Another weekend of cleaning up the homestead has come and gone. This weekend I focused on hauling scrap iron to the local recycler, picking up trash and cutting down some trees to make room for a pole barn.
For those of you following this blog, yall know some of my family members, and their friends, used a piece of the homestead as a landfill. They did not have permission to dump trash in a washed out area, they just did it. Most of the stuff is glass, metal and plastic.
My brother has a tractor with a grapple on the front it, which is what we used to pull a lot of trash out of the hole. Now that the trash is in a pile on flat ground, it’s time to sort through it and dispose of the trash properly.
When we first started cleaning out the hole we started loading various pieces of scrap on the trailer. This weekend right off the bat the first load was ready to go. The scrap metal on the trailer was a mixture of wire, box fan, washing machine,,, and a few other things.
Here in Jasper Texas on hwy 190 east we have a metal recycler. Which is where I have brought 2 trailer loads of scrap iron so far.
To make room for a shed a pole barn some small trees needed to be removed. The logger did not cut these trees, so I had to do it by hand.
Lets talk about a good breed of meat chicken for the homestead that does well on free range.
For the sake of discussion lets say that some kind of SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation has happened. Whether its some kind of new SARS virus, wide spread civil unrest, nuclear war with China, hurricane, blizzard,,, something has happened to disrupt food shipments.
You go out to the chicken coop, survey the flock for dinner, what kind of chickens would you see? Did you focus on egg production, meat production, or both? Did you buy hens that go broody, or did you go with breeds that do not go broody? If you butcher a hen, will it be replaced?
What are some of the traits we are looking for? Lets start with heritage breeds that have a proven track record of over 100 years. The older the breed the better.
Lets look for chickens that weigh at least 6 – 7 pounds before processing, because do we really want to butcher 2 or 3 small hens for a single meal? We want a hen that can go broody, is a good mother, raise her chicks for the next generation, is a good forager and will feed a family of 4.
Dominique – There are lot of other breeds out there that are larger and lay more eggs, but, how can we argue against a chicken that has fed America since the colonial days?
The Dominique is a result of chickens that were brought to the new world by early settlers. It is considered Americas first true chicken breed.
During the last trip to the homestead we focused on thinning trees. The largest and healthiest trees were flagged so they would not be cut, the smaller trees and underlying brush were thinned out.
On February 1st and 2nd we focused on cutting tree stumps down to ground level so the heavy equipment can get in there next weekend. This part of the land has been used was an makeshift family trash dump back in the early 1980s. Most of the stuff dumped in this location is scarp metal, tin, hot water heater, cans,,, stuff like that.
Now for the rest of the story.
February 1 – Started off like any other day. My wife and I got up around 6:30am, got our shower, got dressed and headed out the door. On this Friday I had the day off work. so instead of going to work, I headed to the homestead for another kind of work.
On the way out my wife, my daughter and I stopped by the Shell station at the corner of Hwy 63 and FM 777. We were thinking about going by the donut shop, but decided to stop by the shell station. The store sells breakfast sandwiches and breakfast biscuits that are freshly made. I got a breakfast sandwich with sausage, egg, cheese. To wash breakfast down I got a low-carb monster energy drink.
One of the things I wanted to do Friday morning was to try and burn a pine tree stump. I had an idea how things were going to go, I just wanted to burn the stump to say I tried.
Some people build coops with either a wooden floor, or pour a cement slab. Due to the cost of having a wooden floor and the cost of pouring cement, I am going with a bare earth floor. Also, a bare earth floor is natural to the chickens. This is the way chickens have been raised for thousands of years. My option is to either build a pole barn, or build a leanto chicken coop. At the current time I am leaning towards a pole barn.
Issues that need to be addressed: Square footage, security, food, water, lighting and laying boxes.
Square Footage – Its recommended that each chicken have at least 3 square feet inside the coop. For example, 30 chickens multiplied by 3 square feet equals 90 square feet.
In another article we discussed how many chickens are needed for SHTF. In that article we talked about having as many as 60 – 80 laying hens. Lets go with a high number of 80 chickens. 80 X 3 = 240 square feet.
Keep in mind 3 square feet is a bare minimum. The more space chickens have, the better. When chickens are packed together, they get bored and will start fighting and pecking each other.
The pole barn I am looking at building provides 192 square feet, which is 12 feet wide and 16 feet long.
The local building supply stores sell metal roofing in 8 and 12 foot long sections. Two pieces 12 feet long will be enough to do one end. Four pieces 8 feet long will be enough to do one side. This way the metal does not have to be cut to size and there is no scrap material left over.
One of the big issues we are having to deal with is having a water well put in at the homestead. To have one professionally drilled is going to cost at least $5,000. That $5k number is a low ball estimate. If the driller has any issues then the price could easily go to $6,000 or $7,000.
Another option is to drill the well ourselves.
Then comes the question if we want a submersible pump, air pump, or some kind of lift pump that pulls the water to the surface.
Submersible pumps can be expensive, and they do not work without electricity.
Using air to pump water out of the well is cost effective, and it works without electricity. If you “had” to, a bicycle air pump could be used to push water out of the well, or even a 12 volt car/truck air pump. In a worse case situation use a 12 volt battery and a 12 volt air pump to pump water out of the well.
The typical water well that most people think of has lift limitations as in it can not lift water past a certain depth, and it does not work without electricity.
I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. My wife and I want to move in April 2013, but having a water well drilled could put us back another 5 – 6 months. So what do we do?
drop 1 1/4 inch well point to bottom of well (for outlet pipe),
back fill with gravel to create buffer between soil and well point,
build a well head for air input and water output,
install water storage tank next to well head,
use water pump to pump water to home.
When I was living in Orange Texas this was the setup my wifes grandfather was running, and it worked well.
The storage tank had a float to tell the air compressor when to come on. The compressor turned on, pushed water out of the well and into the storage tank. The water pump then pumped the water to the home.
We had two homes running off this system, and not a single time did the well go dry. the 250 gallon storage tank acted like a buffer between the homes and the water well.
Sink the well then build a storage building around the well head. The shed will contain and protect the air compressor and water pump from the elements. Install the storage tank outside the shed under a leanto.
Worse comes to worse, a pitcher pump would be installed on the well head. Since the well head will be inside a shed, we can pump water when the weather is bad.
How viable are your long term SHTF survival plans? That is a question I kept asking myself while a buddy of mine and I were talking. The discussion was about water, livestock, food storage,,, just your basic stuff. In reality, how viable are those plans for a complete collapse of society?
There is an old saying, “plan for the worst and hope for the best.” My TEOTWAWKI survival plans are based off of a complete collapse scenario – no water, food, electricity or fuel from the outside world.
One way I am looking at arranging my farm is like a medieval farm, that is the only way I know how to describe it. The goal is to supply our own water and food, but in a primitive format. Today it would be called organic gardening.
The first issue we have to address is water. Without safe drinking water life as we know it can not exist.
The plain is to have a well drilled, and to have an electric water pump put on the well.
For when the power goes out I want a pitcher pump to manually pump the water.
Having the well dug requires a rather large financial investment. We are talking in the $5,000 or more range.
There is a stream which runs on the edge of the property. But, people live up stream from homestead. When you have people or livestock up stream, then the water must be made safe to drink. Even though I would not give the water from the stream to my grandkids to drink, I am considering the stream as a source of water for my chickens.
After my wife and I get moved to the homestead, we are looking at increasing our chicken flock from 13 hens, to somewhere around 25 hens, and then 30 hens the following year.
One of the issues I will need to deal with is how to make sure all of the chickens have access to fresh water in these Texas summers. During July and August daytime temps can reach the upper 90s and low 100s, with night lows staying above 90 degrees.
This video shows how to make a chicken waterer out of a 5 gallon bucket, and some nipples.
I could hang a couple of 5 gallon buckets in the coop, with 2 or 3 nipples on the bottom of each bucket.
Now that the loggers are finished, we can get a survey of how things look. So today my wife and I made a trip to the homestead. Man oh man, what a mess. Its not that the loggers left a mess, its the tree limbs that have to be removed before the logs can be hauled.
There are tree tops that had to be cut off before the trunks can be hauled.
A couple of the pine trees were forked at the top, so the fork had to be removed.
The top of a sweet gum tree is laying in a field, it needs to be cut up and burned.
Now that some of the trees and brush have been cleared out, I can get a good idea of how large the chicken yard can be. Why should I pay so much attention to stuff like the chicken yard? Because chickens and other small livestock are part of my long term SHTF survival plans.
Using a 25 foot tape measure, my wife and I were able to estimate the chicken yard to be 25 feet wide and 50 feet long. Which equals 1,250 square feet.
After my wife and I get moved, we want to increase our flock size to around 24 hens and a rooster. Lets go ahead and say 25 chickens.
In this article I hope to talk about how my chickens are doing in the winter time. All of the hens were bought as chicks within two weeks of each other. The first chickens were bought on the last weekend of February 2012, the next batch were bought the first week of March. The final batch were bought around March 7th or 8th, 2012.
4 – Rhode Island Reds
2 – Silver Laced Wyandotte
2 – Barred Rocks
2 – Australorps
2 – Black Jersey Giants
1 – Speckled Sussex
My observations are based off a rather small sample size, so we will have to take part this thread with a grain of salt. When my wife and I get moved to the homestead, we plan on adding 12 – 13 Dominickers.
As the flock size increases, the sample size increases. Hopefully next year I will be able to provide a article with a larger sample size.
My wife and I made a trip to the homestead this morning (December 15, 2012) to look at the land after some of the timber has been cut. Now that some of the brush, pine trees and sweet gums have been cleared out, we can get a better idea of how everything is going to work out.
If you have not read the first part of this homesteading series, please take the time to do so.
The first design of the garden and chicken yard called for the chicken yard to be divided in half, and placed directly behind the house. The chickens would be switched between the two yards, with one year in each section. While the chickens were using one area, I would be using the other as a garden.
After thinking about the water requirements of the garden and the chickens, wind direction, and the amount of time and effort to build the fence,,, I decided to scrap the plan and start over.
This is part 2 of a moving to the Homestead series. See this link for part 1.
Where do you want to be in 10 years, how about 20 years? That question is not about financial stability, or your career, where do you want to be physically in 10 years, what do you want your life to be like?
I want peace and quiet in my life. I want a back porch where I can grill some steaks, listen to the wind blowing through the trees, hear the chickens,,, and that is all I want to hear, except maybe some music.
I want a small garden that my wife and I can get fresh food from.
I want my chickens to be able to free range as much as they want, because happy chickens lay plenty of eggs.
Where do I want to be next year (2013)? I want to be living in peace and quiet. But first, my wife and I have to get there.
One of the things that has to be taken care of before we are able to put a house on the land, is some of the timber has to be cleared. As much as I despise cutting trees, we have to make room for a home. Not only room for a home, but the fence rows need to be cut.
Nobody has lived at the Homestead full time since the late 1970s, which was when my grandmother passed away. Mom and dad moved from the Jasper Texas area in the late 1970s and have lived in Bridge City for the past 35 years.
A couple of weeks ago I posted an article – Long Term Survival Project for 2013. I that article we talked about some of my previous projects, and that I was thinking about rabbits as my 2013 project.
After putting a lot of thought in rabbits, I think building some bee hives would be a better idea.
Why would honey bees be a better project then rabbits? Both have their good and bad qualities, so lets talk about them.
Rabbits produce manure that can be used as fertilizer. But on the flip side, you have to feed rabbits.
Bees produce honey. You do not have to feed bees. You have to supply the colony with sugar water until the hive gets established. Once the hive is established, it is self-supportive.
Honey can be stored forever.
You have to have a cage for rabbits.
You have to have a bee hive for honey bees.
Rabbit makes a better meal then honey.
Honey can be used as an antibiotic.
Honey is an excellent barter item.
Rabbits are a good barter item.
Honey and rabbits are both universally recognized as food.
The bee hive can be raided by predators.
The rabbit coop can be raided by predators.
Rabbits are substitutable to mosquito-borne infections.
Long Term Goal
My long term goal is to have both rabbits and honey bees. So I might work on both projects during 2013. Neither project is going to take a “lot” of time or resources. So why not try to do both next year?
Readers of this blog, what do yall think?
If I work on the bee hive I am going to build a top bar bee hive.
What chicken breeds are best for a long term SHTF survival situation? Most breeds are good foragers, but we want something that would make a good meat chicken, good layer, good breeder, is friendly with other chickens and deals with confinement well.
Chickens are an excellent livestock choice for SHTF / TEOTWAWKI. Eggs are a good source of protein, fats and essential amino acids. Chicken meat is a good source of protein. Chickens can be let out out of the chicken coop during the day, and they will return to the coop at night. Which is unlike other livestock that will wonder off if let out of their pen.
My suggestions are the Barred Rock (which is part of the Plymouth Rock family), Rhode Island Red and the Australorp.
The Plymouth Rock is a dual-purpose (for meat and egg production), cold-hardy chicken that makes a well-rounded choice for the homestead or backyard flock owner. The Plymouth Rock is the family that the Barred Rock belongs to.
Barred Rock are usually friendly, easy to tame, hens are not usually aggressive.
The Barred Rock lays a large light to medium brown egg. On average, a healthy hen will lay 3 – 4 eggs a week, which equals to 156 – 208 eggs a year.
The Barred Rock is a cold hardy chicken. During the winter some chickens stop laying. The Barred Rock lays eggs through the winter, but in a decreased capacity.
Hen weight – 6 – 7.5 pounds
Rooster weight – 7.5-9.5 pounds
The Barred Rock is a good forager who will seek out its meals. When given the chance, they will explore fields and tree lines looking for food.
The time has come to move to a rural area, get the farm setup with a garden and livestock. My wife I currently live about 4 miles outside Jasper Texas. Its time to move ever further away from town.
With the way this nation is heading, families need to be looking at how they are going to afford to buy food and provide basic essentials for their families. One example, my wife and I buy canned refried beans to make homemade burritos with. In the past 2 years the price of the canned beans has gone up almost 20%. I bet your wages have not gone up 20% in that same amount of time. The price of ground meat has gotten terrible. Pork chops used to be cheap, and now they cost a pretty penny.
At 44 years old I am getting too old to go back to school to retrain for a new career. Instead of waiting until the last minute to make my retirement plans, I want to start 20 – 25 years ahead of time.
This morning my wife and I made a trip to the farm, took some measurements and talked about what we wanted to do. The main things we wanted to focus on were shelter, food, water and sewage. These are the basic essentials that anyone would need during a long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI survival situation.
Click the image to enlarge
On the left side of the property is a wilderness area owned by a local timber company. Due to the way the terrain is laid out, nobody will ever be able to build there.
Description of the above image
A – Fence line is not the actual property line; I wanted enough room to drive a truck or bushhog between the house and garden and the fence line. A basic my wife and I started with was 10 feet. This should give us enough room to drive all the way around the garden and house.