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. We always welcome you to share your own successes and wisdom in your e-mailed letters. We post many of those –or excerpts thereof — in this column, in the Odds ‘n Sods Column, and in the Snippets column. Let’s keep busy and be ready!
I’ve been trying to wrap up a few projects here at the Rawles Ranch, before the weather changes. I’ll soon be shifting to work on our shop. I’m starting to build some partitions for storage rooms, and more shelves.
Well, it is now officially fall. I may have to rake a few leaves, close to the house.
The wildfire season has been lingering due to Indian Summer weather conditions. So, unlike in previous years, I have covered all of our slash piles with old traps. I did this because I expect our county government to delay their official okey-dokey of open burning until at least October 15th, this year. By then, we will probably have had several drenching rains. I like to be able to ignite my slash piles with just one match–not with a lot of expensive diesel fuel.
A consulting client here in the Redoubt asked me for recommendations on foraging and edible forest gardening books. I handed that to Lily, since she is more knowledgeable than I am, on that topic. Here is the list that she assembled for him from our bookshelves:
“The Uses of Wild Plants” Frank Tozer
“Wild Harvest: An Outdoorsman’s Guide to Edible Wild Plants in North America”. Alyson Hart Knap
“The Essential Wild Food Survival Guide” Linda Runyon
“Eat the Trees” Linda Runyon
“How To Eat in the Woods”. Bradford Angier
“How to Stay Alive in the Woods”. Bradford Angier
“Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants”. Bradford Angier
“Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies” Linda Kershaw
“Wild Berries of the West”. Betty B. Derig and Margaret C. Fuller
“Foraging the Mountain West”. Thomas J. Elpel and Kris Reed
“Audubon Flowers West”
“Secret Garden of Survival” Rick Austin
“Secret Greenhouse of Survival” Rick Austin
“Diary of an Early American Boy 1805” Eric Sloane
“Eric Sloane’s Simple Machines: A Boy, A Diary, and the Building of America” Wie Mauch
Now that most of the insulation is in place, I did some carpentry work in our shop. Following that, I will finally be able to reposition some shelves — and even add some new shelving, at a higher level. We are trying to think in three dimensions — to maximize the use of all available space. Stay tuned.
Now, over to Lily…
Avalanche Lily Reports:
We had a beautiful sunny above-average temperature week for this time of the fall. We are having an extended summer thus far. It is so lovely!
I have my energy back from that “good cold” and was able to accomplish many more things this week.
I cleaned the Hen house. The seven-week-old and three-week-old chicks are doing super well. I have been putting Raw Apple cider vinegar in their water. The babies were getting electrolytes and sugar, additionally, in their water, but I stopped that at the beginning of the week. They are mature enough to get the nutrients and energy they need from the grower grain and the supplement snacks I give them. I regularly give them table scraps. Lately, I have been picking the mature Lamb’s Quarter from down in the Annex garden that has a lot of seed heads to them to eat. They all like it very much. Sometimes, I will catch as many grasshoppers as I can, and toss them into the hen house. It’s fun to watch their excitement as they chase after them and gobble them down. Protein!
This week I finally finished the job of pruning back the spent yellow raspberry canes. That patch took about five hours. I have very large raspberry patches. The yellow raspberry Primocanes are producing quite a lot of berries. Miss Violet and I shared a cereal bowl’s worth that day. Yummy! More are slowly ripening. They will produce until the hard frost kills them.
I sorted through the onions. I had put them all together in a tote, temporarily, until I could get back with them. A few became moldy, so I went through all of them, taking off the outer skin and cutting off the stem and repacked them into a mesh bag that they could “breathe” in.
Over the weekend, I put into seed envelopes and labeled, a bunch of seeds that I had saved throughout the summer that were sitting/drying out in small 4 ounce mason jars on the windowsill above our kitchen sink: dill, garlic seeds, peas, pac choi, orange sweet pepper, and cilantro seeds. I have onion flower heads that have seeds, still drying out on the windowsill. It will be a while, yet, before I can put them away.
I also saved some Hungarian pepper seeds from some Hungarian peppers I am growing in the greenhouse.
The cows are unhappy with the meadow grass and the hay that we are regularly feeding them, now. Not a full ration, though. This week the bull broke into the main garden along with his herd, three times, and ate and trampled my raspberries leaves and canes. I was not a happy Mrs. Rawles, as you can well imagine. Thankfully we saw them quite quickly each time, so only a minimum of damage was done. Jim fixed the places that they seemed to have broken in. One of them was the gate between the house and the woodshed. It turns out that the bull just lifted the fence there until the gate latch popped opened. I caught him in the act of it on a fourth try. Therefore we chained the gate. That makes it more difficult for me to have quick access to the garden from that side of the house. Grrr! Those bovine delinquents. We don’t want them exclusively on hay at this time, which is the reason why we are not “locking them up” in the corrals. There is still grass in the meadow. They just want more. They keep it up and I will lock them up, though, as much as I’d hate to. In a few weeks, I can let them into the orchard for a bit, once the apples are harvested. They will enjoy that!
Well, the fifth time in one day they tried to break into the Main garden through the same gate, didn’t succeed because I heard them right away. One of the cows was eating the Lilac tree leaves around the other side of the fence, she had gotten her head behind it, by the house, I called them to the corrals. They are locked up for a time. We will probably let them out again once the hard freezes knock the leaves off of all of the raspberries. Then the Main garden won’t be so enticing to them.
For the first time in a long while, I made a meal entirely with produce grown on our ranch, and meat that we raised ourselves. It was a stirfry dinner made with our own ground beef from our steers that were butchered this summer, zucchini squash, red potatoes, Hungarian peppers, garlic, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, basil, oregano, and parsley that were grown in the green house, Perennial garden and Annex gardens. The only thing in it that of course we couldn’t grow, forage, or create, was the Redmond salt.
I harvested our first cucumbers of the year, from the greenhouse. Everything was so late this year.
I am rereading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book “The Long Winter” for the past several evenings, taking note of how they survived it. It was harsh. They were lucky, because as I understand it, folks in other new prairie towns relied on the trains to bring them food, coal for heating, and kerosene for lights. But the trains were not running, so those settlers actually starved and froze to death. They didn’t have Pa Ingall’s brain for “contriving” the things that they did had into what they needed. For example, for light, Pa gave Ma, axle grease and she made a button lamp when they ran out of kerosene, for light. Likewise, Pa, who had the urge to mow and harvest far more hay than they actually needed for their stock that previous summer, actually had enough to burn to keep their home tolerably warm for the duration of that hard winter. Pa, Laura, and Ma had to twist the hay into tight bundles to slow down the speed of their burning. They also went to bed early to conserve both the hay and the light. Ma also made sourdough once their yeast ran out to use to rise their dough for bread. Later, when they ran out of flour, Pa was able to buy wheat berries with which Ma ground with their little coffee grinder to make their flour. Each of these tasks took a lot of energy for so few calories and warmth that they gave. But they survived.
Son, his wife and grandsons are spending the weekend with us. It’s so wonderful to have them here with us.
May you all have a very blessed and safe week.
– Avalanche Lily, Rawles
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As always, please share and send e-mails of your own successes and hard-earned wisdom and we will post them in the “Snippets” column this coming week. We want to hear from you.