March 2, 2024

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:

First, DO NOT miss the link in today’s top note about a new lab-created virus causing encephalitis with an extremely high lethality rate!

After a nearly snowless autumn, we are finally getting some heavy snowfall, here at the Rawles Ranch. We’ve had more than 15 inches in the past week. The forecast was anything between 13 inches and 34 inches. It was -2 F on Friday morning and it could be as low as negative 15 F during the next four or so nights. I’ve had to do some snow shoveling in from of our shop doors. Since we have a long lane out to the county road and there is a large turnaround area between our house and outbuildings, this has necessitated a lot of time behind the wheel of our plow pickup truck. I usually dedicate that time to prayers or listening to sermons, rather than listening to music. I should mention that living in a remote and mountainous area, our selection of daytime radio stations is very small:  Just three stations on the FM band and none on the AM band.  But thankfully, the FM station that comes in the strongest is a repeater (“translator station”) for KMBI, a Christian station in Spokane. I am not a fan of modern praise music, but I do enjoy hearing sermons from reformed theologians. My favorite is Alastair Begg.

Update:  This morning (Saturday, January 18th) the thermometer read -18 F. Brrrr!  That is the coldest morning that I’ve seen here, within memory.  Our thermometer bottoms at -20 F. Hopefully, we won’t go “off the scale”, in the next few nights.

Getting this much snow and deep cold also forced me to postpone slaughtering and butchering a couple of yearling cattle. That project can wait…

Now, Lily’s report…

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,
Yes, we finally received snow and cold.  The first ten inches we received was wet and sticky but on Thursday the temperatures began dropping and we received five more inches of soft fluffy dry snow.  I broke out those cross-country skis and skied for an hour and a half breaking ski trails all through the ranch.  It was so beautiful to see our spruce, grand firs, cedars, and tamaracks all draped with puffy snow.  The snow muffles all sounds.  I loved skiing through the deep fluffy trackless white snowy woods. I feel so enveloped in and cozy and very peaceful. The exercise felt wonderful, too.

We lost grid power twice during these storms. The first time was only for about two hours.  The second time, we lost power was on Thursday. That outage lasted about eight hours. I love power outages.  They test our readiness and ability to live without power, and it is so peaceful, not to have the refrigerator and the washer and dryer humming away. Also I feel that there is an electrical peace not to have the Wi-fi, going.  We have Wi-Fi set up again because it was a real hassle for Jim and I to have to share the one and only ethernet cable.

In anticipation of these storms, the deep cold, and the potential power outages, we prepared by putting all of the beasties into the corral where they would have access to the stalls.  If the horses are not bratty and exclusive, all of the animals can squeeze into the stalls and keep each other warm through their shared body heat. We also feed them a lot of extra rations to help them keep warm during intense cold spells. We topped off their water troughs. During the cold, we break up the ice in their troughs and add warm water from the house.  We heat up water on the wood heating stove.

We filled every water container with water that we had in the house, for both our water use and for the outside animals, too, if need be. We also can flush two toilets with buckets of water.  They flow right out to the septic tank.  We would not need an outhouse in a long-term griddown situation, because of this set up. During the power outage, I collected snow in a large lixit bucket we had and brought it into the house to melt for flushing use.

I set up the kitchen with a five-gallon jug of water with a spigot and put it at the sink to use for washing hands and dishes. I took out our plastic dishpans to do the dishes in because they are smaller than the sinks, I think it’s more practical to use them than the sinks themselves during power outages, more for water economy. I kept up with the dishwashing this week.  I very much dislike a dirty kitchen during power outages.

We set up some DC lights over the dining room table and the kitchen sink, positioned our kerosene lantern on the diningroom table, and made sure flashlights were in quick retrieval spots

We kept the wood box filled and brought in an extra box of kindling.

We have a propane cook stove, so when we lose power we can still use the stove top burners.  Additionally, we have our wood cookstove.  We have not yet fired it up this year, mainly because it just gets way too hot in the great room when it is going.  I am still struggling with heat issues. All through winter, we use our wood heating stove, in the great room for heat. It keeps the great room at about 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit.  I often open up all the windows to air us out and cool us down in the winter.

I have been drying out seeds on the shelf of the under-used wood cook stove. I have been saving seeds from almost every single squash that we are eating. Just in case I wanted to use the cook stove during the power outage and the deep cold, I packaged up the now-dry seeds.  They were Basil, Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, Delicata, and Spaghetti squash seeds.

We can slow cook or warm up food on the wood-heating stove when we like. When we lost power the second time, I was baking sweet potatoes and salmon in the propane oven for lunch.  I transferred those to the top of the wood heating stove. I put the potatoes in a cast iron bread pan and covered it with a cast iron food presser.  The salmon was in a large cookie tray, I put another cookie tray over the top of it and put it on top of the wood stove. I heated up rice and I also cooked up some of my homegrown frozen broccoli in a pan with water.

Our bedroom is at the far end of the house away from the wood heating stove.  It is heated with electricity.  In a long-term grid-down situation, in winter, Jim and I would have to vacate and close up our bedroom and take up sleeping residence in the guest bedroom which is very close to the great room and can receive the heat from the wood stove.  (Our off-grid PV power system is not large enough to run electric space heaters.)

We lost power for eight hours on Thursday, I prepared the guest bedroom for us to sleep in if we had had to.

I shoveled off the porch and two sets of stairs, paths from the back door around to the woodshed, the area in front of the Hen House and Sheep shed and the gate into the open hay barn.

I spent time sharpening kitchen knives.

Miss Violet and I continued with our natural living skills course.  This week we practiced tie-ing basic knots: overhand, half hitch, Clove Hitch, figure eight, Square knot, Lark’s head, Bowline, Taut line slip knot, sheetbend, sheeps’ shank, and lashing. Most of them were review for me. I had learned many of them at Girl Scout camp during my CIT days.

We had lessons on how to make salves, tinctures, teas, and poultices. And lessons on tanning hides.

I read Proverbs again, and some of Leviticus this week.

This is the Interview that I really wanted you to listen to:  Shawn James of “My Self Reliance” being interviewed by Canadian Prepper. There is also a part two, to this interview.

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.