Entries Tagged ‘farming’

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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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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Digging potatoes

Nothing brings mankind closer to the earth than digging potatoes. There is a certain joy in working the soil, planting seeds, watching the plants grow, taking care of the plants, then harvesting the fruits of your labor. This is especially true with potatoes.

Digging potatoes like opening a present, you do not know what it is until you open the box. The same is true with potatoes. You do not know what is in the ground until you start digging.

There are other options besides digging potatoes by hand.

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Farmering gardening and hunting after SHTF

Lets say some kind of SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation happens tomorrow, what would your long term farming, gardening and hunting plans be?

Do you plan on hunting for most of your food from livestock, gardening, hunting or a combination of food sources?

Long term survival plans after SHTF

Barred Rock chickenOne of the common theories in the various survivalist communities is that a family will grab their bug out bags, head to the hills where they will live off the land.

In theory this may sound fine and dandy.

In reality, chances are the family is going to starve to death.

If various humanoids have gone extinct over the past 100,000 years, what makes a family think they can survive with very few primitive survival skills?

The long term survivability of humans is directly related to much much food we can produce, and not how much food we can hunt or gather.  There is a physical limitation to how many miles a person can walk in a day.  There is a physical limitation to how much weight a person can carry.

Primitive tribes were able to overcome some of those obstacles by being in great physical shape and living a hunter-gather lifestyle their entire lives.  How can some couch potato expect to kill a 300 pound hog, then pack that hog 3 or 4 miles back to the camp.

Our sedentary lifestyle in no way compares to the lifestyle of a hunter-gatherer.

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Hunter Gatherer or Farmer Survivalist

SHTF Long Term SurvivalWhat kind of long term survival plans do you have?  Do you plan on bugging out to the wilderness and living a hunter gatherer lifestyle, or do you plan on living the lifestyle of a farmer gardener?

Hunter Gatherer

Our ancestors lived a hunter gatherer lifestyle for hundreds of thousands of years. For some people hunting, gathering roots, gathering berries and fishing the rivers might seem like an attractive lifestyle. I wonder if those types of people are influenced by their genes? Do the survival that plan on bugging out to the wilderness carry more the genetic code for the hunter gatherer lifestyle?

The problem with the hunter gatherer lifestyle, those types of people only plan a few days or weeks ahead of time. Tribes followed the herds along their yearly migration routes. There was little planning – follow the herd, kill something, gather roots, gather berries, catch some fish, follow the herd,,, repeat, as they were required to gather food almost daily. People learned that if they dried meat and fish, or salted the meat and fish it lasted longer. During the Lewis and Clark expedition, the explorers noted that the North American Indians dried their fish to store it during the winter. But man can not live on dried fish alone.

Farming and Gardening

It’s estimated that maybe 7,000 years ago people started adopting the farming and gardening lifestyle over the hunter gatherer lifestyle.

As communities started planting crops, we started thinking in 3 – 4 month periods. People started making calenders, counting the days of the year, planting crops, harvesting seeds, drying crops to save them over the winter, domesticating livestock,,,,,.

People started paying attention to when it was time to work the fields and plant the crops. A few months later its time to harvest the crops and put the crops up for the winter.

After people started planting crops, they found out that they had to stay in the area to take care of the fields.

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Pecan trees

Years ago, homesteads would have pecan trees planted rows in various places around the farm.  Now these trees are reduced to a rarity. If you see an empty field, with a bunch of old pecan trees planted in rows, chances are an old homestead used to be there years ago. The old timers would collect the pecans and eat then through the winter. These are an excellent long lasting, easily store able food.

If you ever eat a fresh pecan, you will realize how nasty the packaged pecans from the store really are. Home made pecan pie is hard to beat. Well, you can not beat it.

The pecans have started falling, so its time to pick em and put em up. The pecan grows inside of a larger shell. The shell splits open and the pecan will fall out.

These pictures were taken at a local fair. The county court house (where the fair was held) has close to 2 dozen big pecan trees around it.

Fertilize pecan trees in the early spring with 13-13-13 around the outside edge of the limbs – also known as the “Drip Line.” Or spread some manure around the drip line instead of commercial fertilizer.

Post your comments in this forum thread about Pecan Trees.

Food sources in a post apocalyptic world

Lets discuss food sources in a post apocalyptic world after SHTF.  Survivalist have a wide range of ideas on how to get food in a post apocalyptic world.  Some of these ideas cover everything from living a hunter-gather lifestyle, to living off of food stocks until society recovers, to farming and gardening.   Lets take a look at some of these ideas and make some comparisons.

The plans that each Survivalist has will vary widely depending on actual experience and training.  The plans range from the very well thought out and tested plans, to spur of the moment ideas.

Lets set the tone for this article – a new virus has developed that has a 90% fatality rate.  This is like what the Black Death was in 1348 – 1350, where 1/3 of Europe died.   Society has broken down to the point where no food or fuel supplies are being shipped.  People will not leave their homes except to find food – which gets more difficult to find.  Finally, people have to do “something” so they do not starve to death.

One survivalist approach is to Bug Out to the wilderness and live off the land – this is also called the “Bug Out Bag” theory.  In the event of a world wide disaster, the survivalist is going to grab their Bug Out Bag, then take their family out to the wilderness to live off the land.

This is reminiscent of prehistoric man living a hunter-gather subsistence lifestyle. There are several problems with this situation:

  • There is no support chain – if you need help, your own your own.
  • Very few people have the skills to live a hunter-gather lifestyle.
  • People have difficulty adjusting to sudden changes in their lifestyle.
  • Deforestation has destroyed a lot of native edible plants.
  • A lot of wild edible plants are seasonal.
  • Unsafe drinking water – people that adhere to the Bug Out Bag theory, underestimate the effects of water borne pathogens, as their primary source of water will be from streams, lakes or rivers.
  • At the mercy of the weather – rain or shine, hot or cold, your just gonna have to tough it out.

To a lot of people, these points do not matter. If Homo Erectus, Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon and early Homo Sapiens could survive for tens of thousands of years with simple stone tools, then so can they.

Bug out bag theorist forget – once agriculture was developed, the hunter-gather lifestyle was abandoned. Why expend so much energy hunting and gathering food, when it can be grown?

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