The Editors’ Preps for the Week

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!

o o o

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


  1. A question about freezing chopped onions. I chop and freeze as well, but have learned to use quart bags rather than gallon (I’d actually prefer pint bags…) because I invariably wind up with a solidly frozen 1-gallon block of chopped onion. Do you have some secret to prevent that?

    1. An age old trick, chop them up and spread them out on a cookie sheet then put them in the freezer. Once they are frozen solid, put them in a freezer bag for long term. They should not clump in the bag. You can do this with just about anything you put in the freezer.

    2. Get a food saver. You can custom make your own freezer bags with a roll of food saver bags. You can have pint, 1/2 pint, any size you want. Plus it sucks the air out and keeps freezer burn at bay.

  2. Nosmo, freeze the onions in a layer on a cookie sheet or tray, first, then put them in bags. They may still stick a tiny bit, but a light rap on the countertop will knock them apart.

  3. About tarter on dog’s teeth: One of our dogs had lots of tarter and very irritated gums. Calls to the local vets for teeth cleaning revealed estimates of about $400 to get her teeth cleaned! Appalled, we looked for alternatives and got raw beef bones. We were astonished at how well it worked!

    Just two bones in a few days cleaned up the teeth of the dog in question. The other two dogs teeth were spotlessly clean with just one bone.

    We give the dogs one bone a week, and have maintained their clean teeth since that time.

  4. Getting ready for winter in the mid-south is similar but different from our northern friends and neighbors. While the activities are comparable I think we have more transition time, which makes things less stressful. This is the first year we have actually gotten all the wood cut and stacked before we need it. Major accomplishment!

    We are entering the time where our location has about 5 days of sunny warmish weather then 2 nights of freezing weather. This is the time we spread straw over the garden so the fall plants can produce for another 4 weeks until the continuous nightly freezes arrive in December. The winter plants, while not yet big enough for harvesting, are strong enough to endure the colder weather. After Thanksgiving I’ll lay another deeper layer of straw to protect them over the winter, so they’ll wake up in spring and start producing again. Mild winter is the main advantage of living in the mid-south!

    Cut back and FDed the remaining herbs, found a good sale on brussel sprouts and broccoli and put them in the FDer. Made vegetable beef soup, cream of broccoli and cheese soup and a big casserole to FD. I am still FDing various types of egg dishes, from omelets to quiches, to just plain egg powder. I can’t stand to waste things. I gave my elderly neighbors several dozen eggs and shared the soups and casserole with them.

    I’ve been working on organizing emergency animal bags/buckets for the smaller animals. One each for the big dogs, little dogs, cats, rabbits and chickens. Right now all the animal meds are in a cabinet and the instructions are in my brain; so I need to separate things by animal species and get the instructions printed out and copied.

    Received an order of deer alerts for the vehicles to hopefully avoid any collisions with deer and wild turkeys this year. Living out in the country, the wild turkeys are almost as dangerous as the deer!

    Have a safe and productive week!

  5. I made a batch of chicken soup ingredients; 4.5 pounds of chicken quarters pressure cooked in the Instant Pot@ for 20 minutes, pulled all the meat off the bones and froze it in 2 cup containers, pressure cooked the bones with the previously removed skin for 1 hour. The broth was cooled overnight and the layer of fat skimmed off and froze for future use for frying eggs, etc. The bones and offal is set outside for animals to munch on. (The bones are mushy, not splinters).

  6. Costco has a subscription service you might want to try for non-perishables like paper products, OTC medications, dog food, etc. I have used it for a while and it’s great, especially when you don’t live close to a Costco. It is delivered to our local post office once a month on the same date. They always allow you to review what they are sending so you can delay or cancel a product.

  7. Sure you all know about this but diatomaceous earth has been our go-to for years in keeping our animals healthy. It has a lot of useful purposes.

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful updates. I learn something new every single time.

  8. My main activity this week was square bales of Burmuda hay. My husband baled last Saturday, after I had raked. I was loading while he tried to finish baling round bales. It commenced to raining. We got all the square bales home and a tarp on them that night, in the pouring down rain. We have a hard time doing hay since he works full time. So Monday, I unloaded those 200 bales in the driveway to dry for a couple days, then I loaded them all back up and hauled them to the barn and stacked them. The milk cows, goats and donkeys will have plenty to eat this winter. I think I lost a few pounds also. We had to fluff the rest of the hay for round bales after it stopped raining and he baled it one night after work. We use the round bales for the beef cows. Thankfully, our winters are mild and the cows can eat rye grass to supplement the hay.

  9. After moving (escaping?) from southern California to the blessed farthest northern county of Idaho this spring, I have been a little nervous about the approach of cold weather. This past month has seen temperatures dipping down to freezing most nights with day time highs in the mid 50’s generally, a real change from what I have been used to. I am pleasantly surprised to find that the cold bothers me not at all. I know winter will be a lot colder, but it is nice and toasty inside inside my home, and when I go outside I dress for the weather. The beauty and peace of this area more than makes up for any shortcomings. Had lunch today with another couple, also refugees from SoCal, and we all agree the quality of life up here is highly enjoyable. We love the change of seasons, and the friendliness of everyone we have met. I’m SO glad to be here! A couple of days ago I picked about 30 pounds of apples at my neighbor’s orchard and will put them up on Monday. Apple pies all winter, yay! And he shot an elk on his acreage so I’m looking forward to some elk stew, too. Life is good.

  10. We culled 3 chickens today two non-laying hens, and an extra rooster. Found excess fat in the hens, they are an extremely cold hardy breed Wyandottes, and I found in a Gail Damerow book that cold hardy breeds are more prone to obesity in the fall. It was news to us; something else to keep an eye out for.

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