November 28, 2023

To be prepared for a crisis, every Prepper must establish goals and make both 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 the Odds ‘n Sods Column or in the Snippets column. Let’s keep busy and be ready!

Jim Reports:

I had to make a couple of day-long trips to buy some fasteners, lumber, and hardware for the workshop remodeling projects. These trips take a frustratingly long time.  But this is just part of living in the hinterboonies. The detractors — like long driving distances — are more than counterbalanced by the many joys of living on the edge of the wilderness.

We took some hikes this week, and made a lot of progress on mucking out the sheep shed, and some other projects. On Wednesday and Thursday, our life was all about shoveling, hauling, spreading, and rototilling-in manure.  There was so much manure being flung about that I felt like I was under the capitol dome in Washington D.C.

Lily will fill you in on some details…

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,
The weather finally turned to a warmer more sunnier spring this week. I saw my first Hummingbird on Friday morning.

I told you last week that my Matriarch cow died unexpectedly last Wednesday. We were not able to bury her until Saturday morning, because the three folks we knew with tractors had them, either in the shop to be fixed or still needed to be transitioned from winter mode to summer mode. We laid her out in the meadow near where we chose to bury her. Thankfully we had very cool nights in the low thirties and mid-day temps only in the high forties and low fifties.  Those low temps preserved her until burying day.

Our cows kept vigil over her, unless they were eating the hay that I gave them morning and night or went out into the meadow to graze.  We still do not have enough grass yet for them to get their full.  Their vigil kept the vultures away, until Friday afternoon.  Then they got bold.  I saw them down on the fence that is about twenty yards away from the carcass and thought I saw movement over near the body. So I got on my mountain bike and called H. our dog to come with me.  I rode down to the fence yelling at them.  They flew up and their flight caught H.’s attention. I ordered her to “Get ’em” and she chased after them.  One lifted up off the cow and circled low around the cow and H. chased the low-flying scavenger bird in circles, because the bird was flying low circles around the body.  I saw it had eaten one of her eyes and had nibbled below her tail.  Since they left, I quickly  rode my bike up to the barn where the cows were eating, and grabbed a tarp and rode back down to the cow and covered her body. Haha vultures, now you can’t eat my cow. You’re not eating my cow friend.  If she wasn’t my friend, I wouldn’t care if the vultures did their natural thing, but she was my friend, so we will give her a dignified burial.  After she was buried the next day, the cows, still kept vigil near the dirt-mounded grave for the next few days, except when out grazing or eating hay at the barn.  So interesting.  Animals know…

Jim and I took turns cleaning out the sheep shed this week.  That was another huge job.  It took about five hours to do. It was another job that we didn’t do all winter, but that is because their packed duff gets moldy and I don’t like being around it.  Jim and I wore masks.  Jim took the top eight inches off and I scraped the last two to three inches down to the clay.  Afterward, again with the two of us taking turns, we took our propane flame wand and scorched the clay floor to sterilize it from any parasites, mold, or bacteria that may be living on the clay.  Then we laid down new hay, for bedding.

The next day, Jim and I put clay down in the cow stalls to bring up the floor level back to ground level. Over the years whenever I would clean out the stalls I would scrape some dirt from its floor.  Eventually, in spots I had dropped the floor level about eight inches.  It was time to rebuild it again.  In the process of refilling it. It became a clean and more sanitary floor, once again.

Our neighbor with the tractor who helps us move manure every year was able to get the hydraulics fixed on his tractor by mid-week and was able to come over that morning to help us.  What a blessing he and his tractor are to us!  He moved the horse manure pile in the loafing area and the horse manure pile behind the shop, spread them in the near meadow.  Then he moved the cow manure pile that had come from the stalls and put that on the meadow and spread it out.  Then he spread the compost pile in the Main garden over all of the various sections of the Main Garden.  Then he scraped out the Bullpen, spread some of that on the Main garden and then the rest of it he put into the new compost pile in the Main garden. Then he scraped out the sheep run and spread that manure on the meadow.  Then he attempted to tackle the corrals, but that hay and manure was so wet, still fresh and heavy and not at all decomposed, that when our friend tried to scoop it up it just formed huge wet rolls of manured hay that his bucket was not able to pick up.  So he spread it out the best he could and will come back in a couple of weeks once it has dried out. What a blessing to have him as a neighbor, with his tractor! He saved us from countless hours of heavy, heavy work.

It feels really good to have clean stalls, a clean sheep shed, a cleaned-out bullpen, and a cleaned-out sheep run for our animals.

I let the sheep get out of their 2,000-square-foot sheep pen/run last week for the first time in over a year.  I thought it would be a rodeo to get them back into their shed, but by evening they were milling around their door, so I brought them a flake of their hay, opened the door, and tossed it in. Immediately, into the shed they all went.  Wow, that was easy.  Because they went in so easily, I decided that it would be great for them to graze the ranch the next day.  I had never let them out before, to do so. I let them outside to graze the meadows with the cows and horses.  They enjoyed themselves thoroughly and behaved well.  That night when I fed the cows and horses the sheep were there too, waiting for me to let them into their shed.

I have to keep the door to the shep shed closed during the day because the horses and cows will get in and eat the sheep hay bedding. So I opened the door, gave them another flake of hay and also gave them all a handful of sheep grain mix.  They loved that! So this is their new routine. Every day this week, I let them out, they graze the ranch all day and then go in, in the evening when I feed the cows and horses.  LOL!  We have quite the animal menagerie here.  I love it.  Seeing all of our animals out together gives me such a warm cozy feeling.

Also, since we no longer have very much hay in our open barn to be pooped upon, I am allowing the chickens to free range, again, as long as they stay out of the garden… The other morning the chickens were mingling in with the cows, horses, sheep, and Mrs. Turkey. (Mr. Tom Turkey only stuck around for a few days, sadly.) It’s a lot of beasties when they are all out together.

Jim rototilled all of the manure into the Main garden beds for me.  Then Jim rototilled the manure in the near meadows.  As of writing this on Friday, we will have to wait until early next week to seed it with our pasture grass mixture.

I have planted in the main garden, thusfar: Four rows of broccoli and three long rows of potatoes: Reds, Vikings, and Adirondack purples.  Planting season has begun!!!

I harvested parsley and cilantro from trays that were growing in the Greenhouse bedroom and dehydrated them in our dehydrator. It came up to a pint of cilantro and just a quarter of a pint of parsley. I moved everything out of the greenhouse bedroom out to the greenhouse and cleaned up the room.  It is now ready for summer guests.

H. our dog does not like taking her antibiotic and antifungal pills for her ear infection. She is so smart and so self-controlled when it comes to her food, that she really scared me the second day after starting her on the pills.  Let me explain:  The first day, I snuck her pills in a chunk of cooked ground beef. She is such a careful eater that she tasted the pill in the beef and refused it.  I then immediately put them in a chunk of salmon.  Again she tasted the pill and refused it.  So I forced her jaw open and put the pills, one at a time on the back of her tongue and held her mouth shut until she had swallowed them.  Then I gave her her breakfast of ground beef and egg.  She refused to eat it, she walked around it suspiciously and kept sniffing at it and then left it.  She didn’t eat all morning.  Later, I tried to give her salmon, again she refused it.  That scared me.  Did I really knock her off all of her food?  Late in the afternoon, I offered her her breakfast with more freshly cooked ground beef.  She approached it very suspiciously and then nibbled it.  She was so hungry.  She then began to eat it.  M. the male kitty approached her for a snack.  Usually, H. has allowed the cats to share her food while she ate it, but this time she growled and lunged at the cat ferociously and that freaked me out. I yelled at her and chased her away from the kitty and said “No” in a terrible voice.  She slunk away for a few moments and I left the kitchen and returned a few moments later and she was finishing her food.  Thank God.  She had freaked me out.  She is so smart and so particular about her food. After that, I chose to just give her the pills straight — night and day.  I just pry her jaw open and insert my hand to the back of her throat, deposit each pill in turn and close her jaws gently between my hands until she swallows.  Then I praise her and she gets all excited and happy and then she will eat her meals.

I allowed H. to be in the garden with me while I was planting the broccoli.  She was so cute.  She watched me carefully handle the seedlings and put them in the soil and cover them up with the soil.  She put her nose down to the seedling while I was planting them, watching me with such a cute expression on her face as though trying to understand why I am being so careful with this plant and what exactly I was doing with it.  An amazing dog, she is.

There is an official hiking trail on our Unnamed Mountain that surprisingly in all the years we’ve lived here, we’ve never hiked.  Well, this week we hiked a section of it.  We hiked up for an hour and then hiked back down.  It is about six miles long.  We went up about a mile and a half. It felt super good. Someday we will hike all the way to the top. Actually, there are other trails on that same mountain that we have hiked.  Once, I have been to its top.  We’ve often bushwhacked its flanks, close to home.

This past Sunday we visited oldest son, his wife, and our grandsons.  We talked about our plans for the summer.  We are planning a few activities for us all to do together and we are going to take care of the grandsons a few times this summer, while son and daughter-in-law take a few getaway trips.  We will again, be conducting a few sessions of Camp Rawles.  ?  I can’t wait!!!

Not much other exercise this week, except for some situps.  Moving manure multiple days and making potato and broccoli mounds was enough of a workout for me, this week. I laid awake one night with achy arm muscles…

This week we listened to 1 John, 2 John, and Jude. I did word studies on the words: judgment, rejoice, pure, heart, cand overing.

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.