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. Note that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. We always welcome you to share your own successes and wisdom in the Comments. Let’s keep busy and be ready!
It felt so good to get back to the ranch! I loathe being away from my wife and kids for anything more than an overnight trip. But I really feel strongly convicted to help out my elderly family members–even if it means making extended out-of-state trips.
When I got home, after unpacking, there was the usual pile of mail to go through, and a few packages. Then came catching up on projects around the ranch. Oh, and some snow plowing. And then I had to make the drive to our post office. (My sincere thanks to all of you who thoughtfully send 10 Cent Challenge subscription donations!) And on the same trip, Avalanche Lily had me pick up a bunch of sacks of poultry grower pellets. Now, back at home, I’ve been busy cutting some stockpiled wood into stove rounds, and slaughtering and gutting a few chickens. (Avalanche Lily and the girls do to scalding and plucking.) And of course I’m doing my usual daily blog writing. I’m also working on the text and layout of my mail order website. That will be called Elk Creek Company. There, I’ll be selling hand-selected pre-1899 cartridge guns. The planned launch of that business will be February 1st–if all goes well.
So I can honestly say that I’ve been busy, busy, busy! I have a feeling that this winter will pass by very quickly. Now, over to Lily’s weekly report:
Avalanche Lily Reports:
I am so glad that Jim is home!! We have been trying to catch up on all of those missed out hugs and kisses. Mmmmmm! Yes, I will say, my enthusiasm for life and my motivation to get things done has returned to my inner being with my better half, now, safely home. I am so happy and thankful to our Lord for bringing him back home.
Jim has been super busy since getting home. I also had, with a sheepish grin, a fairly lengthy “Honey-Do” list for Jim. Some of which we need to get onto this coming week. It seems that we have gone through wood for the wood stove at an unprecedented rate this winter and seem to have only about two months worth, left, since we often use the woodstove through April, Jim will have to get out with the chain saw and cut up some logs that we stacked and put under tarps two summers ago. This will be the first time we’ve ever had to process any of our stiockpiled wood during the winter… We also had a bunch of light bulbs die on us while Jim was gone. We like the “old fashioned” yellow light bulbs of which manufacturers are now, poorly designing these days, (seemingly on purpose, to move you to the blue-white light high efficiency bulbs –either with poisonous mercury inside of them, or throwing a harsh LED-generated flickering light. About eight went out during the past month. Power surges, perhaps? I changed a few of them with no problems, but four of them broke with their ends still screwed into the socket. That is how poorly they are being made these days. I did try to unscrew two of them with pliers but seemed to be causing more problems, crunching glass which I don’t like, that gives me the willies. So I left that job for Jim to do.
Jim did cut up about half a cord on Thursday. Miss Violet and I, stacked it in the woodshed. We enjoyed piling it into the sled and pulling it over the snow to the woodshed. It was the one sunny day that we’ve had in weeks. The sun shining on the snow was beautiful.
Oh, I forgot to tell you, that a couple of weeks ago, when we had the first significant snow storm, I had taken out the pickup truck with our Western plow head and had plowed the driveway for the very first time, alone, with our manual transmission pick-up. Last winter Jim had given me lessons and I had plowed just a little bit. Before he left, he reminded me how to use the plow blade and how to plow.
I enjoyed it and did a great job and became very confident in the job. I cleared the driveway and a few parking spots, but not the whole area that we usually clear. Within a few days it had melted from the rains, anyway. Again this week, we had about eight inches of new snow and then about three inches of rain = 8 inches of slush. The day Jim was due to return home, I took out the plow and plowed again. I enjoy plowing snow!! Jim did finish the job for me, but maybe we can, now, share the plowing job in the future.
I went for a ski and a walk this week.
I went night-time cross country skiing with a headlamp that I didn’t really use. (I didn’t need it, except to check out animal tracks more clearly, to ascertain who made them: deer.) The moon was half full and even though there were thin clouds covering it, it lit up our snowy fields and trails beautifully! Because we had had some significant wind with the weather system that had just come through, the spruces and Grand firs branches were giving off this incredibly beautiful, fir sap/almost flowery perfume fragrance into the air. I love it. It is such an exquisite smell.
The next night the sky was clear with the full moon. With snow on the ground and on tree branches, it was nearly as bright as day. Beautiful! At 10 PM, I got the urge to take a walk. Jim was finishing up some blog writing. Anyway, I often like walking alone outside. The temperature was about 16 degrees Fahrenheit. I dressed well, got Gaston Glock for companionship, and headed out. I walked out into the meadow and down to the river. The snow was about six inches deep and very crunchy. I didn’t sink into it much at all. The trees were all casting very strong shadows. So was my body. I could see for miles up and down the valley and all of the mountain peaks surrounding us. It was so beautiful! I felt perfectly comfortable and safe. Later, I went back up to the barn to check on the cows and horses and to throw them some more flakes of hay. They got extra on that night.
On Thursday, Jim and I went out and de-horned our two week old calf. She has been named as of Thursday: “F.” will be her truncated acronym (for OPSEC), but she bears a Hebrew name with a different first letter. No, sadly we didn’t choose any of the readers’ suggestions. Please forgive us.
We may have missed our window of opportunity to de-horn her. The directions of the Dr. Naylor’s dehorning paste says to do the job when the calf is 3-7 days old. Of course Jim wasn’t yet home during that window, so I waited for him. We did it on day 13…. but her little horns had not broken the skin and felt really small, still… We’ll see if it worked. If not, it will be okay… She is a petite, but strong, and feisty little heifer. She is so beautiful and sweet.
While Jim was trying to catch her and pin her down, she gave a super high buck and back kick that put her back hooves up nearly into Jim’s face. He is over 6 feet tall, but he was bending over, slightly. We both looked at each other and laughed with a little bit of nervous awe. I said: “Whoa, that was close. Be careful Jim.” That wouldn’t have been a good scene if she had had made contact with Jim’s face. And she is little, maybe 60 pounds. Jim pinned her, lay on top of her, gently. I taped her front and back hooves together. Jim held her head.
I cut long strips of duck tape and put them on my fleece sweater for availability for a quick grab. Then I felt around for the horn buds, found them and took scissors and cut all of her fur just around them. I applied a dab of paste on each horn bud, and then put the duck tape over the bud between the ears and eyes and under her chin for both buds and then one more piece of tape on top of the tape all around her head and chin. Then we were done.
The next morning, Jim pinned her again and held her head, while I removed the tape and wiped the spent paste off of her buds. Poor baby. Now it will take months to win her trust. 🙁 I just wish to add, I have found that in general, heifers and female cows are just not as trusting and buddy, buddy with me, even though I try really hard to be friends with them, compared to as much as bulls and steers are. Maybe it’s just their maternal instinct….?? The de-horning trauma adds to the difficulties of gaining their trust.
Jim butchered a few chickens for us from the batch we received in early November. They were the what I call the “Franken Monster Chickens” Their real name is “Murray’s Ginger” (from Murray McMurray’s Hatchery.) They are a golden-colored Heavy Meat Bird which were part of the assortment that we ordered. The girls and I had not plucked feathers in years, since we usually skin the birds. But, I wanted a nice roasted chicken which stays moist if you leave the skin on it, so we decided to pluck a bird each. It took a very long time to get them cleaned up. I did the final clean-up pluck. The last bird, I gave up on, and finished it, by skinning. There are too many other things to do, that I’d rather be doing. One of the birds was put in the oven and the other two were frozen. In a few more weeks we’ll butcher some more birds.
In the greenhouse, a few of the lettuce seeds I put under the clear shallow totes have barely germinated. We are supposed to have below zero temperatures next week, which will probably kill them….
Miss Violet and I got back on homeschooling, this week. We are reading for American Literature/essay writing, “An Old Fashioned Girl” by Louisa May Alcott, for the first time. She is the same author who wrote “Little Women”. So far it’s a very sweet story about a sweet wholesome country girl who goes to a city to spend a month with her sophisticated, somewhat bratty, city friend. In the story the country girl maintains her values and imparts them to her city friend and along the way brings some sweet reconciliation and behavior pattern changes into the city girI’s family dynamics.
Miss Violet’s other official classes are Biology, Hebrew, Pre-Algebra, Driver’s Ed driving practice, and Piano. Her unofficial subjects of which she is studying on her own on a regular basis, (i.e. I don’t chase her for them, but just check in from time to time to see what she is learning and wants to tell me) are: Interior Design, Child Development and Child Care, and books on Preparing to be a Helpmeet.
May you all have a very blessed and safe week.
– Avalanche Lily, Rawles
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As always, please share your own successes and hard-earned wisdom in the Comments.