Editors’ Prepping Progress

To be prepared for a crisis, every Prepper must establish goals and make long-term and short-term plans. In this column, the SurvivalBlog editors review their week’s prep activities and planned prep activities for the coming week. These range from healthcare and gear purchases to gardening, ranch improvements, bug out bag fine-tuning, and food storage. This is something akin to our Retreat Owner Profiles, but written incrementally and in detail, throughout the year. Note that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. We always welcome you to share your own successes and wisdom in the Comments. Let’s keep busy and be ready!

Jim Reports:

I got busy with a few non-ranch projects and with meeting an out-of-state consulting client this week, so I only hunted one day. Mea culpa. But I did have time to make a minor repair on our reliable old Troy-Bilt Horse rototiller.

I also replaced a garden fence post that had rotted out. When I built  that fence 12 years ago, I used red cedar trees from here on the ranch, for the posts. Most of those trees were 12+ inches at the butt, so they made dandy posts, 12-feet tall (with 3.5  feet, buried.) The biggest ones went in the corners. But for the intermediate posts, I also used some of the next-higher 12-foot sections from each of those trees–and those posts were mostly under 8″ in diameter. That was a mistake. It is those smaller ones that are now rotting out. Lesson learned.  I should have over-built all of that fence!  If you build something right from the outset, you save yourself follow-up labor, in the long run.

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,
The weather has been cold, clear, and sunny all week. This has been another week of just maintaining the status quo, here at the Rawles Ranch. It has felt nice to not have any planned big or time consuming projects to do (canning).  I have needed a bit of a break and a change of focus.  I have been dabbling in everything this week. Miss Violet and I have been doing much more school. Miss Violet passed the written exam for her Learner’s Permit this week. Yeah! Yikes!! 😉

I did a little sewing to repair a skirt belonging to Miss Eloise.

I’ve pulled a few weeds from the garden trays of the seedlings in the Greenhouse bedroom and am picking some of the greens for smoothies. The French beans that are growing in there are doing super well, as well with the mixed lettuces, kale, beets, and herbs.  The cucumbers are setting out their third set of leaves.  My peppers are flowering again. The tomatoes are about four inches tall.

I’ve begun to shell the harvested and dried French beans from their pods, by hand. I need to shell several other types of beans, too, soon. I rearranged and dusted my cooking, Medicinal herbs, wild edible plants, Bushcraft books on the book shelves and leafed through many of them, again, to refresh my memory and to learn a bit more.  I have been watching Bushcraft videos.  I’ve been wanting to make my own pulk sled and have bought a few supplies, this week, to do so.  I’ve done some reorganizing and cleaning of our pantry hall.  I bought some lemons washed and squeezed them and froze the juice in ice cube trays. I put a frozen lemon cube in my smoothies. I helped Jim repair the garden fence.

The chicks are doing great. The hens and chickies are getting along well.  Although, I haven’t caught them in the act of doing so, I think the two adult hens are being a bit broody.  Every time I enter the hen house, before I can peak into the boxed in area, I hear lots of movement.  It’s impossible for me to sneak up upon them to confirm my suspicions and hopes.  Anyhow, the boxed in area is very warm and all the chicks are thriving, even the little one with the bummed leg, (M.) is getting around and is holding her own amongst the crush of her fellow chicks.

I went for a walk with the girls, and also went hunting with Jim.

I love tiptoeing as quietly as I can, while hunting, through the forest/meadows/old logging roads, listening, observing the wilds with Jim. I play a wee bit with it:

“Shhhh!  Be vehwe, vehwe quiet, weeuh huntin’ deer and elk”  Jim has me lead, and I mimic Elmer T. Fudd’s stance.  When I look over my shoulder at Jim, to see his reaction, he is smiling. 🙂  It’s super nice to sit in the woods together, alone, outside of our normal routine.  Thusfar, we have not seen much deer sign at all.  The only wildlife we saw on our most recent hunt were a spruce grouse, a squirrel, a flicker, gray jays, a muskrat, and some Water Ouzels/American Dippers. On our way out of the forest, we were treated to a spectacularly pink cloud sunset with the nearly full moon coming up over white snowy peaks contrasting against the dark blue azure sky.  The pink clouds reflected in the still waters of The Unnamed River.  Later, the snowy white peaks turned pink! BEAUTIFUL!

No, we haven’t gotten anything, yet.

I also spent time reading and translating the book of John Chapters 13-17 from Hebrew to English and looking up the meaning/definitions of words. Through this, I learn the deeper meanings of what the apostles and Jesus were telling us.  I study this in four ways: I read the Hebrew comparing it with the English and translate directly to English, then I read English while listening to the Hebrew being read on YouTube.  Then I listen to the English on YouTube while reading the Hebrew, then I listen to the Hebrew while reading the Hebrew.  This activity really, really feeds my heart and soul! It helps me to learn the Hebrew, and to gain a deeper understanding of what Jesus was/is teaching us. The repetition between the two languages impresses the WORD of the FATHER deep into my heart. I also listened and translated the Israeli news, Netanyahu’s speeches and other Israeli television shows.  It was so nice to get back to it this week.  I did very little reading/studying of Hebrew this summer and fall.  Learning Hebrew has been a lifelong passion.  Someday, Lord willing, I’ll be fluent.  I hope? 🙂  [Jim Adds: And someday, I suspect she’ll be studying Aramaic.]

Next week, I need to rearrange our closet root cellar and move some of the produce from our pantry hall to the closet.  I need to chop up some more onions and freeze them.  I do this, just a small amount at a time, to save time when cooking meals.  It’s easier to grab some already chopped frozen onions than it is to chop up an onion for every time I make a meal.  I need to bake and freeze some pumpkins and make pumpkin pies.  I should make some soups and pressure can them…  We need to move more manure to the Annex and Expansion gardens. And I want to do some more hunting.

Keep prepping, a little something every day!  Keep praying for the Lord to guide you and keep you hidden from the approaching storm. Keep stocking up food, We ARE going to need it it in the very near future.

May you all have a very blessed and safe week.

– Avalanche Lily, Rawles

o o o

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




28 Comments

  1. We have begun the process of selling off all unused, unneeded items now, before it is too late. It is amazing at how much stuff a family can collect over the years. Some of it is truly useless to us like antique collectibles that we really have no interest in, books, storage unit items, electronics, even clothing that we’ll never have a use for. Some of the items we bought early on when we began prepping are being sold off like Army backpacks (since replaced by much more comfortable models) and certain items we thought would be useful but only ended up being a wasteful expense. Once the markets turn over, the base of potential buyers for extra “stuff” will be seriously reduced along with prices. We’re also clearing debt off the books as rapidly as possible and expect to be debt free by March 2020.

    I’m not sure what the immediate future holds and have been consistently surprised by the generally strong economic and investment market performance over the past few years. However, as a guy who led labor management and forecasting teams for a couple of decades I see plenty of risk in today’s economy. There is no doubt in my mind we’re in for some rough times once the market rollover begins in earnest (in my opinion it’s already happening but outside of the US). That will be just the beginning. I want to be well positioned to thrive in that environment. Our plan is to bulk up cash savings, and increase holdings of stored value like precious metals.

    One more thing that is very important – it is so important to recognize that our jobs are provided as a blessing from God. I fully recognize God is in control. I consider shoring up my future employment stability as a part of prepping for a very uncertain future. A few years ago it was clear that I was being led to make some tough decisions about my employment. There is no doubt God had his hand in it. After much prayer, I changed jobs to work in an industry that is recession resistant, and the company I accepted a position with is run conservatively and understands what employee loyalty is. I recently changed positions to another department with less people management responsibility, but I now focus on saving the company money. Plus this will allow me to work from home out of state after a year of experience. This plan continues to evolve in a very positive way but it is clear to me that God is leading us down this road for a reason.

    I encourage you to prayerfully consider what changes you should make to ensure your employment is as stable as possible. I saw first hand the misery created by the 2008/2009 financial crisis and there are things we can all do to better position for such travails.

  2. Wife and I went to Sam’s club. Kids seem to be eating everything in sight! Did pick up 5 lbs of egg noodles, peanut butter and oatmeal. I picked up another 3 pairs of Omni wool socks. They are made in the US and are very warm. I have a few old pairs I needed to replace.

    Picked up a civilian version of a Molle backpack. Stitching and zippers all looked good. I had an old Eastpack that I used to keep my EDC stuff in. It has seen better days so I thought I would try a new pack.

    Someone had a bunch of medical supplies that was “expiring” and was able to snag a case of 2×2’s and about a half a case of 4×4’s, some Gauze rollers band 4 chest seals. Expiration dates- what a scam.

    Salvation Army was good to me this week with a 22 quart pressure cooker, a still in the box 12 Volt AC to 12 Volt DC inverter, a new in the packaging, stainless steel IKEA wine bottle holder that I’m going to use to store often used Aerosol cans like Fluid Film, WD40, etc. and two books on gardening, one from Reader’s Digest and the other from miracle grow. Found a pair of brand new tan mil-spec, made in the USA, BDU pants in my size for $5.

    Our local Tops Market grocery store had a sale on canned beans so I stocked up for Chili Season. When I walked into the store they had a BIG sign stating that on Veterans Day, Vets will receive 11% off there total bill. Will be taking advantage of that.

    Since the weather has turned cold I am doing projects in the house. The prep room is in dire need of organization. I am going to build another shelf to help in that process.

  3. That’s pretty cool A.L., studying Hebrew. It’s not an easy language as you have well learned. Interesting that you’re studying both Biblical Hebrew and Modern Hebrew; some crossover obviously but no planes, trains and automobiles in the Bible! Have you started reading without the vowels or just with the vowels? I learned to read Hebrew as a kid but only with the vowels. It’s tough to then have to transition to reading without the vowels as is the case for Modern Hebrew in daily life in Israel; kids there start to do this by second grade or so!

    1. Hello Ani,

      I can read Hebrew without the vowels. Just don’t ask me to pronounce words that I am not yet familiar with, correctly.

      It is taking me a long time to learn this language, because I didn’t grow up with it and I am not immersed/living in the area where it is spoken. Any language has vast vocabularies. We do not think of just how many words we know and operate in, in our native languages, until we try to learn another, as an older person. It truly is a life time goal. However, I have made great leaps and bounds during the past four years.

      So then, does your pen name stand for “Annie” or “I” ? 😉 I have always wondered. 🙂

      There is a lot of cross over between the Modern and Biblical Hebrew. Eliezer Ben- Yehudah took the roots of Bible words and modernized them. Modern Hebrew is a living language which is constantly evolving according to the needs of the society.

      The one major difference that I have encountered between Biblical and modern Hebrew is that some verbs in the Biblical Hebrew in the past tense third person plural patterns have had their spellings and vowel patterns changed/made modern.

      An another thing that I see, which irritates me, is the narrowing and modernization of definitions of words between that of Google Translate and of Strong’s Concordance. And/or completely different definitions. Google Translate gives very limited definitions.

      But, as a society develops, it “evolves” its language to accommodate it’s agenda. They gradually change the meanings of some words from their original intent. We see this in English, in the differences in definitions between Webster’s 1888 Dictionary and Modern Webster’s Dictionary. The differences in definitions are huge in some instances. This same trend is also occurring in Modern Hebrew.

      These are the only major difference I see between the “two” Hebrews.

      Blessings,

      Lily

      1. Hi Lily

        Yes, Hebrew is indeed an amazing language. Google translate is useful but sure can be frustrating! The most amazing thing of course is that Hebrew is the only language known to have pretty much disappeared in terms of being spoken by a large population in daily life and then was brought back to life and into modern times as I’m sure you know. And then of course new words continue to be developed as the need arises just like in any language.

        Yes, re: without the vowels, I’m pretty well in the same boat. If I definitely recognize the word or the context I’m good but if it’s a word I don’t know or an expressions I don’t recognize then I’m lost without the vowels.

        I’ve never gotten to study there but I’ve heard good things about the summer language intensive at Middlebury College in Vermont. Hebrew is one of the languages offered. It’s expensive but I’ve heard there are a lot of scholarship opportunities.

        And “Ani”, as you figured, stands for both 😉

        1. Hi Ani,

          I have seen the total immersion Hebrew course at Middlebury college and would be very interested in it if I lived a different life. It is too completely time consuming for a wife and mother and homesteader living west of the Rockies, and it is WICKED expensive… Maybe someday, we will get to return to Israel for a time, but I really don’t think that will happen until Jesus returns and ushers in the Millennium.
          Blessings and Shalom,

          Lily

  4. AL, (and anyone else who can help) I have a question for you. Do you make your smoothies differently in the winter than you do in the summer? We love to have smoothies in the summer when the weather is hot, but seldom make them during the months when it’s cold outside and cooler in the house. I’ve looked but never found a recipe for a “warm” smoothie. Is there such a thing?

    1. We still make smoothies but will add more water or milk instead of the ice. Another variation we do… soup. Just liquefy as you would normally do but allow the vita-mix to heat the liquid – warm “smoothie” – ready to go. On a side note, we also prefer using honey powder instead of liquid honey in some of our smoothie recipes.

    2. Dear Ma G,

      I have creamed soups as warm smoothies. Butternut squash soup, Sweet potato soup, carrot soup, tomato soup if blended in the blenders are forms of warm smoothies.

      I have a book called “Blending Magic” by Bernard Jensen that you can order from Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=blending+magic+benard+jensen&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss

      Not to mention a whole host of other blender recipe books there, too.

      I have added baked sweet potatoes and squash to my fruit smoothies in the morning. But I do like cold fruit smoothies for breakfast, but warm soup smoothies for lunches and dinners.

      Happy blending!

      Lily

      1. Thank you, Lily and Jack for your suggestions. I was guessing that warm smoothies might be more savory than sweet and more like soup. I guess I was headed in the right direction.

        Thanks for the book suggestion too. I’ll check it out.

  5. We’ve had a great week weather wise by the lake with clear skies and temps reacing 50F. Hard to beat for November! That said, the plan was to get all the winter pruning done and clear roads and paths of debris before snows do come. But there were hiccups, as always.
    We have three chainsaws and none of them would start. One needed parts which I finally got in this week but the other two have been used in the last two weeks and were just dead on me. One of those is a multi-tool motor – meaning it powers a pole saw, a blower, the weedeater, brushcutter, tiller, etc. It gets a lot of use and I needed it it work! I replaced the parts on the 18″ saw with the new ones that had come in but also had to clear the fuel lines. After that it started right up – one down. The limbing saw is only a year old and has never geiven me any problems so I was pretty frustrated having to work on it but I found the problem, the fuel filter had come loose and was partially blocking the flow of fuel from the tank. Once I found the problem it was easy enough to fix. Because the filter had come out of place, I flushed the fuel system and put in fresh gas to make sure the lines are clean. Two of three operational! The third, and most used small engine, remained. Turns out the spark plug is bad. That will get replaced today and hopefully we’ll be back in business.
    With two saws working, we got a lot of pruning done. One of the old apple trees needed heavy cutting and that was first on the list. then some of the maples were trimmed up and a lilac that suffered some storm damage got some trimming. Then it was back to work on cutting, splitting, and stacking firewood. The lean-tos are full now and and the chainsaws and splitting maul are cleaned, lubed, and put away.
    Mini-truck update: I continue to LOVE our Kei truck! This week we used the lift when pruning and had a flat stable platform and never needed a ladder while using the chainsaws. We also used the dump bed for everything from leaves and cut logs and dirt. The JB Weld repair of the air intake last week has held up perfectly and the heater works better than ever. The Bercomac snow thrower I fit to her had a problem this week though – it also wouldn’t start. Troubleshooting it, the motor started fine when the control box was disconnected so that gave us a place to start. The kill switch in the box was shorting and preventing the engine from starting. They sent us a new control box (2 day express – great service) and now “Mac” rumbles like a hungry hippo.
    The other maintenance issue we had to deal with this week was my pickup. The purge solenoid failed and was causing all kinds of problems. Turns out it is a “known issue” and was a free repair/replacement at the dealer. So I had to make the drive into the city but she is purring along fine again now.

    Two notes about some prepping gear.
    (1) We purchased some sets of the Gerber ComplEAT, Camp Cooking Tool. This is an INCREDIBLE camp cook set and I’d encourage others to check them out. Less than 2.5 ounces and you get tongs, a spatula, vegetable peeler, can and bottle opener and full sized spoon and fork. Its an ingenious design and really works.
    (2) We tried out a box of the XMREs from Sportsman’s Guide and they fell far short of expectations. Of the twelve in the “variety menu” – eight were elbow macaroni with tomato sauce. Eight of twelve were the exact same package and vegetarian. The accessory packets are well below what I was expecting as well and each meal pack had different flatware and all of them were brittle. The three of us each tried a different meal that night and the entree (which are from actual MREs) were good but that was it and to top it all off, all three of us had diarrhea the next day. My wife and I are both recently retired Army and have eaten an awful lot of MREs (and like them) and field chow; you might say we have pretty strong stomachs. But those meals did not agree with any of us. NOT recommeded!

  6. JWR: Fence posts rot quickly in damp Southeast Alaska and a solution is to char the ground contact portion of the post. I used a propane “weed burner”. It takes a little time but it does extend the life of the post. Seems the bugs and fungus don’t like burned wood very much. You could try one post as an experiment in your locale. Another bonus is you don’t have to use wood preservative like Cuprinol around a garden.

  7. It’s been a busy week of putting up vegetables, meats/poultry and misc items. I have focused on putting up more high protein foods and high vitamin greens such as kale, collards, carrots, mushrooms and brussel sprouts. I was worried that pressure canning may destroy much of the nutrients but after some research it seems this method maintains the highest value of nutrients.

    I freeze-dried beef chunks and chicken breasts. Harvested lemons from my small tree and I’m thinking on how best to preserve them for ease of use. I’ve tried dehydrating, freeze-drying and freezing the juice in previous years.

    Put straw in the rabbit hutches and readied them for much colder weather coming in. Put more straw in the pig area and for the outdoor dogs. Received an order of meds for my old dogs which improved their arthritis almost immediately.

    Ordered some herbs for the family and a portable propane heater that can be moved to various areas on the farm.

    There is a farm auction coming next week on a property not too far away; I hope to pick up a few items at reasonable prices. Never know until you get there.

    Have a safe and productive week.

    1. You and I love those cole crops, Animal House. I have many bags now of fried kale and collard greens. They will feed me well and nutritiously in the deep of winter.

      Also, they grow almost anywhere. I planted a dozen on the north side of my house just to see how they would do in mostly shade. Just fine, thank you vary much. YMMV.

      This time of year I have such a bounty that I give many cole crop bouquets to friends who love them.

      Carry on

  8. We have been continuing to preserve and are moving along speedily on wood gathering. My husband is working on building a sled to pull behind the snowmobile using old skis and left over wood. A good project to do now.

    I’d like to recommend one of the most useful canning books I use…
    https://www.amazon.com/Persons-Guide-Preserving-Step-Step/dp/0882669001

    A thought for those preserving…plan your garden out two years and your preserving accordingly. For many items (pickles especially), I only can them every other year. Of course that can be dependent upon the garden for that year. An abundance of any fruit or vegetable will change my plan. Growing up, we always looked 2 years out as we never knew what that summer would bring. Bugs, blight and the weather all can play havoc on the garden.

    I ordered open pollinated greenhouse greens seed mix. Hoping that this will be the only time I’ll have to buy those seeds as I plan to save my own. Lilly, any hints on growing trays indoors under my grow lights would be welcome. Again, thanks for the great idea.

    Out of the blue, my sister sent a present and told me it was on the way. I thought, “Oh no! More stuff!” Well, she sent beautiful and very useful cloth napkins and dish towels. Blessed…oh ye of little faith.

  9. This past week, to me ,was an example of how the Lord works in our lives . I have a friend that wanted to get rid of a pile of slab wood so I got 3 trailer loads full. Another friend had a big pile of cow manure they wanted to go away. I hauled a trailer load of manure to a friend for his garden. He in turn gave me some big cedar rounds for kindling. I was able to give a nice load of firewood to a widow lady. I ended up with manure for next years garden, 2 cords of firewood, a big pile of kindling and a nice appreciative thank you from the lady.Everyone was happy, PTL .
    Needless to say this week was spent dealing with firewood splitting and stacking. We also did a little food inventory /rotation , baked bread, froze apple pie filling, cracked walnuts and did some garden planning for next years garden.

  10. This week I continued work on orchard fencing.

    I rented an excavator and dredged out our reservoir to gain another 4 feet of storage. Now we’re waiting for the rains

    Note that dredging a ‘pond’ may fall into certain legal issues but our reservoir is different, and not in a stream channel or other watercourse. YMMV.

    Time to process our pumpkins. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. Let’s see, I got the sewing/music room set up to my satisfaction and inventoried sewing supplies, bought some good praise music for the piano that I’ve been wanting to learn. I’m working on a cookbook for my daughters, everything made from scratch utilizing a well stocked pantry. I know there are lots of cookbooks out there, but we have favorites in our family, plus I know what their budgets are and how they like to cook. I have a goal, that seems a bit complicated at the moment – the recipes and accompanying “pantry list” have to be affordable and easy for good sized busy families. LOL. I also have the goal of creating and testing each and every recipe to my satisfaction, so it’s not just a cut and paste type of a project. So glad to be done with canning season! I added a few different types of dried and canned goods to my pantry because food boredom is a thing! I found dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes and just tried them in a casserole dish – delish! I purchased dehydrated vegetable mix for soups for when I’m tired. I purchased cases of canned jalapenos, green chilis, sardines, anchovies, albacore tuna, and canned salmon – as an example of alternative stuff to stock up on, and I rounded out the bulk spices. I enjoyed reviewing lots of gourmet recipes online to liven up the ideas in my head. Cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned some more. Purchased an array of books regarding how public education has changed in the last 100 years. I mean, we all know public education has gone to the dogs, but I want to understand how it happened. I was fortunate to have two educated Christian parents who ensured that my education was top notch – in our laters years we were all put in private christian schools. Who can afford that today? And homeschooling is scary to some moms. I want to influence my children and their children’s schooling as much as is possible, and be able to articulate how public education has changed to the detriment of our children. I decided to send books, really good books, as birthday and Christmas presents from here on out, with a few activities thrown in for good measure – no more high priced “educational toys”. I am also working on establishing a good library at my home, family games, etc., so when my children and grandchildren visit, it will be a rich family time environment. As of now, I’m stocked up for at least a year, have plenty of winter projects planned, and am awaiting the snow. Our lowest temp was 2 degrees in October. Happy prepping everyone! P.S. Lilly!!!!! Impressed and proud of you!

  12. Jim,
    I’ve found out in my life that if you’re building fence/corner post just bite the bullet and use welded together steel pipe encased in a bunch of concrete. There’s nothing worse than having to do something over again because you didn’t do it properly in the first place. Every wooden post I’ve ever used has eventually rotted out and I’ve had to re-do it sometime in the future but never a steel pipe. You can weld it all together in your shop and then set in in your predrilled holes and then get crazy with concrete. Your great grandchildren will be glad you built it right.

  13. Dear Avalanche Lily,

    Please consider starting a school for fierce pioneer girls.
    That can be the helpmeets of their men, or else.

    The Career women, the degreed, are often broken and useless but could have achieved what you have.

  14. I learned a tough lesson this fall. Worked hard this summer for a disappointing crop of squash…Delicata, my favorite. Too much cloudiness for the fruit to set and ripen. Still, I brought in about a dozen. Stored it in the basement as in past years. This time however, rodents found the squash and before I knew it, had eaten or ruined all of it. All of it.

    In this time of plenty, with functioning infrastructure, losing that squash is an annoyance. However, in a time of struggle and hunger, that squash would take on enormous importance. Next year, the traps go out early. I will inspect the foundation for entry points and close them. I will store the squash in a more robust container.

    Carry on

  15. Were completing construction at the farm for extended housing, should that become necessary. We have an efficiency apartment in the shop, RV hookups next to the shop and another down at an old farm house on our property with a septic system and have finished off another 1400 sq ft upstairs in the house with 2 BR, 1 bath and a family room. We are also tearing down the old farm house and replacing it with another “rental house”. Good investments either way I figure. Room for the extended family and/or building equity if we decide to do something else, somewhere else…
    Also getting our tractor up to snuff with maintenance for use with a rotary tiller. PTO tillers enable planting small or large. If we get visitors, we will need to figure out how to feed them. Current plans are for a grain based approach (wheat and corn). Something will be better than 48 hours into an event in LA…

  16. We bought the ranch next door which gives us a third house that needs total remodeling and repair, but after we complete that, it can be rented out or used as a guest house. The new furnace got installed this past week.
    I have taken over the second house at the main ranch, a mobile home, as a sewing studio, office and temporary greenhouse until the new greenhouse gets built and until the new main house for us to live in gets built. It also gives us some additional, climate-controlled pantry storage space. The new ranch included two horses that have not been ridden in about 10 years, from what I understand, but they have been living out in the pastures, eating forage with some sweet feed over the winters. The past few weeks, we have been concentrating on getting a pasture near an old outbuilding not far from the house cleaned up and the fences and gates repaired so we can move them up there for the winter. That will mean we won’t need to go driving down through mud to the lower pasture and the river to find them when we want to give them sweet feed or extra hay. The outbuilding contains a chicken house on one end and a tack room on the other with a roofed-over feeding trough in the middle. I shoveled out 50 years’ worth of old grain, Texas dust and rat feces – absolutely disgusting! The building is cleaned out now and has been thoroughly sprayed with bleach. There were 4 western saddles in the tack room that all need scrubbing with saddle soap, but that will happen in stages and can even be done inside the tack room as weather permits. Most of the other tack is a hopeless cause but I will save bits and buckles since leather can be replaced easily. And I can store some small hay bales in the chicken side, out of the weather and the horses’ reach. We do need to block up the rattlesnake den entrance at the front door step to that side. We are planning to pour a concrete step there which should take care of that issue.
    The chicken boxes are metal and look to be in good shape so they will eventually get moved to a new building near the main house and garden. Speaking of the garden, I have plenty of cardboard after buying some new furniture for the studio and office, so the hay I spread over the new garden for the winter is getting moved, cardboard is being laid down and the hay is being put back on top. I figure that by springtime, I should have a nice layer of topsoil to plant in. Meanwhile, I have planted several varieties of lettuce, some cabbage and green onion from seed into flower pots and put them on a table inside the south-facing living room window where they are growing nicely now. Also, I have a pot with ginger root planted, just waiting for it to sprout. I am planning to put some shelf units in the master bedroom that isn’t being used for anything else and planting some vegetables in there, too, since it has south- and west-facing windows. I might get some more grow lights for there, too. The plus side is there are NO grasshoppers to eat all my plants! 8^}
    The weather is trying to turn cold now with windy and rainy days, so outside work is sporadic, but so far, both our son and his 10-year-old son have harvested white tail does from one of the blinds. I went down there yesterday afternoon to try for a buck but we didn’t see any. We had 5 does stop by, though. I’ll try again as the weather and jobs around the ranch permit. I keep telling myself, “Baby steps…baby steps.” But there is just so much that needs to be accomplished.
    Here is wishing a safe and productive fall and winter to everyone, especially those of you up in snow country. Stay warm!

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