Entries for the ‘Farming and Gardening’ Category

Chickens are their own worst enemy

Chickens would be great farm animals for SHTF if they were not so stupid.  The honest truth is they will find a way to get themselves killed.

Build them a nice cage and they will find a way to get out.

They will wander away from the flock and get killed.

They will stay out to dusk, right when coyotes start looking for an easy meal.

They will spill their water.

They will crap in their food and water.

They will crap in laying boxes.

They will roost in high places so if they fall at night they will be hurt.

They will eat stuff that makes them sick – free ranging eating weeds, rocks, pieces of glass, etc.

They will free range out in fields where hawks can see them.  They chickens can have all kinds of weeds and cover to forage under.  But no, they have to go out in the open away from the flock so a hawk can get them.

[Read the rest of this entry…]

Starting with guineas

Buying guineas was a little more difficult than I had expected.

With chickens you just down to the local feed and fertilizer in the early spring and buy the chicks you want, or place an order with various websites that sell chicks online.

With guineas you get on a waiting list at the local feed store, or get on a waiting list with a company that sells guineas online. My wife and I were on a waiting list at Ideal Poultry for between 2 – 3 months before we received our order of a dozen pearl guineas.

[Read the rest of this entry…]

Farm update June 9 2015

Things are moving along nicely, but rather slow.  The new chicken yard is working out well, the new chicken house is nearing completion, a large pen oak fell on the property so I need to cut that up, still need to clear fence rows for the cattle field, have not started on the pole barn, one of my newly planted fig trees may have died, the new pear tree might have drowned from all the rain,,,, just all kinds of stuff going on.

Lets talk about target goals for surviving a post-SHTF world.

Egg production

My target goal for egg production that I think my family would need in a post-SHTF world is at least 2 dozen eggs a day. For my parents, my wife, our kids, our grandkids, close friends and other family, I think at least 24 eggs a day is a reasonable number.  Keep in mind that 2 dozen eggs a day is a bare minimum.  Good laying breeds should be able to produce at least 1 egg a day for every 2 – 3 chickens.  Those are conservative numbers, but depending on the time of year and quality of their feed egg production goes up and down.

For the sake of discussion let’s say 1 egg for every 3 chickens per day.

Including the chickens that are supposed to arrive June 10, 2015, my wife and I will have 64 chickens.

[Read the rest of this entry…]

Tis the season to plant fruit trees

Tis the season to plant.

So far this spring:
5 peach trees
1 pear tree
2 blueberry bushes

This makes a total of:
8 peach trees. Three of the older trees are rather small and not doing well. I might have to replant next spring if they do not make it. In all I am rather disappointed in how my peach trees are doing. Some of them have been in the ground for several years and do not seem to be growing.

3 pear trees. My third son and I planted a couple of pear trees several years ago and they are loaded with pears every year. In March of 2015 I planted another pear tree in the large chicken yard.

5 fig trees. One of the fig trees is older and doing well. 4 of the fig trees were planted in 2014. In 2015 my wife and I are not going to plant any fig trees this year.

6 blueberry bushes. Four of the bushes were planted in 2014, two more were planted in March of 2015.

4 apple trees. I need to plant more apple trees to ensure good cross pollination, but not this year.

3 satsuma trees.

It is getting a little late in the spring to be planting much more. For the rest of 2015 my wife and I will focus on getting the trees we planted established.

What fruit trees are you planting in 2015? Share you thoughts in the comment section.

Chicken flock update November 24 2014

Since we got the new chicken yard built losses have greatly reduced. In the original yard the chickens were either bored, cramped, or just wanted to forage. They would jump over the fence, get out of the yard and either the dogs or some other predator would get them.

The original chicken yard is 35 feet wide X 75 feet long.

The new chicken yard is 100 feet wide X 200 feet long.

The original chicken house is 6 feet X 8 feet.

The new chicken house is 16 feet X 16 feet.

Part of my chicken flock on Chicken flock November 23, 2014.

In the picture left to right:

  • Golden Laced Wyandotte rooster
  • Barred Rock
  • Jersey Giant
  • Rhode Island Red
  • Barred Rock
  • Rhode Island Red
  • Barred Rock

Chicken flock November 23 2014

Mr Man has passed away

Kristy and I knew it was just a matter of time, but we held out hope.  We hoped that somehow Mr Man, Kristys Buff Orpington rooster would recover from his stroke.  We held out hope that one day he would be back on his feet protecting his girls.

That day will never come.

It started the morning of Sunday, July 27th.  Kristy and I walked out to the chicken yard to check on the flock.  We found Mr. Man laying on his side unable to walk.  We thought that he was suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.  He was brought inside to cool off.  By Monday morning he had not improved.

He was not eating or drinking on his own.  So Kristy and I started giving him pedialyte, gerber baby food and water with a syringe, but with no needle.

After a few days of force feeding Mr Man seemed to regain some of his strength.   He was kept in the bathtub so his poop was easy to clean up.  By the end of the first week he started growing, however so weak he was.

[Read the rest of this entry…]

Farm update October 19 2014

Things are moving along nicely, but there is always some kind of setback.

When my wife and I moved to the farm I seriously underestimated the time and effort needed to get things up and running. When we moved here in August of 2013 my main goal was to get the small chicken yard built, get the septic system put down, get the water working, then get ready for winter. Winter of 2013 – 2014 here in southeast Texas was rather harsh, by our standards anyway.

Spring 2014 started out with around 18 – 20 new chicks. Things were looking up, then then it went to hell. My wife and I moved to the farm with 13 hens. We lost all of the new chicks to various predators. When the new chickens were moved to the new chicken yard, a couple of Rhode Island Reds kept jumping the fence. My dogs ended up killing those two Rhode Island Reds.

The good news, things are on the upswing.

[Read the rest of this entry…]

All of the new chickens are gone

I need to explain the title in a little more detail.  When my wife and I moved to the farm in July – August 2013 we brought with us 13 hens. These hens were a year and a half old.

Between February – March 2014 my wife and I bought around 20 chicks. These chicks were only a day or two old and were bought from local farm supply stores here in Jasper Texas.

We are back to 13 hens and one rooster. Some of the original chickens disappeared, and the new ones took their place. But we are back to the original number we started with.

Between a chicken hawk, fox or coyote, and my dogs killing the chickens, the ratio of new chickens that have died sits at 100 percent.

My wife and I loaned a rhode island red rooster to my cousin, he is doing good. My wifes buff orpington rooster had a stroke. Those are the two extra chickens we have left out of the new we bought.

It is rather depressing to put so much time and effort into raising something, then a dog, coyote, fox, or chicken hawk takes all your hard work.

Last weekend my dogs caught one of the new rhode island reds and tore her up pretty good. To end her suffering she was put down.

For those of you who follow my youtube channel, yall know I have been working on a new chicken yard. The new yard is working well. The dogs stay on one side the the fence and the chickens stay on the other side.

The chicken that was killed last weekend got out of the yard. I can only do so much to protect my chickens. They have to stay in the yard when the dogs are loose.

6 weeks ago my wife and I ordered another batch of 20 chicks plus one rooster off the internet. These are doing much better than the original set we got in February – March. They are being kept in an enclosed run and not allowed to roam free. When they reach around 4 – 5 months old they will be moved into the new chicken yard.

It is really depressing when you put so much time and effort into a project, then something comes along and takes away your hard work.

Update on the new chicken house

Awhile back I started building a new chicken yard. Now that the yard is pretty much complete (for now), the time has come to build the new chicken house.

The size I decided on was 16 feet by 16 feet. 16 X 16 = 256 square feet. I figured 256 square feet was enough to accommodate roost, laying boxes, storage cabinet, water barrels and batteries for the solar power.

The laying boxes will take up 6 feet on one wall, and the roost takes up around 12 feet on another wall. The laying boxes in the new chicken house will be modeled after the laying boxes of the old chicken house.

An 8 foot wide leanto will be built off one wall. Which is where the solar panels will be installed.

Inside the house is a steel storage cabinet 36 inches wide and 18 inches deep. This is for tools, nails, screws, paint, chicken feeders, waterers, just your usual stuff.

When you walk into the shed there will be steel trash cans on the right hand side where chicken feed will be stored.

I want to set up some kind of rainwater catch system and a pvc pipe system with nipples to water the chickens.

[Read the rest of this entry…]

Buying chicks in the summer

For the most part buying chicks is a springtime activity. The local farm supply stores start getting their chicks in around early to mid February. Then there are the Easter colored chicks. Please do not buy colored chicks for Easter. You do not know what breeds you are getting, what sex, and the “new” quickly wears off.

You may think that after the feed stores stop selling chicks in the spring that there are no more on the market. That is simply not true. Some hatcheries sell chicks all year long. Where do you find these hatcheries? On the internet.

My wife and I had never bought chicks over the internet. We had always gone down to the local feed store, bought whatever chicks they had in stock, then went home. After buying our first set of chicks over the internet, I doubt we will ever buy from a feed store again. The process was easy and straight forward.

[Read the rest of this entry…]

Next chick order August 2014

My wife and I are planning on ordering some chicks Friday August 1st.

Breed / Quantity

Australorp – 5
Barred Rock – 5
Buff Orpington – 10
Dominicker – 5
Rhode Island Red – 5

Plus the 17 or so we have left after the dogs, fox and chicken hawk got finished.

47 hens with 3 roosters.

My Rhode Island Red rooster is on loan to my cousin right now.

Barred rocks and Rhode Island Reds are, but I have not seen a single one go broody.   The instinct to sit on eggs has been bred out of certain breeds.  When a hen sits on eggs, companies lose production, which means they are losing money.

The reason why my wife and I want a variety is for various traits. The Buff and Dominicker are supposed to sit on eggs, one of my Australorps will go broody at least once a year.

In a previous article we talked about the best chicken breeds for SHTF / TEOTWAWKI.  There are so many good breeds out there, it is impossible to pick an absolute best.  In order to expand my knowledge and experience with chickens, I want several different breeds in my flock.

As of right now the Buff Orpington is quickly becoming one of my favorite breeds.

The Dominicker is an old heritage breed dating back to the pioneer days. If a breed of chicken was good enough for the pioneers, it sho0uld be good enough for me.

Would you add or subtract anything from the list my wife and I want to order? Post your comments in this forum thread – What do you think about my next chick order?


Tractor auger for chicken yard corner post

While working on the new chicken yard I figured I would go the glorious route and do as much as possible by hand.

In our age of machinery we lose appreciation for hard work.  I wanted to be able to say yes, I have set fence post by hand.  This included everything from digging the corner post hole with diggers, to notching out the H-brace by hand with hammer and chisel.

After setting 5 post I said “screw this, it is taking too long”, and called my uncle who has a tractor auger.  I still have around 15 corner post to set.  Doing everything by hand is taking too long and  I have a lot to do before winter sets in.

Since I am using telephone poles for corner post, a regular 6 inch auger was going to be too small. It just so happened my uncle as a 12 inch auger bit.

[Read the rest of this entry…]

Farm update beans figs and potatoes

The season of plenty is upon us. On Saturday June 14, 2014 the grandkids, my wife and I dug 4 1/2 bushels of potatoes, beans are doing good, fig trees have figs on them.

Here in southeast Texas we had an unusually cold and wet winter. We got snow 4 times this year. One of the storms blanketed the farm with 3 inches of snow.

Around 1964 there was a storm that dumped 2 feet of snow in southeast Texas. My dad remembered having to get the chickens out of the snow and put them in the chicken house for the night.  Nobody I talked to remembers a winter like what we experienced here in Southeast Texas in 2013 – 2014.

Because of the cold wet weather I postponed planting potatoes for a couple of weeks. Instead of planting in mid-February we planted in early March. This meant the potatoes would be ready to dig later. Instead of mid-late May, the potatoes were ready in early-mid June.

[Read the rest of this entry…]

Storing potatoes

How do you store potatoes?  So far this year the potato harvest has gone well.   I have probably gotten close to 3 bushels, and that has not even made a big dent in the garden.

If you had a shed or a barn, you could put down a layer of hay, layer of potatoes, layer of hay, layer of potatoes,,,, until all the potatoes are covered with hay.

Space the potatoes so that they are not stacked on top of each other.  The spacing allows airflow and will help prevent potato rot.

The layers of hay add a cushion between the potatoes and will help prevent rot.

  • Keep the potatoes out of direct sunlight.  It is ok to put them in the sun for a little while.  But do not leave potatoes in direct sunlight all day.  Sunlight releases a toxin in the potato, which will turn the potato green.
  • Be careful when harvesting potatoes as to not bruise them.
  • Do not wash the potatoes, just wipe the heavy dirt off.

Besides a shed or barn potatoes can also be stored in a bushel basket.

[Read the rest of this entry…]

Drying green beans

My first attempt at drying green beans. My wife and I planted 2 rows of beans, 1 row Roma II snap beans and 1 row contender snap beans. On Sunday June 1st I picked exactly 5 pounds of beans. I know it was 5 pounds because I used a scale.

My wife has been putting a bunch of the beans in the freezer, and we are going to can a bunch of them. To go along with the canning and frozen beans, I want to dry some using an old method of using a string.

Using sewing string for quilts I did one string of Roma II and one string of Contender bush bean.

[Read the rest of this entry…]