Homesteading and Survivalism

Living a simple life

Tag: homesteading

Uncle Sam Wanted You to Raise Chickens

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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

I often wonder how the typical city dweller would act if the grocery store shelves were empty? How would society react if the government started rationing food like what happened in World War II?

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The Life Of Chickens

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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.

Chickens can learn rather quickly.

If you have a spare hour to watch the video, please take the time to do so.

Free Range Meat Chicken

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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.

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.

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Moving Debris At The Farm

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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.

The 4-wheel drive capability of the Mahindra 4530 tractor is what saved the day. Some of the tree trunks that had to bee moved would have stopped a 2-wheel drive tractor in its tracks. The grapple allowed the debris to be stacked, rather then just pushed together.

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Another Work Day

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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.Stihl chainsaw on pine tree stump

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.


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Cheap Chicken Leg Bands

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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 off the circulation.

If you want to keep track of the chickens age, then use different colors:

Black for 2013

White for 2014

Yellow for 2015

,,, and so on.

Use red to mark chickens that have bad habits that you may want to cull.

Tools For Homestead Cleanup Day

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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

Wedge

Machete

Chains for pulling logs with the truck

Files – for sharpening axe and chainsaw

Work gloves

Ruger 10/22 for snakes

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

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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.

Instead of building a new coop, I am thinking about building in leanto around the existing coop. The chickens would use the existing coop for roosting, then they would have the leanto for when the weather gets bad, or they need some shade.

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From Bullets To Fence Post

From Bullets To Fence Post
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Just as times change, so must survivalist adapt and change.  There comes a point when one project is finished, and its time to start another one.  My life has reached such a point.

If you have been following my youtube channel and this blog, we have covered fishing, gardening, running trotlines, juglines, camping,,, just all kids of stuff.  Now its time to move to the biggest project of my life.  That project is getting back to basics.

It is time to stop buying bullets, and to start putting down fence post.

For the price of 100 rounds Federal 223 Remington, that would almost pay for the chicken yard gate.

Which one would better serve my family, another 100 rounds of 223, or a larger chicken yard?  I have plenty of 223, but my chickens need more room.

Would it be better to buy ammunition, or put down a septic system at the homestead?

It would be nice to have unlimited funds.  But as with most working people I have to decide which project needs attention.

Post your comments, suggestions and questions below.

Five Gallon Chicken Waterer

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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.

Chickens In Wintertime

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Raising chickens for a long term survival situationIn 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.

Part of my long term SHTF survival plan includes having a self-sustaining chicken flock. In a previous thread we talked about how many chickens a family may need for a TEOTWAWKI event.

My wife and I have a small flock of 13 hens:

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.

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Dividing Resources In Your Long Term Survival Plans

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Maybe “dividing resources in your long term survival plans” is a good title for this article. But its all I could think of at the time.

Like a lot of people my wife and I have limited resources. We are just everyday middle class people trying to get by. Just like everyone else we pay our taxes, pay the electric bill, internet, health insurance,,,,. Once everything is paid we try to decide how to save money.

The issue we are running into, my wife and I are looking at moving away from Jasper Texas to a rural area. Jasper is already rural, but we want to get further away from town.

We need to put a water well on the land, sewer system, build a chicken yard,,, and a few ether odds and ends to get our new life started.

Then came the Adam Lanza incident and renewed calls for an assault rifle ban.

I am finding myself pulled into some of the panic buying. There was a short period of time between the shooting and Dianne Feinstein calling for more gun control and prices going through the roof. During that short time period I picked up another AR-15 for less then $1,000.

A gun store has some AR-15s for $1,300 each. As I consider buying another AR while I still can, I keep thinking about what that $1,300 could pay for at the homestead. We could probably put down a septic system for between $1,500 and $2,000.

But then again, we are not looking at a ban on septic systems.

When you have X amount of resources, and two projects that need funding, how do you decide which is the best long term investment.

I see the AR-15s as an investment into security for my family and my property.

But then again, if all I wanted is a firearm, I already have those bases covered.

Will a new assault rifle ban really ban military type weapons?

For those of you old enough to remember the 1994 – 2004 ban, all the assault rifle ban did was affect the appearance of the rifle. Companies were still making AR-15s, just without a bayonet lug and flash hider. I currently own a Bushmaster XM-15 that was made in the assault rifle ban. The only difference between my old AR and the new AR, is the flash hider and a bayonet lug.

I might buy the other AR, then after the first of the year focus on getting moved.

What do I “really” want in life? To live in peace and quiet.

I want my chickens to be able to scratch through the leaves, roam around looking for food, to live as chickens are supposed to live.

I want to be able to sit on the back deck and listen to the win blowing through the trees.

Buying another AR-15 does not help me obtain that goal. All that rifle will do is help me protect what is mine.

Forum Thread – Dividing Resources

Selecting A Chicken Breed

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Wondering what is the best chicken breed for your flock is? Victoryfarm made an outstanding video about some of the chicken breeds they raise.

Some of the chickens discussed in the video:

Barred Rocks
Rhode Island Reds
Hybrids

My experiences with the Barred Rocks and rhode Island Reds have been opposite of his. My Rhode Island Reds seem to be a little more fussy then my Barred Rocks.

Both of my Barred Rocks are pretty tame, and only 1 of my Rhode Island Reds is tame.

I have raised Barred Rocks twice, and both times they have been hardy during the winter time.

This is my first time raising Rhode Island Reds, but so far I like them. My grandmother raised a lot of Rhode Islands when my dad was a kid.

Raising Backyard Chickens

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Interested in raising backyard chickens? Cookingupastory posted an great video that covers some of the basics.

I like how Naomi Montacre, co-founder of Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply gives a clear description on each of the topics.

Some of the topics includes:

Eggs and egg production
Chicken lifespan
Pullets
Brooder box
Food and water

Source Of Fresh Meat After SHTF

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What is your long term plan for fresh meat after SHTF?  Do you plan on hunting, trapping or raising your own?  What about a combination of all three?

This article is going to focus on 4 sources of fresh meat – chickens, pigs, goats and rabbits.

Chickens

In a previous article we discussed how many chickens would you need for SHTF.  If you have not read that article, please do so. Here is a recap of the important information.Fresh yard eggs

Lets start with 10 people in our group, now lets estimate that those 10 people will be eating 2 eggs a day, which equals at least 20 eggs a day.

During the winter time egg laying can drop after a cold front passes through, or while the hen is molting.

For the sake of discussion, lets use my lowest egg count of 3 eggs from 13 hens. The 3 eggs were laid after a cold front passed through, and the hens were around 9 – 10 months old.

7 X 3 = 21 eggs.

7 X 13 = 91 chickens.

91 chickens is a lot.

Now lets go with my average egg count of 5 eggs a day from my 13 chickens for the month of December 2012.

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