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!
In addition to my usual winter ranch chores this past week, I did some plumbing in our guest cabin. The bathroom was completed a year ago, but for expediency, the kitchen plumbing had been left just “stubbed out” Hooking up the new kitchen sink water line and drain pipe should have meant just one trip to the hardware store. But since Mr. Murphy was in charge of the project, it took a frustrating three trips all the way into town to get all of the right bits and pieces of the correct dimensions. When the nearest hardware store with a modest stock is a 35 minute drive away, and a fully-stocked store is more than an hour away, these drives were not trivial. I really should have looked more closely and did more measurements before my first trip into town. As a ostensibly handy American Guy who is in his late 50s, I should have known better. Lesson learned!
As I’ve noted before in this column, for many months I’ve been gradually accumulating AR uppers and lowers–both stripped and complete lowers. Most of these are intended for distribution as an early inheritance for my kids and grandkids. Given the “verging-on-a-legislative-calamity” times in which we live, I believe that this early purchasing and distribution of these ARs (and 10 full-capacity magazines per rifle) is truly prudent.
Mating the uppers and lowers was quick and easy. Ditto for popping a magazine into each new build, and attaching foregrips. A few of the uppers were sans bolt carrier groups and charging handles. But I’d already stocked up an appropriate number of each. What I did overlook was buying a few sets of Back Up Iron Sights (BUIS), and either Picatinny or M-LOK front sling swivels, and slings. Those are now on order. (Plus a couple of spares, naturlich.) That Poor Prior Planning on my part was a mere inconvenience today, but sometime in the future it might have had much more severe consequences. A rifle without a rear sight is almost useless. Lesson learned!
Avalanche Lily Reports
The early part of the week has been beautifully sunny and fairly warmish in the 50s. We still have a lot of snow in the open meadows, about 15 inches, so I have been able to continue skiing a few times this week. I have continued working the horses, every day, having them take walks with me around the barnyard and driveway, and lunging them. I have been brushing them out each day, also. They are shedding like crazy. One of our horses grows an incredible amount of hair every winter and we literally brush out a full 2 ft by 3 ft box of her hair by the end of the shedding season.
We are waiting for more of the snow to come off before we get on them, mostly because the area where we saddle them still has banks of snow, and we want to break them into riding on the grass. We all actually have very good seats when riding horses, having had lessons five years in a row from May until November. But it has been two years, since we’ve had lessons or gotten on them, and we all have a very healthy respect for them. Therefore I want them very used to our attentions and intentions for them before getting up on them. We will be riding them the first time with someone holding them on a lead line and leading the rider around for awhile and then on a lunge line, and then free riding. This will probably be a week to two week process.
I washed the saddles with Bee Natural Leather Care Saddle Soap and treated them with the the same company’s saddle oil. Forget the Murphy’s oil soap, that I mentioned last week. I believe the Bee Natural Saddle Soap is probably better for the saddles than Murphy’s. I suppose should research it more.
We are looking into purchasing saddle packs to hike with the horses using them as our pack horses. More on that later.
We have just four more weeks of homeschooling with the girls’ on-line classes. Let me tell you, we are all looking forward to the end of the school year. However, we will continue with our family Bible studies, Foreign Language studies, and studying current events, throughout the summer on down days. Also, Miss Violet will be continuing on in her grammar, some literature, and science for a little while longer.
The dehydrating of Biltong experiment didn’t turn out as well as we would have liked. It was far too salty and the meat dried out too much. I think the meat strips needed to be a little bit thicker. I will be doing more research on the making of biltong and will be trying another batch sometime in the future and will be trying to lessen the salt load on it.
This week, I decided to extend our main garden beside the greenhouse. In order to do this, I needed to take down a group of pine trees that were blocking the sunlight to the new plot. These trees are not huge full grown trees, just between 3 inches and 10 inches in diameter. As was mentioned some time in the past, here on the blog, I have not ever really used a chain saw before, having left that job up to Jim. Jim’s two Stihl gasoline saws are too big, heavy, and powerful for my liking/comfort level. However, this past fall, Jim had our auxilliary 16-inch bar electric chainsaw repaired. I had never used that before, either.
Therefore, I went out in the remaining settled 15 inches of snow, and took down three trees with the buck saw and ax. I tired out quite quickly. I then remembered that little Makita electric chainsaw and wondered if I could use it? So I ran back to the garage, I put on Jim’s kevlar chaps and helmet with face shield, picked up the extension cord and the electric chainsaw, went to the living room and plugged it in. I read all of the little instructions taped on it, and then, tried to turn it on, by pressing the black trigger button. Nothing happened. I had to study the saw for a while longer before I saw the red button. So then, I pressed and held the red button first, and then I pressed the trigger button at the same time. It roared to life! Whoa, okay, I got it! It’s running! I hastily released the red button and trigger. It takes a few moments for the chain to stop turning once you stop pressing the buttons. Okay then, I turned it on again, to make sure I had the technique down and understood what it was all about.
I then unplugged it, went outside, plugged a 100 foot extension cord it into an RV hookup station near the greenhouse, and took down about 12 trees, chick chock. I remembered to punch the chain oiler button after a couple of cuts as the little taped note on it instructed. It was just a little bit intimidating, but also quite fun. I’ve watched Jim take down so many trees, that I knew exactly what to do, and just did it. No problem! I was quite proud of myself afterwards. Now I can add Timber Jilling to my list of job experiences. Now I have to limb the trees and decide what we’re going to do with them. I’m thinking of a wood project with the pine, since the wood seems so beautiful. I don’t want to burn it. More on that later.
As soon as the snow is off, I will be picking up an’ hauling out tons’ o’ rocks in the area near the greenhouse where we are extending the garden. We formerly used that area to throw ALL of the rocks that we find in the garden after rototilling.
I shoveled snow off of two strawberry beds, one that is planted, and the other will be planted in a few weeks. A third strawberry bed is still under a lot of snow. I fertilized them with some some calcium, gypsum mix, some magnesium/Epsom Salts, and some garden plant food pellets. Also, I worked the beds in the greenhouse and fertilized them with the same fertilizers.
I have retrieved my seed tote and have been sorting through all of the seeds on the living room floor with my notebook, deciding and jotting down what I want to plant, when and where. It seems very overwhelming to me in the beginning. I have so many areas (Greenhouse, Annex garden, Main garden) to plan, prepare and plant and want to add many more crops (wheat, barley, oats, spaghetti squash, Luffa squash, blackberries, and more, and a separate herb garden) this year and grow more of each crop than last year’s. We’ll be doing a lot of expanding this year. Decisions, decisions, decisions.
We hope many of you are seriously considering beginning to grow your own food. I believe we’re looking at tough times food wise and it’s availability in the very near future. The floods in Nebraska last week devastated our storage of corn and wheat. At least 30% was lost. Authorities are predicting that “unprecedented” flooding will continue into May, all along the Mississippi River, which will continue to decimate other grain storage facilities in the path of the flooding, and will delay the planting time for new crops. Also, with the sun entering into the heart of the Grand Solar Minimum, we’re looking at late and earlier than usual frosts and snows on both sides of the growing seasons. Therefore, please grow some of your own crops and stock up on the foods you like to eat while you still can.
May you all have a blessed and safe week, – Jim and Avalanche Lily Rawles
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As always, please share your own successes and hard-earned wisdom in the Comments.