This has been a productive week of prepping here on our survival homesteading retreat. My Bobby and I took Monday off work for the Labor Day holiday, and used the time to get another pasture cut down and ready to go back into the rotation for fall and autumn medicinal herbs planted.
We are blessed to have enough land to keep both medium and large livestock. You can stockpile bags of grain and hay, but it will eventually run out – especially if we have another winter like we did last year. Our new to us hay baler is still struggling with some stringing issues, but we are figuring it out as we go.
I think it might work better with old-fashioned twine style baling twine instead of the slick nylon stuff. The good old stuff is getting increasingly hard to find and expensive (about $80 per roll, around here) we had a full roll but the mice got into it over the winter. I hate mice. I hope the barn snake and guineas kill them all slowly and painfully!
I decided to follow tribe member Sarah’s lead and attempt to grow both lettuce and onions inside over the winter. Because our house was built as a weekend hunting lodge, it does not have many windows – which poses a problem for indoor growing.
The best light is in the playroom and grandkiddos sleeping quarters, so use of that space for keeping dirt in pots would be highly problematic. I will likely have to invest in some grow lights for the plants over the winter.
The stackable planters I purchased for about $12 per set of three from Walmart, can be placed on a folding table in front of one of the best sunny windows in the living room once the weather turns too cold for them to be outside.
In addition to medicinal herbs, I am also growing garlic in the tiered planters. I love cooking with garlic and it also boasts bountiful medicinal properties.
As I noted in a comment during a previous weekly column, I have not had reason to go to a doctor, other than an optometrist, in well over a decade. My natural remedies and colloidal silver have taken care of the few milds colds I have gotten over the years.
But, on Tuesday, Brea and I went into a nearby city for eye doctor appointments. I put it off as long as I could and was on my last pair of contacts and old backup glasses. I consider this tedious and rather expensive task, part of my weekly preps.
If we cannot see clearly, we definitely will not be able to shoot accurately or accomplish a host of other necessary SHTF and post-SHTF chores. Medical preps are always the most difficult aspect of any self-reliance plan.
I ordered one new box of contacts for each eye, a new pair of the cheapest yet durable and least ugly glasses (I just wear them around the house and don’t care one lick if they are stylish) and paid the $95 examination fee. So, it was quite a pricey outing, to say the least.
Over the course of the next two months I am going to order two more pairs of glasses – thankfully my eyes have never changed hardly at all between exams, and at least a year’s worth of contacts for each eye. I have to get contacts that are designed to treat astigmatism and are also Toric lenses, so they cost more than the regular contacts my daughter wears. I am getting her extra glasses and contacts, as well.
Our survival retreat lumber yard is coming right along. Bobby has a stockpile of boards and posts inside a pole barn, but were now in the process of adding to that valuable prepping resources courtesy of the 1800s era barn that sadly, had to be partially torn down due to safety concerns.
Our scrap metal pile is growing as well. That is good news for all the cool knives I have photos saved so Bobby can make them for me on his DIY forge.
I had the distinct pleasure of trying out a Ghillie Camping Kettle for the first time over the holiday weekend? Have any of you ever used one or a similar version of anodized camping kettle? This is the only version I have ever tried and I found it to be incredibly impressive – and just added it to my preps shopping list.
It works like a rocket stove but is far more lightweight and portable – and negates the need to pack an actual camping kettle to put on the rocket stove. I have a small rocket stove I was sent to review about five years or so ago. I like it and it works great, but it is far too reflective from an OPSEC point of view and not only is it a little heavy to pack, it is not designed to really be easily portable, i.e. wide and round without a sturdy handle for the top.
Both rocket stoves and the Ghillie Kettle function with just a tiny bit of tinder used for fuel. I used some small twigs and only halfway dried leaves I picked up on our Oh S**T trail. Bobby used the Ghillie Camping Kettle later the same evening and put some pine cones and grass in it for fuel and it worked equally well, even on an extremely day.
I was too busy enjoying the company of our tribe and making food over an open flame to think of taking and photos or videos. But, I found this one online and it shows how the camping kettle functions and in use in essentially the same manner as I did on our tribe trail day.
We are still battling typical predator issues. The other night, Brea and I took the kiddos with us while I was working on clearing a trail through thin but tall brush with the Polaris Ranger, and we spotted a fox.
I thought we were rid of him, but apparently I thought wrong. Brea got out and took the rifle I keep in a scabbard attached to the Ranger and tried to catch sight of the fox again, but we didn’t have any luck.
A hawk is frequently Mad Dog Drop, which is located in a rather densely wooded area. It is not unusual to come across some deer or turkeys while back on that trail, but I had not spotted a hawk lurking about or flying overhead before.
Pack members, do any of you have a clue what type of bird these feathers came from? It is not a member of my flock, and was just curious. We have heard both quail and pheasants in our woods, but these feathers do not necessarily look like they come from either of those bird types – but I am far from a bird expert.
The grandkiddos and I have been nut hunting this week. When we go on our “bear hunts” we work on tree and track identification, also. Earlier this week, Colt, who will be four on Christmas, ran over and picked something up on the trail and then proudly proclaimed it was an acorn. When I asked him what trees acorns come from, with an equal amount of enthusiasm, he proudly proclaimed them came from oak trees.
Once Colt found one acorn, the hunt was on. He and Auddie approached the search like an Easter egg hunt. Before we climbed back into the Ranger, Colt’s shirt pockets were stuffed full of nuts and the pockets on Auddie’s little dress were overflowing with her treasures.
Ariyah is not walking well enough yet to go acorn or bear hunting much with her older siblings, but she enjoys the heck out of watching their adventures from the back of the Ranger after it is parked along the trail.
The grandkiddos also learned how to identify walnut and hickory nuts, and some of their uses. Hickory has been the bane of our existence as of late. Our log splitter (which was part of the about $17,000 worth of fairly gently used old equipment we worked into the land purchase deal) is just not doing well with the hickory wood this year.
It was all cut last fall and early spring like the rest of the soft and hard wood we are splitting and filling our wood sheds with, but apparently it is still just to fresh and hard to split. Every few times a hickory log is placed in the splitter, it pops a seal or spring. Bobby has not been pleased, it seems every time one piece of equipment or vehicle is up and running perfectly, another starts having issues or goes down completely. Typical homesteading woes, survival or otherwise, I figure.
This week’s questions:
1. How are you prepping to deal with eye care needs during a long-term disaster?
2. Are you doing any fall planting – medicinal or otherwise?
3. Do you stockpile nuts of any variety and how are they are part of your preps?
4. What’s your experience with camping kettles and/or rocket stoves?