Entries for the ‘Farming and Gardening’ Category

Developing self-sustainable farm more difficult than expected

When I moved to the farm almost 3 years ago I thought this was going to be easy.  Build a nice chicken yard, build a chicken house, plant some fruit trees, and things will be off and running.  Then I can work on the pole barn, barn, and fence in a few acres for goats and cattle.

Lets just say things have not been going as planned.

Fruit trees have been a failure

Either from disease, drought, drowned from too much rain,,,, whatever the reason, my fruit tree project has not gone anywhere near as expected.

A plum tree my kids and I planted several years ago died.  A second plum tree is not doing anything.  It is not even hardly growing.

Peach trees are not growing as expected, or died.  Out of the several peach trees that were planted over the past few years, only one has grown and is producing any peaches.  This year that one peach tree is not doing anything.

Fig trees died from the summer drought of 2015.  June, July, August and September 2015 we got very little rain fall here in southeast Texas.  I did not keep my young fig trees watered like they needed, and 3 out of the 4 died.

One of the blueberry bushes died.

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Best friend after SHTF

Awhile back someone posted a comment on one my youtube videos saying the hoe will be your best friend after SHTF. This got me to thinking about how important certain types of survival gear were over other types.

Can you use an AR-15 or AK-47 to till a garden? Plow a field? Bushhog? Operate an auger to set fence post? Clear brush? Weed a garden? Pick the crops? Can the harvest?

Who is your very best friend?

The hoe and the rake.

They have proven then test of time. Our ancestors used garden tools thousands of years before firearms were ever thought of.

Garden tools have no moving parts – no locking lugs, no bolt carrier, no firing pin, no ammunition, nothing to run out of except your physical strength.

When I made the youtube video I thought it was a good topic. Maybe something for members of the community and forum to talk about their over reliance on firearms to survive a post-SHTF world. I was rather set back by the comments and negative ratings on the youtube video.

Let’s be honest, garden tools are not cool.  They do not have the “that is so awesome” like an AR-15, AK-47, AK-74, PTR-91 and FN/FAL do.  there are no rails on a hoe to mount the “best tactical light money can buy”, or a suppressor, or eotech or aimpoint.  There is no tacticool with hoes and rakes.  Yes there are cheap garden tools and there are more expensive ones.

Who honestly pays attention to the brandname and quality of a garden tool?  Do you take your hoe and rake out and show it to your friends like you would with some of your tactical gear?  Do you shop online and read the reviews of your garden tools?  Or do you buy whatever the local chinamart and farm supply store has in stock?

Someone on youtube even sent me a message saying they almost unsubscribed because of the video.

A well rounded survival plan does not rely solely upon stockpiling freeze dried foods, superpails, guns and ammunition.

Example of a superpail.

In the overall scheme of things which is more important in the long run, being able to feed your family, or having thousands of rounds of ammunition you can not eat.

Hunting after SHF 

The typical survivalist response to questions about stockpiling ammunition, they will go hunting during a long term SHTF situation.

Let’s be honest, do you really think you will be the only person hunting post-collapse?

What do you think caused the wild turkey and whitetail deer to become extinct in east Texas during the early 1900s?  Habitat destruction played a big role, but over hunting during the great depression contributed greatly to wildlife depletion.  When the food dries up in the cities, where do you think those people are going?  Out to the country to find food.

Do you honestly think you will be the “only” person who will be able to hunt when all the wildlife has been depleted?  Chances are good number of people are on hunting leases, which is where a lot of people will go.  When they reach their hunting lease they will hunt. When all the wildlife around the lease is depleted they will travel further and further to find food.

People who live in rural areas will deplete the wildlife around them.  Then they will venture further and further away from home to find food.

It will be just a matter of time before all the deer, rabbit, squirrels, wild hogs,,,, everything is hunted out.  Then what?

Do you plan on raiding your neighbors garden and chicken house for food?  Only the animals that are protected by their owners will be the only fresh meat available in a long term post-collapse world.

Family pets will be a source of food, and then what?  During the Black Death of 1348 – 1350 dogs and cats became extinct in some parts of Europe.

History has proven this time and time again.  The people with a renewable and reliable food source are the ones who will survive.  This means a garden, chickens, goats, fruit trees, stockpiling seeds,,, a variety of food sources.

Simply put, hunting is unreliable and unsustainable in a long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation.

Practical approach to prepping

Preppers / Survivalist may wish to consider a practical approach to prepping. Which means less focus on stockpiling beans, bullets and band-aids, and more of a back to basics approach.

Let’s take $25 and spend it on prepping gear.

Would you rather have:

1 brown turkey fig tree at $22.98.

Taken care of could provide your family with decades of figs. Figs are rated as maybe the worlds healthiest food with it being a source of fiber, vitamin A, manganese and potassium.

or

1 Celeste fig tree at $22.98.

or

10 chicks, at $2.50 each.

10 laying hens with a reliable food source should be enough to produce a dozen eggs every 2 – 3 days. Breed, time of year and quality of feed all play a role in egg production.

or

2 Pmags at $11.95 each.

or

9 pounds Roma II snap bean seed at $2.75 a pound.

Plant 3 pounds of this seed and you should have enough for 3 years after SHTF. Pick before the beans for, snap the ends off, boil and eat husk and all. Or, lot beans mature, dry and save for next year. High producing plant, should be picked every few days.

or

9.43 pounds Contender snap bean seed at $2.65 a pound.

Same family as the Roma II snap bean. Pick before bean inside of husk matures, boil and serve. Beans are a good source of potassium, iron, protein, and fiber.

Plant one pound per year and you should have enough for three years.

or

10.20 pounds purple hull BVR pea seed at $2.45 a pound.

Plant one pound per year and you will have enough seed for 3 years. Peas are a source of vitamin A, potassium, fiber, vitamin C, magnesium and vitamin B-6.

or

9.43 pounds yellow dent field corn at $2.65 a pound.

Yellow dent field corn is open pollinated / heirloom so the seeds can be saved.

or

60 rounds American eagle 223 Remington for $6.49 a box.

Good source of copper and lead.

Renewable or consumable

From the above list it boils down to renewable and consumable items.  Should you base your and your families future on renewable or consumable items?

How many seeds should you stockpile

When it comes to stockpiling seeds we have discussed the topic in depth. Something that has been overlooked is how many seeds should you stockpile?

I have come up with a simple formula and would like to know what yall think.

How many seeds do you normally plant to obtain X amount of harvest? Lets say you plant 1 pound of snap beans or purple hull peas. With that one pound and a certain amount of fertilizer you have an idea of how much of a harvest you will get.

How many people are planning on using your place as a long term bug out location? Or, are you planning to going to a rural farm? In other words are you bugging in or bugging out?

To keep the formula simple, take the usual number of seeds you plant and double it. Lets say you plant 2 pounds of contender snap beans. Double that for a total of 4 pounds. Doubling is for the extra people you intended to feed.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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