Editors’ Prepping Progress

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!

Jim Reports:

We still have patchy snow, here at the Rawles Ranch. We are coming into what I call the late winter “Bev Doolittle Season.” (See the illustration, above.)  With this much snow still on the ground, it is an awkward time for hauling manure. A sled loaded with 200 pounds of cow manure works great when dragged by hand on the snowy patches, but it is truly “a drag” when pulling it across the bare patches. And yet it is still too early in the year to use a wheelbarrow or an ATV.  Parenthetically, I suppose we should finally train one of our saddle horses for pulling.

I have some travel planned in March, to meet family obligations. But I’m confident that when I return in early April, I’ll be able to get back into the woods to cut firewood. And I’m sure that Lily will have a list of things for me to catch up on.

Things have been going well with my new venture, Elk Creek Company. I’ve found it vary gratifying to be back in the antique gun business. It warms my heart to drop off a nice long box at the post office, knowing that it is going to someone with no government paperwork.  Pre-1899 antique cartridge guns truly are the last bastion of anonymous firearms ownership. (BTW, I have a feeling that many states will soon attempt to restrict 80%-complete receivers. I recommend that you hedge your bets, folks: Buy a few pre-1899 guns that shoot commonly available factory ammunition.)

A special word of thanks for the folks who placed orders during the short term sale that I recently ran, to raise cash for a replacement laptop computer, for Lily. Muchas gracias!

As usual, Lily has a lot to report, so I’ll turn this over to her…

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,

Weather-wise after an unexpected six inch snowfall early in the week, we had a beautifully sunny week in which to accomplish much stuff.

In the greenhouse, I took all of my stacked seedling trays and put in the one inch and four inch pots in preparation to receive soil.  Later in the week, I filled 16 trays with soil, in preparation for seed planting next month.  I still have about another thirty or so trays of pots to fill with soil during this coming week.

I made guacamole with the latest batch of ripened avocados, froze them in ice cube trays, and put the avocado cubes into the plastic bags with the other Guac cubes.  I bought yet another dozen avos, and am waiting for these to ripen–these also to freeze.  If you haven’t figured it out, yet, as you can see, I love avocado and want to have it for as long as we can when these crops become scarce in the future.

I spent a lot of time this week learning about a method of procuring another source of protein for our family, gathering the equipment and tools needed, learning how to use them and fix them, watching videos and studying the law.  But for OPSEC reasons at this time I am unable to tell you about it.  I’m sorry.  But later, I will be able to let you know.

We had family friends visit on Friday, so spent much time cleaning and cooking food.  We had a lovely time together with lots of good food, fun fellowship and conversation.  Spending time with good friends is like the Balm of Gilead to our souls.

May you all have a very blessed and safe week.

– Avalanche Lily, Rawles

o o o

As always, please share your own successes and hard-earned wisdom in the Comments.


    1. I’ve always had a soft spot for Pinto’s. Does anyone know how to do a screen capture of the photo, so I can save it to my desktop or use it as ‘wallpaper’? Unlike most photo’s, I haven’t been able to figure out how to save this one.

    2. RKRGRL68 and Seymour Liberty,

      I’ve always liked Bev Doolittle’s artwork. Yes, it’s a painting not a photograph. One of my favorites is called “The Forest Has Eyes”. That particular painting is a good one to study to increase ones “OPSEC awareness”. There is a very good reason she named it what she did. The rider on the horse in the painting assumed he was all alone, but he was “being watched” from all angles. Check it out.

      A painting of the Pintos can be found at the following link:
      Click the photo for a larger view or you can also click on the name “Bev Doolittle” on the left navigation bar to see more of her artwork.

      Hope this helps.

  1. This week I have not been up to par as I hit my forehead on a corner shelf and saw stars for a while. I still have a head ache and a robin egg size knot; but at least I was able to do my chores, albeit very slowly.

    I made up a gallon of bleach/water solution and a gallon of vinegar/water solution and and transfer them to spray bottles as needed. The delivery boxes get sprayed with bleach solution and sit until dry and the contents get sprayed and air-dried. While I wear gloves while unloading and opening boxes/bags, my kids don’t, at least not yet. So I sprayed their hands with bleach mixture;;; “ah mom.”

    We normally order and pay online then go pick up at the warehouse stores – in-out, 5 minutes max. We are wearing masks, gloves and eye protection and once home are spraying down most items with a bleach solution left in the sun to dry. Fresh veges get cleansing protocol.

    It has been months since I went to a walmart and I rarely wander around stores but this week I donned my mask, gloves and glasses and made the drive to the closest city with a W-M to pick up OTC meds, hygiene items and a few sewing items. These are just every-day-items that cost more to order online than to get at the store. I found the shelves out of some items, low on other items and prices up about 5% from 8/9 months ago. They had cases of rubbing alcohol but 2 small bottles of hydrogen peroxide, were very low on diarrhea meds, but had cough syrup. Got the last of the quilting pins, but they had sewing needles and machine needles; they were low on safety pins and upholstery needles. Got the last quart bottle of hand sanitizer and there were no individually wrapped sanitizer wipes. Had to go to a craft store to get various widths of elastic for replacement purposes. Won’t be going to those stores again.

    Family members have asthma and early stage COPD so I have plenty of nebulizers, albuteral solution, inhalers and just received our new oxygen concentrators (thanks to Tunnel Rabbit for the reminder.) Received orders of extra tubing, masks and nasal cannulas. While we don’t actually need them right now, ya just never know… It is better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.

    Sons cleaned and disinfected an additional five 55-gal drums and let them sun dry. We reached our goal of animal feed and now have a full 5-1/2 months supply (6 months if we’re careful) to rotate through. We plan to top off each month as long as it is available and/or until our area is contaminated and we go into isolation.

    We normally hatch barn-yard-mix chicks but plan to purchase new dual purpose breed chicks around the end of March. Hopefully, one or two of our broody hens will set up house keeping in the baby chick house once we move them out of the porch to the chick house. They need to learn the pecking order and how to be chickens, plus the broody hens protect them once they are old enough to move out to the big-girl yard.

    I appreciate editor’s and authors’ articles and other posters’ comments as I am always worried I’ve forgotten something. (I guess worry is a mom thing.) Have a safe and productive week.

  2. Still deeply buried in snow up here in the northern gulag and will be for quite some time. Temps in the teens below zero at night several times this week. I’m 2 weeks away from closing on my house/land so that’s pretty exciting. Back in my home state petsitting once again but at least I’m sort of “back home”.

    Prepping while not having your own house is “interesting”. Watching the onslaught of the coronavirus as it travels around the world is a bit stressful but I’m putting in some effort so that hopefully I can “hit the ground running” when the house is finally mine. I’ve ordered firewood for the woodstove I don’t own yet for the house I don’t own yet! 😉 There isn’t even a woodstove there; am going to order it this week and schedule the install to happen ASAP after the house purchase happens. Have been taking advantage of 10 for $10 sales at the grocery store and stocked up on pasta, beans, canned tomatoes and veggies. Got some more good stuff(albacore tuna, salmon) at the local dollar store(which is a horrific shopping experience as it’s filthy and looks like the aftermath of a tornado); got to shop at the Dollar Tree in another state while I was petsitting there recently and that was awesome! Basically piling up the bags of stuff at my petsit, my son’s apt. and my car(for the stuff that sub-zero temps won’t harm too badly); will move it all to the house right after the sale happens. Also have stocked up on way more veggie seeds than I will use for some time but stored properly they will last(and be helpful if others are in need).

  3. Ordered a Springfield armory Saint AR pistol with brace. Took care of the neighbors 10 steers and 30 chickens for the weekend. Purchased a set of woodland camo BDUs at the Salvation Army. Spent some time outside laying out “mentally” my rain water catchment system. I will have to make a two foot high crib at the back of the barn for the system to be on. Plus with the extra space at the end I am going to put in a cedar out door shower. Then, in front of that shower I will put a sink in to was hands, veggies, etc. I also looked at where on the property I will be building the chicken coop. Since I wanted solar lights in it I had to make sure I had a sunny spot. Spring will be here before you know it and I want to be ready to to implement my projects.

  4. Regarding hauling manure (as well as sacks of grain, bales of hay, rocks, dirt, and anything else heavy) across mud/snow, etc:

    I discovered many years ago that trying to push a wheel barrow full of anything was almost impossible on our muddy property, and set out to solve the problem.

    What I did was this: I cut some closed top plastic 55 gallon drums lengthwise down the middle, leaving the top and bottom intact.

    Then I used an electric dehorning iron to make two holes (about 1-1/4 diameter) about 12 inches apart, and about 4 inches below the long edge on both sides of the barrel half. (A hole saw works too, or a big drill bit of some kind)

    I used rope to tie the barrels together into a three half barrel ‘skid’. The barrels were about 8-10 inches apart when tied. The front barrel had a doubled loop that was about 18 inches away from the side when extended) Three half barrels full of wet straw/manure is pretty heavy, but still managable to dump with one strong person, or two people, which was how we did it when cleaning stalls.

    The best part was that I had ponies broke to drive. So I hitched a pony to the barrels (She was a small pony. 11 hands tall, about 500 pounds) and used her to pull it out to the garden, where two of us would flip it over to dump the contents.

    It didn’t take any time at all and that pony would stand in the barn aisle without being held or tied, waiting for us to fill the barrels. Then we’d head to the garden with her following. We’d stand her where we wanted her, dump the barrels, and she’d head back to the barn. It was awesome!

    That same pony hauled all the grain to the barn in winter as well. Later I used two ponies hitched to a large wooden skid to haul more than 1000 pounds of sacked grain from the driveway to the barn (about 100 yards) and later still, competed in a weight pull where that team of ponies weighing 900 pounds total pulled 2500 pounds of dead weight over 30 feet.

    Most people don’t realize that pound for pound, ponies are stronger than draft horses. And their smaller size makes them easy to handle, easier to feed, easier to get into smaller spaces, and being lower to the ground, it’s easier to get the proper angle of draft to make the most of their pulling power.

    Also note: A single barrel half with a longer rope handle is great for one person to pull. We use it for hauling piles of pulled weeds to the compost, hauling firewood in the snow and ice, and hauling groceries from the car. And the grandkids haul each other around in them too. *grin*

    1. Good idea. Way sturdier I’d guess than using a kid’s plastic sled which is my fallback for snowy or muddy ground. Always wanted draft ponies but the cost was prohibitive; they do indeed pack a lot of muscle into their bodies.

  5. Well Lily, you have me wondering what kind of protein requires a reading of the law. I’ll be interested to see since I, too, am concerned about protein levels in our pantry. To that end, I decided to order some sausage tvp (the only flavor we like) and found it on sale so I ordered 4 #10 cans. The shipping was reasonable, too. I promptly made a vegetarian chili with the sausage tvp that was very tasty. I really need a new name as it isn’t really chili in my book, but very tasty and made all from pantry items.

    Dehydrated potato slices for the pantry. They are just like the ones from the boxed mixes. Now to perfect the seasonings. Potatoes are one of the few veggies that I do parboil before dehydrating. Cut the potatoes into uniform 1/8″ slices, place in a colander in boiling water for 8 minutes and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water. Let sit till cool, pat dry and arrange on sprayed trays. Dehydrate till very crisp. And there you have it.

    Very cold weather this week allowed for lots of indoor work catching up on paperwork and working on sewing projects. Started work on a side project that will, God willing, help others while bringing in some income down the line.

    Finally, I’m reading Dutch Girl: Aubry Hepburn and WWII. A very interesting story of the German takeover and occupation of the Netherlands. When teaching Global Studies/World History, I always have the students read Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. There is so much to glean from the autobiographical and biographical stories that show the stealth and deceptive plans of world dominators. Truly amazing stories of heroism and courage have surfaced from destructive times in history, and can be a warning for me not to become fat and complacent.

    1. Good Morning PJGT,

      I’m chuckling. The “Law” is just the state’s rules and regulations, of which I wasn’t fully familiar with. 😉

      We love Corrie Ten Boom’s book the “Hiding Place” and have read it many, many times over the years. What an amazing testimony of God’s love, grace and protection for those who trust in Him. I have many quotes that run through my mind when I think about her story. She and her sister truly walked in the opposite spirit of the day. They are excellent to think on and remember for my own walk with the Lord. Her father was a precious man. A true Righteous Gentile!

      I have not heard of the book “Dutch Girl” I will look into it. I agree with you that many autobiographical and biographical stories serve as warnings to us of the intents of those who wish to rule others. Reading stories concerning the Holocaust at a young age has shaped my world view for years, to be a Survivalist and to help others, as the Lord so grants to me. My life is in His hands.

      Many Blessings to you,


  6. Some years ago now we filled a small storage box with shoelaces… Tired of breaking laces on shoes right out of the box (unbelievable, but also oh-so-believable), we decided that shoe laces were an important supply item! Just the other day, this decision turned out to be enormously valuable. While working on some of the bigger picture supplies, we can also tuck in a few of the smaller items which also turn out to be important. Remember shoelaces!

    We filled more propane tanks for the grill, purchased additional grocery items, secured the few supplies we needed to build worm towers in our outdoor garden beds, and will shortly be hauling in a load of compost to add to what we have on hand. We’ve also been working to update Rx medications and OTC supplies. This is among one of our most serious concerns related to family members who require life-sustaining prescription medications. On our list for the weekend is a decision whether to hatch our own chicks or to resupply with an order of pullets.

    As the COVID-19 story unfolds, and we continue to prepare, we are reminded that there is always something more to do, and that time may be very short.

    Mike Adams posted this story at Natural News… https://www.naturalnews.com/2020-02-22-costa-mesa-files-court-document-to-block-federal-relocation-of-35-50-infected-coronavirus-patients.html

    Avalanche Lily — We smile to think about your avo-cubes. Love this idea. Excited to hear about your garden starts too. At this time of year, and even knowing that more winter weather is likely, we feel the inspiration of spring.

    Animal House — Your activities sound a lot like our own including the approach to package deliveries. Like you, we’re seeing some of the same early signs of what might be scarcity. We’re not sure if what we’re seeing is a function of increasing demand alongside a failure to restock items available onsite, or if we’re already seeing cracks in the supply chain. What we know is that we see it too, and it does catch our attention.

    Ani — We are sure cheers will go up within the community with the news that you’ve closed on your purchase and are settling into your new home!

    We are thankful for the sharing among people of like minds. New ideas and helpful reminders help to propel all of us forward.

    Remain steady. Stay well. Be safe everyone!

  7. In the ‘reduced price’ meats section we got several pounds of ‘beef trim’. It looked like slabs of thick dense fat with meat. The meat was trimmed off after cooked and kept for soup. The rest was cooked for hours yielding beautiful white tallow. I tried some for cooking potatoes and with it’s high smoke point did the job well.

  8. Lily, About avacadoes, what did you do with all those pits?? I personally don’t care for them, but I think you should consider trying to grow them. You stick toothpicks or sharpened match sticks into them and suspend them in jars or cups of water until then form roots. They don’t need to be placed in sunlight at this time, so no using up precious sun lamp space. People used to have “bay windows” acctualy built and used to grow a bay laural tree in a pot to have that herb. An extended -bay or greenhouse window would hold a couple potted trees, and if you are considering a year round greenhouse the plans could include the requirements to keep some trees in there also. Lots of you tube videos on greenhouse polination of diffrent plants. Might be worth checking out.

    1. HI VCC,

      I am just throwing out the avocado pits. I give one, to our rodent pets, every now and then. I am growing one avocado tree. I do not have room to grow any others at this time. It does get too cold in the winter in the green house for an Avocado tree.

      Does anybody out there in the world eat the seed of avocados? If you do tell us about it, please.



  9. Does anyone have a recommendation about taking the sacrement. I broached the subject about many people touching the bread before you take your own piece of it and there seems to be a case of normalcy bias for this subject.

    1. Many years ago our friends stopped taking the wine with intinction, the Lutheran church was having each person dip their wafer into a common cup……with countless fingernails getting into it.

      The pastors who dipped each wafer into the cup then placed it onto each person’s tongue……well, guess what that does!

      Different church place now, we get offered a plate full of bread pieces to pick our own (yes, exposed to many people’s sneezes, wheezes, and finger-borne diseases) with individual cuppettes.

      I personally think we’ll be placing gel for hands at each door entrance. Gel in, gel out, just like the medical pros do with patients. It will at least reduce a little of the exposure. But you’ll need to mask and cover eyes to eliminate exposure.

  10. I have been carrying out boxes of old vinyl LPs and other items. Making room in our basement for SHTF. Sweet spouse is clear…we gotta have a clean living area for her to consider hunkering down in the basement.

    We look at the more likely grid down scenarios like blizzards and ice storms. She doesn’t want to discuss EMPs and such. Okay by me. Being prepared covers many eventualities.

    Carry on

  11. Got a warm spell in the Midwest this weekend. Enjoying the sunshine with chopping wood and a campfire. Also we got a dehydrator! Trying that out for the first time. Looking forward to making some jerky.

  12. I had a goal this winter of only eating from the pantry (and freezer) and not going to the store. I eventually had to since my fresh milk source, a local farmer, informed me that their milk cow is waiting to birth a calf. I had stored powdered milk, and it’s not so bad with a little organic cocoa and some honey from the pantry. Nothing like fresh Jersey milk though! I had frozen quite a bit of goat cheese, also from a local farmer, and that has assuaged my desire for the great cheeses one can find at the grocery store. I had also made feta cheese from the Jersey milk that was abundant over summer, and marinated that in olive oil & herbs, kept in the refrigerator. Other things I miss in winter is a variety fresh fruits and vegetables, but I put up a lot of apples, pears, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, etc. over summer. This year I really tried to follow the “store what you eat, and eat what you store” mantra. It’s challenging when you are used to going to a large supermarket chain for everything. I did buy butter and eggs in large quantity at Costco, since the cow stopped giving and the hens stopped laying, that have lasted a few months. Other than that, I’m sticking to the plan. We successfully harvested several pounds of lettuce from the greenhouse, and noted the plants that just aren’t going to grow in December and January. We are planning to seed the entire greenhouse next month and we’ll see how it goes! What an adventure. It looks like, fingers crossed, that spring may be peeking around the corner, but it’s too early to tell. I cleared at least 8 feet of snow, in total, off the deck this winter and last week it was -4F. In 1959, the record low for my town was -41F (I looked that up – before my time). So, if we truly are in a Grand Solar Minima, that might be something we experience again here. I won’t say we had record snow here, but spring should be interesting. We had quite a bit of flooding last spring and it sure seems like we had more snow this winter. We shall see. I tucked away the extra masks and gloves I purchased. In other news, I ordered the 3 book series of The Gulag Archipelago. I’m thinking about firing up an old website/blog and discussing some of today’s issues in light of the fascination with a socialist/communist, a.k.a. Bernie, who is leading in the democrat polls. I am fascinated (and slightly traumatized) that anyone could possibly consider socialism for America, the freest country on the planet. Who would want to ruin that? Someone is successfully lying to our youth – most likely public education is to blame. But, I digress. Happy prepping to all and remember Do Not Comply with immoral or unconstitutional laws.

    1. Nice. I’m looking forward to getting back to doing this more. As I hauled back bags of groceries the other day I was thinking about how I used to make my own cheese and pasta, grew most of our fruit and veggies, had dairy goats and layers etc. Hope to get back to mostly buying just stuff like coffee, salt, sugar and olive oil. Re; temps, it’s actually been relatively mild up here with low temps mostly in the teens below zero. I do recall in the mid 90’s when it was maybe 40 below or so.

  13. I’m ramping up for some serious nano silver (not coloidal silver) production for use in a nebulizer. That and oxygen from a concertrator might be necessary. It would at least do no harm. I see there is plenty of evidence to suggest Covid-19 is man made. Some genetists believe it is 98% related to Bat SARS. Chris Martensen of Peak Prosperity says it does not behave like SARS. It is a novel virus. Some believe it is naturally occurring, and is SAR-cov2. It is important to destinguish it as an unknown and novel virus, and it is proving to have many surprises. It will be very difficult to avoid infection, so I am planning for the worst. Hospitals will quickly be overcrowed, and we will be on our own. This thing is spreadly quitetly and quickly.

  14. This week we ticked tucked away more antibiotics from the list Dr Alton has, and I briefed the wife and oldest daughter (who has two kids and hubby) on them.

    Just took a home delivery of another dozen bottles of gel sanitizer for hands and am issuing it to extended family with the requirement they keep it in their cars and “gel in, gel out” of public places and before they come into our house.

    I did a refresher briefing to oldest son on our family resource locations today.

    I did a refresher briefing to oldest daughter on pandemic and other medical supplies. We are now starting to stock up on more baby foods, infant meds, clothing, etc.

    I finished reading Selco Begovic’s account of life in the Bosnian war. His blog was sobering, but his book is far more stark and in depth. Human psychology and evil behaviour are discussed in depth, along with the ways people had to adapt or die. Most often they died violently and usually it was by random act.

    Also this week was my CERT monthly training meeting. We inprocessed two new team members and did initial responder training on head to toe injury assessments, dealing with the dying and their families, and CISM process. Ever month we do our radio procedure rehearsals along with organizational updates and team status briefings.

    Meanwhile, it’s time to prune the orchard it we get some dry days to avoid causing disease spreading, and for spraying copper sulphate on our fruit trees.

    God Bless

  15. My Household 6, who normally doesn’t worry about things, is fully focused on the progress of the Corona Virus. She is more concerned about our preparedness than I have seen her since Y2K. So, we have been going over medical skills again, and getting the larder stocked larger and deeper. Not because it’s just me and her, but because we have our granddaughters living with us now, along with our 17 y/o son. The virus is not a huge worry yet, but the disruptions in the supply chain worry her, and it does me.

    I also ordered a week supply of food for our oldest son, who is living in the city, in case he can’t get out and get anything. I also picked up another Sawyer water filter for him to put in his bug out bag.

    Since HH6 turns 50 next month, I put a Ruger PC9 9mm rifle on layaway for her birthday, along with a Kel Tec Sub2000 9mm for the youngest son, who turns 18 in April.

  16. I understand many say facebook is evil but I have joined Rebel Canners group and have learned so much. People post their canning tips and questions from all over the world. I pressure canned milk and canned cream this week and will be canning chicken next week (no addition of water) and will try canning potatoes (dry canning). I’ve read about canning cheese and butter, too. I also canned distilled water with a tsp of salt and a clean washcloth in case of needing something sterile to clean wounds. I have learned so much on their site to preserve food and have added much to our pantry in case of self-isolation.

  17. Among your supplies… Consider purchasing a germicidal UV light system. We have a wand-style on order. We’re on a well, and our whole house water filtration system already has one of these in place also. These are potentially invaluable tools given the risks of COVID-19. Just be sure to read about, understand, and apply safety measures in the use of these.

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