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!
Dear SurvivalBlog Readers:
Out in our parts, deer and elk hunting season will soon be opening. But this year I’m actually half-hoping that I don’t get an elk. There just isn’t enough room available in our chest freezers. They are presently stuffed full of beef from our ranch, poultry that we raised and butchered.ourselves, and copious garden produce. So if I do indeed bag an elk, then it will mostly go to charity.
I was glad to see that our neighbor on one side has begun thinning his woods. He owns close to 300 acres, and the portion that adjoins our ranch is heavily wooded. By thinning trees, “parking” (trimming off lower limbs), clearing underbrush, and picking up deadfallen trees and limbs to roughly match what I’ve gradually done, he’s made both of our properties less susceptible to wildfires. Thanks, neighbor!
Avalanche Lily Reports:
We had a most Glorious fall week here in the American Redoubt. Sunny and warm temperatures in the afternoon of the 60s with some frosty nights.
This weather has been very conducive to a full gardening week. In the main garden, I pulled the last of the Zuchinnis that I had been nursing along under the plastic. Too many 29 degree nights in a row did them in. Too bad, since beginning this past Wednesday night into the next week or so the temps will be in the 60s and no frosty nights. I should have put a blanket on top of the plastic. I rototilled, again, in two sections of the garden to further mulch in the manure we put on them last week.
I am very excited to report that in one of those sections I planted: kale and carrot seeds (kale seeds from allowing the kale to go to seed and carrot seeds from the two year old carrot flowers that I collected earlier this fall), garlic, walking onions and potatoes: White, red and purple and fingerling. I planted these as an experiment to see how well they do over the winter. The reasoning is that we always have so many volunteers in the summer that I thought: why not be deliberate and plant a few beds in the fall? So, I planted the potatoes down about six inches, mulched them with straw and we will see what happens in the spring? It was interesting (and novel) feeling to be preparing beds in the fall and planting them. I really enjoyed it and when finished mentally ran through my mind whether or not I could plant something else. Another thing I noticed was that it wasn’t so exhausting as in it is the spring, because I am in much better shape at the end of the summer versus at the end of the winter. I was barefoot and the soil was really cold, but it still felt really good, since had been quite a while since the last time I was barefoot in freshly tilled soil. I love the country life!
In the Greenhouse, the colder temperatures have slowed the growth of the tomatoes, Butternut squash and cucumbers. I harvested and pulled them. I still had some onions drying out in the greenhouse. I got them all cleaned up and brought them into the house. There was a lot of old pulled vegetation on the floor of the greenhouse, so I spent time picking that up. There were lots of little leaves, onion skins, onion stems, some weeds growing, bean leaves, and dried flowers from squashes, tomatoes, etc.
Every Bean Counts: There were bean bushes that were drying out, in the greenhouse. I brought them to a cement pad and took some driftwood sticks and began to flail them with the sticks very much like the colonial people did before threshing machines were invented. The kids and I all took turns flailing the beans. After we finished flailing, we sifted through the chaff picking up every single bean and putting it in a big bowl. We needed to pick up every bean from out of the chaff one by one, because we seldom have a strong breeze come through our valley, which if we did, I could have thrown the mix into the air and the chaff would blow away with the wind. It was painstakingly slow work. We collected about four pounds of various kinds of beans: green, yellow, purple, cranberry, and others. I will be sorting through them and putting aside each kind for planting next summer. Some, however, we will eat. Up until this point, I had not given dried beans much of a thought, to grow, dry and harvest–until this experience with flailing them and seeing how nice they look. You know, usually, I had harvested the beans when they were young and tender and froze them. But since I see how they grow and mature very well here, next summer we’ll definitely put in a very large section of cooking beans. I will say that it took about six hours to flail and sort all of our beans during a three day period of time. The slow part was picking them up and shelling by hand the ones that didn’t shatter. It is nice knowing that with our heirloom beans we don’t have to depend on commercially grown seed.
The Annex Garden: Oh, yes, I just remembered, we took the advice of one of our readers and brought a bunch of roosters (we need to butcher these boys, sometime soon, but for now, they have a job to do) down into the Annex garden. There are many reasons why we hadn’t done it sooner. We have had a chicken tractor in the past, but two winters of heavy snow damaged it, and it was too big anyway for just one person to move it around. We are all really busy with our set jobs so it was an interruption to get everybody together to all go out and move the tractor. We liked the birds to have a fair amount of room to roam in so we didn’t rebuild a smaller one after it was destroyed. The other reasons are predators and not wanting the roosters to eat growing produce. I will never allow them to be in my Main garden–since I have things growing in there year round.
We set up some roost poles for them to have some protection at night. If we lose a couple in the next few weeks, it will be okay, but if we lose a few more than a couple, they’ll have to go back to the coop. We bring in water and some grain, but their job is to eat whatever seeds, bugs and vegetation they can find. They’ve been in the Annex Garden for three nights, so far. Each night just after dark, I walk to the Annex garden to count beaks and to make sure everyone is up off the ground. In the morning I bring them some grain and water and count beaks again. As of Friday morning all are still accounted for, so far so good. The weather pattern is supposed to change by the middle of next week. I will probably bring them back to the coop, then.
What Else Did We Do?
I put up (froze) four more quart bags of tomatoes sauce and three quarts of diced tomatoes. There are still a bunch ripening in the hallway. And I harvested the sunflowers and they are drying in the greenhouse. I collected seeds from Summer Crookneck squash to grow next summer. I saved seeds from many of the different kinds of tomatoes that were grown here.
I finally pruned my very large patch of red raspberries and put manure all around the canes.
Oh, did I mention that I am a homeschool Mom, too???? Ummm, yeah! As I said in an earlier blog post, it’s really difficult to do all things on the ranch well. Some weeks we concentrate on school and other weeks we concentrate on the ranch. So this week for me and Youngest Daughter, there wasn’t as much book work as other weeks. We concentrated on Bible, math, literature, foreign language, and piano, and then she helped me with most of the projects listed above. They are an education in themselves, too. Older Daughter had to do her online school work. We accommodated her by doing a Chemistry lab in the evening all together as a family. That was a lot of fun! Fire!!! Burning compounds to see what elements may be present. Also, since she loves to read her history aloud to us, it helps her remember facts and we can discuss the events while she reads, she read to us while we worked outside with the beans and while younger daughter and I were planting the overwintering beds. We all enjoy listening to her read to us.
Of course all this also includes all of the meals cooked (the kids took more of an active role in this job this week than usual), laundry, and cleaning that takes place every week. A clean, organized home is a happy home. Well, Mom is happier which of course makes everyone else happier, too.
This has been a very productive and satisfying week. We are however, very much looking forward to our Sabbath rest this weekend. May you all have a blessed restful weekend and a very productive week.
This week, the Latimer’s will be working on some fencing and general maintenance before the winter weather hits. Cold fall weather has hit quickly. We got much of our weatherizing done on pipes and such last week, but there are a few more small projects that need to take place. In the garden, we also have some final root vegetables to pull out of the garden before we till it under and some seed collection to do. We have a bountiful crop of late carrots and celery to process for storage. If time allows, we might do some juicing too.
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As always, please share your own successes and hard-earned wisdom in the Comments.