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!


Dear SurvivalBlog Readers:

Turkey slaying season is in full swing (pardon the pun), here at the Rawles Ranch. Some of the dozen Toms and Hens that we raised this year are for our own consumption, but most are being given as Thanksgiving gifts to neighbors and friends. (Before then, they will already be gutted, plucked, cleaned, and chilled.) There is nothing quite like butchering a turkey outdoors on a sunny but very cold day. Recently it has been so cold that I can’t wait to have a turkey stop flapping. Then I can empty its lower abdomen into the gut bucket and then have the opportunity to plunge my hands into the chest cavity, to warm them. Yes, it has been that cold.  As the fictional Han Solo famously said: “This is gonna smell bad, kid, but it’ll keep you warm…”

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Ewwwww, Jim!  Did you have to write that?

Yes, we had a second round of butchering this week.  It was more peaceful, because we were a bit more prepared physically (more organized with equipment and familiar with the plan of steps for  butchering and cleaning of the birds) and emotionally ready for it.  Remember: When you haven’t butchered something for almost a whole year, you have to give your brain and muscle memory a kickstart. We have now reestablished the routine which makes it easier.  We will be doing in a couple of more batches of birds during this coming week.  We believe in the division of labor for many jobs.  In this case, Jim, does the killing, main gutting, plucking, or skinning, and brings them to the house.  Here, at the kitchen sink, I finish gutting out the lungs, kidneys, extra fat, skin flaps and wash the bird thoroughly.  I then either bag it for whole chickens/turkeys or cut up the birds, for legs, breasts, and wings.  We usually freeze our meat. If we chop up the birds, the left over carcasses get turned into chicken broth.  I boil them down for two to three days with a little bit of apple cider vinegar.  I then strain the broth and freeze it.

Other than the butchering and reorganizing the freezers to fit the birds, not much more happened of note, this week, except for some breakthroughs in neatness and better control of yarn tension in our developing crocheting and knitting skills. I have begun to knit my first-ever pair of socks. The girls are each crocheting their first washcloths.

Additionally, we are reading more of “The Handy Box of Knots” by Randy Penn” and are learning some more advanced  knots.

The girls had a First Aid lesson in wrapping and stabilizing an injured wrist with an Ace bandage and have been practicing on each other a little bit each day.

We also went through one of our First Aid Totes with the girls. We talked about what was there and some uses of items, washed the tote, and reorganized the contents and made a shopping list of needed items to replace.

The rest of our time has been occupied with regular chores and homeschooling.

The girls have asked for blog Pen Names. So from here on out, older daughter will be dubbed Eloise and younger daughter will be Violet. These are some of Jim’s ancestor’s names from the Rawles side of the family. They were very interesting characters.  Fun!

In light of our nation celebrating Thanksgiving this coming week: We just want to say that we are very thankful to the Lord !  First, for giving us this platform to bless you, our readers and to help you all be prepared in all ways for most circumstances that could occur.  We are also thankful for those of you who have written us to share your survival and prepping experiences. We’ve all benefited from you relating your experiences.  We are thankful for peace in our country and for all of those watchmen and women–those who are paying attention and are discerning the times, putting out the warnings, and standing up for our freedoms.  We are thankful that our Lord God will protect his Elect through what is coming.

May God Bless You and Yours, this Thanksgiving!  – Avalanche Lily Rawles


This week, the family has been preparing the house to receive guests with the Thanksgiving Holiday upon us. The fall cleaning has been very productive and Hugh is making great progress in sorting through the odds and ends that have ended up in the shop as a result. With the cessation of gardening, there is much more time available as well so the sorting and scanning of pictures has begun too.

o o o

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


  1. Earlier this week we had a very unusual early ice then snow storm come through the mid-south. Haven’t seen that happen in years, so must be an omen of this winter. After studying about the solar minimum which I am blaming for the early snow, we built insulated covers for outdoor propane water heaters. We also moved up the time table for building a green house.

    With the CA wild fires as a reminder we continue to cut back small trees and underbrush in the raw woods surrounding us. This is about a 3-acre perimeter just around the house. Next year will work on the forest around the barn.

    I brought in two small pregnant rabbits so they could give birth inside where it is warm.  Wednesday morning my dwarf lionhead doe birthed 5 kits; so far all are wiggling and momma is getting some rest.  Cleaned out the remaining mess and gave her fresh bedding without disturbing her newborns. The other soon-to-be mom is mad at me because I moved her from outside to inside. She is due in 6 days so hopefully she’ll adjust to her new area soon.

    Was required to make changes to TRICARE insurance so spent a while updating my personal insurance information, printed out copies and put them in my Trust folder in the fire safe.  Made bread; a big casserole, and separated a bulk chicken order into family sizes. 

    May your Thanksgiving holiday be safe and healthy.

  2. I enjoyed this post. It’s very encouraging.

    Whenever I kill chickens, I usually skin them, gut them and put them in the pressure canner and cook them down. Then a day later, I sort out the bones and put the meat in jars. It’s so convenient. I love having jars to open. That’s fast food! I do freeze some too, like if we want BBQ chicken, I’ll cut the legs off before I pressure cook them. Of course, if it’s thanksgiving turkey, you wouldn’t handle it like that.

    Btw, I laughed so hard at the comment about using the chest cavity to warm your hands. It would only be funny to people who live this lifestyle.

  3. We have not posted in quite a while. Family health and travel has taken head of the line. With that said. We had a good harvest this year for our small sized garden. Did lots of canning. Finished our coal stove chimney outside, built a boat rack and a nice wood rack for the living room. Made our last trip to former state to move items to new location, organized a reloading room, a large first aid/personal care shelf, installed two doors in specific areas in basement. Also put up one of our antennas.

  4. I prefer to use my pressure canner an cook down all the extra chicken parts. The bones which have nearly crumbled then can be fed to the dogs for extra nutrition (if they’ re inside dogs feed in small amounts) . Also , if you haven’t tried killing chickens,)before, hang them upside down by their feet. They will become passive and very easy to kill as they will lay still while chopping.

  5. If you’re not including the chicken/turkey feet in your stock making, you are seriously missing the boat. Give them a good dunk when you are going to pluck (or otherwise, in boiling water in order to clean them off well), but make sure you include them in the stock making. You will not believe how much richer and stronger your stock will be. Around here, nobody (that knows what they’re doing) makes chicken and dumpling without using chicken feet.

  6. Thanksgiving has always been fun in my family. If it was cold enough, Granddaddy killed hogs. They would be boiled in a huge iron kettle; I wanted to poke them but wasn’t allowed to get near it. Of course this meant days of work for Granny, who would make the souse, etc. Nobody could cure ham as good as Granddaddy. If it wasn’t cold enough, my Dad and his friends would go bird hunting. I remember crying over the poor dead birds who would never fly again. Nowadays folks just sit around a TV all day.

  7. Given the time of year and living up to my Pen Name, I’ve taken the week off to focus on the peak of the deer rut in Georgia. My main property, that I lease, is in the process of being cleared of all planted pines. That’s approximately 240 acres of the 350 I lease on this tract. I had a good talk with the land management team about their timing given that I’ve paid close to $4k for hunting rights and they decided last week to move the operation in during the prime deer hunting time. Anyway, I just have to work around the logging operation and hope that I see game while there. It was opening day of deer gun season today in Alabama so I hunted in Alabama this morning and had the privilege of seeing five does. While legal to harvest, I’m not looking for deer meat at this time. I was actually hoping to see one of the wild hogs that thrive on the property since I’m out of pork at the moment. Even in the Deep South we do get some cold mornings at times where things freeze. And while a turkey chest cavity may work for a hand warmer, I prefer getting up to my elbows into a deer’s chest cavity on those brutally cold mornings. Other than focusing on the deer season, I am in the process of upgrading a scope on my Long Range Precision rifle, I did maintenance cleaning on one of my AR’s and I finally have 100% of all the parts needed to complete the “spare parts” AR build. I had to spend about $150 to get the upper and a bolt carrier group. Everything else other than a gas block I had lying around in a parts box. With that, I hope everyone has a wonderful and great Thanksgiving.

  8. Final full load of equipment and belongings headed west. We continue getting organized. It’s a good feeling to have both places more secure. Yes, we have had to buy 2 of some items, but have really, for the most part, just organized into what is needed where. Two and a half more years of schooling and ROTC for our son, and we do not want to get caught unawares.

    Went to our first amature radio/emergency organization meeting last week.

    We have had some serious winter weather already which resulted in a few hours loss of electricity. We fared well. Nice to practice once in a while to remember where everything is.

    Our daughter now has all of her things in her apartment and is set up. Time for her to soar.

    In November we have a practice of nightly saying what we are thankful for. Lately I have been so very thankful for our freedom to gather together to pray and worship. We can thank our brave soldiers throughout our history for keeping us free.

    Happy Thanksgiving

  9. I remember teaching a daughter to draw the entrails from chicken and she said,”All right, Mrs.Chicken. Take a deep breath,and try to relax.We’ll both pretend we are somewhere else, and it will be done real soon.”

    1. Anybody who butchers your own meat is a champion in my book. And, Leona’s story about her daughter–perfectly lovely. So important to teach the girl-children how to handle tough chores.

      I’m married to a woman whose father taught her everything her taught her brother. In some things, she is more capable then this old rough and tumble jarhead.

      May you know gratitude all the days of your life, beyond the time we are expected to express thanks.

      Carry on.

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