warm and sunny. Finally, summer  has arrived to the northern portion of the American Redoubt. It is glorious and we are rejoicing to be living mostly outdoors!  Our family has no off-ranch obligations this week. Therefore, Lily and the children, specifically, can dedicate the whole week to prepping activities. Hooray!

Ranch Infrastructure Maintenance and Projects

Jim will continue the plumbing and … Continue reading

Letter Re: Equestrian Survival – Part 4


The author of this submission Part 4, recommends “saddle soap” be applied to bridles and all leather tack components. Based on 30+ years of equestrian training and almost daily use of leather tack use, I can say without reservation that the absolute worst product to use on leather of any type is saddle soap! Saddle soap contains alkaloids that strip the natural oils and any other oil compounds applied to leather goods of any type during manufacture and/or in the tanning process. If you’ve ever looked at old or antique leather holsters, tack, or saddles and observed many small spider web-like cracks or dry rot, this is the direct result of constant application of saddle soap over time. Never use saddle soap to clean leather products, period! The absolute best product to clean leather tack is a product called Lexol. ( ) Lexol cleans, moisturizes, waterproofs, and protects leather … Continue reading

Equestrian Survival For Bugging Out, Recon, Rescue, Projection of Force, or Hunting- Part 4, by R.M.

You can buy a lance head and boot at Cotswoldsport to make your lance. Bamboo is a good staff to use, but other woods work. Your ability to control the lance can be influenced; it’s the weight.

I don’t really know western gear. I was trained in the European tradition– German, Austrian, and English styles. So I use that kind of gear. Saddle, cinch, stirrups, bridle with snaffle and bit (eggbut/something soft on the mouth). Know your horse’s teeth. If they need to be floated, do it. All western bits look too hard on the mouth to me. You might know better. If you are controlling your horse (hard mouthed horse) mostly by the mouth, you might not have a horse you can count on in stressful situations. If that’s all you’ve got, make do.

I bring a rasp and prefer a horse who doesn’t need shoes. You can shape … Continue reading

Letter Re: Equestrian Survival For Bugging Out


I enjoyed reading Equestrian Survival For Bugging Out, Recon, Rescue, Projection of Force, or Hunting- Part 1, by R.M. and am looking forward to the remaining part(s).

If you’re serious about such you might want to find, download, print, read, study, and learn the info in FM 3-05.213 (FM 31-27) Special Forces Use of Pack Animals

My Dad was raised in West Texas in the 1920’s-40’s. This was long before rural electrification and other such luxuries. He cowboyed for his boyhood friend’s Dad for several years as a pre-teen and teenager. Dad and his friend, R.L., did it the old fashioned way, on the back of a horse.

I gave Dad a copy of the manual about 14 years ago and had him read it. His opinion – “worth the read, worth the knowing, and a good start.”

His final statement, “A book on mule … Continue reading

Equestrian Survival For Bugging Out, Recon, Rescue, Projection of Force, or Hunting- Part 3, by R.M.

It also pays to have practiced riding bare back. If you have to run, you may not have time to saddle up and will be fortunate enough to grab your rig. It’s like riding at a trot without posting. You will sit full on the back where the saddle would be, back straight up, allowing the body to become one with the horse’s up and down motion. Moving to the canter or full gallop is easier. Your body must be fluid with the horse. Running away, then collecting yourself, and returning on foot to take back gear might work and might save your animal. An undefendable situation requires retreat, even if you have to leave gear behind.

You might think that, if you have a gun, none of those things matter. First, let me say that we have a duty to preserve God’s creation. In most cases that includes … Continue reading

Equestrian Survival For Bugging Out, Recon, Rescue, Projection of Force, or Hunting- Part 2, by R.M.

Figure Out How Much Weight Your Horse Can Handle

If things head south, and you think you might have to use your horse under stress at some point in the near future, keep his weight right and work his chest. A firm horse is one you can rely upon. Using a soft horse for a strenuous endeavor is not fair to the horse and is a safety hazard to you. Every horse is different. A horse with bad conformation (bone structure) can’t have much expected of him; a swayback isn’t a long distance choice. You have to have a good idea of how they function/feel best. Most preferable is a horse who can’t wait to go for a ride.

Once you’ve developed an honest assessment of what you and your horse are capable of, it’s time to figure out how much weight the horse can handle. A day trip … Continue reading

Equestrian Survival For Bugging Out, Recon, Rescue, Projection of Force, or Hunting- Part 1, by R.M.

Assess Your Horse’s Capabilities and Temperament

We all love to think of our horses as part of the family. Some might love their horses. Let me begin by saying that before you do an overnight or longer trip away from all the comforts of home, you need to honestly assess your horse’s capabilities and temperament. Temperament is key here. I am careful to choose the horse for the job. I prefer traveling far with my dog as well. He is a great scout, level headed, and loves to ride. He often hunts for himself, but I always bring food for him. Mind you, once horse and dog are out for four or five hours, their temperament smooths.

I have made my horse aware of the terrain. He can surf down a steep mountain trail with loose scree or find his way home five hours out, through thick forest on … Continue reading

Letter Re: Donkeys as Pack Animals


Good info from B.W. We also have donkeys, miniature donkeys. They make excellent pets and fine companions on the trail. We hike and even camp with ours, as well as string them along with their packs behind our mules on trail rides. When introduced properly, they get along fine with the family/farm dogs. We have found their personalities to be very similar to dogs, and they will even lay their head in your lap for attention.

Donkeys also make excellent property alarm systems. Our little pair will begin braying at the approach of a car or truck long before I hear it coming up our long gravel drive. Their “radar” and those lovable long ears are impeccable indicators of approach or movement by wildlife. All I have to do is follow their gaze or the direction of those ears and more times than not there’s a … Continue reading

Donkeys As Pack Animals For Survival And Recreation- Part 2, by B.W.

We are fortunate to have a mother donkey and two of her offspring from subsequent years who are both females (jennys). We have had the younger ones since they were foals and have hiked with them and their mother since they were four or five months old. The mother was always on a lead, but the younger one were both on lead and off lead. By doing this we trained the younger ones to keep up with us off lead when we are in wide open spaces. As a result of this, we can hike in the state forests on old logging roads with the younger ones off lead even without the mother, and the youngsters look at us as the lead donkey and rarely ever get more than 100 yards away from us. The mother donkey can not reliably be turned loose off lead. She doesn’t run away, but … Continue reading

Donkeys as Pack Animals for Survival and Recreation- Part 1, by B.W.

Moving unobtrusively over land with pack animals whether for recreation or in an emergency situation is both enjoyable and possibly a lifesaving endeavor. This article concerns my experience with donkeys as a veterinarian and as someone who has prepared as much as possible over the years for whatever circumstances may arise in the world we live in. I hope this information will persuade you to look into pack animals, such as donkeys, in your preparedness planning if your circumstances will allow.

My wife and I have owned and ridden horses for the majority of our lives but got out of the horse business about eight years ago primarily due to a downsizing in pasture acreage. We have had donkeys now for the past four years. I did not consider myself “expert ” enough to write an article on donkeys, but after reading a few discussions about donkeys on other survival … Continue reading

Letter Re: Thriving With Airedales


It appears that the War Dog leashes I purchased may be available again. In looking up the company ( they are now carrying a leash that appears to be similar to, if not the same as, the ones I bought when I knew the people running the company. Link supplied merely to assist. I cannot vouch for this particular product; the leashes I have are amazing, and these look nearly identical. I have no connection to this company – “Food Guy”

Thriving With Airedales, by Food Guy and Treat Girl

The article “Surviving An Airedale” was a good start. The writer has begun a journey we started almost seven years ago, and the advice on raising a puppy is pretty good; we’d not argue with it. Crate training is very important, as is all training for these strong-willed and very bright dogs. We bought our Airedales in part due to JWR’s recommendation. The breed being hypo-allergenic was also a major consideration. The dogs are an ideal compromise in size for a couple whose childhood dogs were Great Danes and miniature Poodles, respectively. We considered standard Poodles as well, but the Airedales won out. They are at once a “Force Multiplier” and a joyous addition to our household. We are now a “pack”.

We’ve done and learned some things that perhaps warrant consideration:

Not Only One Airedale

You don’t want just one Airedale. Unless you’re a stay-at-home person who is … Continue reading