Editors’ Prepping Progress

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 review their week’s prep activities. They also often 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 always welcome you to share your own successes and wisdom in the Comments. Let’s keep busy and be ready! This week’s emphasis is on small arms mechanical training.


Dear SurvivalBlog Readers,

I was down with a cold for most of this week. So I didn’t accomplish a lot around the ranch. But I had recuperated sufficiently to attend a gun show on Friday. That gave me the opportunity to stock up on some more full capacity magazines. I did so, just in case the denizens of The Swamp have another spasm of unconstitutionality and try to limit new production to only reduced capacity magazines for the citizenry. (They did so with their 1994-to-2004 ban, and that was a memorably hideous decade.)  By mailorder, I also bought a few more 80% AR receivers and 80% pistol frames, for use with my Ghost Gunner automated compact milling machine.  (It is an original Ghost Gunner that recently went back to the factory to be upgraded to the more accurate Ghost Gunner II generation spindle.)

Also by mail order, I also picked up some assorted SIG P320 parts, magazines, and holsters. (While I’m still primarily a Glock 21/Glock 30 .45 ACP kinda guy, the SIG P320 is now my preferred 9mm pistol.)

Avalanche Lily Reports: There are now hundreds of sprouts growing rapidly in the tile-floored spare bedroom that we’ve temporarily re-purposed as our “pre-greenhouse” room.  There, I am using our pair of GrowPro 600 LED grow lights 13 hours a day, with amazingly fast results.  The two grow lights put out so much heat that we don’t need to heat that room. This past week, I planted additional seeds: broccoli, Butternut squash and another type of beefsteak tomato.  Additionally, I planted parsley, mint, oregano, basil, cilantro, acorn and Hubbard squashes cantaloupe, and Sugar Baby Watermelon.

The Outside Greenhouse: My “Greenhouse within a Greenhouse” experiment is now really taking off.  I finally have one-inch sized secondary leaves of kale, lettuces and spinach.  Definitely, the winter gardening needs to be started in late August/early September, not at end of October which was when I planted the seeds, to have produce throughout the winter.  Otherwise, we are just getting a big jump start on earlier-producing greens in the spring.

Spring is just about here.  This week the Robins, Winter Wrens, Varied Thrushes, Oregon Juncos, plus others, I’m sure that I just haven’t heard yet, have returned to our area.  I love hearing the spring birds’ chorus in the morning and evenings.  Hooray, warm weather will soon be arriving, too.

Please continue to post comments about your own preps.

Thanks, – Jim Rawles and Avalanche Lily, Rawles



This week the Latimer Homestead will be busy with preparations for spring. In addition to more work on the kitchen update, we will be tilling the gardens and planting onion sets and potatoes.

The kitchen project is slowly progressing. This week we shut down the refrigerator and dealt with the cabinetry around it. Wow! You never realize how much you use something like that until you don’t have it anymore. I can’t tell you how many times in those two days that I rounded the corner to grab something from fridge only to realize that it wasn’t there.

Also, we have plans for a trip to the city for some bulk purchases and a doctor check up this week. The daffodils are budding and asparagus buds are coming up, so we will be enjoying those soon, too! It’s a busy time of year.

o o o

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


  1. Need to get the garden seeds started under lights and get out and prune the fruit trees. Other than that I’ve been on a gun buying spree. Nothing plastic, just old pre WWII Colt and S&W revolvers.
    Been thinking about some walleye fishing, but can’t get anybody to go with me.

  2. AvalancheLily: On my 15th year of having a winter salad garden in a zone 5, northern tier state. No greenhouse, just improvised low hoops made with 1″ black plastic water line covered with 6 mil plastic sheeting.
    What works best for me is to stagger the plantings for the winter salad garden, so I have good fresh salad coming on all winter. Sow in late June for late fall. Mid-July for through the holiday season, early August for early in the year, mid-August for earliest spring, late August for spring and early September to have young seedlings to transplant out for the first outdoor planting. I plant the youngest seedlings at the outside edges of the hoop area, as the youngest plants are the most hardy. Then plant the most mature plants in the center, as they are the least hardy.
    I usually have lettuces, spinach, endive, mache, green onions and 5 colors of beets for salad greens. But not just any lettuces – I get my seeds from Frank Morton at wildgardenseeds.com for the most stunningly beautiful lettuces you have ever seen. Dark purple/red leaves misted with green spots, aqua edged with pink with pure pink hearts, rich red with flaming chartreuse hearts, purple/black with lime mottling – the variety is simply amazing! I grow mostly the dark, wildly coloured varieties for the high anthocyanin content. I sell salad mixes and “Salad Bar Windowboxes” (windowboxes planted with various lettuces) at two farmers markets. Folks think the windowboxes are planted with flowers or coleus – they can’t believe those gorgeous, unusual plants are lettuce! I make an artfully arranged “display” salad for each market day – everyone always mentions that the display salad is as pretty as the bouquets I also sell. His seeds are organic and OSSI – Open Source Seed Initiative…can’t be patented but can be used however you choose otherwise.

  3. Yeah, I have been known to use grow lights to get my plants started early for the greenhouse and garden these past few years, but…how about the challenge of starting plants without lights. Remember, you are trying to be able to live with no power! It can be done at this latitude but it takes constant watching by moving seedlings in south facing windows, turning them daily and use a glossy white back board for light reflection. Many still get spindly. Test your skills without power. I have been doing this stuff for over 40 years, long before the term “prepping” ever existed. Our first eight years my bride and I lived back in the mountains (real ones) without power, phone, and inside plumbing. Read by kerosene lamps, heated with wood, packed water from a spring, dug a root cellar for storage, lived off wild game and grew a garden second to none. Turn your power off folks, do not use a generator. Try it for a week. I’ll bet it will be a real eye opener.

      1. Thank you. The Mrs. and I have lived pretty much without all the trappings of the current fiat civilization for 43 years. Yes, we have a lot of experience on how to do and thrive without what most would consider necessities. The sad side is very few care to learn from us. All of our grandkids are caught up in the electronic world and could care less about learning to do things the “old fashioned” way. We have offered to show and encourage young couples in the church we have attended for the last ten years on how to get along without. No one cares. In their mind, everything is going to continue on as is. A rude awakening is just around the corner. We have pretty much given up. The positive side is that my wife and I have some great memories of the tough things we went through. It is entirely God’s grace and provision. For that we are eternally grateful.

          1. I am in the Bitterroot Valley so not to far Brother… Going to be headed to CDA on the 26 so if you want to get together for a cup of Joe let me know…

    1. I commend your skills and love of the mountains. I have lived in many places including on the Arctic circle. I do like my electricity, but can live without it. Never much success with south window seedling starting without grow lights. I also like heat mats.

  4. DIY Solar Generator Project,

    DIY Solar Generator – Builders Guide – Engineer Your Own in 13 Minutes
    Desert Prep
    Published on Feb 12, 2018
    Duration 13:42

    After watching these videos, I found another one that I really liked better.

    How To Build A Solar Generator (3,000 Watt) – Part 1

    I watched all the videos in the series, twice, he did modify the design.

    You should purchase a ready built unit from one of the SB vendors, if you don’t have the electrical wiring skills [AC power is dangerous] or resources, or if you are looking for EMP protection.

    Using the Amazon links, I ordered all of the parts and am awaiting delivery.

    Years ago, JWR recommended a Yamaha 2KW generator, car jump start battery, and small inverter, that has served myself, friends, and family members well during hurricane associated power outages. This new system is to supplement and extend that capability, as well as to provide learning and knowledge of solar power systems. Also, two is one, and one is none…

    I really like the design of the battery expansion units…

  5. GWH,

    Would you mind telling me where you two live? Just the state would be fine. We are in the high desert of eastern Oregon. The four of us might like to exchange ideas, etc.

  6. bought a new chain saw Stihl old one was 20 years old and finally wore out. wife and I had 6 month dental check ups. planted early snap beans and G-90 sweet corn.

  7. Beans, Snap Peas, and Onions went in the garden this weekend. Garlic has started showing, but the rest of the plantings are still dormant – another week or two of the warm weather will do it.
    Fixed up some bare spots in the pasture, and time to get the mower tuned up and ready for another season!

  8. We have been blessed with three nor’easterners here at camp. Beautiful! We have been out snowshoeing. The snowmobile doesn’t start and we didn’t have anything to drain the gas tank, so I ordered a tube and pump since I dislike the taste of gasoline. That tells my skill level!

    We let the icicles grow and “harvested” them for the water tank.

    Both the jeep and the farm truck are having battery/alternator difficulty. We are fortunate to have a neighbor who is a mechanic turned school bus driver. He’s going to come and see what is going on and instruct my son further. Than we will get on to fixing the vehicles. Fortunately my son is on break next week. Good neighbor to have.

    My seed order arrived and I’ve found a gardener friend to take on watering this summer so I can go home. I also discovered that our library is having a seed exchange. I was able to add some different open-pollinated varieties to my storage. I also found some extraordinarily inexpensive seeds at the local store and added a number of packs just on case. I could also use them for trade. I found quite a bit of gardening row cover material at the thrift shop and snatched it up.

    I have rescued two notebooks that were being tossed to make binders of important information, systems, and storage for both home and camp. I’ve files, but have decided to resurrect the binder system for easy transportation.

    Finally, does it count as prepping if we have convinced our daughter to move home and get a job after graduation? We did and she has!

    1. Your electrical problems could be caused by bad grounds. They can cause a lot of weird things.
      Of course loose or dirty cable connections at the battery are a possibility.

      1. Son cleaned the connections and charged up the truck battery. You were spot on. The Jeep is a cracked battery connector and an alternator problem. Old farm trucks are like the energizer bunny…they just keep on going!

  9. I’ve got to say this is my favorite section of Survival Blog. About three years ago I purchased a 2000 gallon water tank for emergency water supply if the pump went out or the well water table lowered ( this has happened twice) . My son built a tower for it so the water could be gravity fed anywhere we needed it. Well after two years it started to tilt with all that weight in it. I drained it and there it sat. A few months ago my daughter and son-in-law came down to the ranch and my daughter used the tractor bucket to get it lowered. She is very skilled on the tractor using the bucket and the backhoe. We have it positioned under trees (out of sight) and on a wooden platform . When we tipped it and drained the last of the water out of it before lowering it a bird head came out. No body came out. So I put 500 gallons of water in the tank. This week I finally got around to opening the big drain plug and flushing out the bird body and some other unfortunate small creature. I have it filled up to 1800 gallons now. 200 tomorrow and I purchased a plug for the top opening so nothing else gets in. Tomato starts are doing well. I am rooting 18 (five varieties) of elderberry cuttings I just purchased from a company that had a presenter at the Albany Mother Earth Festival this summer. Strawberries I recently planted are doing well and I even saw a bloom this week.

  10. I love all the birds in the yard except those damn killdeer. They are noisy 24/7, so annoying and they return every year to the same nesting spots. Since their babies are raised there they, too, return. I’ve been outside with ear plugs while sealing irrigation ditches just so they wouldn’t get on my nerves. But love all the other bird noises. Lots of snow geese flying, I’ve heard a hummingbird, a male pheasant and thought I saw a yellow finch today.

  11. JWR:
    Can I ask what DD charged for the upgrade to your mill? I’ve been pondering the upgrade for several months now. And the time required. Their initial delivery was “slow” and I’m loathe to part with it now.

  12. This past two weeks I have been a one-woman show pruning our orchard of nine over grown apple and prune trees. They hadn’t been pruned properly in the 10 years or so since planting so there was a lot to cut, some very heavy branches and a very large pile to burn. I thought Burn Day would be the easy day – ha! It took about six hours to burn a pile about 12 feet high, and a lot of running back and forth to get old deck wood to increase the heat enough to burn living branches, plus raking dried leaves to add.

    I’ve finally got some good seedlings of the lettuce I”m trying indoors. This week will be beet seeds. Hubby spent an hour or so today clearing the asparagus bed and rhubarb section of the old garden. Also spent a few hours with daughter #2 who is working on her sewing skills, choosing patterns, and scouring local thrift stores for material (since the fabric store prices were quite prohibitive for her budget).

    We have primaries coming up this week, so I spent several hours bagging and dropping campaign literature. So important to REALLY support quality candidates!

    Related (sort of): my dumb cell phone screen died, then the old replacement died, so I am cell-free now. I wanted to do this anyway, but now I have a good excuse. Contrary to worries, my adult children did not completely abandon me, and figured out how to use the home phone number, and when in the house, they actually come and speak to me.

    I also read three books: the newly-published Unsettlers, about people who are living as modern homesteaders, written by a Lefty journalist (Sundeen), but quite tolerable, a wake-up for folks who are wearing rose-colored glasses about the reality of “non-petrol” living; Flat Broke and Two Goats (McGaha) about a couple who lost everything after failing to pay taxes and ended up in a mountain shack in the Appalachians; and Wunnerful! Wunnerful! by Lawrence Welk, just plain fun reading about the incredible work ethic and Midwest immigrant morals of America’s Champagne Music Maker.

    1. That fruit wood is FAR too valuable to just burn! Awesome for smoking fish, poultry and meats…and even if you don’t smoke meats, you can trade it to those who do for some of the smoked meats. Or sell it or trade it to wood carvers or woodworkers. With 9 ancient apple trees I am renovating and 20+ other fruit trees of various ages, we maintain a couple big stacks of drying fruitwood.

  13. The new chicks arrived a day earlier than I expected, causing me to miss half a day of work to get the final details completed to keep them safe and warm. I went with black sex links (brown eggs) and brown leghorns (white eggs) this time to try to get a handle of which ones are laying better. The brown leghorns are supposed to be good for ‘free ranging’ too which is an added bonus. I was not impressed with the Buckeye breed I tried last time, the hens were not very hardy and I think I had several losses due to the summer heat. The only one remaining is a rooster and he’s a beast!

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