Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Tag: homesteading

Prepping plans for 2015

Here are mine.

Install solar panels on the chicken house.

Wire chicken house for 12 volt lights.

Plant some more apple trees.

Plant some more blueberry bushes. Some of the blueberry bushes will be in the chicken yard.

Plant a pear tree in the chicken yard. This will be for chicken feed and for my family to eat.

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.

All Of The New Chickens Are Gone

Chicken flock November 23 2014

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.

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.

Planting potatoes for 2014 garden

Growing potatoes

If you plan on gardening during a long term SHTF event, the potato is one of your best friends. Not only are potatoes easy to grow, but they also store well, are easy to cook with, and any remaining potatoes at the end of the year can be replanted for next years crop.

Unlike a lot of crops that require special storage, such as canning and/or drying, just keep potatoes dry and in a cool dark place and they will store for close to a year.

Small potatoes can be eaten straight out of the ground. Larger ones can be baked, boiled, mashed, or made into a soup.

Potatoes grow well in loose soil free from rocks, sticks, tree roots and other obstructions. Work the soil with a tiller, plow, disk,,, something that will break the soil up. Make the rows, add fertilizer, I like to mix the fertilizer into the soil using a tiller, then plant the seed potatoes. Plant the seed potatoes about 3 inches deep and about 12 – 18 inches apart.

Buying land for a bug out location

In the forum there is a thread about what makes a good bug out location.

For the sake of discussion let’s say you want to buy a piece of land for a small farm that could double as a bug out location.

This would be a weekend getaway for you and your family. A place off the beaten path where you and your family can go to relax. And also a place where you and your family can stockpile survival gear for a long term SHTF situation.

If you were going to buy such a place what qualities would you look for? In this article I hope to talk about some of the stuff someone interested in buying a bug out location may look for. Keep in mind these are suggestions and food for thought, and not necessarily requirements.

Bug Out Location

Clearing More Timber At The Farm

Before and after pics of the timber that was cleared

Clearing timber sounds boring. Some of my readers may be wondering why I posting a video about this, much less an article. I went out and cut some trees, so what?

In the prepping / survivalist community there is this common misconception that if SHTF there is a farm in the family that has not been used in 40 (or more years) that the family is going to use as a bug out location. With a few days of hard work the farm can be up and running in a matter of days.

To bring this common survivalist plan to reality I am documenting what it takes to bring a farm that has not been used in 40 years up to speed.

If all you want to do is breakup the soil and plant some seeds, then yea, it may only take a few days. But if you want to rebuild the fences, have boards to build a chicken coop out of, have fence post, firewood,,, have a working farm with livestock, then you will need to cut timber.

Meat Production After SHTF

There are all kinds of articles out there talking about meat after SHTF. You want to know what is missing in a lot of those articles? Exact details.

Awhile back we talked about how many chickens would be needed for SHTF. I would like to do this article in the same manner as the chicken article.

Lets start with one very important question, and that is how much meat does the average person eat? To find the answer lets turn to the US census.

Per Capita Consumption of Major Food Commodities

Average US meat consumption in 2009:

Commodity Weight / Number
Red Meat, includes beef, veal, lamb and pork. 105.7 pounds
Poultry, includes chicken and turkey. 69.4 pounds
Eggs 246 eggs

For right now lets exclude eggs and focus on red meat and poultry. We will talk about eggs later.

Uncle Sam Wanted You to Raise Chickens

There was once a time when Uncle Sam (the U.S. Government) wanted people to raise chickens. This was especially true in times of war when our troops needed food.

Unfortunately those days are far behind us. If a city dweller tried to raise chickens today, they would probably be sued by the city and forced to get rid of the flock.

What does that say about us as a nation when we turn away from time honored traditions of raising our food, only to become dependent on a grocery store?

Uncle sam wants you to raise chickens

The Life Of Chickens

Over the past year and a half I have read and watched a lot of videos about chickens. This the best video I have seen about chicken behavior.

From a survivalist point, the video talks about a lot of important points. It is estimated mankind domesticated the chicken about 8,000 years ago. There has to be something that has allowed mankind and chickens to thrive together.

During World War II eggs were rationed. “If” we ever go to war with a major world power, do you want to be on the rationing end, or do you want to have fresh meat and eggs?

In England, it was not until the 1950s that chicken became a staple food. People are more rabbit then chicken.

Selective breeding has improved certain traits.

Free Range Meat Chicken

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?Barred Rock chicken

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.

Moving Debris At The Farm

After several weeks of having to manhandle debris while cleaning up the homestead, we finally got some heavy equipment on location. The tractor we were able to get was a Mahindra 4530 4-wheel drive with a grapple, bucket and brush hog.

The main goals for this weekend include – get the brush piled up, clean out the hole that had been used as a trash dump and clear out various small brush.

Piling Up Brush

Mahindra 4530 4-wheel drive tractorA couple of weeks ago a buddy of mine, my son and I thinned out a bunch of small trees. Instead of pulling the trees to the burning pile like we did the day before, the trees were pulled into an opening so they could be pushed by a tractor.

While the loggers where cutting the timber, they left a rather large mess in a 2 acre field directly across from where the house is going.

Besides piling up the trees that had been thinned out a couple of weeks ago, the debris left by the loggers also need to be piled up. For one pile the operator of the Mahindra 4530 used the bucket to push the trees together. On the other pile, the bucket was replaced with a grapple. the trees were pushed, pulled, lifted,,, and whatever else it took to get the debris cleaned up.

Cheap Chicken Leg Bands

Leg bands allow the flock owner to mark certain chickens for easy identification. The problem with metal bands, a tool is needed to put them on and take them off, and the bands may not be widely available.

Instead of using metal bands, why not use cable ties?

Cable ties can be found at just about any hardware store. To put the cable tie on all you need is a pair of wire cutters to cut the slack off.

Leave enough slack so the cable tie will not cut into the chickens leg.

Tools For Homestead Cleanup Day

Old metal bathtub to be hauled off

In the next few weeks some of my family members and some of my friends are meeting at the homestead for a cleanup day. The area we are cleaning up has not been used in close to 30 years. During that time various family members dropped off unwanted trash, such as a hot water heater, large box fan, tin, fence wire,,, and other odds and ends.

Pine trees, sweet gum and oak trees have been growing in this same area.

We have three things to take care of – clean the brush out, cut some small trees down and pull the metal trash out so it can be hauled to the recycler.

Stihl chainsaw with 18 inch bar

Chainsaw fuel and bar oil

Axe

Splitting maul

8 pound sledge hammer

Machete

Chains for pulling logs with the truck

Files – for sharpening axe and chainsaw

There is an oak tree down in the back of the field. The plan is to cut a 2 feet section of the trunk for a chopping block.

As we cut down some of the small pine trees, they will be cut into sections that can be split and thrown on the fire. Split wood burns better then non-split wood.

Issues With Increasing Chicken Flock Size

Awhile back we talked about how many chickens would be needed for SHTF. We came up with a low number of 30 chickens, and a high number somewhere around 70 – 80. At the present time my wife and I have 13 hens.

In the next few months my wife and I are planning on moving to the homestead. Once we get moved, our chicken flock will be increased from 13 hens, to around 25 hens. There are a couple of problems we need to address before we get more chickens, such as – having enough room on the coop, access to feed and access to water.Homestead chicken coop design

Coop Size

The current coop size provides each chicken with 3.69 square feet. If the flock is doubled, that gives each chicken 1.84 square feet. 1.84 square feet is not enough room.

I do not want to rebuild the coop. My wife and I put too much time, effort and money into building it the first time, I do not want to build it a second time.

Page 2 of 41234
Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018