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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 [1], 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!

JWR

Dear SurvivalBlog Readers:

We finally have the last of the hay for this winter stacked in the barn!  Weather delays and down equipment had plagued us through much of summer. ıut finally, it is all in!

My most labor-intensive project this week was mucking out the chicken run.

This past week was dominated by tomato harvesting, ripening, processing, and gifting. My wife (“Avalanche Lily”) will provide the details on that…

Avalanche Lily Reports:

These past two weeks have been very serious garden prepping for next year.
Last week, I finished harvesting all of my tomatoes and harvested the last of the winter squashes.  The tomatoes are in the hallway slowly ripening.  I will be canning and freezing them as they ripen. This past week, I scalded, skinned and strained through my Victorio Food Mill, enough tomatoes to make 9 quarts of a light tomato sauce of which were frozen in Ziplock quart bags.  There are still many more tomatoes left to process as they ripen.  I harvested our cranberry beans down in the Annex garden.  These were drying out on the porch and were shelled this past week. Also, this week, I cut a large bowl of parsley, washed them, and am currently in the process of dehydrating them in our Excalibur dehydrator.
The Annex garden which had the corn, potatoes, beans, and squashes did not do well at all this year for several reasons:  the nights were colder than average, the soil wasn’t fertilized enough and there are still too many thistles, horsetails and other weeds that literally took over despite my concerted weeding efforts. (Summer trips across the country are not conducive to gardening and weed control, but are great for the heart and soul.)  The soil there, needs more building of which we will do this winter.  I’ll be hauling manure from the barn to the Annex garden and letting it rot on the snow.  I’m thinking of probably giving that area a break next summer and just concentrating on building it’s soil.
Speaking of weeds and their propensity of going to seed and dropping the said seeds enmasse all over the garden for next summer: Before rototilling, I dragged out our vacuum to the main garden and after harvesting veggies and pulling hundreds of weeds, I had piles of seeds on top of the soil.  I then vacuumed the seeds up lightly from the top of the soil.  I was that desperate to lessen the weed impact for next summer in this particular patch of garden.   I also, scraped up the thin layer of soil with all of the seeds and tossed it out onto the pasture.  What a war!!  In a few of the areas, I think I reduced the weed seeds by about 80%. Then I rototilled most of the main garden.  I still have a section of the main garden in which the broccoli, carrots, celery, beets, cabbage, turnips and parsley are still growing.  I am lightly covering these veggies with large sheets of plastic and hoping to keep them growing through the fall as long as possible.
After rototilling, our neighbor came over with his tractor and moved our large piles of rotted manure to our Main garden.  We had him concentrate the manure in creating four more beds for two more strawberry beds, another asparagus bed, and another bed that will be planted with strawberries, asparagus and black raspberry plants this coming spring.  We put manure into my already-established raspberry beds and asparagus beds to fertilize them for next summer and then put manure in different places around the garden that needed the boost.  The areas that didn’t get the rotted manure will get more, throughout the winter.  Manure needs at least three months to get rid of any pathogens and then will continue to break down as it is rototilled into the beds.  We plan to re-rototill the main garden this coming week.
I cleaned the hen house and reorganized the freezers.
I harvested two beds of carrots and got about 50 or more pounds.  Two years ago, I put my harvested carrots in a cold cellar closet that we use.  They rotted in that room very quickly.  Last year I put them in soil and left them in a hallway.  They dehydrated and disappeared in a relatively short time.  This year, I cleared out the large crisper in our kitchen refrigerator, and have filled it up with all of the carrots.  I expect since they’re in the fridge that they’ll last longer and will be used up, since I have easier access to them.  Also, I have a third carrot bed in the garden that I will mulch and harvest from throughout the winter when I use up these carrots in the crisper.
I ordered some seeds for next summer, though most of my seeds I will get from the produce of this summer.  At this point I have collected seeds from Zucchini, orange cherry tomatoes,  yellow tomatoes, kale, and others.  I’ve also collected thousands of carrot seeds from the carrots that I allowed to over winter last year that flowered this summer and produced hundreds of seed heads.
The next two weeks look as though they are going to be sunny and fairly warm.  We plan to plant the garlic, walking onions, kale, carrots, and potatoes during this time, as an experiment to see how many come up in the spring.  We always have many volunteers show up around the garden each summer, so why not take advantage of this propensity and plant on purpose and see what happens?
Listen: We are very concerned about the Grand Solar Minimum and a potential economic collapse.  We cannot encourage you all enough, to start growing your own food.  You need to make plans to grow under hoops, in greenhouses, and inside your house to protect your plants from cold and bad weather.  You need to be producing as much of your own food as possible in the next few years.  Food Security is rapidly evaporating world-wide from late snows/frosts, early snows and frosts and freak rain and hail storms, hurricanes, droughts.  These weather anomalies are devastating crops everywhere.  You need to make plans now: buy seeds, get plastic and hoops, grow lights, pots and soil. And start growing!
May you all have a blessed week!

HJL

We have weather reports that this week will bring our first freeze of the season. With that, the Latimer clan will be scurrying to gather the remaining melons and garden vegetables, including green tomatoes, cleaning and prepping wood burning stoves and chimneys, insulating building water lines and adding heaters to water troughs, and making other preparations for sudden cold weather that will be blowing in. It was a challenging year in the garden, but we gathered and put up much produce for the winter and are so very thankful for the LORD’s provisions. We won’t be sad to see the bugs disappear with the freeze. Soon, our attention will turn away from the outdoors and to other projects generally indoors.

o o o

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

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#1 Comment By Sis On October 13, 2018 @ 12:40 pm

Concerning carrots. I had great success in storing my carrots in 5 gallon buckets with sand surrounding the carrots in my cellar. I placed them in the buckets like they were growing in the garden. Only drawback was removing them was a little messy because of the sand. But they stored well into summer.

#2 Comment By Ohio Guy On October 13, 2018 @ 12:55 pm

Love the pic with the cat in front of the hay wall. Also, I really enjoy and appreciate reading this column. Priceless advice in my opinion. Thank you all for sharing. My son and I recently fenced in our back yard. It’s the 6′ x 8′ sections of privacy fencing from Lowe’s. Now our four canines can romp and get their exercise and do their thing without dragging us for a “walk.” We now have an extra 30 minutes now for morning preparations for work and other activities. Again, I love this blog. Thanks for all your hard work and everything you guys do to help us prepare. God bless.

#3 Comment By 3ADscout On October 13, 2018 @ 2:20 pm

Took a vacation day on Friday and spent it out at the BOL. I got a nice wooden crate from work that is about 2’x8′. I bought a piano hinge to attach the lid and am going to use it for storage and additional bench space inside the barn workshop. Painted the workshop white for better lighting.

The BOL home addition is slowly coming along. The builders hooked up water and drain lines and started to install tile floor.

Today the family is spending a few hours in our attic to go through the stuff up there. Some of it was from my wife’s parents when they lived here. Cold and damp here today so it is a good day to work inside. Not moving any more “prep-stuff” until builders are totally done and gone. I have a “few” cans of ammo out and one commented about my “tons” of ammo. I had to laugh inside since I didn’t want to say that was just a very small part of what I have. But case in point, when people are working in your home they are looking!!

#4 Comment By VCC On October 13, 2018 @ 3:21 pm

Garden weeds: If possible make a movable chicken house, on skids or a junker trailer. Put chickens in old garden before fall tilling, they will clean up any missed produce, bugs and weed seeds. I do a 4year rotation, grains, row vegetables, heavy feeders like corn, squash, and sunflowers, then chickens. the chickens spend fall to fall on that section of garden and in the summer get pulled weeds, grass clippings, kitchen compost etc. Then the coop gets dragged to next section, cleaned out onto ground and fresh bedding put in. The birds will scratch and sift every square inch of that area and the weed populations will be gone.

#5 Comment By Animal House On October 13, 2018 @ 4:35 pm

This week we worked on trimming and thinning the walnut, pine and cottonwood trees around the compound which could cause damage during storms or high winds. Hired a team of young men who could climb trees rather than trying to get a bucket truck in tight places. They elevated 10 very tall trees, cut down two widow-makers and thinned out the two huge 100+ year old live oaks trees which could do the most damage to the house. When we finish cutting the wood to size we should have two more cords of fire wood and a cord of kindling to make almost 8 total. One less thing I have to worry about.

#6 Comment By SB in CA On October 13, 2018 @ 7:02 pm

On storing carrots, had great success this year fermenting carrot slices. Add a clove if garlic or two to the fermenting vessel…yum. Fermenting is also great for those old tough carrots that were left in the ground just a little too long.

#7 Comment By Rose On October 13, 2018 @ 7:12 pm

Without actually being on the ground and knowing the conditions of your soil, I can’t say for certain this is the cause of your thistle problems. I also have thistle problems, by the way. Through piecing information together, it appears that the thistles, horse nettles, buttercups, etc, are caused by too much phosphorus in the soil. And that comes from manure. If you change the pH of the soil, it will discourage the growth of those plants. My pasture where I have my chicken tractors is laiden with them. Most people recommend putting lime down. Of course they recommend soil samples for everything. I just build a bon fire and burn some fallen trees and feed sacks. Or if you have a wood burning stove, put the ashes there. That will build the minerals also.

Interestingly, most people see bugs and weeds as a problem. I used to, until I began to understand that those are the tools God gave us to balance out the minerals. Now, even though I live in SE US, where there’s lots of bugs, I’m beginning to breed bugs to feed my chickens. And the weeds, I try to find something to eat them. I have rabbits in rabbit tractors, that I pull over those areas. And chicken tractors. And yes, I’m well aware that these ideas don’t work everywhere, even on this farm, but certainly not much further north than here. My chicken tractors are mostly wire, and built lightweight enough to move with one hand. But we also don’t have much cold weather here, and this is the solution I came up with to get the chickens out of the muck that stays here all winter long. My goal is to get to where I can feed my chickens, guineas, peacocks, ducks, geese, and rabbits, entirely for free. I will probably still have to buy feed for my cow(s), but her milk will feed all the bugs that feed my chickens. If worse comes to worse (economically, our family is very close to that), I can just let the cows eat grass, but that won’t produce the butterfat of bought feed. I will also probably always have to buy minerals, though I hope to get our soil built back up enough that it’s minimal. At this time, I am growing all the food that we eat. It’s a fairly boring menu, and sometimes we splurge, but not much. As I said, I hope to soon be able to have our feed bill cut way down to almost nothing. That day will thrill my soul. I’ve always wanted to be entirely self sufficient.

#8 Comment By ron On October 13, 2018 @ 9:34 pm

Enjoy this weekly posting. This week I noticed my chestnuts were dropping and ready for harvest. Although I share the bounty with the squirrels and other critters they don’t seem to be particularly honest in their ” sharing “. Not a problem ! There is plenty for all. Roasted some yesterday and they appear to be hunks of butter when opened – so sweet and flavorful. Garden did not do well this year due to location with sunlight and air circulation now starting to be impinged by 30 years of surrounding tree growth. Will remedy that this winter. I must say, I am beginning to see the wisdom of silviculture as contrasted with ” gardening “. Much bounty ! but I will always have a garden- just smaller and raised beds for 2019.

#9 Comment By suz On October 14, 2018 @ 2:22 am

Re the weeds.
We use manure to fertilize our garden, and dump the ashes from our woodstoves onto our gardens. We also throw kitchen scraps (not meat), but compost scattered across the garden. The gardens get rototilled in the fall, then again in spring. In the spring, they are rototilled, and then again 2 weeks later, which kills most of the weeds just as they sprout. Right after the 2nd tilling, we plant, then put turkey poop in between the rows, and cover with a heavy layer of mulch (hay cut and put down still green). It is a very busy 2 weeks, but it delays any weed growth for several months. And, the bonus is, if it is a very dry summer (like this one just past) it helps the garden retain a lot more moisture so a good rain or a good watering from me 1-2x a week is plenty. The gardens are prolific, and the work is much less overall, which is important as we are getting older.

#10 Comment By Debbie On October 14, 2018 @ 3:07 am

We had our second frost, dragged in the rest of the lingering green beans, green tomatoes and all of the basil. Washed and froze basil. Yanked all potted flowers and garden flowers and saved a lot of seed. Would love to move west and have animals. Maybe some day, God willing. Love this blog and thank you for your advice JWR and Avalanche Lilly, as well as others on this post!

#11 Comment By Just me On October 14, 2018 @ 3:40 am

Purslane was my problem weed this year. Still have pumpkin in the garden, everything else is processed. Some seed saved for next year. Sweet corn was dismal this year, but tomatoes were so abundant that we shared the wealth. Learning more about seed saving every year.

#12 Comment By 0utlaw On October 14, 2018 @ 3:45 am

This week was about riding out hurricane Michael and it’s aftermath. It has been a real test for our preps and planning. We were about forty miles from they eye and still saw wind in the 100+ mph range. We had a lot of downed trees and nearly every power pole is broken for about three miles. We are expecting to be with out power for at least a month. Real world off-grid training. Currently we’re running the genset one hour on three off during the day and seven off at night with a two hour bump to start the day. We may go to longer run times as gas becomes more plentiful. Luckily the hurricane was followed by a nice cool front so we finally got some mild days and cool nights and haven’t missed the AC at all. The goats came through fine, we did have some trees across their fencing but that was all repaired today.
It looks like we will get some real world SHTF practice, so far so good but we’ll see how it goes for the next month or so.

#13 Comment By Dave Rogers On October 14, 2018 @ 9:30 am

We store our carrots in damp wood shavings in our root cellar. We test our soil in the fall and apply
amendments in the spring and use The Ideal Soil as our guide on what to apply. My garden started out as loamy SAND and did not and still does not hold water very well, but the produce has less bugs,
less disease and better keeping ability and better flavor. I highly recommend The Ideal Soil.
[2]. Deer ate all the cabbage and carrots, winter squash was a bust but we harvested 10 bushels of potatoes and 6 bushels of onions and put up 40 quarts of tomatoes, and have been eating lots of red tomato and red pepper salads.

#14 Comment By WyoDutch On October 15, 2018 @ 12:26 am

This past week saw our first snow. It also saw us put up 13 pints of sauerkraut… 30 chickens averaging 5 pounds… and 8 Broad Breasted turkey hens, running 22 to 25 pounds dressed. Our heritage Rhode Island Red layers are producing 2 dozen eggs daily. We don’t garden, but we trade poultry and eggs for the vegetables we need down at the farmers market.

We don’t do “organic” because we believe organic to be mostly a scam to fleece the consumer out of a few extra bucks. Just this week, three Iowa farmers were charged with pocketing $2.5 million by selling plain old corn and beans as “organic” to unsuspecting customers.

And look at what happened just last Thanksgiving… Diestel Turkey, sold by Whole Foods and other retailers at premium prices, says on its website that its “animals are never given hormones, antibiotics or growth stimulants.”

But Diestel Turkey samples tested by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggest otherwise, leading consumers to wonder: Can these companies be trusted?

According to testing conducted under the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) National Residue Program, samples of Diestel Turkey products tested positive for numerous drug and antibiotic residues.

One of those drugs, Chloramphenicol, is strictly prohibited by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in food production because it’s known to have “severe toxic effects in humans including bone marrow suppression or aplastic anemia in susceptible individuals.”

According to an amended complaint filed last November 13, against Diestel Turkey Ranch, the FSIS inspected Diestel turkeys on four dates in 2015 and 2016, and reported, in addition to Chloramphenicol, residues of antibiotics important for human use, veterinary antibiotics, a hormone and other pharmaceuticals.

Get smart… buy local. Forget the organic hyperbole.

#15 Comment By Mrs. Wyodutch On October 15, 2018 @ 1:16 am

I read “Pandemic 1918” by Catherine Arnold (A MUST read for any serious prepper person)… Filled the oil lamps and gave them a trial burn… Bought a couple pair of insulated bibs at the second-hand store… Froze a whole slew of raw eggs (whip gently and place in half-pint freezer containers)… Ground-up the heads, necks and feet from the birds we harvested and froze it for our Blue Heeler “Junior”.

#16 Comment By PJGT On October 15, 2018 @ 1:47 am

Fall is such a busy time. In addition to the traditional fall chores, we are building a sapling fence by using the temporary wire fencing to keep dogs in and critters out. I’ve cleared much of the brush and we’ve cut and hauled downed trees and limbs from the yard. I expect to be able to mow it soon.

After the summer of getting our Wyoming house in order, I am getting our eastern camp in order too. It is a good feeling to know what is where.

Took another pickup truck of trash to the transfer station. I suspect that I am really done with residual trash… finally!

As to the weather cooling, that has been my opinion as well. We have a far more likely chance of a cooler climate than a warmer one. Interesting how most people are accepting of the opposite. Although I do not have a greenhouse yet, I have been trained as a Master Gardener and have taught in a hydroponics greenhouse. Getting there.

#17 Comment By VT On October 17, 2018 @ 11:41 am

My solution to weeding has come. down to companion planting,close sewn beans(a real multiplier-no weeds,nitrogen fixing,second crop after harvest)and green mulch(grass clippings). Had luck with freezing fried green tomato slices.