Entries for March, 2012

Trying to raise chickens part 3

Chicken feeder and watererMy first batch of chicks turned one month old on March 25th.  All of the chicks were bought within a week and a half of of each other, so lets say all of the chicks are within 10 days of each other.

When my wife and I bought the chickens we bought two water dispensers.  One of the dispensers was used for food and one was used for food.  The one used for food did not work very well.  But then again, when the chicks were a couple of days old they did not eat very much either.

Waterers

The first two waterers bought were red and screwed onto a pint or quart sized jar.  The chicks quickly outgrew the pint sized jar and had to be upgraded to a quart sized jar.

The quart jar lasted only a few weeks before a 1 gallon sized container had to be bought.  Currently 13 chicks that are about 1 month old take about 2 – 3 days to drink 1 gallon of water.  I keep the quart jar in the coop with the 1 gallon jar just as a backup.  Within the next week or so the quart sized waterer will probbly be removed from the coop.

I imagine that the chicks will have to upgraded to a 3 or 5 gallon waterer before too much longer.

After the coop is finished, I am hoping to have a waterer in the coop and a waterer in the run.  During the summer heat I want to make sure the chickens have access to water 24/7.

Related article – Trying to raise chickens part 1

Feeders

Somewhere in buying the second of third batch of chicks my wife and I bought a “real” chicken feeder. The first feeder we bought is made of plastic, and either a quart of pint jar can screw onto it. At first my wife and I were using glass pint jars, but the chicks quickly outgrew the pint size jars. It was not long before the feeder was upgraded to a quart sized jar. Fast forward a couple of weeks and the chicks have outgrown the quart sized jar.

My wife wanted one of those galvanized chicken feeders that are about 18 inches long, and have a series of holes for the chicks to stick their heads through to get the feed. It looks like a hog trough, but for chickens.

I do not know what it is, but I can put the feeder that is round and has the jar on top of it right next to the trough feeder and the chicks will barely eat out of the trough. The round feeder can run out, and the chicks will knock it over before they eat out of the trough feeder.

Maybe the chicks are used to a round feeder since they used it first? Maybe the trough feeder is too deep and the chicks do not like to stick their head into it?

After watching the chicks ignore the feed in the trough, I had gave up and removed it from the coop.

Now that the chicks are emptying a quart sized jar almost daily, my wife and I decided it was time to upgrade. We went to the local Tractor Supply and bought a feeder that is supposed to hold 7 pounds of feed and has an attachment for hanging it from a string, rope, chain or cable.

While the chicks are getting used to the new feeder I am going to continue to use the small feeder. The two chicken feeders are going to be put next to each other so that the chicks will have the option as to which one they want to use.

The chicks spill a lot of food while they are eating. In an attempt to keep as much food as possible where its accessible by the chicks, the feeders were put on a 1×12 that is about 18 inches long. I was hoping that the feed would spill out on the board, where the chicks can continue to eat. But even with the board in place, the chicks still spill a lot of feed that falls through the hardware cloth and onto the ground.

Related article – Trying to raise chickens part 2

The new 7 pound chicken feeder might last a couple of months before its time to upgrade again. Instead of retiring the 7 pound feeder, it might get moved to one side of the coop and the new feeder on the other side. That way the chickens will not be bunched up when they go to eat.

For the past month the chicks have been fed chick starter food. With the handy chart on the back of the bag, we will probably continue to feed the chicks chick starter through the end of April.

Chicken Coop Project Part 2

Chicken coopThe first part of the coop was thrown together because rain was on the way. It was either get a section of the coop built and get the roof on it, or everything was going to get wet. Due to the rush, certain things were left off the coop during the first weekend, such as a vent window, the ladder,,, and a few other small details.

March 24 and 25 another door was added to the coop, the egg collection door was finished, the ladder was finished, and a vent window was added.

The second door was cut 24 inches by 24 inches square. The other door which measures 18 inches wide seemed a little narrow. The rugs of the ladder are spaced at 1.5 inches apart. To keep the spacing the same, I used a 2×4 on its side as a spacer. The problem is, 1.5 inches between the boards leaves a large gap for a snake to get through. To hopefully keep the snakes out, 1/2 inch square hardware cloth was stapled to the bottom to the ladder.

The ladder was completed, except for a draw string to raise and lower the ladder from outside the coop. But then again, I am thinking about not using a string and just reaching through the door to lift the gate by hand. Whether a string is used or not depends on how much chicken crap is on the ladder. If the ladder is covered with crap, its getting a pull string installed.

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Prepping the Bug Out Location

survivalistA few nights ago I had a dream that has had me thinking ever since. The dream was about the US going through a nuclear war. The infrastructure had been devastated, no news was coming out of cities like LA or New York. It was as if life had been turned 180 degrees in the blink of an eye. We had limited internet, and we had electricity, but there was no news getting out about how bad the devastation was.

Part of the electricity in southeast Texas is provided by a series of 3 hydroelectric dams – Dam B, Lake Sam Rayburn and Toledo bend. In my dream, the electricity in my area was being kept on by those 3 dams.

When the food shipments had stopped, the local grocery stores were cleaned out in a matter of hours. What led to the shipments stopping, was the main computer systems that tell the trucks when to roll and where to go had stopped working. Since the trucking companies did not know when and where to deliver the products, the workers stopped loading the trucks.

Our society has grown so dependent on computer systems, we do not know how to do anything without them. The local Sonic can not even fix an iced tea without their computers being up. A lot of radio stations broadcast syndicated content, that content travels over the internet. Without the internet, a lot of radio stations would not even have a morning show. Inventory control for massive retailers are controlled by remote offices, and you guessed it, over the internet.

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My Chicken Coop Project Part 1

Building a chicken coopA few weeks ago my wife and I picked up 5 chicks, a week later we got 6 more, a few days later we got 4 more.  Two of the chicks died, which left us with a total of 13.  Up until last weekend the chicks had been kept in a large plastic tub, which in turn was being kept in the bathtub.  The chicks can not stay in my house forever, sooner or later they were going to have to go outside.  On Sunday, March 18, 2012 the chicks moved into their new home.

It took about 2 1/2 days, but with the help of my wife and my son, we got the coop built.

Before construction of the coop started I probably spent 2 weeks thinking about the specs, how many laying boxes were needed, how large the coop needed to be, how it was going to be designed, square footage per chicken, types of lumber, how the chickens were going to access the coop, coop security,,, just lots of details were thought out.

One of the first things I did was get out on the internet and look at some chicken coop pictures.  There are a lot of different designs out there, that is for sure.  The plan I wanted was for the coop to be portable.  The type of coop I was aiming for is called a “chicken tractor”.  Its a type of coop that can be moved around the yard.  Once I got some pictures, and got some ideas, it was time to start making sketches.

I took several pieces of paper and made rough sketches of how the lumber was going to fit together.

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Picking a camp stove for a bug out location

Propane Coleman StoveSome kind of long term disaster has happened, you and your family have almost depleted the food and water reserves at your home, now its time to make a decision, stay or go?  Its time to go.

Your family loads whatever gear, food and water you have left in the truck, car or SUV, then you hit the road.  You get to the Bug Out Location, unload your gear, and now what?  You cook a good hot mean, thats what.

Never underestimate the power of a good hot meal on moral.  The smell and sight of cooking food does something to the human mind, it relaxes us.  The effect of cooking food might have something to do when we led a hunter-gather lifestyle.  The hunters would come back to camp with a leg quarter off a horse, deer or a chunk of meat off a mastodon.  The meat was cooked over an open fire for everyone in the group to partake.

Ok, so what kind of stove do you store at the Bug Out Location?  This needs to be at least a dual burner stove, something large enough you can cook a full meal on.  I am partial to the coleman stoves.  Over the past 20 years I have owned two liquid fuel stoves and 2 propane stoves.

One stove I own is the Coleman PerfectFlow insta-Start grill stove, the one with the built on griddle. After cooking some sausage on the griddle, the grease drain pan almost filled up, and the griddle was difficult to clean. The grease dried in the corners of the griddle and was difficult to get out.

Do you own a propane camp stove?

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Raising chickens is a labor of love

Chicks inside chicken coopMy wife and I are in 3rd week, going on 4 weeks of having chickens.  One thing I have realized in this short period of time, raising chickens is a labor of love.  Unless you are ready to check on your chickens everyday, feed, water, clean, inspect, worry about,,, don’t even bother.

From February 25 – March 18 the chicks were kept in a plastic box, that was in kept in a bathtub.  On a daily basis I had to clean the tub, replace the newspapers, refill the water and refill the food.  For the last week that the chicks were in the box I put some pine shavings down in the tub.  This made matters worse as the chicks scratched the bottom of the tub and threw the pine shavings into the food and water bowls.  The water bowl was the worse, as the pine shavings soaked up the water and stuck inside the water bowl.

On March 16, 17 and 18, with the help of my wife and my son I built a chicken coop.  On Saturday I only had about 1/2 day for work.  the morning was taken up helping my step-daughter do a beauty pageant.

The coop measures 4 feet wide by 6 feet long, and has 5 laying boxes on the inside.  While building the coop I realized I should have used 4 foot wide hardware cloth, instead of 3 foot wide.  Just having that extra foot would really help out with the perch.

I am thinking about adding a lower set of laying boxes.  The current boxes are screwed into place.  All I would have to do is build the extra boxes, unscrew the current set, lift the current boxes up, slid the new boxes in place, then screw the two sets of boxes together.

For most people, when their kids grow up and move out, they get some kind of pet such as a dog or cat.  My wife and I decided to get chickens.  If we are going to take care of a pet – feed, water, care for,,,, we want something in return.  Its all fine and dandy when your dog wants to play, but fresh eggs are nice to.

Chickens go past the pet mentality, they provide food as well as companionship.  Cats just eat, sleep and want to be petted.  Chickens do all kinds of good stuff, they eat bugs, provide eggs, are fun to watch,,,.

One of the big advantages of keeping chickens over dogs and cats, if you get tired of taking care of chickens, you whack their heads off, pluck the feathers, and put them in the freezer.  If you do that do a dog or cat you will probably get charged with animal abuse.

If you eat a dog or cat everyone freaks out.  If you eat a chicken, nobody cares.

One of the disadvantages to chickens, they are not going to sleep at the foot of your bed, and they can not be house trained.

If you want to something to bark at strangers, a chicken just is not going to get the job done.  When I see a chicken, I am thinking about chicken gumbo or chicken nuggets.  When I see a growling German Shepard, I am thinking about my arms being torn off.

I think it takes a special kind of person to care for chickens.  Some people do not have the patience to care for chickens, some people to not have the patience to care for cats or dogs either.  Where some people just want to throw down a food bowl and water with a cat or dog, that is not going to work with chickens.  What other animal craps in their water bowl?  What other pet walks through a pile of steaming crap, then stands in their food and water bowl?  The only one I can think of is a chicken.

Springtime survival gear preps

teotwawki survival gearSpring is here, that means its time to stock up on seasonal preps.  The local feed and fertilizer stores are getting their seed shipments in, as well as baby chickens, fertilizer,,, and so on.

Some stores carry farm supplies all year long, some places carry them on a seasonal basis.  If at all possible, find a place in your area that carries farm and livestock supplies all year long.  Here in Jasper Texas we have 3 feed and fertilizer stores that carry farm supplies all year long.

Pickle’s
Circle Three Feed
Farmers Feed

Pickle’s carries a wide assortment of seed, pesticide and fertilizer. If you want to buy corn seed, this is the place to go.

Circle Three Feed carries a lot of farm and livestock supplies. If you want to buy chickens, feed, deer corn, this is a good place to go.

Farmers Feed carries a lot of everything. I have bought deer corn, chicks, seeds, 16 gallon drums,,, all kinds of stuff from Farmers Feed.

Even if the stores carry supplies all year long, there are still items that are seasonal, such as seeds and chicks.  If you want chicks and if you want seed, get down to a local feed store and stockup before the seasonal stuff is sold out.

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Capitalism VS Human Compassion

survivalistThe question is, can capitalism in the US survive in its current form? When human compassion, morals and values are cast to the side in favor of making money, then no, capitalism can not survive.

Capitalism can survive as long as there is no greed. The problem is, we have been taught that greed is a part of society. Almost daily we read about some bank, investment broker or some con-artist scamming people out of millions of dollars. Greed is so much a part of our society, that we are becoming desensitized to it. We expect banks to raise fees, we expect to lose money in our 401k, we expect to pay high interest rates on credit cards,,,,. We expect it to the point were its just a part of life. If you want an example, there was a scientific study that was delayed for 17 years by special interest groups. The companies were more interested in protecting their money, then the health and safety of the employees.

The problem is, greed should not be part of life.

I think the days of making an honest living are behind us. Instead of everyone being able to earn an honest days wage, companies look to squeeze, cheat, lie, con,,,, every penny they can.

Look at all of the people that were conned into signing flexible mortgage rates. The banks knew what they were doing. Get the people to sign the flexible mortgage, then hike the rates up so high the family can not pay, the bank gets the home, rinse, repeat,,,,.

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Access to land and water

survivalistWhile watching Doomsday Preppers last week, I observed one major difference in the various plans, and that was if the plan included access to land and water.

Its one thing to stockpile 2 – 3 years of canned goods, food in mylar bags, freeze dried food, have a rainwater collection  system, small backyard garden,,,,.

Its another thing to have access to several acres of land, able to have chickens, a nice sized garden for a variety of fresh veggies, various types of fruit trees, access to fresh running water and access to land to hunt on.  Maybe even have access to water to fish in.

Two of the main differences I see between the various long term SHTF survival plans, is access to fresh food and access to fresh water.  People may argue there are lots of other differences, but for this article I wanted to talk about two main topics – water and fresh food.

Water

Water Well For SHTFEverything needs water in some form or fashion.  Humans can live several weeks without food, but only a couple of days without water.  We should all know how important water is, so there is no need into going into all the little details.  Because water is so important, we are going to discuss water before food.

I see a lot of urban preppers doing two things – trying to stockpile water and/or developing rainwater collection systems.  There is nothing wrong with either system.  If you want to stockpile water, that is fine; if you want to build a rainwater collection system, that is great.  The problem is both systems have a chance of running out sooner or later.

Its impossible to stockpile enough water.  You and your family will “have” to have a way to replenish your water supplies.

During times of drought, rainwater may not be reliable.  During the 2011 drought across the southern part of the US, some areas got less then 12 inches of rain for the whole year of 2011.  If your plans were to reply on rainwater, you were out of luck for a whole year.  During the first three months of 2012, those same areas received more rain then the whole year of 2011.

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Trying to raise chickens Part 2

Raising chickensIf you have not read part 1 of this raising chickens series, please do so. Its been over 20 years since I have owned chickens, so this is kind of a new venture as I have fourteen a lot over the past 20+ years.

Week 1 – my wife and I bought 5 chicks. Within the first few days 2 of the chicks died. One of the chicks looked small and weak from the first day. One chick died on day one, second chick died on day 3.

Week 2 – on March 3, 2012 my wife and I went to a local feed store to buy some Production reds. When my wife and i arrived at the store, we were told they had sold the last of the Production Reds just a few minutes before we arrived.

After talking about what we should do, my wife and I decided to go to Farmers Feed on HWY 96 north of Jasper, Texas.

Farmers Feed did not have any Production Reds, but they did have several different types of chickens.  My wife and I decided to buy 2 of each type of chicken, of a total of 6 chicks.  Two of the chicks are Barred Rocks. the other 4 chicks, I can not remember the type. I will call the feed store Monday morning and ask what kind they are selling.

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Reforming Public Schools

survivalistOver the past few decades there has been talk about how to reform our public school system. I am not an expert in schools, but I am able to form an opinion based on the available information. It is my opinion the public school system is past reform. We have allowed politics and greed to get in the way of teaching our children.

Lets start by being able to hire and fire teachers based on their job performance, just like the rest of the work force. Let me rephrase my post, how about we hire and fire teachers without unions tying the hands of the tax payers.

Get the unions out of the schools, and I bet job performance will improve.

When I was in 4th, maybe 5th grade, teacher hands out a bunch of papers, I complete the wrong paper first, teacher gets pissed off, brings me to office, gives me a paddling.

Screw her.

Teachers that don’t have any more patience then that need to be fired. Everyone in the class had a stack of papers, and I just happened to complete the wrong one first. I feel that she was nothing more then a bully.

So how do you measure a teachers performance? By just that, their performance. Being mean to children is not a job requirement.

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