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 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,
We just had another beautiful Autumn week at the Rawles Ranch. The fall colors are at the peak of their splendor. This is our favorite time of the year.
This week was mainly devoted to deer and elk hunting. We’ve had no luck yet, but we aren’t worried. There are still several weeks of the season remaining. Even when we come home empty-handed, it is still great fun. Hiking around the woods at this time of year is such a blessing. This week it was Jim and our eldest daughter who have been hunting. Once they get their deer or elk, I may go hunting with Jim.
I took the the kids on one of our semi-annual Costco runs. We came home with the back end of our oversize SUV stuffed to the ceiling. In particular, we tend to over-buy on paper products, knowing that we will gradually use them all. One thing that we also bought was a big sack of huge yellow onions, grown in Utah. I chopped up all of them and froze them all. They will be going in 1-gallon freezer bags. Once I have them off the trays, they should fill more than three bags. I also chopped up and froze another gallon of assorted sweet peppers. We use both the onions an peppers in soups, stews, stir-frys, and omelets.
We also took delivery on one more 6-ton load of grass-alfalfa mix hay. Since the barn is nearly full, stacking this last load was a bit more tiring than the previous loads. The barn has reached the “shoehorning” stage of hay stacking, so this means a lot of extra lifting. The good news is that we now we finally feel ready for winter.
Winter Gardening in the Greenhouse
Last weekend we received a comment from a reader named Kimberly. She mentioned that she had just finished reading Eliot Coleman’s book Four-Season Harvest, and asked if we’ve read it? Yes, we have, and yes, we have done some experimenting with winter gardening in the past three years with some success. I’ll be writing an article about that in the near future.
Aside from the fall/over wintering outside garden patch of broccoli, kale, cabbage and carrots, I hadn’t planted any “winter” beds yet. In light of Kimberly’s reminder, I spent some time this week reviewing Coleman’s book. Then I went out to the greenhouse and began to prepare the soil from the two beds from which last week, I harvested and pulled up the tomatoes, zucchini and Butternut squash. Our raised beds inside the greenhouse are all 4 ft by 12 ft., and one foot deep. They are made of rough cut cedar planks.
Because I am rather late in the season for germinating seeds, meaning the soil temperatures are not optimal without some help, I, therefore, moved all of the soil aside in sections, down to the bottom of the bed and transported very fresh cow manure mixed with hay and laid eight inches of it into the bottom of the beds and then covered it with six inches of the soil. The green fresh cow manure will rot and generate it’s own heat which will warm the soil.
Hopefully they’ll get to the optimal germination temperature. I put plastic hoops over the beds for added insulation protection from the cold: a greenhouse within a greenhouse. I’ll be planting seeds on Sunday morning and putting the plastic over the hoops, since I ran out of time yesterday. And we’ll see what happens in the next two weeks. We’ll keep you informed of the progress.
Two weeks ago I did plant lettuce and spinach in a bed inside the greenhouse. For that bed I hadn’t put fresh manure under the soil. I did cover it with a plastic sheet at night. This week finally, there are tiny germinating lettuces and spinaches. I’ll be putting the hoops and plastic over this bed also. We’ll see what fares better, the plain bed or the bed with the rotting manure underneath.
We also have a woodstove in the greenhouse for very cold nights. But, just now my last, still producing, orange Cherry tomato plants are right behind it, so I’m not going to fire it up until I have to. I don’t wish to bake the plants and tomatoes. As you can see gardening has lots of trial and error to work through. Next year, I won’t be planting sprawling plants right behind the woodstove.
A Failed Tomato Relocation
I dug up my last two green pepper plants, from a greenhouse bed, put them in pots and brought them into the house to see if I could overwinter them in the house and get some produce from them. I also dug up a volunteer tomato plant. It’s probably a black Cherry Siberian Tomato plant and put it in a pot. I left it outside in the sun for a couple of hours, then brought it in. It looks as though it died. Bummer. Reminder: One cannot leave greenhouse plants out in the sun at all without hardening them off, slowly!
I’m looking forward to reading comments from readers about your preps for winter.
May you all have a blessed week, – Avalanche Lily Rawles
The Latimer Homestead is busy clearing some of the debris on the property and rearranging supplies and equipment to put summertime items and equipment away and get ready for winter. Throughout the house, we’d already added blankets on our beds but are now putting on the warmer comforters. On the property, we are also adding a blanket of straw on some of our plant beds to keep our perennial berries and other plants warmer throughout the winter season. There is some late season weeding that needs to be done also.
Our animals need some special attention. While the dog toothpaste ran low last week, Sarah made more to keep tartar away and freshen breath as well as support the digestive system with turmeric, parsley, and coconut oil. But now it’s time for a big batch of homemade dog treats for our four-legged best friends, using chicken scraps, coconut oil, and some garden vegetables, nutritious herbs, pumpkin, and brown rice.
We also have one hen that has developed bumblefoot while we were away, so we will be treating her and thoroughly inspecting the entire flock this week. We’re not sure how she injured her foot to develop this infection, but we do occasionally have some thorns and certainly some rocks in the yard that could have caused an injury if she jumped down on them. While our animals were happy to see us upon our return, our chickens don’t seem to be content
We’re trying to diagnose the situation and are hoping we don’t have mites inflicting them or others developing bumblefoot. In our individual inspections of each chicken this week, we hope to be able to tell what is causing their anxious behavior changes. We take our responsibility seriously to care well for our animals!
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As always, please share your own successes and wisdom in the Comments.