Best Animals to Hunt During SHTF Host: Highlander “Survival & Tech Preps “ Audio in player below! As with most topics we have a lot of what if’s? Food storage with preppers is a big deal and we think we have enough. We prepare for so long the amount we think we’ll need, but alas … Continue reading Best Animals to Hunt During SHTF
So those of you who are on my facebook may know that I recently got a new job- a full time every day job…..and because it is right before the Master’s Golf Tournament (very big here) the State Park where I was working on weekends is going to be full the whole week of Master’s and even though I am not obligated to stay (they make us sign a paper saying so when we take the job), I could not just leave them without anyone working the weekends through the week of the Master’s so I have agreed to keep working weekend until they find someone…..
….anyway, that isn’t what this post is about. The post is about the little brown hen that is loose in my yard who stole a little nest for herself right in plain sight in my back shed by the old rabbit pens. It was under where I lean our hoes, shovels and rakes so she had a fairly safe spot…or so she thought anyway.
I had no idea how long she had the nest but she had sat on it for quite a while and I knew she must be getting close.
I went to my weekend job at the Park…and when I got home Phil had the little brown hen in a separate pen and it looked like she had been attacked and had a broken leg. Normally I would have put her down but she had that little nest and I knew they had to be close to hatching so I put her on her nest and hoped for the best. Came home the next day and she was still on the nest and she was clucking whenever the dog came to close to her. Came home the next day and she was still on the nest and I heard peeping and went to lift her gently off the nest, and found she was dead.
Her eggs, however weren’t, but they were cool and I needed to do something. When I picked them up I found several of them were pipped. I took them inside and put a damp paper towel in a bowl and put the eggs in it under the brooder light. Normally for eggs to hatch in an incubator you need humidity to keep it moist enough so the chicks don’t dry out and get stuck in their shells so I kept adding water to the paper towel from time to time, hoping I could keep it moist enough. I had to help the last two a little but they made it. One egg was never pipped and when I candled it with the light it had not developed. We ended up with four dark brown chicks and two yellow stripped chicks.
I was supposed to go to get chicken wire and a new stapler so that I could fix up some pens so that we could get the older batch of chicks outside. There are too many of them and now that they are older they just don’t fit in the brooder anymore. They need more room! But just before I left I listed my spare roosters on our local yard sale page and had a couple of different people answer it. Then someone messaged me about chicks. I arranged for them to come after I got back from town where I didn’t buy the wire and stapler because I knew if I got rid of the roosters I could move hens around and would have a spare pen.
When I got back the woman came for the chicks. She picked out ten of them to take home with her and then got two of the roosters as well. Great! I made a little money and solved part of the chick problem since she took only from the older chicks.
Later a very nice man and woman came for the other roosters and I sold them two hens too because I do have a whole lot of hens now. This totally emptied out my smaller pen and left one other pen without a rooster at all. I do have two silkie roosters though and they may end up in with those hens which will mean another small pen will be empty. (Yes, chicken musical chairs!).
In other good news… while I was at the store I happened to find haddock on sale. We have not had haddock since we left New England. I have never seen it for sale here but there it was in the seafood case. I got 4 fillets dipped them in milk and breading and baked them tonight along with some macaroni and cheese, veggies and sourdough bread. It was SO good! I hope you all had as good a day and since tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day it is sure to be another good day! 🙂
Is a Family Cow “Worth It”? Host: Austin Martin “Homesteady Live“ Audio in player below! Owning a family cow is a huge responsibility. A recent guest on the Homesteady show (here) compared it to marriage. A cow requires daily care and attention. A family that wants to own a cow will need to be able … Continue reading Is a Family Cow “Worth It”?
Sure it did. Let the hens keep their eggs, we’ll just sell the chicks…..And then three hens got on the huge nest together and 21 days later the chicks started to hatch…and the other two hens that were in the pen….kept laying in the nest…and a few chicks hatched one day…and then a few more the next and then a few more….
I advertised them on the local Sale facebook pages….and no one responded….no one at all…and the chicks keep coming…
And I set up a second brooder because there were just too many in the first one….
There are now 32 chicks. Some of them are getting rather big. I think I’ll make a sign and advertise on a few more sale sites…and hope.
I have seen a lot of postings on the 1000 chicks left in a field. It is not the first time it has happened and I am sure it won’t be the last. Someone on one of these postings said they were sure now that the chicks had gotten “chilled” that they would surely all die. I think that is very unlikely, though I am sure some of them will, but most of those chicks were still standing, moving and peeping and I am sure once they are warm again, they will be fine. A thousand chicks all together can make an awful lot of body heat as well.
Anyway, I wanted to tell you a story about a chick I had hatch yesterday (Yes, I know I said I wasn’t going to let the hens keep any more nests….and I meant that…and it didn’t happen….. . .). I have three very young hens sitting on a huge combined nest in one of my pens. They are having a staggered hatch and because there are still roosters in the pen with them, I am having to get to the chicks before the roosters do because they kill the chicks. Yesterday I had to go shopping and I checked the nest first thing in the morning (before the roosters left their perches) and again before I left and got one chick to put in the brooder. Well, while I as gone apparently another chick was born and the roosters did get to it and pull it out the nest and peck at it. When I came home I found its little body on the ground, all cold and not breathing but because I can never accept things like that I held it and rubbed it and breathed warm air on it and even I was completely amazed when it gave a big gasping breath. So then there was a lot more rubbing and trying to get it warm. I sat on the back steps in the sun and worked on him until he got to breathing with fairly regular breaths. Then we moved into the house and I held him in my hand under the brooder light, after maybe 20 minutes, the chick actually moved around a little and peeped. I got it a clean paper towel and put it on the towel in the brooder but then because he had a wound on his wing, I had to sit there by the brooder and keep the other chicks from pecking at it because chicks tend to peck at anything red. As I sat there the chick steadily improved. It worked on getting its legs under it and peeped whenever the others got near but it took the chick nearly a half hour before it could hold its head up.
A True Homesteader! Host: Bobby “MHP Gardner There is a lot of interest in being self-sufficient these days. People are looking for information on how to grow and store their own food, provide their own meats, go off-grid with solar setups… get out of the system so to speak. We see a lot of these … Continue reading A True Homesteader!
Survival Canines James Walton “I Am Liberty” Audio in player below! Its funny but out of the estimated 8.7 million species on this planet we really have only have one that likes us. Lets be honest. Some people will say they keep birds and other food items as pets but in most cases they are … Continue reading Survival Canines
I then, put the rest of the eggs I collected today in the fridge and we have almost 8 dozen….looks like I may need to do this again tomorrow.
Most of the meat, dairy and egg production in this country comes from monocultures — confinement operations raising only one type of animal. This is said to be “efficient,” and maybe it does make it easier to maximize short-term profits. But polycultures — farms that raise many types of animals and plants — are more resource-efficient and more practical for homesteaders looking to raise healthy food in healthy soil.
Often, waste products from the garden or the animals can supply the needs of other parts of the farm system. Called “farm symbiosis,” this can save lots of money on the homestead – and reduce our waste, too.
I’ll start with the model I know best, the farm I’ve worked for the last 16 years. We grow a big garden and a small orchard as well as goats, chickens, rabbits and pigs. These are all raised in separate spaces, but they use each other’s waste products.
The garden is mostly fertilized with compost, which is rich and quick to break down because it contains plenty of animal manure. Our other main fertilizer is rabbit manure, which we apply directly to the garden beds. Rabbit droppings provide a rich slow-release source of nitrogen and phosphorus, and they don’t burn plants the way other uncomposted manures might. The garden also helps to feed the animals who feed it.
When we have to pick bugs off the garden plants we collect them in a jar and feed them to our hens, who benefit from the protein boost. A substantial part of our rabbits’ diet comes from the garden. We grow carrots, radishes, turnips and kale for them. They also eat cover crops like clover, buckwheat and oats that we plant to keep the soil sheltered and active between crops, as well as nutritious weeds like dandelions, comfrey, purslane, pigweed, chicory, chickweed and prickly lettuce, which we have to clear out of the garden beds anyway.
We keep two goats for milk. During the winter we get just enough milk for our daily use. During the growing season we have a lot more than we need, and sometimes more than we can give away to neighbors. Excess milk goes to the pig. So does some of the vitamin- and protein-rich whey from our cheesemaking. The chickens drink the rest of the whey.
We raise rabbits for meat (and manure, of course). They eat small amounts of store-bought whole grains and large amounts of roots and greens from our garden and pastures. When we butcher rabbits, the offal goes to feed our chickens.
We raise one pig each year as our other meat source. The pig eats milk and whey, spoiled apples from the orchard, and cracked eggs from the chickens as well as store-bought grain. We don’t butcher our own pig, but we ask to have jowls and all organs sent to us; we don’t eat these ourselves but we cook them up and feed them to the chickens.
The chickens get extra protein from all the other animals, as described. They also have constant access to a pile which we start with half-finished compost and weeds from the garden. They tear these up, add nitrogen-rich manure, scratch it in, and produce very rich compost.
Other farmers combine several types of livestock in the same space, although not necessarily at the same time. Joel Salatin has popularized a rotational pasturing system. First, cows are rotated intensively through small segments of the pasture using portable fencing. Then, chickens or turkeys are moved across the same pasture in tractors. The birds break up the cowpats so they’re more of an effective fertilizer. They also eat parasites and eggs which might otherwise re-infest the cattle on their next visit; this provides protein for the chickens as well as protection for the cows.
Grazing multiple species in the same space at the same time also can improve land and animal health. Cows tend to prefer grasses and clover, sheep forbs and weeds, and goats brush and browse. Grazing all three animals on mixed pasture ensures that the different types of plants are eaten back at roughly the same rate so that nothing gets crowded out. (You may sill have to manually remove those plants that nobody wants to eat, like thistle and horse-nettle.)
By raising several different kinds of livestock as well as gardening, homesteaders can greatly reduce the waste we produce and the purchased inputs we need.
What do you raise? How have you learned to generate resources and reuse waste? Write your tips in the section below:
During the growing season it’s easy to pasture livestock, offering them a healthy and varied diet. When the snow flies, though, things get harder.
But even in a Northern winter you can offer your animals fresh greens by sprouting grains indoors. This sprouted grain grass is often called “fodder” — a slightly confusing term since it’s also used generically to mean animal feed.
Many types of animals can benefit from fodder. My family’s meat rabbits live mainly on fodder and root crops through the winter. We’ve also given fodder to our chickens and goats, usually as a supplement rather than the main feed. I’ve read about other farmers who give fodder to their horses, cows, sheep and pigs.
You can buy an expensive ready-to-go fodder system in order to enjoy these benefits. Or you can spend a little bit of time and a very little bit of money and create a fodder system of your own.
What You Need
In theory you could sprout any kind of grain or nutritious seed. In practice, some are easier than others.
Wheat and barley are the most common fodder crops. They’re GMO-free. They also germinate quickly and easily. Speed matters — the faster your fodder grows, the less likely it is to be colonized by mold. We grow wheat because it’s available from our feed mill and because it thrives in our cool, 50-60 degree (Fahrenheit) greenhouse temperatures. I’ve read that barley grows best at around 70 degrees.
For the early stages of sprouting you’ll need watertight containers that are easy to clean and rust-free. We use plastic coffee cans. Cut small slits in the bottoms of nearly half the cans; you’ll need one more solid than slotted cans.
For the later stages you’ll need trays or pans where you can spread your sprouts out in a thin layer and water them. We use 10-inch-x-20-inch plastic nursery trays. These also need notches cut in one end to let the water drain out.
You’ll need some kind of frame or table on which you can spread your trays. Prop the un-slotted ends up slightly so the water will wash through slowly and drain out the slotted ends. Put some kind of gutter (rain gutter or split PVC pipe work well) under the slotted ends; slope it and run it into a bucket.
Feed-store grain may contain a lot of chaff and dust which increase the chances that your fodder will turn moldy unless you take time to winnow your seed before soaking it. Take two large mixing bowls or cooking pots. Put a manageable amount of grain in one. (I find 3 quarts is the most I can winnow effectively at one time by the easy method described below.) Stand outside in a breezy place, or inside in front of a fan. (In the latter case, spread out a tarp or blanket to catch the chaff.) Hold the full bowl at shoulder height and pour its contents slowly into the other bowl. Wipe the dust out of the newly empty bowl, switch the bowls and repeat the process until no more dust and chaff blow out.
Soaking and Rinsing
Soak one day’s worth of grain in room-temperature water inside one of your solid cans. Let it stand for about 12 hours. Then pour it into one of the slotted cans, and set atop a solid can to catch the drips. Start soaking another batch in your solid can. Keep all cans loosely lidded.
Rinse the seeds in your slotted cans twice daily with room-temperature water. In two or three days, when seeds have visibly sprouted, they’ll be ready for spreading.
Spreading and Watering
Gently pour the sprouts out into trays and spread them evenly. (Three cups of dry seed will make enough sprouts to nicely fill a 10-inch-x-20-inch tray.) Set them under grow lights or in a sunny window to encourage quicker growth. Water gently with room-temperature water twice daily until you decide your fodder is grown enough to harvest. We usually feed wheatgrass to our rabbits at day seven or eight. The chickens will eat it at this stage, but they’re also are happy with less-developed fodder that still looks more like sprouted grain than grass.
Feed the whole plant — root, shoot and seed.
Mold is the main threat to fodder systems. Scrub all cans and trays with soap, hot water and bleach between batches of fodder. You also can add a very small splash of bleach to the water in which you soak your seeds for their first 12 hours. Temperature is important. We don’t try to grow fodder during the warm season, and we don’t rinse or water seed with warm water.
We still check each batch before feeding it, looking at the tops and the roots and smelling the whole thing. I’ve read that moldy feed can be fatal to livestock, so be careful.
Have you ever grown fodder? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:
It is no secret that health care is expensive. If you have animals of any kind, then you know that this fact is not limited to health care for humans, as a visit to or from a veterinarian can cost a lot of money.
For homesteaders operating on a shoestring budget, an unplanned livestock vet visit—or even a planned one—can be an undue burden on the finances. The price of treating animals not only can increase the overall cost of meat and dairy, but also can take earmarked money away from crucial projects elsewhere on the farmstead.
While it is unlikely that any farmer can completely avoid veterinary expenditures, the good news is that there are steps which can help mitigate them. Most of these cost-control methods are inexpensive or even free, and are simple to implement.
1. Prevention is key. The best way to avoid paying medical costs is to avoid incurring sickness and injuries. Watch out for broken fences, protruding hardware, and rickety milk stands. Keep adversarial animals separated. Ensure feed quality and maintain sanitation. Use prevention techniques such as practicing diligent biosecurity, testing for communicable diseases, and quarantining questionable animals. It is always easier and cheaper to keep animals safe and healthy than it is to treat them after they become ill or get hurt.
2. Develop a network of like-minded livestock owners. Build a community of neighbors, relatives and fellow homesteaders. Include the people who sold your animals to you. There are often also breed clubs and show groups. Don’t be shy about asking at the feed or farm store—many workers there have a lot of experience with livestock.
Look for online resources, such as trusted go-to websites which are recommended by others. Also, try public resources such as your state’s cooperative extension or universities.
Social media is a great connection, too. I belong to several different regional groups—one strictly for goats, another for general livestock, and a third for farming and homesteading. I also follow national groups that are specific to my breed of goat. All of these offer a wealth of information, education and advice.
If you can ask someone in your network, they might be able to help you monitor and treat the animal on your own instead of paying for treatment. If nothing else, they may be able to rule out a few possibilities up front.
It pays to know when to contact your veterinarian early instead of waiting until things get worse, and a network can help you make that call. I once described my goat’s eye symptoms to a local farmer and she urged me to call the vet immediately—it sounded like pinkeye and the animal could lose the eye if not treated quickly. I followed her advice, and was glad I did.
3. Barter for services (once you have your network in place and have built mutual trust). Dairy goat owners in my area are always ready to help with disbudding, offer advice about parasite prevention, and even show up at two in the morning to assist with a difficult birth—and they expect the same in return.
I’ve driven 15 miles in a snowstorm to help with a friend’s injured goat, and spent an hour on social media walking a stranger through the process of shipping blood test samples off to a laboratory. On the other end of things, I’ve had a dairy farmer drop what he was doing to help me save a dying calf, and a friend diagnose a case of shipping fever on the phone and advise me what to do next.
4. Keep medications and supplies on hand. Having things like bloat relief, blood stop powder, antibiotics and thermometers in your home supply kit will help you deal with emergencies as they arise. If your livestock network gives you solid treatment advice, you need the supplies to follow through. Consider, too, that crises often strike at the worst possible times—on Christmas morning, or in the wee hours during a hurricane. Livestock veterinarians show up anytime, but after-hours care typically comes at a premium. Even if you administer only enough medication and care to tide the animal over to office hours, you can save a bundle.
When you hear of another homesteader wrestling with an animal emergency, take stock of your own supplies that might be helpful and make the offer. In return, they might have what you need someday. I’ve loaned out my microscope and fecal float supplies to a local sheep farm scrambling to control disease, and when one of my goats had a dangerously low temperature, my shepherd friends were quick to suggest and deliver a warm thick coat.
5. Do a lot of procedures yourself. You can learn to administer shots, trim hooves, apply topical medication, neuter, disbud, draw blood, and examine fecal samples. The thought of doing all of that might be intimidating, but not to worry. Acquire the necessary skills for treatments like you would anything else—one step at a time. Learn the easiest thing first, ask people in your network to help with a few others, and call the veterinarian for the rest.
Pick up additional skills by tagging along with people in your network, signing up for classes and demonstrations at fairs and agricultural events, volunteering or apprenticing, and consulting your cooperative extension experts.
6. Know your animals. Not all individuals behave like the textbooks say they will. For example, self-isolating behavior in goats is usually a signal that something is wrong. However, I once had a goat that was just naturally stand-offish and would routinely stand with her face in the corner for no reason. A vet who was on site for other reasons noticed the goat’s behavior and asked about her. Because I knew what was normal for that goat, I was able to assure the veterinarian that it was nothing out of the ordinary. Conversely, an animal might display behavior characteristic of its species or breed but atypical for that individual, alerting you to keep an eye on it.
7. When you do have to call the vet, be ready. Before you make that first call, be prepared with the answers to the questions they are likely to ask. Take the animal’s temperature, notice if it’s eating and drinking and eliminating normally, and have a list of what medications and procedures have already been given. This will make the vet’s job easier, and he or she might be able to give you advice over the phone instead of seeing the animal – thus saving you money.
If the animal does have to be seen, make sure it is ready when the veterinarian arrives. I am always astounded at the television reality show where the vet shows up and has to chase a cow around the pasture before he can treat it. In my region they charge by the minute, and the clock starts ticking the minute they pull into the driveway. I always have the animal caught up, penned, or crated ahead of time.
I expect that most veterinarians do not want to waste your money or their time any more than you do. It has been my experience that they appreciate having clients who are knowledgeable and capable, with whom they can work as a team and trust to follow instructions.
By following these guidelines, you can develop a good working rapport with your veterinarian, ensure that your animals receive excellent attention, and keep your homesteading operation running smoothly. And best of all, in a world where many costs are skyrocketing, you can save money on health care for your animals.
What advice would you add for lowering veterinary costs? Share your tips in the section below:
It is said that cats were domesticated around the time humans learned to farm and store a surplus of grain. The grain attracted rodents, which attracted cats, and it didn’t take long for humans and cats to figure out that they had a lot to offer each other. Some historians also have said that cats were self-domesticating, in that they basically moved in with humans without requiring much effort.
Regardless, cats are as important to the modern homesteader today as they were thousands of years ago. They provide companionship and keep crop-destroying and disease-carrying rodents, but not all cats are created equal. Let’s take a look at the five best cat breeds for the homestead.
1. Maine coons
A classic American breed, the Maine coon is a powerful long-haired cat which is optimized for the cold winters of Maine. Known as “the gentle giant,” these cats can reach up to 30 pounds or so in weight (although many are smaller) and they are extremely intelligent and friendly. If you raise one from a kitten, they can be leash-trained, taught to ride on your shoulder, and more.
Their great advantage on the homestead, aside from being extremely loving and sociable creatures, is that they are rodent-slaughtering machines. My own Maine coon has destroyed much of the rat and mouse population around my house and has moved on to cleaning up the neighbor’s property, as well, much to their delight. This hearty northern breed is pretty much a must-have cat around the homestead or farm, and is perhaps the closest thing to a dog you can get in cuddly cat form.
2. Domestic shorthair
A fancy name for a cat of mixed ancestry with a short coat, these are among the most common housecats you can find. Because of this, you can probably readily adopt an outdoor acclimated domestic shorthair from a shelter (and shelter pets can be some of the most loving and loyal companions you can find). This will give you a natural mouser that is as much at home inside as out. Pick a healthy, stout cat if you want a mouser, or consider an older more mellow (and often overlooked) cat if you want an indoor companion that also can serve as a rodent deterrent.
3. Siamese cats
You’ll want to make sure your Siamese has a companion cat, or that you are home every day to be with it, because this highly sociable (and lethal to rodents) breed will get depressed when alone. Often overlooked as mousers, this ancient breed is more than capable when given the chance, and adds a distinguished touch to any homestead or farm. Consider them if you live in warmer areas where summertime heat could be too uncomfortable for a Maine coon. Siamese are very loyal cats and will often bond with a single person, making another excellent choice for companion and hunter.
4. Japanese bobtail
The traditional cat of Japan, and noted for its prowess in hunting, it is as sociable as it is lethal. Formerly relied upon to protect the silkworm industry from damage by rodents, it is an increasingly popular breed in the United States. Easily identified by its short hair, stumpy little tail, and often popular calico color, this is a breed rich in history that can easily earn a place on your homestead. This is another one that would be great for warmer weather locations due to the short hair, or if you are simply looking for a different sort of cat.
5. Feral cats
While not a breed, but a type, consider that there are many feral cats which are trapped, spayed or neutered and then released again. These are cats that have already learned how to survive outside and may only ask for a warm, dry place to sleep (like your barn or shed) and a regular supplemental diet of cat food to keep healthy and in good shape. Sometimes these are cats that once had a regular home and were abandoned, and will readily adapt to living with people again. Talk to your local animal shelter or rescue if you think having a couple of relocated feral cats is a good choice.
Picking a Cat
While it is easy to say “breed X or breed Y” is a good mouser, and I am certainly proud of the hunting instincts of my Maine coon, the fact is any cat is a hunter, and the behavior is learned from the mother. While it is a given that any cat that has had to fend for itself is likely to be a skilled hunter, you will want a cat that shows classic stalking and hunting behavior and treats toys like prey animals instead of simply something squeaky and fun.
Once you get a mouser or two for the homestead, you need to remember a few other things. De-worm them every six months and consider getting some basic medication like painkillers and antibiotics from your vet in case of an injury, especially if you live in a rural or off-grid setting, where proper medical care can be hours or more away. Cats are stoic little creatures and rarely show pain when injured, but still deserve the best care we can give them.
If your cat is going to be an outdoor cat, make sure it has a safe, warm and dry place to sleep, and give them food, because there is no guarantee that rodents alone will supply enough daily calories to keep them healthy. If your cat comes and goes inside and out as it pleases, then you’ve got the best of both worlds right there. And, of course, an indoor-only cat makes a marvelous companion and can take care of any odd rodents that might get inside.
Cats are wonderful creatures and have been living and working alongside human beings for thousands of years. There is no reason not to have a couple around your homestead doing what they do best: killing the rodents that want to steal the fruits of your labor. And all they ask for is a place to sleep, some extra food, and a kind scratch around the ears. Seems like a good trade to me.
What is your favorite cat breed? Share your tips in the section below:
Winter, in most parts of the US, is never a good time for animals. It’s cold and often wet, the days are short, and fresh grass is non-existent. It’s no wonder that milk production may slow down a bit.
For example, cows get stressed when it’s cold, and they don’t produce as much milk as cows that are comfortable. Routines change, it’s colder, the food is different, there are many factors that stress your cow, but the number one stressor is cold.
We talked about how to get more eggs. This time, let’s see what to do to boost your dairy cows and keep the milk coming in the freezing winter days!
1. Have Your Cows in Good Condition
Before winter sets in, it’s important that your cow is in good physical condition.
She needs to be at a good weight, and she needs time to acclimate to the cold so that she can grow her winter coat.
If she’s going to be outside for winter, leave her outside as the days grow shorter and the weather drops.
If she’s used to being in a barn during the summer, she’ll need to stay in it during the winter, too.
Assess your cows a couple of months before winter. Body fat is going to be one of the top two factors that help her stay warm. If you only have one or two cows, this obviously isn’t as difficult as if you have a herd.
Still, if your girls are a little on the thin side, increase their feed so that they’re carrying the right amount of weight heading into winter. This will keep them from stressing so much from the cold.
If they’re thin, they’ll use what fat stores they have to keep warm instead of giving milk. Thin cows may also produce weak calves, have problems producing colostrum, and take longer to come back into heat.
How your cow should look depends upon her breed and age – two year olds are the toughest if they’re breeding because she’s giving milk, growing, and eating to feed a baby, too. She may need A LOT of feed. Know your cows and know what they need.
On the other end of the spectrum, if your cow is obese, she’s not going to winter as well either. Just like people, obesity in an animal does not contribute to good health. Adjust feed as necessary.
In addition to keeping her milk production up, being at a good weight will also help her give birth easier if she’s pregnant, and will help her regain her weight and come into heat earlier after she gives birth.
2. Feed them Enough of the Right Feed
Throughout winter, your cows are going to need more food that they do during the summer. It’s also important that they have access to plenty of water and a salt lick as well.
Roughage – hay – is what helps a cow produce the energy she needs to stay warm and happy. If she doesn’t have enough hay, the weight will fall off of her.
This is because the fermentation and breakdown of the cellulose in the hay creates energy. High quality alfalfa may provide plenty of nutrients, but alone, it won’t provide enough roughage for your cows to stay warm.
You may not know it, (if you don’t, you should) but cows shiver. If they get that cold, they’re burning calories like mad. You need to avoid that. Give them plenty of hay.
Just so you know, a cow’s energy needs increase by anywhere from 17-50 percent after giving birth, so there’s a starting point for you.
Next, consider the temperature. A cow in good physical condition that has acclimated to winter by growing a good coat is good to go on regular winter rations until she reaches her critical temperature.
That temperature is around 20-30 degrees F. At that point, she’s burning fat to keep warm and you need to increase her feed in order to keep getting milk. A rough rule of thumb is to increase her rations by 1 percent for each 2 degrees below critical temperature.
Once the temperature drops below zero, she may be eating up to a third more than she would at 50 degrees just to maintain her body heat.
Don’t forget to factor in wind chill, length of the cold snap, and whether or not she’s wet. Even the best winter coat doesn’t trap body heat if it’s wet – imagine going outside in wet clothing.
3. Give them a Morning Boost
This goes along with feed, but I thought that it merited its own section because it’s just that important. If you’re counting on pasture to provide part of your rations, you may need to give your ladies a little push in the mornings with some hay to get them warm.
Even though there’s pasture available, if they’re cold, they’ll stand huddled to preserve body heat instead of going out to graze. Give them some hay in the morning to get their bodies producing heat and then they’ll go out and graze.
4. Build a Shelter
You know that even if it’s 40 or 50 degrees, if there’s a good wind blowing, you’re going to pull up your collar and huddle into your coat. If it’s raining, it’s even worse. It feels a lot colder than it actually is. Your cows feel the same way.
It’s important that your cows have shelter. If you don’t have to worry about much snow or wet, then a windbreak may do, but if it’s raining or snowing much, they need a at least a lean-to to shelter in. A barn is preferable. Whichever route you go, your cows need to have a warm, dry place to get in out of the weather if it’s cold.
If you keep them in a barn, make sure that it’s well-ventilated. Damp and moisture lead to respiratory conditions in cows.
If you’re getting a blizzard, you can partially close some of the vents to keep the snow from blowing in, but you want at least a half inch of open ventilation for each 10 feet of building width, no matter what.
Provide Adequate Bedding
If you have free stalls or lean-tos where your cows sleep, provide adequate bedding in them. This means that it should be dry and there should be enough to provide some warmth.
5. Protect Her Teats
Just like our delicate lips, faces, and hands get chapped in the cold, so do a cow’s teats.
It’s extremely important that you make sure that her teats are dry when she leaves the milking stall or feed area, and you should also provide windbreaks around the barn, too.
Bag balm is called that for a reason. It helps sooth bags and teats that may be moderately irritated.
Dip teats before milking and after milking. Though it adds a few seconds to the process, it’s worth it because it really does help reduce mastitis both directly by killing bacteria and because chapped, cracked teats inhibit the milk from dropping, which leads to infection.
Video first seen on MonkeySee.
Use germicidal dips that also contain 5-12 percent skin conditioners. Don’t wash them because that washes off the natural protective oils, and make sure that the teats are dry before they leave the milk shed.
Warm, well-cared-for cows are happy, healthy cows who give lots of milk. If she’s stressed so much by being cold, or is so cold that she uses all her energy staying warm, or if her teats are chapped and sore, she’s not going to give good milk.
Your goals should be keeping her warm and healthy, and these are all steps toward that outcome.
Are you prepared for a coming food crisis? Click the banner below and discover how you can feed your family with healthy foods during any collapse!
This article has been wrriten by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
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Watering animals in the winter can be a huge headache for both small-scale homesteaders and large-scale farmers, especially if you’re off-grid. Certain animals, like dairy cows, need lots of water to keep up production. Producing 10-plus gallons of milk per day means they have to drink a lot more than 10 gallons of water. At the same time, water can be dangerous and create slippery conditions for animals like pigs and ducks that are prone to climb in and spill their buckets.
The most common tactic used by livestock owners is to try and keep water from freezing. This can be more daunting than you realize. Commercial farms water their animals in centralized tanks that can be heated electrically, but that may not be an option for a small-scale or off-grid homesteader. Propane heaters are one potentially good, automatic off-grid option, but they can be dangerous if the pilot light goes out or if they are not adequately protected from the animals themselves. A number of other options are listed here.
But there are a few low-tech ways to keep the water from freezing without a big investment.
1. Hauling warm water
For some animals, the best way to ensure they have water is to haul in fresh water every single day. Chickens and rabbits are small and require relatively little water per day, and can easily be managed off-grid by bringing them fresh water daily. For larger animals, you’ll want to employ one of the low-tech strategies below to keep the water fresh longer, meaning that you’ll only have to water them every few days or only need to provide a small amount of water each day, saving a lot of labor and time.
2. Raised water platforms
The cold ground robs heat from water buckets placed directly upon it. Raising your watering station even a few inches off the ground can keep it from freezing in milder weather. Try a suspended water system for chickens, or a bucket latched to the barn wall for larger animals such as pigs. Even a few inches can make a big difference.
3. Watering indoors
By watering the animals indoors, even in an unheated structure, the protection from the elements will keep the water in a liquid state much longer. Insulating both the structure and the water tank will further delay the water’s freezing, and may mean that you only need to bring fresh liquid water every few days.
4. Passive compost heating
The water also can be passively heated with the use of active compost. Place a water trough near a corner of the structure, and then each time the pen is cleaned, toss manure behind and around the trough to keep the water insulated with the manure — and perhaps even heated if the manure is in the right balance to make it hot. Remember to keep a clean path to the water by only piling on three sides of the trough.
5. Watering in feed
For animals like pigs and chickens, wetting down their food into a warm mash is a great way to prevent dehydration on an otherwise dry ration, and to help reduce feed waste, as well. Pig feed crumbles and much of it can be lost to dust if it’s not wet into a slurry. Adding a bucket of hot water to the feed will encourage the animals to consume all the feed while keeping them hydrated. But they can’t get quite all the water they need in feed, so making sure they have a good supply of liquid water (or snow if appropriate) is still important.
6. Watering with snow
Knowing that deer survive all winter outdoors without a liquid water source can help encourage you to provide snow to your animals to supplement their water supply. As long as there is ample fresh snow that hasn’t been packed down into ice or covered with excrement, many animals, including horses and ducks, can do quite well. Fussy animals, such as many (but not all) breeds of chicken may refuse to eat snow, even to the point of dying of dehydration before leaving the warmth of their coop. You’ll need to evaluate on a case-by-case basis based on the temperament and breed of your animals, and even if they readily eat snow, it’s still a good idea to bring them a small bucket of warm water daily to make sure they’re staying well-hydrated. Dairy animals producing a significant amount of extra liquid in the form of milk will still require daily supplementation with a large supply of water.
When Not to Water
Believe it or not, there are some animals that should not be watered when temperatures are below freezing, such as water fowl. Ducks and geese love fresh water, but they use it more for bathing than drinking. No matter how small the outlet, ducks may thrash against it to create a puddle to bathe in, which will satisfy them temporarily, but if the temperatures are more than just a few degrees below freezing, they’re likely to create an ice slick, gluing themselves to the ground by their chest feathers and feet. Once they realize their predicament, they’ll thrash and injure themselves, often mortally. To avoid these risks, only provide fresh water to water fowl on days when the temps are above freezing. Otherwise, make sure they have an ample supply of fresh snow, even if it means shoveling it in from outside of their yard.
How To Identify Animals by their Tracks (with Pictures!) Whether you’re a hiker, nature enthusiast, or just want to know who’s been eating your tomatoes, there’s a helpful animal tracking guide for you. The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a collection of animal track photos to help you figure out who your furry neighbors are. Recognizing …
The post How To Identify Animals by their Tracks (with Pictures!) appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.
Imagine this situation: You silently enter a nearby piece of woods and move stealthily along some edge cover. You take each step with care, hoping to avoid a hazardous one that would snap a twig beneath your feet and signal your presence to the entire surrounding woods. Fate has landed you in this situation, where your survival depends on your skill with a gun and your knowledge of the land.
Up ahead your prey is feeding, unaware of your presence. Ever so slowly you lift your rifle to your shoulder and take aim.
In a survival situation like this, what animal do you imagine yourself hunting? Is it a deer? Are you fortunate enough to live in an area of elk or other large animal? How about small game animals? Not only are small game animals the most abundant, but they also typically require the least amount of skill to harvest. There’s just one problem with this plan: You’ll starve to death.
The big risk people would face in this situation is a misunderstanding of how their body works and the calories their new life would require in a survival situation. If you ever find yourself in a situation where your life depends on harvesting the bounty of nature, here are three animals you shouldn’t count on:
The truth is that if you ate nothing but rabbits in a survival situation you would die from what is called rabbit starvation. This phenomenon occurs when the human body eats only lean meats for an extended period of time. To function properly, you constantly need a variety of food sources to keep you going. Native people knew all about this. Here is a diary entry from renowned explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson scribed more than 100 years ago after living with Native people:
The groups that depend on the blubber animals are the most fortunate in the hunting way of life, for they never suffer from fat-hunger. This trouble is worst, so far as North America is concerned, among those forest Indians who depend at times on rabbits, the leanest animal in the North, and who develop the extreme fat-hunger known as rabbit-starvation. Rabbit eaters, if they have no fat from another source — beaver, moose, fish — will develop diarrhea in about a week, with headache, lassitude, a vague discomfort. If there are enough rabbits, the people eat till their stomachs are distended; but no matter how much they eat they feel unsatisfied. Some think a man will die sooner if he eats continually of fat-free meat than if he eats nothing, but this is a belief on which sufficient evidence for a decision has not been gathered in the north. Deaths from rabbit-starvation, or from the eating of other skinny meat, are rare; for everyone understands the principle, and any possible preventive steps are naturally taken.
In city parks and towns around the country, you will find a population of squirrels that, at times, seems to outnumber the people. The real problem with squirrels is that their caloric return is far too low to depend on as a major food source. One squirrel is estimated to provide around 540 calories. In a world where we spend increasingly more time manipulating a screen and sitting on our keesters, we still demand around 2,000 calories a day. Even with our modern luxuries, you’d need to consume around four squirrels a day just to calorically break even. No problem, right? Well, there is one problem. In a survival situation, you could expect your caloric demands to skyrocket. Even if your daily caloric demand only doubled to 4,000 calories per day, that would put you at needing a hefty eight squirrels a day to break even. I’m sure this wouldn’t be a problem on day one in many areas, but how about with a family of four needing 32 squirrels a day? How about on day 100 when you’ve already shot 800 squirrels? As you can tell, the math doesn’t add up, and squirrel is not something you should be depending on as your staple food source.
Trout and certain panfish find their way on the bottom of this list for the same reasons as squirrels. For example, a wild trout only provides 143 calories per fillet. Double that and you are at 286 calories per fish. Again, the amount of panfish or trout you’d have to catch in a day would be substantial if you were to try and live solely on their sustenance. Based on a 4,000-calorie diet, that would equate to around 14 fish per day to break even for one person. However, there would be an advantage of panfish over squirrels and rabbit. That advantage is that fishing is passive. In other words, you could cast a few lines each day and come back later to check your catch, with very little effort involved. Fishing doesn’t require nearly as many calories as hunting does; therefore, the calories of your panfish would go further and you may not burn 4,000 calories per day. If you were in a situation where you didn’t have to expend much energy, panfish could possibly be a reasonable food source for an extended period of time. However, you would still have to catch an awful lot of fish.
In reality, these animals all can play a minor role in a long-term survival diet, but they should not be viewed as long-term staple food sources. Keep in mind this analysis has considered diets solely composed of these animals. If you could find supplementary food items — from plants to other animals — you would decrease the negative effects. People who lived off the land for generations didn’t depend solely on these animals, and neither should we.
Do you agree? Disagree? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:
Trapping in the Wild! Josh “7 P’s of survival” This show in player below! Listen in as we talk about all things trapping! Brian King is with us to explore the entire spectrum of trapping. We cover training, gear, selection of grounds, reading sign, lure and how to make it. Also discussed, setting a line, harvesting … Continue reading Trapping in the Wild
Pets in a Post-SHTF World Highlander “Survival & Tech Preps” Listen in player below! What about owning or maintaining your pet in a post-shtf world? Is having your pet going to be a good thing, a hindrance, or are you somewhere in the middle. There can be some great advantages to pets now and then, … Continue reading Pets in a Post-SHTF World
Winter is coming, and for those of us who live in snowy climates the task of cleaning our barns and chicken coops is about to get more complicated. One solution is simply to stop cleaning out over the winter and try the deep-litter bedding approach.
You’re probably already covering the floor of your stalls and coops with some kind of high-carbon material like sawdust, shavings, wood chips, leaves, pine needles, hay or straw. Instead of cleaning the bedding out once it’s been covered with manure, just leave everything in place and keep adding a clean layer on top.
Deep litter has several advantages.
First, there’s the convenience. You don’t have to chop through the snow banks between your barn or coop and your compost pile; you don’t have to struggle to pry up frozen-down bedding and break it into manageable shovelfuls or forkfuls.
Then there’s the warmth. As the pile grows deeper, the well-insulated manure and bedding below will begin to compost, creating heat which your animals may welcome on cold nights.
This composting process gives you a head start; in spring you’ll have partially decomposed material instead of raw bedding that has been frozen all winter long.
Chickens love to scratch, and deep litter will give them more scope to amuse themselves. The composting litter provides a breeding ground for bugs and worms, which can be a valuable protein supplement. Harvey Ussery, backyard chicken raiser and author of many articles which you can find online, says that deep litter also breeds immune-boosting microorganisms.
Deep litter has drawbacks, of course, although most can be avoided with careful management. There’s the mammoth task of cleaning up in spring, when you have a deep, dense, compacted layer of litter to remove. There’s the issue of air quality. Properly managed deep litter will compost fairly cleanly, but if you have too much nitrogen for your carbon-producing materials to absorb you may end up with excess ammonia. This is more likely to be an issue with chicken droppings, which are highly nitrogenous, than with ruminant droppings. Ventilation is also a factor; a tightly sealed building is much more susceptible to air quality problems than an open or very well-ventilated one. There’s also a need for vertical space. My goats may be on deep litter from November through March, and by then their stall floors are two-feet deep in compacted bedding. Remember to think about door height as well as overall stall height.
You’ll need to consider all of these factors in deciding whether deep litter works for some or all of your animals. Here’s how that’s works on my farm in upstate NY, where the winters tend to be cold, snowy, windy and long:
How to Make it Work
I leave my two goats on deep-litter bedding through the winter. They’re in roomy open stalls in a shed that’s open to the outdoors on all but the coldest and windiest nights. I’m able to add enough hay to absorb the nitrogen from their manure and urine so the whole mix composts well. I have noticed the increased warmth of the deep-litter floor. I haven’t had trouble with smells and the goats haven’t had respiratory problems.
My chickens are another story. In summer they have a moving yard and also a fixed compost pile to scratch in. In winter they’re closed into a fairly tight winter coop with a lot of south-facing glass. The coop can get fairly warm on sunny days, and there’s not a lot of air circulating. I don’t use deep bedding for our hens in winter. But some folks do manage well with deep litter for chickens, including Ussery, who lives further down the coast where the winters are milder. He uses Joel Salatin’s recommendation of allowing at least five square feet of floor space per bird. Ussery adds that it’s helpful to bed with coarse materials very high in carbon, like leaves or wood chips; he says the coarseness makes the material easier to scratch up while the high carbon ratio allows the material to absorb more nitrogen. Some farmers report that wet straw in chicken coops is easily colonized by toxic molds; others use straw and say they have no problems.
Pay attention to what works and doesn’t work on your farm. Reading about other people’s experiences can be a helpful starting point, but you can learn most from your own experience. Check the bedding daily; cover over areas that are extremely wet or soiled, and monitor if there’s visible mold. If you notice a mild ammonia smell, add more dry high-carbon bedding. If you have a major or persistent ammonia smell or mold, you may need to muck out after all. Watch whether your animals seem comfortable and healthy. Then tell your friends and neighbors, and perhaps also your fellow readers here, what you’ve learned.
What advice would you add on using the deep litter method? Share your tips in the section below:
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The problem with emergencies is that we’re almost never prepared for them. They usually incite moments of panic, chaos and everything but rational thinking. Even in a state of crisis, while we’re seeking safety, very rarely do we know what we will do in just a moment’s notice, yet alone after the emergency has passed. Let’s review some quick tips on how to prepare bug-out bags for a special part of your family… your pets.
How many times after major hurricanes or tornadoes do you see images on the news of people stranded on top of their cars just waiting for a rescue squad? Whether it’s a natural disaster, the collapse of government or the end of the world, preparation is always key…
According to FEMA, the kit should be put together well before the emergency. After all, at a moment’s notice, you may have to evacuate your home and you won’t have the time to think about what you need to take with you – especially in a case where you’re running for your life.
Here are the top 10 must-haves to put in your cat or dog’s bug-out bag:
Must-Have No. 1: A Current Color Photograph. In the event you and your pet are split up, it’s important to have a way for you to describe it to people who might have seen it.
Must-Have No. 2: Food/Water. Pack a 72-hour supply for each pet. In a crisis, there’s no telling where the next meal may come from.
Must-Have No. 3: Sandwich Bags. Instead of poop-scoop baggies, normal sandwich bags work just as well. Not to mention, they can come in handy for other things.
Must-Have No. 4: Pet First-Aid Kit. It’s a given that anything can happen in an emergency. A typical first-aid kit would include invisible spray bandage, scissors, tweezers, medical/adhesive tape, several gauze pads, vet wrap, glow light sticks and alcohol wipes.
Must-Have No. 5: Special Medicines. If your pet has any allergies or special medicine that he takes, be sure to pack this. What’s worse than your dog or cat being stranded with you somewhere and suddenly having an allergy attack? Don’t forget to include the instructions, too.
Must-Have No. 6: One Small Blanket/Towel. Depending on the conditions that you face, your pet is going to need something to keep him warm.
Must-Have No. 7: Collar/Leash With ID. Again for identification reasons, it’s important to provide your pet with clear identification in the event that you two are separated from each other at some point.
Must-Have No. 8: A Pair of Women’s Stockings. These can be used as an ace elastic bandage, a filter to drain dirty water and a muzzle for a hurt animal.
Must-Have No. 9: Pet Carrier/Crate. If you’re able to evacuate your home via driving, a pet crate can come in handy. Again, remember to keep ID (both yours and your pet’s) on the crate as well.
Must-Have No. 10: Bowls With Lids. It’s good to have containers that your pet can eat out of… something that can also be sealed and packed up should you need to change locations.
Bonus Must-Haves: Some other extra essentials include a compass, a small flashlight, extra batteries, 12-hour emergency glow sticks, long-term hand warmers and a reflective dog/cat vest.
No one can ever be 100 percent prepared for a crisis. But 0 percent preparation will leave you susceptible to failure. This guide will help you get on the right track. In fact, preparing a bug-out bag for your cat or dog can be the difference between saving them or never seeing them again.
Remember, preparation is key. Your pet is worth it.
In modern society, we walk or drive down the street to find all kinds of food, many of them unrecognizable to our pioneer ancestors. (Thai noodles?)
For the hardy pioneers, however, a few animals could mean the difference between starvation or survival. Even if animals were too plentiful to be fed through the winter, they could be slaughtered as the season progressed and then sold for cash, which could then be used to buy staples such as flour or corn. Animals even could be bartered for other necessary items.
Most homesteaders have livestock of some kind, but if times get worse, it might be a good idea to know all the ways our ancestors used animals. You might be surprised.
In order to survive the harsh winters, many pioneers had a hard rule that went something like: “It works or it’s food.” So while dogs were kept, they were considered working animals. Eating dogs is not something most people would do; however, in a pinch most people will eat just about anything.
This means that our ancestors kept animals that either worked for them or that they ate.
- Pigs – These were always a favorite as they ate just about anything and are also easy to breed. The fat from pigs could be used for soap and lamp fuel, and one good-sized hog could feed a family for a long time, with bacon to spare! Pigs were usually allowed to forage in the woods and were not always kept in pens or barns.
- Chickens – Always a favorite, chickens provide both eggs and meat. They are easy to keep because most of the year, they can simply forage for insects. Grain need only be provided during the coldest winter months.
- Sheep – For the pioneers, sheep were valued for their wool, which provided clothing, but also for the meat. Lambs were more commonly consumed than adult sheep, but this isn’t to say that when other food sources became scarce, that a sheep wasn’t butchered to make stew.
- Cows – Cows were highly valued, but they were expensive to keep in the winter if you did not have enough hay stored. Some pioneers took their chances and left cattle out in the woods to survive the harsh winters. Stories of pioneer families forced to butcher and sell most of their cattle during a hard winter were not unusual.
- Horses – While most of us like to think of the pioneers owning beautiful horses like the ones we see in the movies, most horses were working horses, such as Clydesdale or draft horses. These were intended for pulling wagons and plows. Some pioneers were fortunate enough to have a horse just for riding, but horses also mean hay and grain in the winter months, making them fairly expensive.
- Mules – Mules have more stamina that most horses and are more surefooted when it comes to rocky or mountainous terrain, but like horses, they, too, need grain to keep them in top condition.
- Oxen – This was generally the animal of choice for pioneers making their way to the West coast. If they survived the trip, oxen could then be used to plow fields and pull wagons. Oxen are not very fast, but they eat whatever vegetation is available and need only hay in the winter months. Also, because they aren’t very fast, Native people were not really interested in them and if they escaped a barn, they were fairly easy to catch.
Other Food Animals
- Rabbits – Easy to breed, cheap and easy to feed. The fur could also be used to line boots, jackets, or to make blankets.
- Turkeys – Although pioneers did not take turkeys with them on their journey, someone figured out that if you caught a pair or took some chicks and raised them, they were quite similar to chickens. Today, most of us only eat turkey for special occasions, such as Thanksgiving, but for the pioneers, turkey meat was consumed about as often as a chicken.
- Geese or ducks – While most ducks were hunted or trapped, a few domestic ducks found their way to the plates of the pioneer, along with geese. Geese are very easy to keep, especially if the land has its own pond or lake. No extra feeding is required, although many pioneers did supplement with grain to keep the goose fat.
- Doves and/or quail – Doves and quail are not much meat, but they eat relatively little and breed quickly. Added to meager soups or stews, doves and quail would be a welcomed source of meat.
As mentioned, if animals weren’t being kept for food, they needed to be kept for work. A few animals that were often kept strictly for work were:
- Dogs – Especially hunting dogs or herding dogs, although even a mutt would keep raccoons, wild dogs, bears and intruders from coming on the property. Hunting dogs and herding dogs were especially valuable. They would often be bred, and the pups sold for cash or in exchange for other items or work.
- Cats – Not the pillow princesses we see today, cats kept in pioneer times were mostly for keeping mice and other rodents out of barns, houses and food storage areas. Although they might enjoy the fireplace during the winter months, they were rarely fed, as they were expected to find their own food.
- Donkeys – These animals might be small, but they can carry a fairly heavy load and are very sure-footed. For carrying small amounts of items to and from the market, donkeys are hard to beat. They are not picky eaters and are fairly easy to keep.
- Bees – Some pioneer farmers came to realize the importance bees had on their orchards and kept a few hives. Of course, in addition to pollination, bees offered honey, which was a real treat for the pioneer who generally relied only on maple syrup from trees or molasses for a sweet treat.
Our ancestors were tougher than we ever imagined. You won’t find many gerbils or hamsters mentioned in the history of the pioneers!
What thoughts would you add about pioneers and animals? Which ones do you think would be most important today? Share your opinion in the section below:
Summer is gone, we are enjoying autumn days and heading to winter now. In many regions, this cold season brings snow, low temperatures, and plenty of harsh winds. You’ll need to take some extra steps this fall to ensure your livestock make it through winter in good condition.
Water, food, shelter and safety are essential for your livestock. Focus on these requirements and follow the next steps to prepare your livestock for the coming winter.
Animals can’t live without water. When the freezing weather hits, watering the animals takes a little more effort. You’ll need to make sure their water doesn’t freeze. Here are some tips:
Use Electrically Heated Waterers
Waterers are available in a variety of sizes with electrical heating elements built in. For large stock tanks, you can find electrical heaters in a cage that floats in the water. Your local feed store should have all of these available.
The purpose of the electrical heater is to keep your animals’ water from freezing. The electrical part stays just warm enough that the water stays liquid. These are the easiest way of ensuring your animals have plenty of water all winter long.
The downside is that you have to have electricity available where you water, which isn’t always feasible. There are propane stock tanks available, which might be your best solution for large livestock.
Water More Frequently
If you’re around the farm during the day, make it a point to check on your animals more frequently. Since I don’t have electricity out by my rabbit pens, I water them three times a day instead of only twice. That extra watering keeps them in water for the bulk of the day.
When the weather is extremely cold, I only fill their water halfway during each watering. This usually keeps it from getting filled completely with ice. I still have to bring out hot water once a day to take care of the ice, but it’s easier than doing it every time.
Make Sure Your Waterers Work in Winter
My first winter with rabbits I made the mistake of trying to use water bottle type waterers. The water froze completely on the straw portion which meant even after I’d filled the waterer, the rabbits couldn’t drink it. I quickly realized my mistake and switched to bowl style waterers.
Be sure to check any special water tanks you have for your critters to ensure they are working in the winter.
Move Your Waterers to a Heated Shed
If your animals have a shed to take shelter in, you may be able to move the waterers in there. Then you can run a propane or electric heater to keep the water from freezing. The roof and sides of your shed will protect your heater.
Have a Backup Water Source
If I lose power, I lose water too. The electric pump at the well house can’t run. Since we normally lose power for several days each winter, a backup water source is essential.
Thankfully there’s a creek running through my farm. My husband and I have broken ice and hauled water 5 gallons at a time several times to water livestock.
If you don’t have a creek or pond nearby, you’ll need to think through another water source.
Do you have enough water stored that you can water your animals during a power outage? Do you have a large enough tank that they can go without a fill-up for a couple of days?
Watering in the summer is simple enough. You hook up a hose and run it to the tanks to fill. But when the cold weather hits, you have to take extra precautions with your hoses. That way they’re available for watering each day and not frozen solid.
In the winter, I run my hose through the barn instead of around the outside. Though it means I need a little extra hose, I’m able to drain it and store it in a room with a small heater. It’s just enough to keep it from freezing. Usually.
Sometimes it gets colder than I anticipated, and the heater can’t keep up in the uninsulated barn. When that happens, I haul the hose into the house and let it thaw behind the wood stove.
It’s also a good idea to keep a backup hose on hand. Perhaps you can store an extra in an outbuilding or in your basement. That way you always have a hose ready when your animals need a drink.
Here is an interesting project on how to keep your livestock’s water from freezing.
Video first seen on WELSBY ROOTS.
Animals need plenty of feed to stay warm in the winter. Stockpiling feed in the fall will ensure you won’t run out midwinter if a large storm keeps you away from the store.
If you’re feeding large animals hay, you’ll want to store at least a ton per head. Depending on your location and the length of your winter, you may need more.
I don’t like having to track down hay in the winter because it’s typically more expensive and a pain to go get. I usually store enough hay to get me from September to May because by May, even in a bad year, the pasture is ready.
You know what your winters are like, so do some basic calculations and figure out how much of a supply you’ll need to build. If you’re feeding grains or other concentrates, you’ll need to keep it stored in rodent-proof containers.
Keep a close eye on your animal’s condition over the winter. Most animals will lose some weight over the winter, which isn’t anything to be concerned about. However, you don’t want them to get too thin. If you start noticing ribs sticking out, it’s time to increase their rations a bit.
If your animals are used to eating fresh pasture, be sure to start their transition to winter feed a couple of weeks early. That way they can eat both and slowly get used to what they’ll be eating.
Timing of Feeds
To avoid dealing with feeding and watering in the dark, my winter chore schedule is different than the rest of the year. I feed later in the morning, and earlier in the afternoon.
If you’ll be adjusting feed times this winter, be sure you give your animals a chance to get used to the new schedule. I tend to start moving the time up in early fall, and then adjust by a half an hour or so each week. That way the animals aren’t startled by an entirely different schedule out of the blue.
Chickens need a certain amount of light each day in order to keep laying eggs. If you want your chickens to lay all year, you’ll need to provide them with some sort of artificial light.
I have a light plugged into a timer in the coop. It turns on early each morning and automatically shuts off around 9 AM. By that time the birds are all out of the coop and frolicking in the barn or around the yard.
Be careful having your light turn on in the late afternoon. If your chickens don’t realize it’s night, they won’t hop up on their roosts for the night. Then the light will shut off suddenly, and they’ll have to stumble in the dark to get where they need to be.
Some animals need some extra heat to make it through the winter. For instance, some of my chickens don’t handle the cold as well as some of the others.
To help provide a bit of extra heat, I have a red heat lamp plugged into the coop. It’s on a sensor that turns on when the temperature drops below freezing. When the temperatures warm back up to 38 degrees, it shuts off.
It’s not a lot of heat, but it’s just enough to keep the coop warm. Keeping it on a sensor means I don’t need to keep turning the lamp on and off manually. It definitely cuts some work out of the winter chores.
The red lamp provides heat, without bugging the chickens by turning on and off in the middle of the night. A yellow heat lamp provides the same problems that a regular light does when it shuts off suddenly.
Your animals need a place to go to get out of the wind. It gives them a place to bunker down on a cold winter night.
You’ll want your shelter to have a roof and a couple of sides at least. You can use tarps to create sides if necessary, but make sure you do this in the fall. Otherwise you’ll be outside in the cold yourself trying to wrestle a tarp in the wind. It’s much easier if you do it before winter!
Tarps around rabbit pens helps keep the wind from blowing right through the wire sides. You can also secure tarps to wire cattle panels to create temporary shelters, like this one.
A good layer of bedding inside your shelter keeps your animals warm. I typically use straw or old hay as bedding. The carbon from this material will also help reduce odor from cooped up animals.
I employ the deep layer method of bedding for my chickens. I clean out the chicken coop each spring, and get all the old bedding out. Then I slowly start adding straw as necessary to cover up poop. By the time winter comes around, they have a fairly deep layer, as you can see in the picture below.
As the lower layers of poop and straw slowly break down, it releases a little bit of heat. This helps keep the birds from freezing.
I’ve started using the same deep layer method with the cows. They get a little bit of fresh bedding each day, covering up the poop piles. Then in the spring the tractor cleans it all out.
I ensure my rabbits have plenty of straw to burrow in to stay warm. My pens have a portion with a solid bottom, which is where I put the straw. If your pens have a wire bottom, you can use a piece of a cardboard box to hold straw in for them.
A good layer of bedding will keep your animals warm. Be sure to check it frequently and replace as needed.
When you’re looking at the shelters for your animals, you need to keep ventilation in mind. When animals are cooped up without proper air flow, sickness can spread quickly.
You’ll want to ensure air flows well through your chicken coop. If you have windows, leave them open just a little bit throughout the winter to get the air moving.
Cattle, sheep, and other large livestock benefit from a shelter that isn’t completely closed in.
Here’s a picture of the large pen where most of our cattle spend most of the winter. You’ll notice that it’s partially open to the elements. This open side allows the air to get in, and helps prevent illness. The closed side provides the much needed windbreak, and keeps the cows warm.
There are a lot of homesteading and survival secrets you can learn from our descendants. Click the banner bellow to find out more about them!
Are Your Animals Ready for Winter?
Are your critters ready for whatever winter brings? Did I forget anything about preparing? Please share what steps you take to get your livestock ready in the comments section below.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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It’s amazing to see how coordinated animals are when they climb, like a ballet played out in nature. Still, climbing skills are not about music or art, but reaching a safe point to stand on. Sometimes, climbing it’s only about survival.
Many people overlook improving their climbing skills, and when it comes time to use a rope for climbing, they are unable to manage the situation.
Being able to climb is vital for many areas of interest. It is often done competitively, in jobs that rely on it, for recreational purposes, in emergency rescue, and in military operations. No matter whether you are trying to climb a mountain, a tree, stairs, or scale a building, there is much you can learn by watching how animals achieve similar goals.
If you take the time to watch and observe animals in the wild, each animal group has developed their own special way to climb and descend mountains, trees, and different objects with various textures. Some of these climbing and descending techniques are very simple and quite remarkable to watch and study.
The animals play out great acts of balance as they carry out death defying actions. These activities would kill or seriously injure us if we tried to duplicate them without adapting the techniques to the human form.
These 12 animals are the best for teaching you the climbing tips required in a survival situation. Do you know them?
When bears climb, they look very much like humans climbing. Bears are excellent climbers of both trees and cliffs. They have sharp rugged claws on their front and back feet they can easily grip the surface of trees and cliffs.
Black bears have short, strong claws, a smaller size, and less weight than grizzly bears. The grizzly bear has thicker and longer claws that are more of a hindrance, however they can still climb a tree or cliff faster than a human. Both of these bears wrap their long limbs around the trunk of trees to climb upward or downward. Because of their weight the bears will stay closer to the main trunk and not go out on the smaller weaker branches.
When bears climb up cliffs they use their claws for gripping the rough cliffs walls and to make hand holds to better climb.
Video first seen on Stephanie Latimer.
Climbing Tip: To mimic bears climbing methods, you can use tree climbing spikes commonly used to climb telephone poles.
2. Domestic Cats and Wild Cats
Cats have the ability to climb almost anything from trees to stucco walls. All cats, both big and small, rely on their sharp claws and their will to climb up or down man-made structures, mountains, or trees. Cats – whatever their breed and size are – are very strong climbers and use their strength and balance to overcome any problems during the climb.
Video first seen on Mark Mckelvie.
Climbing Tip: You can learn a lot about how to balance by watching cats climb. While they use their tail as a counterweight, you can use your posture.
3. Monkeys and Baboons
Monkeys and baboons, which are built a lot like humans, are excellent tree climbers and also have the ability to climb cliffs. Like cats, monkeys and baboons benefit from having long tails which they move around as a counter balance.
With their flexible toes they can grab outcroppings or branches as easily as humans can with their fingers. Some monkeys and baboons prefer to live on sheer cliff faces because this keeps them up and out of reach of natural predators like leopards and cheetahs.
Video first seen on Animals World.
Climbing Tip: Since these creatures are built a lot like humans and look similar to us when they climb, you can mimic some of their climbing methods.
4. Goats in Morocco’s Argan Forest
These domesticated goats have been trained to climb trees to graze. When the Argan fruit nuts on these trees are ready to be harvested, the goats eat the fruit, digest it, and passes the seed nuts. The nuts shells are now softer and easier to crack open by the farmers.
The goats’ hooves have two toes that can grip the nut tree as they climb up. Although this tree is about 25 feet tall, it bushes out with thick heavy branches that will hold the weight of several goats.
Video first seen on CBSN.
Climbing Tip: Watch the way the goats use two toes to climb and think about how you can do something similar with tabi boots.
5. Mountain Goats
The mountain goat has the ability to climb almost vertical mountain walls. They do this with a beautiful grace of movement. The sides of the goat’s toes consist of the same hard keratin found on the hoof of a horse or deer. Each of the toes has wrap around toenails that can be used to catch and hold to a crack or a tiny knob of rock.
Since there is also a traction pad that extends slightly past the nail, it can support the weight of the goat as it climbs upwards. This pad also has a rough textured surface that provides a great amount of friction on smooth rock or ice.
Video first seen on Arvor Pepper.
And wait, there is more to tell about climbing goats! Look at these Alpin goats climbing a dam wall in Italy:
Video first seen on AFP news agency.
Climbing Tip: Man can learn balance, being sure footed, path planning, and grace from the mountain goats. You can also look for climbing aides that resemble the nail and toe structure of these animals.
Sloths are very slow moving animals, but still very effective climbers. They use long, hooked claws to reach upper branches, and then simply dangle from them. When a sloth climbs up a tree, they climb head up with their arms, legs, and claws wrapped around the tree.
When a sloth descends a tree, they back down the tree carefully with their arms, legs, and claws gripping the tree.
Video first seen on mermaid5651.
Climbing Tip: The sloth can teach man to take it easy when climbing. Do your climb slowly and methodically. Finally plan out your climb to be as safe as possible.
Racoons are excellent climbers no matter whether they are trying to navigate exterior walls of houses, fences, or trees.
With their long claws and very flexible fingers and toes, they can grip very rough surfaces or smooth ones with ease. They can be quick and methodical in their climbing techniques. Some people believe that a raccoon can think and that they can solve climbing problems quickly.
Video first seen on Newsflare.
Climbing Tip: A raccoon can teach you to study what you are about to climb and choose the best tools for safety. You can use some of their finger and toe techniques as long as you also understand how the lack of claws may make it more difficult for you to use the same methods.
The fact that snakes can climb trees is common knowledge. Snakes can also climb vertical walls if need be. These reptiles use a form of locomotion in which some parts of their body stop and grip while other parts extend forward to climb. Snakes have unbelievable flexibility with hundreds of vertebrae and very precise muscle control. They can also extend scales on the underside of their body for increased grip.
Video first seen on Steve Crumbaker.
Climbing Tip: From snakes, you can learn about the use of suction and gripping when climbing.
Not only can squirrels climb trees, but they also have the ability to climb a vertical concrete wall. This is due to their sharp, hook like claws. They also have highly mobile ankles that allows them to rotate their back feet around backwards, which allows them to hang from and climb a variety of surfaces.
Video first seen on jazevox.
Climbing Tip: Squirrels teach man to be flexible and not stiff when climbing. Balance is also very important to stay on the mountain or when climbing a tree.
10. Coconut Crab
The coconut crab is one of the few crabs that can climb trees. These crabs are found on islands in the Indian Ocean. They can grow to about three feet across and weighs about ten pounds and they feed mainly on fruits and vegetables.
As their name implies, they also have a great love for coconuts. The coconut crabs will actually climb trees using their long, spiny legs, which they wrap around the tree trunk. When they are high enough, they use their large heavy claws to cut and snatch down coconuts. Sometimes the crabs drop the coconuts to the ground, or they will carry them down the tree to the ground.
Video first seen on clynt25.
Climbing Tip: As you watch these crabs, you can learn more about how to wrap your arms and legs around a small tree trunk, how to get a better grip on the tree you wish to climb and how to collect coconuts.
The spider’s legs are studded with microscopic hairs which allow them to stick, and to walk on walls and ceilings by electrostatic attraction. Spiders also have tiny tarsal claws that can grip the minute textures of surfaces, even though these surfaces appear smooth to the naked eye.
Video first seen on Animalist.
Climbing Tip: You can look for suction cups and similar devices that might mimic the hairs and hooks used by spiders.
Geckos have the ability to walk up the smoothest surfaces. They use micro-hairs on their feet called setae to adhere via van der Waals forces (basically this causes molecules to adhere to each other).
Video first seen on John Tandler.
Climbing Tip: When choosing shoes for climbing, look for ones that have treads that will do something similar to the setae on gecko feet.
Man has a lot of things to learn from animals on how to climb mountains or trees. Animals make it look so simple, but remember it took many generations for their bodies to adapt, and for them to acquire the special skills to use those adaptions.
You can still use some of their methods when developing your own climbing skills, or choosing gear that will make climbing easier and safer.
If you have any experience in using climbing techniques, please share them with our community in the comment section below.
This article has been written by Fred Tyrell for Survivopedia.
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You’ve shot the deer, or maybe you’ve butchered a cow or one of the rabbits that you’ve raised. You’ve field dressed it and butchered it, but you have no idea what to do with a hide. For the most part, hides are discarded, and that’s not only a waste of a valuable commodity, it’s disrespectful to the animal.
The problem is that having a hide tanned is expensive, but why not tan the hide yourself?
There are many different ways to tan a hide, but traditionally, it was done using brains. Since that’s probably not the method that most people would use, that’s an article for another day. There are also tanning methods that require harsh chemicals, and we aren’t ever going to write that article because it’s not what we’re about.
As preppers, we want to be able to use what we have on hand, and though some of these may require an initial trip to the drugstore or superstore, everything is readily available.
Now, the next question is whether or not you want to tan your hide with the hair on or the hair off. If you leave the hair on, it’s a great decorative item, or can be used to build a shelter, make a coat or a pair of boots, or just about anything else that you can think of. If you decide to take the hair off, you have leather that you can use for endless purposes.
Removing the hair requires some extra steps, but we’ll cover both ways. I’d like to make a suggestion here. It may be a good idea to try this with something small like a rabbit hide because a full deer hide can be a bit overwhelming for your first time.
If you’re tanning a cow hide, consider at least cutting it in half down the spine. Quartering it will make it even more manageable. The process for any hide is essentially the same with the exception of drying times. Obviously, bigger, thicker hides will take longer to soak and dry than little rabbit hides will.
What You’ll Need to Tan a Hide
We’re going to focus on tanning a deer hide to keep things relatively manageable but within the broad range of animals that most people hunt.
You’re going to need non-iodized salt, ammonia alum, and neat’s-foot oil. If you’re removing the hair, you’ll also need hydrated lime powder and wood ashes. If you’re dealing with a hide with greasy hair, such as a bear, you’ll need to degrease the hide too, but that’s a messy job that we’re not going to get into here.
Prepping the Hide for Tanning
OK, now that you’ve skinned the deer, you can either head directly into the tanning process or store the hide until the weather warms up, which is a good idea because you’re going to be working outside in water. Do you really want to do that in freezing weather?
Also, a frozen hide is much harder to work with than a warm one is. Another reason to wait is that the first step, salting, helps soften the meat and makes it easier to remove it from the hide.
We’re starting with a freshly-butchered hide. Salt the back side (non-hair side) liberally, then roll the hide up with the hair on the outside and put it in a garbage bag, then freeze it. You can also leave it to air dry, but if you do this, be ready to remove the meat within a few days.
Here’s an example of salting:
Video first seen on Starry Hilder.
When you’re ready to tan the hide, remove the hide from the bag, unroll it, and begin removing the meat from the back of the hide. You want to get all of the flesh off the hide so that all you have left is the hide. Use a dull knife, a paint scraper, a putty knife or some other tool sharp enough to scrape but not sharp enough to cut the hide.
Carefully scrape all of the meat off the hide, then resalt the hide, roll it back up, and refrigerate it for 3 or 4 days. Remove the hide, give it one more good scraping, then rinse the hide in water to remove the salt. Hang it up to drain.
Now you’re ready to tan the hide if you’re leaving the hair on. If so, skip the next step.
Remove the Hair from the Hide
For this step, you’re going to need a garbage can. Put the hide in the garbage can and cover it with a solution made of water, hydrated lime, and wood ashes. Use 1/4 cup lime and 1/2 cup ashes per gallon of water. Stir it around every couple of days and when the hair is starting to slip off the hide, remove it from the water.
Use your dull scraping tool to remove the hair from the hide. If there are still spots where the hair won’t come off, put the hide back in the solution for a couple more days. Once you have all of the hair off, rinse the hide in a boric acid solution to neutralize the lime.
Use around 1/8 cup of boric acid per gallon of water in the now-clean garbage can. Swirl the hide around as much as you can and drain and repeat a few times, then move forward to the next step to start actually tanning your hide.
Tan the Hide
Now that you’ve got the hide ready to tan, let’s get to it. Mix a solution of alum and salt using 1/2 pound of salt and 1/4 pound of alum per gallon of water. Cover the hide with the solution and let it set for 4 days to a week. Stir daily to keep the mixture evenly distributed and the hide covered.
After a week, remove the hide from the solution and rinse it well with clean running water. Hang it up to drain, but don’t let it dry completely. You’re almost finished tanning the hide, but you’ve got some elbow grease ahead of you!
Oil and Soften the Hide
At this point, the hide is still going to be fairly stiff. You’re about to change that, and this is the part where starting with a smaller hide, or a hide cut into pieces, is going to make your life easier.
While the hide is still damp, rub neat’s-foot oil into the flesh side of the hide and stretch it in all directions. Let that soak in, and apply another lighter treatment of neat’s-foot oil. Work it by rubbing it over the edge of a sawhorse, worktable, chair, or anything sturdy with an edge.
Make sure that you get the whole hide because this step breaks down the grain of the leather, which is critical to soften and tan the hide.
Keep working the hide until it’s soft and supple. You may need to use a dowel, the end of a mallet, or some other smaller, smooth tool to work out tougher spots. If the leather starts to dry out and crack as you’re working it, add more neat’s-foot oil.
Finish Tanning the Hide
The final step to tanning the hide is to smooth the flesh side with fine-grit sandpaper. This will get rid of any rough spots and make it nice and soft to the touch.
That’s it. Now you know how to tan your own hide. There are many directions that you can go with the hide now, but you’ve got a tanned hide to work with.
One cool bit of history is that the Native Americans used the hides on their teepees so that the smoke would waterproof them. Just a factoid. Another ancient secrets of survival are available now for you, just click on the banner below to find out more about them!
If you’ve ever tanned your own hide, please share your experience with us below, and if you have any tips to make the job easier, we’d love to hear about it. Even seasoned tanners can learn from others!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
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CARACAS, Venezuela — Not even zoo animals are safe from the food shortages in Venezuela.
A rare black stallion was stolen from its cage at the Caricuao Zoo in the nation’s capital of Caracas, and butchered in July.
All that was left of the horse was its head and ribs, Fusion reported. Several people apparently cut the horse up at night after taking it from the cage, and zookeepers found the horse’s remains the next morning.
The horse was only the latest animal killed at the zoo. Vietnamese pigs and sheep have also been stolen from the facility. The animals are being taken because Venezuela is suffering from serious food shortages created by socialist policies and also because of a major drop in oil prices.
Store shelves are often empty and food prices are astronomical. A dozen eggs can cost up to $208 on the black market in Caracas, Off The Grid News recently reported. Many Venezuelans have not eaten meat in months.
In fact, many of the animals are starving because there is no food for them, either.
“We have animals that have not eaten for up to 15 days, which affects their health,” Marlene Sifontes, a union leader at the zoo, told Fusion.
To make matters worse, the zoo employees lack the equipment they need to protect the animals.
“They don’t even have flashlights,” Sifontes said of zookeepers. “When workers hear something at night, they head into the dark at their own risk.”
As Off The Grid News reported earlier this summer, hungry Venezuelans also have killed dogs and cats on the streets for food.
What is your reaction? Do you think desperate conditions like these could come to America? Share your thoughts in the section below:
When it becomes mandatory for us to raise our own food to feed our families, space can become an issue for many reasons. You may have thought that raising and butchering rabbits was out of the question if you live in urban areas, within city limits, or live in a small town but still live in an apartment or perhaps even rent a house.
Well we have good news! It is possible to accomplish feeding your family the old fashioned way verses the supper market way if you live in tight quarters. Raising rabbits might be an option for you. It is very cost effective, delicious and taste better than processed store meat. You avoid paying sales taxes, all the chemicals and antibiotics that are added and is overall healthier for you as well.
The New Survivalist provides us with a series of videos that walk us through how to get started and what you need. In part one, (shown below) he shows wonderful tips and tricks to maximize space and keep the environment clean for the rabbits. He shares everything from what kind of rabbits to choose when starting, the supplies you will need, manure pros, how he sets up a simple watering system, nesting boxes, baby saver wire and many other things you will need to know.
In part two of his series he goes over his rabbits habitat, breeding them and birthing the bunnies according to “Story’s Guide to Raising..,” by Bob Bennet. He shows us how to prepare the nesting box and the bunnies that were just born in one.
We hope you enjoy this video and please feel free to leave some comments and advise in the comment section below!
Provided by American Preppers Network
Number of speakers: 1 (The New Survivalist)
Duration: 9 min 22 sec
This year when I was getting ready to plant my spring garden, I was a little hesitant to plant according to frost date this year. In February, I had seen a local farmer post on Facebook something that sounded to me like pioneer weather wisdom:
February thunder brings a May frost.
It sounded like something out of the Farmer’s Alamanc. We had a thunderstorm on February 2, this year, and while our last frost date is usually around Mother’s Day (May 8), we had a frost on May 16. That frost damaged several crops in the area, and I was glad I had seen that farmer’s post and had waited to plant in my garden.
I saw another saying come true this year as well and this time it was from farmers who had to wait until after the frost and then had a second delay in planting due to rain. When most finally got around to planting, they noticed that at the same time there was a lot of white stuff floating around in the air.
When cottonwood starts to fly, it’s time to plant corn.
Seeing these sayings come true before my eyes made me wonder what other old farming wisdom was out there from pioneer days and even earlier in history. I began noticing other signs in nature, such as that June Bugs were only seen from our porch when it was a warm night. It had to be even warmer for the frogs to show up. I wondered if it might not be a good idea to wait for them to show up at least three nights in a row before trusting my plants to stay outside all night.
Hmmmm….maybe these farmers and the pioneers before them were on to something.
I decided to explore 3 different books of old-time weather wisdom from colonial days through pioneer days:
- A Millennium Primer: Timeless Truths and Delightful Diversions
- Ben Franklin’s Almanac of Wit, Wisdom, and Practical Advice
- The Old Farmer’s Almanac
Pioneer wisdom for planting and weather
People have been planting long before there were apps or the internet to tell you when, where and how to plant in a garden. Planting was done by carefully watching signs in nature, including the weather and the moon. Over time, people began to notice patterns for what worked and what didn’t and those observations turned into catchy sayings that could easily be taught to the next generation and the next.
Many folklore sayings don’t have much to back them up scientifically, but then there are others like the two I saw that do show themselves true in nature, at least sometimes.
As survival moms, it could help to know some folklore in regards to weather and planting in case of a long-term power or Internet outage. A calendar last-frost date could be hard to figure out if you’ve lost track of what day it is exactly. Or, by paying attention to nature, you might be able to avoid a late frost like I did this year. Consider, too, that even with all of today’s technology, weather forecasts are not 100% accurate. Nature has its ways of predicting the weather, too.
Besides the Internet, one of the best sources to find folklore sayings is to get the Old Farmer’s Almanac or one of the books their editors publish. I picked a few up at my local library to look through (after which, I promptly put them on my list of books to buy for my reference shelf).
One of those books was, A Millennium Primer: Timeless Truths and Delightful Diversions by The Old Farmer’s Almanac editors and Tim Clark
A Millennium Primer was written to be a “summary” of the Old Farmer’s Almanacs from 1792 to 1999. The editor wanted it to be like a “suitcase you’ve packed for your journey into the next millennium.” It’s broken down into seven sections covering the human connection, health and food, self-reliance, animals, the sky, time and space and prediction. Here are some of the old sayings I found in the book — some interesting, some accurate, and some never proven to be true!
“When sheep collect and huddle, tomorrow will become a puddle.”
“St. Swithin’s Day (July 15) if thou dost rain, for 40 days it will remain.” (Not proven to be true.)
“Bats flying late in the evening foretell a fine next day.”
“Cows give more milk and the sea more fish when the wind’s from the west.”
“If a fowl roll in the sand, rain is at hand.”
“There’ll be one snow in the coming winter for every fog in August.”
The book also gives advice on using insects as thermometers. Grasshoppers are loudest at 95F, but can’t make noise below 62F. If you hear a house cricket, count how many times he chirps in 14 seconds and add 40 for the temperature where the cricket is. Ants don’t emerge from their dens unless it is 55F or above. Bees cluster outside their hive at 102F and inside at 57F. No noise from insects means it is 40F or below.
There are also tips on predicting the weather by the moon. Researchers are finding there is a correlation between the full moon, cloudiness, rainfall and thunderstorms. The full moon can raise the temperature of the lower four miles of the Earth’s atmosphere by a few hundredths of a degree – enough to affect the weather.
Weather & gardening wisdom from Ben Franklin
The second book I found at the library was Ben Franklin’s Almanac of Wit, Wisdom, and Practical Advice by The Old Farmer’s Almanac editors. Before the Old Farmer’s Almanac, there was Poor Richard’s Almanack, published by Ben Franklin from 1733-1758. It contained tables and weather predictions, along with whatever wisdom Franklin wanted to include. This book contains selections from his almanacs and information on Franklin’s life.
Here are some of the more interesting folklore sayings I found in this book:
”For every thunderstorm in February will be a cold spell in May.” (This is the one my farmer friend had heard!)
“If grass grows in January, it will grow badly the whole year.”
“When oak trees bend with snow in January, good crops my be expected.”
“When the cat in February lies in the sun, she will creep behind the stove again in March.”
“April snow breeds grass.”
“Old-timers in the upland South believe that frost will not occur after the dogwoods have bloomed.”
“If the ash leafs out before the oak, expect a wet season.”
“Frogs singing at dusk indicate fair weather to come.”
“Mist in May and heat in June makes the harvest right soon.”
“There will be as many frosts in June as there are fogs in February.”
“When hornets build their nests high, expect a hot summer.”
“Wet June, dry September.”
“If the wind be hushed with sudden heat, expect heavy rain.”
“When spiderwebs are wet with dew that soon dries, expect a fine day.”
“If the first week in August is unusually warm, the winter will be white and long.”
“Spiderwebs floating at autumn sunset, bring frost that night, on this you may bet.”
“If meadows are green at Christmas, at Easter they will be covered with frost.”
The book is chock full of tips on cooking, gardening, taking care of the house, how to find north without a compass, how to predict a frost using nature and animals. (The wider the black band on a brown wooly caterpillar, the more severe the winter will be.)
The classic American almanac
The Old Farmer’s Almanac is a classic, and a new, updated version is available each year. There is also a lot of information on their website. You can visit daily for a bit of advice (some is folklore). There are sections for weather, astronomy, gardening, calendars, food and advice. I think I might start checking my local forecast on their Web site and comparing it to the local news station’s forecast. You can get personalized gardening calendars and search their pest reference library.
I also asked my farmer friend if he could share any more folklore sayings he’s heard from the “old-timers” and pioneers of days gone by. Here is what he shared:
“If cows go in, rain will be short lasting. If they stay out, it’s going to rain a while.”
“You can always tell it’s going to rain if the leaves turn under and the flies bite.”
When referring to planting dates on corn, if you plant late due to weather, you lose a bushel (of yield potential) after the 10th of May. “A bushel per day after the 10th of May” the old saying goes.
After seeing some folklore sayings come true this year, I’m going to be paying more attention to nature when it comes to gardening and weather. I’m planning to buy some Old Farmer’s Almanac books and teach some of the folklore saying to my children as we see them come true. I already taught them about the June Bugs only coming out if the night was warm enough. I plan to take to heart the advice in Ben Franklin’s Almanac of Wit, Wisdom, and Practical Advice, to “… open your mind to the possibilities that exist to understand the world …”
Ethical Hunting during shtf Highlander “Survival & Tech Preps” The subject of food storage is a big thing with preppers and those that want to start prepping. But we often forget to look at the need for a backup plan to get our number one resource and that is sustenance. Hunting is one of the … Continue reading Ethical Hunting during shtf
In the area in which I live, there is a large population of poisonous snakes, namely rattlers. They are good in the sense that they consume large numbers of rodents that cause other problems. Personally, I have hiked this country for years and encounter rattlesnakes of various occasions, but have never felt threatened. I merely bypass the snake or if they are on a popular trail, I will throw something at them to get the off the trail. I see no need to kill them unless they are an immediate threat or I want the food.
In North America, there are four poisonous snakes that are divided into two classes, Coral snakes and pit vipers. Pit vipers include rattlers, cottonmouths (water moccasins) and copperheads.
Recognizing poisonous snakes in the United States is fairly easy.
- First look at the colors, some poisonous snakes like the coral snake have bright colors. The coral snake colors are always red, then yellow (thinner band), then black. Coral snakes and the similar looking (but harmless) King snake (red snout), are often mistaken for each other. Here’ how to remember: “Red touch yellow, kill a fellow.” (Deadly Coral snake) “Red touch black, friend of Jack.” (Harmless King snake)
- Coral snakes range from North Carolina down through Florida and over to Arizona.
- Pit vipers have a triangular shaped head.
- A pit viper will have a pit between the snake’s eyes and their nostrils. This is a heat-sensitive pit that helps them locate warm-blooded prey.
- If it has a rattle, it is a poisonous snake. Not all rattlers have a rattle, especially young ones.
- Cottonmouths or copperheads are water snakes. Only poisonous water snakes swim with their entire body on the surface of the water.
- Cottonmouths have a thick heavy body and are brown in color.
- Copperheads cause the most snakebites. Copperhead bites are painful, but rarely cause death.
- Copperheads are normally tan to copper in color.
- There are several types of rattlesnakes found in North America. They are found in all the continental states (except Alaska) and Southern Canada.
- Rattlesnakes vary in size from pygmy snakes to ones that will reach 6 ft in length. There colors vary mostly in shades of brown. Some will have diamond shapes on their backs.
- The rattlesnakes all have the distinctive triangle shaped head.
- If bitten check the bite mark.Two close-set puncture marks would indicate that the snake has fangs and is poisonous. If it leaves a ragged bite mark without the two close-set puncture marks, it is non-poisonous.
Now you can see that even with these guidelines you should learn more about the snakes that are in you operating area. In particular, learn which rattlers live near you.
Cats and dogs are often counted as one of the family. That means you need to prepare for your pets as well as everyone else. They’ll need to eat, even after the SHTF and you can’t run to the store and simply buy another 50-pound sack.
Since the fats in dry kibble quickly turn rancid, it’s not ideal for long-term storage. Canned food lasts longer, but it sure takes up a lot of space. And it’s more expensive.
What’s a loving pet owner to do? After all, vets would have you believe that you’re limited to commercial food if you want to keep your pet in good health. But if you can’t store up enough food to last for years on end.
Don’t get discouraged. With a little planning and work, you can store or raise what you need to keep your pet healthy and happy even after a crisis. Before we get to the details, let’s take a look at the very profitable pet food industry, and the actual nutritional needs for most cats and dogs.
A Quick History of Feeding Pets
Contrary to what many vets proclaim, your pet does not need pet food to thrive. Before the pet food industry exploded in popularity, people kept their animals alive just fine.
Back then, dogs were typically given bones, scraps that the family could afford to spare, and occasionally bread that had been soaked in milk. They also ate whatever else they scrounged. Their meals rarely consisted of exactly the same thing, and this variety helped them achieve a balanced diet that worked.
Cats hunted for birds and mice. They chased and ate butterflies and other insects. They were given extra milk from the milk pail, and perhaps some other scraps as they became available.
If pets truly needed commercially prepared food to survive, there wouldn’t be any pets around today. They simply wouldn’t have survived all of those years before it was invented.
But, the pet food industry doesn’t want you to know this. They are very profitable, and make lots of money by people believing the lies they’ve spread. Examining the brief history of the industry will help pet owners feel more confident in their ability to use common sense to feed their animals.
The first commercially available pet food was inspired by hardtack crackers. It was a meat, grain, and vegetable based cracker for dogs. It was easily portable, and contained nutrients that dogs needed.
A couple of decades later, canned dog food made an appearance. Horse meat was the main ingredient. In the 1930s, cat food also appeared on the shelves.
Dry kibble came after the canned variety. The tin rationing in the United States during World War II played a role in its invention. Another factor was the perfecting of the extruding process that was being used for cereal at the time.
Once dry pet food was available, the manufacturers dove into marketing. They created jingles, told everyone that table scraps would hurt their animals, and got veterinarians onboard. The public responded favorably, and started turning to commercial food as the main diet of their pets.
Nutritional Needs of Dogs
Since dogs don’t need commercial food, what do they need? As scavengers, dogs eat a variety of foods. They are opportunistic carnivores, preferring meat when it’s available. But, they’ll also eat grains and vegetables. Actually, there’s not much a dog won’t eat.
But, just because a dog can eat something doesn’t mean that it should. Many table foods are bad for pets. Chocolate is a common example. Onions and garlic (in excess) are others.
Video first seen on Veterinary Secrets.
Three Simple Recipes for Dogs
The Piles of Three
- Cooked or Raw Meat (rabbit, chicken, ground beef, lamb, tuna, etc.)
- Cooked Carbs (white rice, oats, quinoa, potatoes)
- Cooked or Raw Veggies (green beans, peas, carrots)
The recipe is simple. You mix one part of meat, one part of carbs, and one part of vegetable. Then feed your dog in appropriate sized portions for the breed and size.
This stew has to cook for quite a while to get the nutrients out of the bones and make them safe for your dog. It may not be appropriate for all SHTF scenarios, but if you’re cooking on a woodstove, or have another solid supply of heat, then it’s a great way to feed your dog from scraps! You’ll need:
- Meat scraps
- A couple of potatoes or sweet potatoes cut into chunks
- Green beans
Throw your meat scraps and bones into a large pot. Cover with water and simmer for several hours, until you can crush the bones easily between your fingers. Now, add the potatoes and green beans and let cook until those are soft. Mash the stew into appropriate sized pieces for your dog, and let cool before feeding.
Leave It Raw
Many dog owners are embracing the raw food diet. This actually would work quite well in a SHTF scenario, as long as you are raising meat for your family. You’ll need a combination of:
- Raw, meaty bones (rabbit, chicken backs and feet, meaty bones from cows, etc.)
- Whole prey
- Organ meat
Your dog will figure out how to eat it Just make sure that organ meat doesn’t make up a large portion of this diet.
Nutritional Needs of Cats
Cats and dogs are different in many ways, including their nutritional needs. While dogs are natural scavengers, cats in the wild typically hunt for their meals. They are obligate carnivores, which means they need animal-based protein.
Organ meat is an important piece of a cat’s diet. They need the taurine these parts provide.
But, you don’t want to feed your cat exclusively organ meat, or any other one type of food. As you’re preparing food for your cat, strive for approximately 80% meat, 10% organs, and 10% edible bones to mimic the food they’d hunt on their own.
Video first seen on Real Pet Tips.
Three Simple Recipes for Cats
If your cat is used to being outdoors and mousing, that’s a great way to provide a large chunk of its diet. Eating the organs, bones, and meat of the prey will help meet your cat’s nutritional needs. If that’s not possible during a crisis situation, you’ll need to prepare food.
A good quality meat grinder that can handle bones will make preparing this food easier for you and your cat. This is especially important if your cat isn’t used to chewing on large chunks of meat or small, raw bones. As they adjust to the diet, you can slowly transition to larger chunks.
It’s important to note that as a hunter species instead of a scavenger one, cats prefer warm or room temperature food. Many cats won’t touch cold food. To warm your homemade food, place it in a resalable container and submerge it in warm water for thirty minutes before feeding.
You’ll notice that meat is the star of all these recipes. Cats need meat. If you give your cat other foodstuff, that’s fine for a treat. Cats even eat grass occasionally! But the bulk of what they eat should be meat.
Canned Fish & Liver Meal
Canned fish makes a simple base for your cat’s diet. Look for a variety that includes the bones and skin, which will provide the calcium and fat your feline needs. Canned salmon, sardines, and mackerel often meet this requirement. The liver is added for the taurine, and is an important addition. You’ll need:
- A can of fish (undrained)
- A tablespoon of ground chicken liver
Mix the ingredients together and mash the large chunks before feeding.
Raw Chicken, Liver, & Heart
This recipe can make use of the liver and heart of any animals you are butchering, and some cooked chicken. You’ll need:
- 2 pounds of bone-in raw chicken thigh
- 3 ounces raw chicken liver
- 6 ounces raw chicken heart
Grind all the ingredients in a heavy duty meat grinder and feed.
Rabbit is an ideal meat for your cats. It’s a great proportion of muscle meat, organs, and edible bone. You’ll need:
- One rabbit (organs and bone included)
- Grind the rabbit. Feed in appropriate sized portions.
If your animals are currently on a commercially prepared diet, you’re going to want to stockpile a bit. That way you can slowly transition to this new way of eating over the course of a month. Your animal’s system will adapt better when you go this route as opposed to a cold turkey switch.
Cats are especially prone to turning their nose up at unfamiliar food. You might consider feeding your cat one of the above recipes for one meal a week now. That way when a crisis arises, the new food won’t be completely new.
Long-Term Feeding Tips
When you’re preparing for your pet, you’re going to want to make some long-term plans. Most pets will be a part of your family for many years, so think beyond a year or two.
If you have the space and ability, raising your own rabbits or chickens will help feed your pets along with the rest of your family. You can also let your animals hunt, keeping the rodent population down around your homestead.
By canning your own meat now, you’ll be able to build a stock-pile of meat. This can be used as a supplement to your pet’s diet when necessary.
If you have a dog, as you build your food storage, throw in extra rice and vegetables. Stored properly, dry rice and canned or dehydrated vegetables will last a long time.
Don’t Forget the Water!
Just like you need plenty of water for survival, your pets do too. It’s essential that you have a water supply on hand that’ll meet the needs of everyone in the household and all your animals.
Do you have a backup water plan? Do you have a way to filter water? Start making plans now before it’s too late.
Do You Make Your Own Pet Food?
By thinking outside of kibble, you can make a viable long-term feeding plan for all the pets in your life.
Do you make your own pet food? What are your solutions for long-term feeding? I’d love for you to share additional tips and tricks in the comments section below.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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The other day I was talking to a friend who lives in one of the Rocky Mountain States. It seems that they have an unusual heavy influx of voles this year. They have killed several of his young fruit trees by girdling them. Now I have talked to a surprising number of people who live in my area, who have never even heard of voles even though they are fairly common. People are just not used to growing and having to depend on their gardens. I know some who try to grow a garden and if they get lucky once, they think they are great gardeners and if the garden fails, they just go to the store. So how do you go about protecting your garden.
Now if you have to live ofd what you raise it all changes. You have to take the time to learn about protecting your garden. What do you do when voles, woodchucks, squirrels, gophers, rabbits, moles, and other furry little mammals attack your gardens. I am sure your first impulse is to grab a shotgun like Elmer Fudd and blast them to smithereens. But there are better alternatives.
Start by identifying the animal that is causing the damage and then learn a little about the habits of that animal. This knowledge is essential for putting together an effective solution.
Make your garden less attractive to wildlife. Eliminate hiding or nesting areas, such as brush piles and tall grass. Seal off access to crawl spaces beneath your porch or deck. Minimize other food sources: covering your compost pile will discourage raccoons, cleaning up bird seed will discourage squirrels, and using Milky Spore and beneficial nematodes on your lawn will reduce grub populations, which are a favorite food of moles and skunks.
A 4-foot-diameter circle around the base of young trees or vines that is free of vegetation or a buffer strip 4 feet or more along a row of trees can reduce problems, because voles and many other small animals prefer not to feed in the open.
Voles and meadow mice cause damage by feeding on a wide range of garden plants including artichoke, beet, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, spinach, sweet potato, tomato, and turnip.
Gophers: Gophers are difficult to scare or repel. Castor oil sprayed on the garden may work. If gophers are a serious problem, you may want to go to the trouble of lining the sides and bottom of your garden (at a depth of 2 feet) with hardware cloth. Gopher-resistant wire baskets can be placed in planting holes before planting. For persistent problems, use traps and poisons.
Moles: Moles are carnivores and don’t eat plants, but they burrow in search of grubs, earthworms, and other insects. This can damage the plants by disturbing the roots.
Squirrels: They’re likely to eat fruits, nuts, berries, seedlings, bark and bulbs. You can’t get rid of squirrels permanently. You can try deterrents like spraying bad-tasting sprays on favorite plants and protect your bulbs in fall by covering them with chicken wire; the bulbs will grow right through it in spring. You can shoot them with a pellet rifle, and use them for food. Squirrels can be good eating
Rabbits eat flower gardens and plants of vegetables. In fall and winter, they damage valuable woody plants. You can fence them out, use traps or even poisons.
Some ideas for protecting your garden.
- There are poison baits that are effective against most, however they pose a danger to pets that may consume them.
- Smoke bombs and traps kill many types of pests and can be a method to help reduce the population. Trapping can also be a food source for either you or your dogs.
- A dog or even a cat can help with protecting your garden from pests
- Scent repellents, such as garlic clips, castor oil and predator urine can be effective temporary solutions but they need to be reapplied to remain effective. Products made with hot peppers can deter nibbling rabbits.
- Don’t leave dishes with pet food outdoors.
- Don’t put your trash out in plastic bags; use metal cans with locking lids.
- Don’t pile firewood up against the side of a home or shed; it creates a perfect place for rats and other small animals to nest, a friend made this mistake
Just remember these small animals hate to be in the open where they are exposed to predators, so keep the areas around your gardens and trees clean.
The post Protecting Your Garden from Rodents and Other Small Animals appeared first on Preparedness Advice Blog.
Now when you go to choose guard animals, the first and most important thing that you have to decide is what do you want the animals to do. If you live in an apartment or house in an urban area your needs will be entirely different that someone who lives in the country and raises animals.
If you live in an apartment you may want a small dog that will give you early warning of a threat. A good example would be one of the smaller terriers. They can be trained and are fairly alert. With a bit of training they make a good watchdog. One advantage to them is that they do not consume a large amount of food.
If you live in a single family home in either a rural or an urban area and have a decent size yard, you may want to consider a large watchdog that will also attack. There are some advantages to a large dog that will bite. However, there are also some disadvantages. One you had better train the dog well, so you don’t have it attack the wrong person and end up in a lawsuit. A large dog takes more exercise and consumes more food.
Now if you live in the country and are raising stock, you may want a guardian dog. They are generally large breeds that can intimidate a predator on looks alone. These dogs are often vocal and bark when anything appears suspicious or out of the ordinary. As a last resort, good guardian dogs will attack the predator. Both males and females can protect equally well against bears, mountain lions, other dogs, coyotes, bobcats and wolves. They intimidate raccoons, skunks, possums, weasels and foxes. One dog can guard a fairly large herd, but you probably want two or more, as some predators will split the herd or flock to confuse the guardian dogs.
The dog to food ratio brings up an interesting point. Are you better off to have a small dog that provides plenty of warning and eats little versus a large dog that will give warning and bites, but eats lots of food. This is a decision you will have to make for yourself.
If you are choosing a dog for one of the above purposes, spent some time researching the breeds in which you are interested. Make sure that you understand what the dog is capable of doing. Many people overestimate the attack capabilities of their dogs. You have to spend time with the dog and make sure it is correctly trained.
Depending on where you live there are other choices in guard animals
Watchdogs can be a great way to protect your home or property from intruders. However, many people aren’t aware there are other options when looking for guard animals. There are several other animals that, when trained, can help to prevent intruders from being able to enter your home and property. These animals are usually fairly easy to keep, requiring little to no maintenance. In addition to this, they also have a strong territorial instinct that will help motivate them to defend against any potential intruders.
A small flock of geese can be effective guard animals. Geese are territorial, and will defend their domain. In addition to this, geese are alert to any sign of danger and will make a lot of noise. This danger could be intruders, potential burglars, or even predatory animals. When searching for guard geese that are right for your home’s security, you may want a flock that consists of three to five females and one male. Try to keep only one male goose in your flock, since this will mean that you will not have to deal with fights between the males in your flock during mating season. Geese are good in farmyard type setting and can provide eggs and extra meat.
If you have flocks of goats, sheep etc, you may want to consider a guard donkey or llama; both make surprisingly good guard animals. Due to problems with predators, sheep herders were the first to begin training donkeys to guard their flocks. In terms of success, it is said that over 70% of donkeys are able to effectively and completely protect a flock of goats or sheep from dangerous predators. A donkey’s primary method of guarding involves a combination of braying, kicking, stomping and chasing off intruders.
Many people believe llamas to be docile, slow-learning, slightly eccentric animals that are able to projectile vomit on command. Llamas are also fairly territorial, and will defend their domain with aggressive behavior. In South America llamas, like donkeys, are often used by sheep herders in order to protect livestock from dangerous predators. As a guard animal for your home, it’s possible to train a llama to defend your property from any potential intruders.
Donkeys and llamas can consume the same food as the goats or sheep, but will require other care to remain healthy. The following are links to further information on Donkeys and llamas.
Whatever guard animals you are interested in you need to spend some time learning about them and making sure that they will met you expectations.
In the past, I have written several articles on rats and other rodents. Most of us have never had a real problem with rats. In many of the areas in which we live rats are hardly ever seen and rarely cause a problem.
After a real disaster this would change. Without the controls and efforts of government and the easy availability of poisons, rats and other rodents will multiply over time. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, we may have a short respite right after the disaster while the rats recover and start to multiply. Check the article Rodent Control Problems After TEOTWAWKI for more information on this.
Ok so how do you keep the rats under control? First, take advantage of the lull. Kill every rat you see so that they don’t get a chance to multiply. Once they are established its much harder to get rid of them.
So why are we so concerned about rats? Mainly for two reasons, they complete with us for food and they spread disease. This includes diseases like Hantavirus, Leptospirosis and the plague. The plague killed thousands of people during the dark ages in Europe; it was spread by the fleas the rats carried. The rats will attack your food supply and contaminate what they do not eat. Rats mark their territory with urine and feces as they explore their surroundings. This helps them keep a scent-marked path that they can safely use over and over again. They will urinate and defecate on your food. Make sure your foods are properly package and stored in rat proof containers or areas. Rats can chew through 5 gallon plastic buckets, so we store them in a rat proof container.
You need to kill every rat that you see and at the same time make your home as rat proof as possible. You need to keep the following building supplies on hand so that you can properly maintain your home and do any needed repairs to keep it rat and rodent proof.
- 19-gauge or greater metal mesh, wire screening, or hardware cloth (1/4-inch or less spacing is preferred),
- steel wool,
- heavy-duty caulk or elastomeric sealant
- Expanding foam.
- Small holes can often be covered with metal that you recycle from tin cans.
We have expanded our preps to include rat poison, rat traps, and a reel mower to keep the grass down around our home. Minimizing the available cover near your home that rats can live in will help. This sometimes is a problem because the thorny bushes you plant to keep people out provide great homes for rats and other rodents.
If you have poultry, remember that nothing, attracts rats and mice faster than chicken feed. Keep it sealed in a metal container, and don’t put out a lot of extra. A good cat can help. But our best solution has been traps. With our homemade ones we have been able to catch several rats at a time. The two following posts talk a bit about how to protect your home and the second tell you about the homemade rat traps we have used.
The problem of rats and rodents can be solved, but a bit of preplanning can make it alot easier.
The post Rats and Other Rodents can be a Real Problem after TEOTWAWKI appeared first on Preparedness Advice Blog.
This post today is on a subject that is hard for many people to face. We are a nation that loves our pets mostly, cats and dogs. Huge amounts of money are spent on them and the vast majority of them are not working animals. By working I mean cats that hunt for their food, hunting dogs, herd dogs, guard dogs etc. The rest are merely companions, and I know this is very important to some people. So what arrangements have you made for your pets?
I suspect that a good many people will just turn them loose, when food is short. Some will put them to sleep, which is the most humane thing to do. A few might even eat them. I believe that turning them loose to fend for themselves; will be the cruelest thing to do to the majority of pets. They will starve, die from exposure or be eaten by other animals or hunters. Some larger stronger animals will survive and in the case of dogs form packs, which will prey on livestock or even people.
As the pet owner, you are responsible for what happens to the animal. You will notice that in third world countries not many people keep pets. So what are you going to do with yours?
This is a decision you should make ahead of time. The decision is easy if it is a good healthy working dog. The dog could be very valuable for your survival. If it is, a home pet of no real value other than as a companion or an older or sick animal, the decision becomes harder
So you have made the decision to keep your pets what comes next.
The pet should be kept current on their vaccinations. Keep a copy of the vaccination records in your bug-out-bag, first aid kit, or on the flash drive that you will carry with you if you have to leave.
Make sure that you have enough food stored to take care of your pet. This could be quite a bit depending on the size of your animal. A large dog can consume a surprising amount of food. If they are not working and paying their way, this can be a problem.
It doesn’t hurt to have medical supplies you need for your animals. This could include any prescription meds they are taking. You can even get Medical Kits for your dogs, like the one sold by Adventure Medical.
You need to be prepared in case you have to bugout. If you have to bug out on foot, you want saddlebags for your dogs and depending on the weather and terrain, cold weather vest and boots. If you have a small dog or cat, you need to plan how you will carry it. If you have to move by car, make sure you have a crate or carrier.
Another consideration is noise; you may want to start to train your dog to be quite on command in cause you have to hide.
I guess the main point I am trying to make here is that if you want to save your pet, you have to plan for them just as you would for another person. This is the reason that you need to make your plans ahead of time.
I recently had a conversation about breeding rabbits for food after TEOTWAWKI. The gentleman I was talking with was somewhat skeptical about breeding rabbits for meat, because he had heard about rabbit starvation. Now rabbit starvation is a condition that occurs from a lack of fat. People eating only wild rabbits and no other foods have been known to stave from the lack of fat. Now these are wild rabbits, not the fat lazy ones you are raising. Yours have fat inside their bodies and in their organ meat. Plus you should be eating other foods.
Rabbits are a good source of protein for the prepper. Starting with one buck and 3 or 4 does, you can raise enough meat to feed a small family for the year. You will need to clean cages, and gather grass and weeds for them. But they are among the easiest animals to raise and butcher.
The best three breeds for meat that I have encountered are the Californian, New Zealand, and the American Chinchilla. Now I know there are other breeds that may be as good or better. So if you are considering breeding rabbits, talk to a local breeder and see what grows well in your area.
13 reasons for breeding rabbits
- Rabbits take up very little room; They can be easily hidden in a outbuilding or behind a fence.
- Rabbits are quiet
- Rabbits can be butchered as needed; you can use the meat in one day so there is no problem with spoilage.
- Rabbits sexually mature at about 5 to 6 months.
- One buck can breed up to 10 does.
- Each doe can produce up to 45 to 50 kits per year. At 3 lbs of dressed out meat each, they can produce up to 150 lbs of meat in a year.
- Rabbits have a very short gestation period of 31 days and can be bred 2 weeks after giving birth.
- Rabbit manure is good fertilizer.
- Rabbits are herbivores and can eat plants that you could not. They won’t compete with you for food.
- Rabbits can be raised in many different climates. Talk to a local breeder to see which breeds are best for your area.
- Rabbit fur is great for making hats, mittens, blankets, coats etc!
- Rabbit is delicious and can be cooked in many different ways, such as frying, baking, roasting, smoking it, and more.
- Cages can be made with easily available materials, here a link to 12 Free Rabbit Hutch Plans and Designs
To sum it up breeding rabbits is easy, economical and can be done in a small area. It is a good meat source for preppers.
Food has long been a focus of society. While our modern way of life includes regular trips to the grocery store, where there is more variety than we know what to do with, our ancestors didn’t have it quite that easy. We are literally only a few generations away from a time in which people hoarded their food, both on the westward trail and in their root cellars, just to make sure they would make it through winter.
Other than the last century or so, the need to stockpile food has been the main effort of people the world over. With harvest times coming only once a year, the size of the harvest and how well it was preserved determined whether the next year would be one of lack or plenty. When drought occurred, it would be a serious enough event to destroy villages, major cities and even entire cultures.
Going west, a Conestoga wagon or a converted farm wagon made into a prairie schooner was mostly filled with food, as well as other necessities. While some families started out with expensive furniture in their wagons, that was soon left by the wayside, lightening the load, so they could keep their all-important food. A typical load of food would consist of the following for each adult in the family. Similar provisions for children would be brought along, with the quantities adjusted for their size.
- 200 pounds of flour (could be any type of flour, not just wheat flour)
- 30 pounds of pilot bread (otherwise known as hardtack)
- 2 pounds of saleratus (baking soda)
- 10 pounds of salt
- Half a bushel of corn meal
- Half a bushel of parched and ground corn
- 25 pounds of sugar
- 10 pounds of rice
- 75 pounds of bacon
- 5 pounds of coffee
- 2 pounds of tea
- Half a bushel of dried beans
- 1 bushel of dried fruit
- A small keg of vinegar
Once leaving Independence, Missouri, there would be little chance of resupply. That food would have to last them, augmented by whatever they could hunt and any berries they could find. While there were a few military posts with Sutler’s stores (general stores that provided the military), they were few and far between.
So, what did our ancestors do with this and what did they really eat? Well, a lot of it would seem rather normal to us, but there was also a lot that was not normal. Some things that we wouldn’t even recognize. However, it all had one thing in common: Food that the pioneers ate had to be non-perishable, as they had no way of refrigerating it.
1. Buffalo, bear, cougar and squirrel
One of the easiest ways for pioneers to restock or stretch their food supplies was to hunt. Hunting provided them with fresh meat, something they had no chance of bringing with them. But that meant they ate whatever they could find. Crossing the Great Plains, buffalo were common, so they were eaten. When they got into the mountains of Colorado, Wyoming and points west, the buffalo were replaced by bear, cougar and deer. They would even eat squirrels, if they couldn’t find anything else.
Jim Bridger, the mountain man, claimed that cougar meat was the best there was. While cougars weren’t anywhere near as common as deer, when one came along, it was often eat or be eaten. You’d better be quick with your rifle, or you just might end up as dinner.
Shooting a squirrel was difficult, as the size of the bullet would destroy much of the usable meat. They didn’t have .22 caliber rifles back then. So instead of shooting the squirrel, they’d “bark it” by shooting the bark of the tree, just beneath it. This would knock the squirrel off the tree, unconscious, saving the meat.
2. The insides of the animals, too
They couldn’t afford to let anything go to waste. So, it wasn’t unusual for pioneers to eat parts of the animal which we would turn our noses up at. Brain, heart, tongue, liver and even intestines were eaten, often cut up and put in something.
This practice is still common in much of the world today. While we don’t eat much other than the muscles of the animals, in Mexico they eat the tongue, cheek meat, heart, liver, intestines and stomach. Some of these are used for special recipes, which are considered near delicacies by the Mexicans.
3. Frying pan bread
Baking bread on the trail was nearly impossible, so instead, they made frying pan bread. This was basically biscuits, cooked in a frying pan, rather than in an oven. Biscuits and bacon were one of the staples of the trail.
While you might think that breads are breads, breads were much different back then. You might not recognize them for what they were. First of all, most flour was whole grain, not our white pastry flour. While white flour did exist, it wasn’t common, except in the larger cities.
They also didn’t have the same types of leaven that we have today. Most women “made” their own yeast, by leaving a container of “sourdough starter” open for bacteria to invade it. This would then be saved, allowing them to make bread every day.
But these breads were much heavier and heartier than the breads we know today. A loaf of bread on the frontier probably weighed two to three pounds, even though it was smaller than our common one pound loaf. But that bread stuck with you longer, providing more nutrition and calories than our modern breads do.
4. Salt pork
While bacon was the most common preserved meat they’d eat, those in the military usually had to make do with salt pork. This is much like bacon, but without as much meat. Essentially, a piece of salt pork is a chunk of fat, with a little pork meat running through it. Soldiers would be issued salt pork as their version of combat rations, whenever they were on the move. They’d slice it and fry it, eating it with pan bread.
5. Yucca root
The root of the yucca plant is something like a potato. As the southwest was settled, this became a staple for many of the people, as the land was already littered with yucca plants. Tougher than our potato, and more fibrous, it was nevertheless a good source of carbohydrates. Cut up and boiled in water, it would soften up and make a great filler for soups and stews.
6. Pine nuts
The pine cone we know so well really isn’t the seed of the pine tree, but rather the husk for that seed. Hidden deep within its many scales are pine nuts, which are the seeds. These can be removed by simply banging the pine cone upside-down on a hard surface.
Pine nuts can be eaten raw, or toasted, much like many other nuts. They have a distinct, but pleasant flavor. Like many nuts, they are an excellent source of fats, which they needed. Little of what they ate had much in the way of fats in it. Wild animals don’t grow anywhere near the amount of fat that our domesticated animals do, and they couldn’t go to the store for a bottle of cooking oil.
7. Acorn bread
Acorns, the seeds of the oak tree, are plentiful in some parts of the country. A seed, they are much like many other nuts. Gathered, they can be roasted to dry them and then ground, making flour out of it. Like the flour of any other grain, this can then be turned into bread. For some pioneers who didn’t have access to resupplies of wheat flour, acorn bread and cornbread were the only breads they had available.
What would you add to our list? Share your knowledge in the section below:
One of the best things about living off-grid is that you can make some money while living your dream lifestyle. I’m not talking about millions of dollars, but instead hundreds or thousands of dollars — enough to supplement other sources of income, which allows you to continue living off-grid.
For these, you likely already have experience in them or already are involved:
1. Selling surplus protein
Many off-the-grid homesteads have a collection of small animals raised for protein. Chicken and rabbits are common, but other fowl or fish are also possible. One easy way to make some extra money is to sell surplus protein. For example, you can only eat so many eggs at a time. So if your hens are rocking, sell the extra eggs.
The key is diversity. Many off-the-grid homesteaders focus on one or two animals, so eating chicken or rabbit every day can be monotonous. Your neighbors, who may raise cattle or pigs, may be eager customers for a few meals of chicken or rabbit rather than beef or pork. Word can spread quickly, and you even could sell the items at the local farmers’ market.
2. Selling surplus produce
The same goes for the output of your garden. Make a special effort to grow something different and uncommon that other nearby neighbors will happily buy from you. For example, while everyone grows potatoes and carrots, consider some other root vegetables like salsify, parsnip, or sunchokes. Again, variety is the spice of life, and neighbors and others in town may happily pay you for something different from the ordinary.
3. Growing grains
If you have the available land and labor (like a horse or a tractor), growing grains is a moneymaker. People are naturally drawn to buying locally, and if you can offer something relatively unique like quinoa, sorghum or amaranth, this will be a welcome change to corn or flour. You could bake and sell bread, cakes and other delights made from your own flour.
You also can expand this to growing fodder for your neighbors’ pigs or cows.
4. Making household supplies
Another way to make some extra money is to focus on making household supplies that every homestead needs. Canning food, growing and producing herbal remedies, tanning, making soap, and making candles are all options. The best part about these options is that you can use supplies readily available on the homestead.
For example, candles use rendered animal fat. Soap can be made from lye. Herbal remedies come from the flowers and herbs in the garden. Finally, consider woodworking. While today’s shops are noisy places filled with buzzing saws and loud drills, people have built simple furniture and other items for centuries without modern tools or electricity.
5. Using your technical expertise
Most off-the-gridders rely on some type of modern device for power – solar power, diesel generators or hydropower are common options. While all of these technologies are great alternatives to buying from the electric company, some degree of technical know-how is necessary to troubleshoot and repair an off-grid power source that’s not working.
So if you have solar power, become an expert on inverters and batteries. If you have a diesel generator, learn how to diagnose and fix any common generator problem. Likely, you and your neighbors live in remote areas, so those near you will appreciate having someone close by to troubleshoot and repair their off-grid power systems.
While many of us cherish books, a lot of us learn by searching the Internet. You can make some money by setting up a website and writing blogs about your own off-grid living experiences.
Often, people living off-the-grid can use some supplemental income. By putting your labor and homestead bounty to work, you can provide goods and services that others in the nearby community will readily pay for.
What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:
Every organism needs to eat. It is a fact of life. Another fact is that a hungry creature is going to expend the least possible amount of energy it takes in order to reap the greatest possible reward.
For example, you would not walk a mile to get a banana if you could get a similar one by walking into the next room. Nor would you buy food for which you had to work three hours to earn the money for it, in lieu of buying comparable food for which you had to work only a half hour.
Animals operate similarly. If they can get your chickens more easily than they can catch a wild bird, they will. Like us, they weigh the costs and benefits. We compare cheap food with unsavory side effects to that which is higher cost and higher value. A wild predator, too, will have to take into account that scoring a chicken or lamb comes at the cost of ranging dangerously close to humans.
Do not hate wildlife. They are not evil beings for menacing your livestock. It’s nothing personal. They just want to eat the best food they can, at the lowest cost to themselves.
It is the job of the farmer and homesteader to make the potential cost of eating domestic animals so high that wild predators move along and choose a different option.
At my place, we have an implicit agreement. My animals provide me with eggs, milk, brush clearing, poison ivy control, meat, and hides. In return, I give food, shelter, health care, decent living conditions, and as much protection as I can.
There are some things you can do to keep your domestic animals off the raw local foods menu.
1. Control your livestock’s whereabouts. This seems simple and obvious, and it usually is. Keeping your animals surrounded by fence, inside a barn, and near to the house is your first line of defense. The ability and need to do this varies among species, across geography, and even day to day. Beef cattle might live out on the range with less protection than week-old turkey poults, but they are less vulnerable. Small ruminants are often safe out grazing during the day but are better off being locked up in the barn at night.
2. Control predator access. We use a high-voltage charger on our electric mesh fencing and have been asked by visitors if that much punch is really necessary to keep goats in. The answer is no, but the fence’s primary purpose is not to keep goats in. It is to keep predators out.
Portable electric fence won’t keep out all predators and won’t operate year-round in some climates. Physical barriers can also be effective. Fence openings need to be small enough to keep out whatever species of predators are the greatest threat. I have heard of cases where a weasel repeatedly got into the chickens, and the owners kept replacing the enclosure until they got down to one inch mesh before they were able to stop the attacks.
Concerns of predators digging under fences can be allayed by burying the fence below the surface.
3. Use a deterrent. There are countless methods on the market, from electronic motion-sensor gadgets that emit light and sound to animal urine to deterrent powders. There are old-fashioned decoys available, such as lifelike owl statues to scare off birds. Some people advocate old-timey remedies such as scattering human hair or urine around the perimeter. As for the effectiveness of these methods, there are probably as many opinions as there are types of deterrents. If you see something that makes sense to you, try it. It might work for you but not for someone else, or vice versa.
4. Be present. The more time you spend out in the barnyard and beyond, the more it screams “Humans Live Here!” to hungry hunters scouting the area. Walk around the outer reaches of your property as much as you can, leaving the scent from the bottom of your shoes that will be off-putting to predators. I make sure my dog and I crisscross the area between the habitats of domestic and wild animals every day, just to let them know we’re still around.
5. Bring in some hired bodyguards. I don’t mean the kind of people who surround the president’s motorcade. I mean the kind of no-nonsense animals for whom barnyard security is a way of life. Livestock guardian dogs are often the go-to. They are usually big strong breeds with a streak of independence and the ability to make their own decisions. The need to protect their flocks and herds is in their genes, and some of them even sleep during the day and patrol the perimeter at night.
If a dog is not right for your budget or training skills, consider a guard llama or donkey. These animals are often used to keep goats and sheep safe from predation, and are known not only for engaging in physical combat when necessary but also for making some serious noise when a threat is afoot.
Sometimes an alarm call is sufficient. The loud bray of a donkey or screech of a guinea fowl warns everyone within earshot whether they speak the same language or not. When my dogs bark at something out front of the house, the goats browsing way out back drop everything and stampede to the barn. It’s a universal call of danger, and everyone gets it.
Barnyard animals will often seek the protection of one another on their own. My chickens follow the goats, not only to pick over anything left behind, but for safety in numbers.
6. When all else fails, do what you have to do. If it is legal to shoot a persistent barnyard stalker where you live and you have the ability to do so, sometimes that is the only answer. We had a fox after the chickens one summer, growing increasingly bold until it was slinking into the chicken pen in daylight hours while people were in the garden less than 50 yards away. We knew it was him or the chickens, and my husband lay in wait one morning and got him.
Remember to make sure it is legal. Many states make exceptions to licensing and season laws for farmers, but not all do. And most laws regarding birds of prey are very strict. A bald eagle came after my chickens last summer, and the best we could do was keep them indoors for a few days until the eagle got bored and moved on. It is never legal under any circumstances to kill or injure an eagle, and laws regarding many other birds of prey are prohibitive as well.
Some people prefer trapping. I personally do not believe in it. Leg hold traps are dangerous to domestic animals and can cause the perpetrator to suffer unduly. Have-a-Heart traps do no physical harm to the animal, and can result in relocating a creature. I will not deny that traps are the best option for certain situations, so use your own judgement.
Extra vigilance is required in some seasons. Predation threats to livestock naturally increase when wild food is more scarce or harder to access. Winter conditions can cause hunters to become desperate, and can cause barnyard animals to become more easily attainable. Snowpack makes scaling fences easier and muffles sound.
Spring births place livestock more at risk, as well, for all the reasons one might expect — the birth event, possible weakness and distraction of the mother, and the irresistibility of the newborn tasty morsel.
If your predator threat is significant, you may well not be successful using just one method of predation protection. Livestock guardian dogs are extremely effective but not foolproof, and most of the other methods are imperfect. A combination of two or more methods is wise, especially if you change them up occasionally and ramp them up in periods of higher threats.
At the end of the day, while you cannot blame a hungry coyote or bobcat for wanting an easy meal, you will still be responsible for the safety of your livestock. Use these ideas and due diligence to stay one step ahead of predators and keep your animals from becoming victims of predation.
What advice would you add on keeping predators away? Share your tips in the section below:
There’s no doubt that having fresh milk is a wonderful thing, and an awesome reason for keeping cows right now. Good meat is currently available cut and ready to toss on the grill or in the oven, so there’s not need to butcher your own cow right now.
But what if SHTF? Will you know how to turn that cow in the pasture into a steak in the freezer? After this post, you will.
Warning: Before reading this, you need to know that it’s a bit gory. You are, after all, taking a life animal’s life, disemboweling it, then removing its skin and cutting it into edible chunks. If reading that sentence makes you gag, you may want to stop reading because it’s going to get even more graphic from here on out.
Though butchering has never been one of my favorite parts of farming, it’s necessary and natural. The key is to do it humanely and properly so that the animal doesn’t suffer and the meat doesn’t go bad and make the death a waste.
We always had a firm policy on the farm for hunting and butchering; there were only three reasons to kill an animal: to eat it, to put it out of its misery, or as a last resort to protect life and limb. That’s it. Now, that being said, let’s get down to the business of butchering, and see what steps to follow.
1. Picking the Right Season
Now, there’s not always going to be this option, but ideally, you want to butcher when it’s cold but close enough to spring that you’re not going to have a 2-month-long freeze. This is because you’re going to hang the meat (more on this later) for at least a day or two and you don’t want heat or bugs to become an issue.
2. Preparing Your Tools
You’re going to need a loaded gun, rubber gloves and extremely sharp knives. A small butcher knife will do for now. A hay hook will come in handy, too.
3. Picking a Spot
You need to bring the cow to an area that’s clean and drains well. You also want the area to be accessible by backhoe or equipment that can at least lift the cow high enough for it to be fairly vertical. Finally, you’ll have to get the carcass out of the area, so pick a spot that meets all of those needs.
4. Killing the Cow
Bring the cow to the killing area. You want to kill it with one shot, humanely. To do that, mentally draw a line from the base of each ear to the inside corner of the opposite eye. Where the lines intersect is the kill spot.
Shoot the cow from a few feet away on that spot. If you’re not a competent shot or if you’re not comfortable doing this, ask somebody who possesses both qualities to do it for you. Now is no time for a shaky hand – you want to do the job with one shot.
Any gun from a .22 caliber and up will do. As soon as the cow drops, pull its head up to expose its throat. Slit its throat right behind its jaw clear through the carotid artery. At this point, the cow is brain dead but its heart may still be beating a bit, which will help pump all of the blood out of the body. This will make for a much cleaner slaughter in the following steps.
A cow has A LOT of blood, so it will likely take a half hour or so for it to bleed out. There may be some thrashing in the beginning, but as long as you shot it properly, it’s brain dead and not suffering.
5. Gutting the Cow
This part is where things start to get a bit messy. We always “bunged” the cow – cut around the anus and tie off the end of the intestine so that fecal matter doesn’t get into the cavity and contaminate the meat.
Now roll the cow over on its back and make an incision from the sternum to the anus. Make this incision as shallow as possible; you only want to cut through the thin stomach muscles, not into the guts.
Hopefully you have help; if so, have them hook the hay hook through the stomach hide and muscles on the top side, if the cow has rolled onto its side, or on the far side away from you. Have them pull the skin and muscle back so that you have access to the innards. If you’re going to be using the heart, liver or other organs, now is the time to get them.
You can start rolling them out from the front back now but you don’t have to get them completely out because you’re going to be lifting the cow in a minute and gravity will pull the rest of them out.
Next, make a slice between the bone and the tendon of each of the cow’s rear legs, right above the joint that holds the hoof. Be careful not to slice through the tendon because you’re going to need its strength to hang the cow. Slide a sturdy piece of wood or pipe through the slits and attach the ends to a hoisting line, which you’ll attach to your come-along.
Now of course if you don’t have equipment, this next step is going to be hard work because you’re going to manually toss the line over a limb, or through the rings on a tripod, and hoist the cow up so that it’s hanging. You can also use a manual come-along.
If you have the equipment, you can attach the end of the line to your come-along and pull the cow over an extremely sturdy tree limb (it’s going to be holding a cow!) or you can use a large tripod made for this.
Be aware, because once the cow starts lifting, the rest of the innards are going to flop out and if you’re in the line of fire, you’re going to need a shower!
When you have the cow hung, it’s time to start skinning it.
6. Skinning the Cow
If you’re going to be using the hide (of course you are!), you need to skin it carefully so that you don’t puncture the hide. Make cuts all the way around the rear legs just above (well, below, now) the hock. Make a cut that goes through the hide but not into the meat down the inside of the leg to the cut that you made for the anus. Cut off the tail at the base.
Using an EXTREMELY sharp skinning knife, start separating the hide from the meat, starting at the cuts that you made on the rear legs. You’ll notice that the skin starts to kind of peel off – use that space to continue skinning. Work your way around the cow so that the hide is coming off evenly all the way around it.
When you get to the head and front legs, make a cut in the hide all the way around the head and all the way around each front leg above the knee. Some people just make the cut at the top of the leg but I like to get that extra little bit of hide if possible.
Cut up the inside of the front legs to the incision that you made when gutting the cow. Next, complete the cut from the sternum to the cut that you just made around the neck. Finish removing the skin.
Now it’s time to take the carcass to the barn or wherever you’re going to hang it. The easiest way to do that is to quarter it, but that’s a story for another article!
There are many different methods to killing, slaughtering, and skinning a cow. The guys from the video below are doing it a little bit different, according to they means and available equipment, but you still got the idea, don’t you?
Video first seen on TheFlyingKiwi.
I know that the content of this article is a bit sensitive but having fresh, nutrient-rich meat for your family will make it all worth it. If you don’t want to do it now, that’s fine, but if SHTF, it’s a skill that will come in handy.
I may have left something out because the process is so familiar to me. But if you have any comments or alternate methods to share, please do so in the comments section below!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
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Keeping your home safe in normal times really isn’t all that hard. Install a deadbolt or two, call your local alarm company and make sure your windows are all locked. That will take care of you for most situations. Of course, that’s in the city, where police can get to you rapidly, and it’s working under the assumption that the criminals you want protection from don’t want to attract attention.
But move out into the country and go off-grid, and the equation changes drastically. An alarm system isn’t going to bring police running, and neighbors probably won’t see what’s going on. Criminals won’t be worried about being caught, because they know that there’s no way the police can get there in time. Add in a disaster situation and you can forget about the police altogether.
People in these situations need to take care of their own home security. Actually, I have to say that we all do, considering that it takes an average of 11 minutes for police to respond to a 911 call, and the average home break-in is over in about 90 seconds. So, in a sense, we’re all off-grid when it comes to security.Start with the Right Alarm
Start with the Right Alarm
The typical alarm company will install a silent alarm, which will call the police if your perimeter is breached. Sensors on doors and windows activate if they are opened (and the alarm is not turned off). Some systems have motion detectors for the interior, as well, in case an intruder manages to bypass the perimeter sensors.
The big fallacy with this sort of system is that it doesn’t activate until the intruder is already entering the home. You don’t want to wait that long. That’s why natural alarms are much better. Dogs, donkeys and guinea hens will all start making a racket the moment that an intruder steps foot on your property.
These aren’t silent alarms that call the police; they are noisy alarms to let you know what is going on. Hearing your natural alarm go off gives you an opportunity to take action, before the intruder enters your home.
You might also want to consider some sort of perimeter alarm, such as trip wires. The problem is that you need to build the trip wire in such a way that you’ll be able to hear it from within the house or anywhere on your property; otherwise, the trip wire doesn’t accomplish a thing.
Harden Your Home
The second step in this process is making it hard for any intruder to get into your home. There’s an old saying that “locks keep honest people honest.” The way that works is that if it is hard enough to break into your home, most people will give up. So, don’t just depend on a deadbolt to keep your home safe; make your doors and windows harder to break through.
The weakness for most entry doors is that the deadbolt goes into the door frame, with the striker plate held in place by ¾-inch screws. The average man can kick through that door, breaking the deadbolt out through the door frame, without much effort. But by changing out the normal striker plate out for a security striker plate, installed with 3 ½-inch long screws, you make it much stronger. Use the same screws for the hinges, and the door becomes very hard to kick open.
Of course, there are other things you can do to strengthen your door, like using a prop against the door. This old-fashioned method of securing a door is as effective today as it ever was. Simply cut a 2×4 or 2×6 to the correct length, to go from below the door knob to the base of the opposite wall. I don’t care how strong someone is — they aren’t going to get that to move.
Windows are usually the weakest access point on any home, simply because they are made of glass. It doesn’t take much to break through a piece of glass, and any rock sitting around will do. But you can make windows much stronger by adding burglar bars or by installing security window film on the inside of the windows. While the film can’t totally stop them from breaking out the window, it will take them long enough that you’ll have time to stick a gun up their nose.
Finally, Be Ready to Repel Boarders
Ultimately, you yourself are the best security for your home. Unless you spend the money to build an indestructible bank vault for a home, there’s always a way to get in for someone who really wants to. Alarms and hardening your home are merely means of giving you time to react. Yes, those things might scare off some intruders, but the really serious ones will come on anyway. That’s when you need to be ready.
Firearms have been called the great equalizer. With them, a small woman becomes able to defeat a large man. When you have firearms and are trained in their use, you become the best security system around. Even if they do manage to get through your hardened door or window, if you meet them with a gun in your hand, you’ve probably already won.
Most criminals aren’t proficient in the use of firearms, but you can’t count on that. Even though they mostly use firearms to intimidate, there are a few that enjoy target shooting, just for the fun of it. So, you can’t count on them being poor shots. What you can count on is your own training. Take the time to learn how to shoot well so that you can beat any criminal at their own game.
Keep in mind that a criminal isn’t going to stand there; they’re going to move and there’s a chance they’re going to shoot back. So, your training must include shooting at moving targets, shooting quickly, shooting while moving, shooting in low light and shooting from cover. Then, and only then, are you truly ready to defend your home from an intruder.
What advice would you add to this story? How would you protect a rural home? Share your home-defense tips in the section below:
Insects such as mosquitoes and flies carry diseases by biting an infected host, then biting you. West Nile virus has been an issue for years, and now the new Zika virus is spreading through Florida and other states thanks to infected mosquitoes. Rats also carry diseases such as rabies as do opossums.
Pests such as moles and groundhogs dig holes in your pasture and either eat the beneficial bugs in the dirt or cause holes that can break the legs of livestock. Bugs eat your leaves and birds eat your berries and cherries. That’s just not acceptable after all of your hard work!
All of these issues can be serious now. But if SHTF, these critters can each be lethal in their own way. And so are the bigger predators that attack your crops.
Figure out now how to deal with these pests in ways that don’t depend upon calling for help. Though there are numerous effective methods for getting rid of pests, smoke has been used for centuries for a variety of pest control situations and it’s basically a free commodity that’s easy to access. That’s why you need to know how to DIY smoke bombs.
There are actually smoke bombs available commercially for very little money but, as a prepper, you probably want to know how to build your own. That’s what we’re going to discuss today.
Where There’s One Up, There’s One Down
Smoke bombs are more effective as repellents than as a means to permanently get rid of pests; by its very nature, smoke is temporary and, unless it’s released in a small, confined area, it’s rarely lethal. A perfect example of this is the use of citronella candles in the evenings to keep away mosquitoes. The smoke and the smell of citronella act together to repel insects.
Even if smoke does kill, you’re stuck with dead critters under your porch or whatever space it is that you’ve smoked. Definitely not what you want, so it’s best to use other methods if you want to kill the pests.
Smoke can, however, be a good tool to use to smoke them out if you just want to get the rats out of the shed, the squirrels out of the attic, or the groundhogs from under the porch. It’s also a good method to get rid of bugs that may be eating your trees or birds that want to pick your cherries at exactly the right moment, an hour before you do!
Building smoke bombs can be tricky because of the obvious risk of fire. As we all know, where there’s one, there’s the other and your goal is to get the rats out of the shed, not to burn the shed down altogether! That being said, there are still a couple of ways that you can use smoke to clear out pests.
Rule Number 1 when it comes to smoking out pests is that you should NEVER do it inside, or use smoke bombs on furniture or anything flammable or valuable that you don’t want to smell like the bomb.
Rule Number 2 is that there are probably better ways to deal with most infestations than using smoke bombs, unless you’re just trying to temporarily chase away the pest. They only work as long as the smoke exists. As soon as the smoke is gone, the pests will likely reappear. That’s fine if you’re just trying to deter bugs while you’re outside, get a hive of bees to quiet long enough to get the honey, or want to get the critters out from under the shed, so don’t get me wrong. Just don’t expect the smoke bombs to cure your pest invasion permanently.
Why NOT to Build a Smoke Bomb Using Ping Pong Balls
Yup, that’s right. Ping pong balls. If you think about it, they seem to be the perfect container for such things. They’re lightweight, easy to drill a hole in, and are hollow. Ping pong balls are one of those multi-purpose items that you should probably have around the house anyway, so of course people have found a way to make a smoke bomb with them.
Here’s the problem: you’re burning PVC, which is extremely toxic. Also, the bombs are unstable. Even using the same method, one may make smoke while another will burst into flames. But, you may say, you’re trying to kill pests, right? Yes, but there’s no reason to give yourself cancer or burn your barn down while you’re doing it. Skip it, no matter how easy it seems to be.
How to Make a Smoke Bomb that Won’t Kill You
Recipe 1: Basic DIY Smoke Bomb
Basically, all you need is a tube, a wick, and a couple of ingredients that are easy to obtain: wooden matchsticks or candle wicks for the fuse, a toilet paper or paper towel roll, potassium nitrate (aka saltpeter) and sugar.
- Combine the saltpeter and sugar in a skillet over low heat using about 3 parts saltpeter to 2 parts sugar. (You can adjust this ratio if you want, to meet your needs. More sugar makes for a smoke bomb that’s harder to light and burns slower. More saltpeter makes for a smoke bomb that burns faster.)
- Stir the mixture over low heat until it liquefies and becomes a caramel color. Be careful not to burn it!
- Pour the mixture onto aluminum foil in puddles about 3 inches or so around. Allow to cool.
- Peel off of aluminum foil and roll it up around the fuse, leaving an end sticking out to light.
- Cut the toilet paper roll in half. Line the inside with aluminum foil so that the roll doesn’t catch on fire when you light the fuse. Place the sugar mixture inside of it, with the fuse sticking out of one end.
- Pinch that end of the tube almost closed around the fuse but leave enough of an opening that the fuse will burn down to the sugar mixture, and pinch the other end into a funnel that will allow the smoke to escape.
To smoke the pests, find the holes that the moles or groundhogs are occupying. Place one smoke bomb in each hole, piling the dirt around the bomb but making sure that the inside end of the bomb is inside the hole and not stuck in the dirt. Light the fuse, making sure that the sugar mixture catches before walking away. You don’t strictly need a fuse; you can actually leave a bit of the sugar mixture sticking out of the end of the roll if you’d like.
A non-cooking alternative to this is to combine the sugar and saltpeter in a small paper or plastic cup and add just enough water to make it a paste. Stick the fuse in, then allow to sit for a couple of days until the mixture is completely dry. Follow the rest of the directions above. This also works for sheds, etc. Just be sure to set the smoke bomb on something non-flammable and leave room above it so that, just in case it catches on fire, you don’t burn the building down.
Recipe 2: Aluminum Nitrate Smoke Bomb
This one’s easy, too. Aluminum nitrate is the granules found inside of a cold pack.
- Simply cut the cold pack open and pour the granules into a container.
- Add just enough water to the granules to dissolve them: don’t use any more water than you have to.
- Dip a rolled-up piece of newspaper into the solution and allow it to absorb the water.
- Remove and tie it up with some string, then allow to dry thoroughly.
You can use this smoke bomb as-is or put it in the aluminum foil-lined roll as described above. Light it and you have a smoke bomb!
Video first seen on Makabra203.
Other Ideas for DIY Smoke Bombs
I’ve also heard of using eggshells to hold the smoke bombs – just poke a small hole in one end and a larger one in the rounder end of the egg, blow the egg out of the shell, then use a funnel to put the bomb ingredients in. Put the fuse in the smaller end before you put the bomb ingredients in the other.
Video first seen on Rex Patrick.
If you simply want to get rid of insects or birds temporarily, say for an outdoor gathering or to keep them away from your tree until you can pick the berries, simply light a bonfire with the size based on the area that you want to keep pest-free. Make it big enough to produce enough smoke to encompass the area but not so big that the fire gets out of control.
Citronella candles in a bucket are always good for camping if you’re trying to repel mosquitoes and flies. Just set a few of them around the site.
Any time that you do an outside burn, you need to monitor it closely. This includes the bombs described above that you’re using for the mole or groundhog holes. Make sure it’s completely out before walking away from it.
Now that you have a few ideas about how to build smoke bombs, go to it. Remember that smoke bombs aren’t a permanent solution; they’ll only smoke the critters out temporarily.
But you still need them! And remember that these critters are not the only menace for your homestead: bigger predators are aiming to hijack your food reserve. Click on the banner below to find out more!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
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Pigpen? Check! Food source? Check! Lots of fresh water? Check!
You’ve made the decision to raise hogs for survival. You’ve lined everything up. You’re ready to go. Except something is still missing, you need to buy some hogs.
But what kind should you get? With so many breeds out there, how do you know which one is best? Is one kind of pig better than another kind?
Is There One Breed of Pig That’s Best?
The short answer is no. The long answer is, there’s a breed of pigs, or a crossbreed, that’s best for you and your farm. What’s best for you might not be best for me.
There are several things to think about before selecting a particular breed.
Four Factors to Consider Before Picking a Breed
Before you bring hogs home, take a few moments to research the breed you’ll be getting. In particular, you’ll want to look at the following things.
Where will you be raising your pigs? Will they have lots of room to roam, or just a small area? Will the pigs be around other animals or small children?
Some breeds of pigs are docile. Others are more aggressive. There are pros and cons to both.
If predators attack your farm animals, a more aggressive pig might fare better. Conversely, if you have small children, you’ll probably want a gentler pig. Remember that temperament can vary, even across breeds. No two pigs are the same.
If you’re picking out breeding stock, be sure to ask your farmer what character traits they’re breeding for. Also, check out the pigs in person if possible. That’ll help you make an informed decision.
In addition to temperament, pigs vary in size. Some pigs get huge. Others are smaller. Some pigs produce a lot of lard. Others are known as bacon pigs, producing a lot of lean meat.
How much meat will you be able to store in a survival situation? How much lard will you use? You’ll want to honestly answer these questions, and select a breed accordingly.
Where Are They Being Raised?
Modern pigs have been bred to survive in confinement. Commercial farmers have used selective breeding to ensure the pigs will stay alive on concrete, eating exactly the same food for its entire life.
If you prefer your pigs to act like pigs, and be raised humanely, modern breeds may not be what you’re looking for. Heritage pigs are breeds that were popular back before CAFOs entered the scene. They were the hogs that farmers and homesteaders raised.
For survival situations, you’ll want a pig that grows well on pasture, dairy, and scraps—foods that you can scrounge up even in the worst of times. Pigs who are used to eating only hog feed won’t be as useful when the SHTF.
What hogs are available where you are? You can bring in pigs from far away to add to your line, but that definitely adds to the cost. Local pigs have the advantage of being local. You know they’re adapted to your climate. That’s always a plus.
Ten Breeds of Hogs to Consider
Since I don’t have time or space to dive into every single breed of hog available, I’ve compiled information for ten common breeds. These are well suited for survival situations. Any of them would be an ideal addition to a homestead.
1 – Berkshire
Discovered several hundred years ago in Berkshire County, UK, the Berkshire is dark with white points. This coloring means they’re less prone to sunburn than lighter colored hogs. These friendly, curious hogs are a hardy breed. They hold up well over long, cold winters, as long as they have proper shelter to take cover. They’re adaptable hogs, and can thrive in many environments.
To help lower the food bill, Berkshires are able to graze on pasture. They grow more slowly than some other breeds, but their meat is delicious. In fact, they’re known as the favorite pork breed in Japan.
Berkshires are larger than many breeds. When mature, they average 600 pounds.
The mama Berkshires have good mothering skills. They produce a lot of milk, which helps the piglets get off to a good start.
2 – Duroc
Durocs are one of the most common breed of hog in the world. With the ability to convert feed into lean muscles, Duroc boars played an important role in breeding lines for factory farms.
Despite their use in confinement lines, Durocs are an ideal outdoor pig. Their thick, red coat provides protection from cold winter weather. When the weather warms the coat molts, allowing these pig to thrive during dry, hot summers.
They enjoy running and grazing on pasture, but their growth will slow considerably. To maintain the quick growth, these hogs need good quality feed.
Durocs are medium sized pigs. When mature, the sows range from 450-650 pounds. Boars are slightly larger, with an average range of 500-750 pounds.
Historically Durocs were considered an aggressive breed. However, many farmers have successfully bred out much of the aggression. It’s still a trait to be aware of though.
3 – Tamworths
These ginger colored hogs perform well on pasture, earning them the nickname Irish Grazers. Their long snouts are perfect for rooting and foraging. They also have long legs.
Because they have smaller bones, Tamworths typically produce a better ratio of useable meat. Their hanging weight is a higher percentage than many other breeds. When mature, both sows and boars average 500-600 pounds. They are an active, medium sized hog.
Their athletic personality means Tamworths require solid fencing. Be sure to have it installed before you bring them home.
Tamworths produce large litters, and the sows are usually able to care for them. Piglets are usually active, and full of vitality.
4 – Large Black
Large black pigs are named for both their size and their color. They average 700 pounds. Because they’re bigger than many other breeds, you’ll need to make sure your housing is large enough for your herd.
These pigs produce tender meat with excellent flavor, especially when allowed to forage. They’re well suited for grazing in wooded areas. The nuts and other food they find plays a role in the flavor of their meat.
Their docile personality makes pasturing Large Blacks simple. Many farmers have success with just a single strand of electric wire.
Large Black sows are excellent mothers, and usually have large litters. Obese sows can have problems with fertility, so it’s important to keep their weight in check.
5 – Gloucestershire Old Spot
White hogs with black spots, Gloucestershire Old Spots grow well from forage. They take your agricultural by-products like whey and bruised fruit and turn it into delicious meat. These are lard pigs, even though they aren’t as large as others breeds. Old Spots average only 500 pounds upon maturity. But, they have a higher ratio of fat compared to the bacon breeds.
With their white skin, this breed is prone to sunburn. Be sure to provide them with plenty of shade and mud to wallow in.
As far as temperament goes, Old Spots are docile. They aren’t aggressive, and are known as easy keepers. They do know how to bust fences though, so make sure yours are tight!
Gloucestershire Old Spot sows are good mothers. They average nine piglets per litter, though many sows will have more. Their milk production is high, helping the piglets grow.
6 – Hereford
Hereford hogs were bred to match the coloring pattern of the cattle with the same name. They’re reddish with a white face, legs, and belly. Herefords are large pigs. At maturity, males average 800 pounds. The sows average 600 pounds. These hogs grow quickly, and fatten easily. They often reach ideal slaughter weight in 5 months while eating less than many other breeds.
They are easygoing pigs, and typically docile. This temperament makes Herefords ideal for first time handlers. As such, 4-H children often use them.
Adaptability is another positive character trait for Herefords. They do well on pasture or in an enclosed pen. With their strong rooting ability, Herefords make great tillers.
Sows of this breed are prolific. They average 10 piglets per litter, and are normally good mothers.
7 – Yorkshire
Currently the most common pig in the United States, Yorkshires are also known as English Large Whites. They have light pink skin that’s covered in thin white hair. Their ears are erect. Yorkshires are used in many breeding programs because they aren’t fatty. While they are large pigs, they are very muscular. This lean meat means they are bacon pigs, not lard pigs.
Pasture can make up part of a Yorkshire’s diet. They are hardy, and can handle cold winters and hot summers.
In addition to highly desirable meat, the Yorkshires also bring excellent mothering genes to breeding programs. They have large litters, and take care of their young well.
8 – Mulefoot
The hoof of a Mulefoot differs from other pigs. It’s not cloven, so it’s like a mule or a donkey. These hogs are solid black, though some will have white points.
Mulefoot hogs are smaller than many other breeds, averaging 400-600 pounds. Because of their small size, the pork chops will be smaller. Don’t let the smallness fool you though; the marbled meat is tender and tasty.
These hogs are active, but not aggressive. They’re good at grazing, and do well in many climates. Their unique hooves allow them to thrive even in wet areas.
Mulefoot sows are calm mothers. They average 5-6 piglets with each litter.
9 – Red Wattle
The Red Wattle is the only domestic hog with a wattle. These flaps of skin on the neck are not believed to have any particular use. They are large pigs, with the boars averaging 750 pounds when fully grown. Despite their size, they produce high quality lean meat that’s favored by many chefs.
Because of their size, you’ll need to make sure your structures are big enough to accommodate. The good news is that Red Wattles are hardy, and easily adapt to a variety of climates. They thrive on pasture, which can help lower your production costs.
As far as temperament goes, Red Wattles are very docile. Many farmers consider this breed among the easy keepers.
Red Wattles are attentive mothers. Sows average 9-10 piglets per litter.
10 – Hampshire
Hampshire hogs feature a unique look. They’re black with a white belt around their midsection that covers their front legs. With their erect ears, they can hear what’s going on around them. They are very curious pigs. However, they are docile.
They are excellent foragers, and gain weight quickly. Hampshire meat is prized as being extremely lean. These are definitely not a lard breed.
Hampshires are known for their quick growth. It takes less time to raise them to market weight. Additionally, large litters are common for Hampshire sows, so you’ll have plenty of pigs around to raise.
Before You Start Breeding Hogs
Before jumping into a breeding program of your own, I’d recommend starting with a couple of seasonal piglets. This will allow you to test your desired breed of pig in your environment.
You can check out your fences, and make sure they’ll keep your hogs in. You’ll also be able to taste the final product. The experience will help you know if that breed is a good match for you. Once you’ve done a test run, you’re probably ready to dive into breeding.
Sometime during your breeding program, you might decide to introduce another breed into your herd. Crossbreeding hogs adds vitality to the mix. Vitality is an important trait for long-term survival.
Regardless of the breed or breeds on your farm, always remember the most important rule of raising pigs. Breed the best, and eat the rest. That way you keep only the best genes moving along.
Hogs of all breeds are an excellent addition to the homestead. It’s no wonder they were given an honorable mention in this Survivopedia post on top survival animals. They root, cut down on waste, and produce good meat that’s valuable for eating, selling, or bartering. But if you plan to get your food production to another level, then CLICK on the banner below to find out more!
Do you raise pigs? What are your favorite breeds? Did I miss any that you love? Please share in the comments section below.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Have you noticed the price of bacon lately? How about pork chops? Pork prices are soaring.
Besides costing an arm and a leg, grocery store pork often contains questionable ingredients. Things like benzoate preservatives and ractopamine. Ew! I like to be able to pronounce the ingredients I eat.
Thankfully, there’s at least one solution.
Raising your own hogs will help lower the price point per pound. It’ll also give you complete control over what goes into your meat. Hogs aren’t only beneficial in today’s market. When the SHTF, they’ll be invaluable. They’re the perfect homesteading addition as you prepare for the future. Ready to get started?
Here’s what you need to know before bringing home the bacon.
3 Important Considerations for Raising Hogs
Before bringing home any new animal, there’s a lot to think about. But there are some specifics just for hogs:
Do You Want to Breed Pigs or Just Raise Them Each Year?
There are two primary methods of pig raising. You can start each spring with a couple of little ones and butcher them in the fall. Or you can get your own breeding stock and raise pigs year round. There are benefits to each.
I’m currently buying weaner pigs each. My parents kept pigs year round when I was younger, and I enjoyed that. Someday I’ll winterize our pig pen and get breeding stock of my own.
Having your own stock will ensure your access to pork annually, which is preferred for survival. You may not always be able to find piglets to buy. Keeping pigs year round eliminates the search. However, year round hogs are the harder option. You’ll have to ensure your pig pen offers adequate protection for each season. Your feed costs will also be higher, as pregnant pigs eat a lot.
If you’ve never raised pigs before, consider starting off with just a couple of weaner pigs. Raising these to market weight will provide valuable knowledge and experience. Try this at least once before tackling your own hog-breeding program.
Cost of Pigs
Pigs used to be inexpensive animals. But now, $100 seems to be the new low for weaner pigs. During the spring, when everyone is buying, they’ll be much more.
Adult breeding stock costs more. Expect to pay several hundred for each sow and boar.
Since pigs enjoy the company of other pigs, you should raise at least two. If you don’t need the meat, you can always sell it.
What Will Your Pig Eat?
The easiest thing to feed your pig is a steady diet of hog chow. It’s formulated to meet your pigs’ needs, including the proper amount of protein and nutrients.
Hog chow is also the most expensive way to fatten up your hog. Each one will take a half ton by the time they reach butcher weight.
There are ways to lower your feed bill. You can give your pigs table scraps. These creatures eat just about anything.
Mine don’t like citrus or banana peels, onions, or raw potato peels, but eat everything else we feed them. We collect our produce scraps in a container in the kitchen, and feed them to the pigs once a day. They love it. We also feed ours extra milk from our cows, eggs that got cracked, or bruised apples. Pigs are a great way to reduce wasted food!
Just because a pig can eat almost everything, doesn’t mean you should feed them everything. They should never eat pork products, rotten foods, or highly sugared pastries. Remember that what you’re feeding them is turning into the meat you’re going to be eating.
To lower your feed costs even more, you can get creative. Are there any local cheese making companies that’d let you have whey? Or a small grocery store that’d give you unsold produce? Look around, and think creatively to obtain feed.
Pigs drink a lot, so you’ll have to give them constant access to fresh water. While you can use a trough, your pigs will probably dump it out a couple of times each day. They like playing in it. To solve this problem, you can get an automatic waterer at most feed stores. These hook up to a hose, or to a bucket. The pigs drink through a nipple.
What Do You Need to Raise Pigs?
Hogs aren’t as needy as many other livestock. They don’t require as much infrastructure. They aren’t as picky on their feed. In addition to the feed and water mentioned earlier, your pigs will need the following:
Pigs need shade. They don’t sweat, and can easily overheat in the hot sun. Make sure they have shade.
If your pigs are on pasture, trees are one way to provide shade. If they’re in an outdoor pen, give them a roof or tarp. Indoors, make sure they have ventilation to keep the heat down.
If you won’t be wintering your hogs, they won’t need a complicated shelter. Give them a place to get out of the wind and rain.
For cold climates, your pigs will need more protection. You can knock up a sturdy structure for them. That way they can bed down and stay warm.
If your pigs will be outdoors, you’ll need a fence to keep them in. Pigs are notorious for testing fences and finding holes. Make sure yours are secure.
Common hog fences are made from hog panels or field fence. You can also train pigs to electric wire. To teach them, run an electric wire at snout level around the perimeter of a small pen.
While they’re learning, it’s best to have an additional fence up. That’ll teach the hogs to go backwards from the shock instead of running forward.
Inexpensive Pig Pen
It’s possible to provide everything your pig needs without spending a fortune. Here’s what our pig pen looks like:
We used four hog panels, but didn’t make it square. Instead, we curved one of the panels, increasing the square footage of the pen. We secured the panels to T-Posts we already had around the farm.
To provide both shelter and shade, we added a simple roof over part of the pen. We used wooden poles we made from trees on the property for the structure. Metal scraps left over from other projects topped it. We used treated posts to hold the roof up. If you have rot-resistant wood in your area, those are even cheaper.
To make my pen winter ready, I need to enclose the sides under the roof. That’d give the hogs a place to stay dry and warm. It’s on my someday list!
Farrowing Area (If Breeding)
A sow’s gestation lasts about 115 days. You’ll want to make sure she’s in her own area before giving birth. Make sure she has plenty of bedding.
You’ll need to check for stillborn piglets. Check in on your growing litter frequently at first. Inexperienced mama pigs can lie on their babies and squish them.
Why Would Anyone Choose Hogs Over Other Animals for Survival?
When times are tough, you need an animal that is low maintenance. You need one that gives you the most value for your money and time. You need a hog.
Hogs also require a low time commitment. Once you’ve gotten their fence and shelter up, you just need to feed, water, and add bedding as needed. They are low maintenance, except during the farrowing season.
The hogs will also eat your food scraps, helping to keep your waste piles small. In a crisis, trash can easily pile up. Pigs will ensure there’s no food scraps going to waste.
Hogs don’t require as much space as larger animals, so they’ll be easier to keep in smaller quarters. Their snouts are great at tilling the ground and can prep your garden. They’re very versatile animals on the homestead.
Other Essentials About Raising Hogs
Because they’re constantly rooting around, hogs are prone to intestinal parasites. Some farmers routinely worm. You’ll want to check with a vet to find the recommended wormer for your area.
Many farmers castrate their male hogs, especially if they’re running males and females together. A castrated male is known as a barrow. Uncastrated males, known as boars, produce meat with a different flavor. It’s known as boar taint. They’re also more likely to be aggressive.
Ideal Butcher Size
Most pig farmers and homesteaders raise pigs to 225-250 pounds. It’s considered the perfect market size. Any bigger, and your feeding costs go up and you’ll get more fat.
Historically, pigs were bigger at butchering time. That’s because pioneers depended on lard for cooking, making soap, and plenty of other tasks. They needed fat pigs because they used the fat. If current economic conditions continue to change, you might see the return of the extra big pig.
Don’t worry though. You won’t have to drag a scale out to the pigpen. You can calculate a pig’s weight based on some simple measurements. All you’ll need is a piece of string, a measuring stick, and some time. It really works! It’s how I determine when it’s time to butcher.
When your hog reaches market size, you’ll need to make butchering arrangements. Since pigs are smaller than cows, many homesteaders handle this part on their own. I don’t. I call our local butcher, and they send someone out to the farm. The pigs are dispatched here, while I watch and learn all I can. Maybe someday I’ll try it myself. After dressing, they’re hauled in a refrigerated truck to get processed. The facility also smokes the meat for me.
If you decide to butcher on your own, this field dressing guide will help. Pigs are covered in hair, which you can either singe or scrape off. Skinning is also an option.
After you dress the pig, hanging for a few days will improve the flavor. The cool days of fall are perfect for butchering. Then, you can proceed to cut and wrap your pork.
How to Make Money From Raising Hogs
Pigs can be profitable! If you’re hoping to make money from raising hogs, you have several options. You can invest in quality breeding stock, and sell piglets for show. These typically sell for more than piglets for the table. 4H students are prospective buyers.
If you aren’t raising show hogs, consider selling them at a variety of sizes. Weaners are small pigs, around 25 pounds. They’ve just been weaned and are ready for farmers or homesteaders to raise. You can also keep your piglets a little longer, and sell them as growers. Those weigh 40-70 pounds. Hogs weighing over 150 pounds are known as finishers. They require more time and feed on your part, but usually sell for more money.
In addition to selling live pigs for others to finish, you can sell market ready hogs. A typical pricing method is to sell at a price per pound, hanging weight. You can add the kill fee into your price per pound. Once the hanging pig arrives at the butcher, the buyer can have it cut to specifications. The buyer is then responsible for cutting and wrapping expenses.
When I raise spring pigs, I usually buy one extra to sell. It usually brings enough money to pay for the initial cost, feed, and butchering costs for both pigs. It also covers my cut and wrap expenses.
Alternatively, you can have the pig processed and then sell the meat. This requires additional legalities than selling them live.
Around here, I’d have to pass an on-site inspection to legally sell pigs this way. Then I’d have to use a specific butcher that’s been USDA approved for hogs. Your local requirements may vary, so be sure to research these before you start selling processed pork.
If you smoke your own bacon and ham, you have a value added product. Maybe you’ll discover a niche market for dry canned bacon. Just make sure to follow the laws in your location. In addition to selling your pigs for meat, you can use other by-products for profit. You can sell manure for gardeners. You can turn the ears into delicious dog treats. With a little creativity, your pigs can bring income to your farm.
Are you raising pigs for survival? Do you have any additional insight to share, or questions that still need answered? Please post them in the comments of this article.
More are still to come about the simple ways to food independence. CLICK on the banner below if you are willing to take your farming to the next level!
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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However, birds can be hugely useful on a farm, or they can be extremely harmful. There are several birds that you want to attract to your homestead, and that’s what we’re talking about today.
How useful or harmful birds are to a homestead or farm depends almost entirely on what they eat! You want to attract birds that eat plant-eating bugs or other pests around the farm. The problem here is that, if you eliminate their natural food source, birds will turn to other foods, such as your blackberries, as a food source. As you can see, this is a delicate balance.
On that note, though, there are some birds that only turn to vegetation if they have absolutely no other choice, so those are the birds that you want to attract. These birds serve two purposes, because many of them do hang around in the winter and will eat the bugs that eat your plants in the summer and will eat the seeds of weeds in the winter when there are no bugs to eat.
Win-win! You get rid of your pesky bugs in the summer and weeds won’t have a chance to grow in the spring because the seeds were eaten over the winter.
1. Eastern Bluebirds
We all love to see the bluebirds flitting about in the trees, but they’re also great to have around the farm because their diet consists nearly completely of bugs, primarily beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. They also eat spiders and other bugs.
Bluebirds are found in about every state east of the Rockies, and in Canada. They also winter as far north as Illinois and Pennsylvania so they’re often around in the winter even though they’re seen as harbingers of spring.
In absence of bugs, there are plants that they’ll turn to, which you can use to attract them to the farm. These include: Blackberries, chokeberries, juniper berries, partridgeberries, Virginia creeper, bittersweet, pokeberries, strawberry bush, false spikenard, wild sarsaparilla, sorrel, asparagus, rose haws, holly, sorrel, greenbrier, and ragweed.
You can also build small boxes in nooks and crannies such as cavities in trees or in tight places in barns or buildings.
2. Western Bluebirds
These birds, found west of the Rockies, are much like their Eastern cousins except they eat even more harmful bugs, and the bugs that they eat are often available year round. They’ll turn to elderberries most frequently if the bugs disappear so that’s what you should plant to attract them.
There are seven common types of swallows including barn swallows, cliff swallows, martins, and white-bellied swallows, also known as tree swallows. These four types have taken almost exclusively to living in structures instead of in their natural habitats and eat a diet high in beetles, flying ants, mosquitoes and other “pest” insects.
To attract them, build boxes in the corners of your barn eves, under the outside eves, or in other high places.
Barn swallows can be enticed by cutting small holes in the gable of the barn, and all of them like to have a bit of mud available to use as mortar for their nests.
These cute little birds are murderous to the enemies of your garden, making them wonderful inhabitants of your homestead. They eat beetles (including the disaster-causing May beetles), grasshoppers, caterpillars, flies, wasps, and spiders.
In the winter, more than half of the meadowlark’s diet consists of weeds, grains and other seeds, but this is found almost exclusively in winter, when they’re eating waste seeds and kernels, rather than crops.
There are two types of phoebes: the common phoebe which is found throughout the US east of the Great Plains, and the black phoebe, which is found west of the Great Plains. They prefer to winter fairly far south but migrate north in early spring.
The phoebe eats insects almost exclusively, and most of those are caught in flight. In other words, mosquitoes, click beetles, May beetles and weevils are some of the phoebe’s favorite snacks.
Phoebes love water and open spaces so if you have a shed near a creek, pond or water trough that would be a good place to place a small box to attract them. They prefer the openness though, and just having a shed or a bridge is attractive to them.
6. Barn Owls
Who? You! Do what you can to attract barn owls because they eat all kinds of nasty bugs and rodents. They’re mighty hunters and will do wonders for keeping the rat population down, as well as that of the gophers, moles and other small pests that deteriorate your soil or spread disease.
Owls are also pretty to look at, even though there are many superstitions about them. One of those superstitions that you can believe beyond a shadow of a doubt is that if you see an owl on your farm, you’re in luck because your rodent population is about to go down!
Barn owls used to be attracted by the inner structure of wooden barns but since many modern barns are metal, they’re turning away from them. Fallen trees are another favorite roosting place for owls, but we tend to take care of our properties by removing these as they fall or die.
Because owl feces may be contaminated with salmonella, you want to build barn owl boxes on the outside of the barn facing away from where food and livestock are kept.
We underestimate the value of birds. They look pretty and they may sound sweet or cheerful, but very few people consider how useful they are. If you’re looking for natural ways to get rid of the pests and rodents that damage your soil, eat your plants or otherwise destroy your efforts to raise food, then birds should be your first line of defense.
The birds that we’ve discussed are just a handful of many breeds that are great to have around, but these are birds that are easy to attract, are found throughout most of the United States, and do the most good on a homestead or farm.
Just as there are birds that will help your farm, there are birds that are not-so-helpful. Some are just as hazardous as many of the bugs and rodents that the birds on this page eat, so be careful which types of birds you attract. Just because he’s pretty doesn’t mean that he’s good for your farm!
If you’d like to add a bird to this list, or have something else that you’d like to share, feel free to do so in the comments section below.
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
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These will be particularly useful if you’re a chicken owner looking for cheaper ways for feeding your, ahem, “livestock”, and who isn’t?
For those of you who haven’t jumped on the chicken train, yet: Why raise chickens, you may ask? Well, home-grown chicken meat is healthy and it tastes good, and besides being a great source of food (eggs included), they’re fairly easy to raise and they’re also good fun (as in entertainment).
Are you sold yet? If not, keep reading!
Chickens can be grown in small, even portable, coops which are nicknamed chicken-tractors. These are excellent to use if you have a smaller backyard. Chickens are not picky when it comes to food, and they eat some of the stuff we eat regularly (bread, grains and stuff like that).
In the best of worlds, you should let them feed themselves, as in “free range chickens”, but in our modern day and age, that’s often difficult due to space restrictions or local laws. Many city ordinances don’t even allow chickens, let alone free-range ones. There’s also the safety of the chickens to be considered; if you live beside a person who has dogs or cats that run loose, your chickens are going to be considered dinner!
So, today’s article is about how to DIY chicken feeders. You may enjoy feeding them by hand, but this projects will free up some time in case you’re too busy to throw scratch every day.
Ask around and you’ll find out that chickens regularly spill the food in the feed dish or even poop in it, so go for a fresh and clean start with your chicken farm project by building a feeder which does not allow them to get inside the feeder and waste the food.
I know, chicken-chow is relatively cheap, but that doesn’t mean you must lose half of it to waste on a daily basis.
Are you ready? Let’s get it on, right after the break!
Project 1: PVC Chicken Feeder
PVC is almost a panacea for your homestead. I mean, if you can build entire underground watering systems from PVC piping, chicken feeders are child’s play! So, if you want to say goodbye to chicken feed waste and trampled grass, build your own chicken feeder using plain-old PVC piping.
The simplest design is a T-shaped system which can be easily built using 90 degree elbows along with PVC piping. The beauty of this chicken feeder is its simplicity and effectiveness. Also, this baby can be used for both feeding and watering your chickens, making it an absolutely must-have for your coop.
In terms of materials required, you’ll only have to go shopping for a 5′ long PVC pipe, a “T” joint, two 90-degree elbows, a cap and a jar of PVC cement. The idea is to cut off two 3” pieces from the PVC pipe which are required to join the “T” and elbows together.
The PVC cement must be applied in each one of the two holes of the “T” and, as quickly as possible, both of the 3” long pieces of PVC pipe must be firmly secured into the respective hole. I say quickly because PVC cement dries in a matter of seconds and it becomes rock-solid. Basically this is a two step process, repeated for each side hole of the “T”.
Next, the elbows must be dry-fitted onto the 3” pipe stubs. After you have them on, make a mark on the elbow pieces across to the joining parts of the “T” using a sharpie, to help you later when you’ll be gluing them together.
After you mark them, glue these parts together with PCV cement. The long pipe must be also glued in the top hole of the “T” piece and that’s about it; you’ve ended up with a T-shaped chicken feeder which can be placed basically anywhere and it can be used for watering your chickens too. For keeping it fixed firmly in place, you can use wire or something similar. Then, all you have to do is to fill the tube with whatever chicken feed you’re using, and place the cap on top.
This is how the two-sided gizmo looks in the end; the finished product and some complementary chickens, for your viewing pleasure:
Photo source: Backyard Chicken Lady
And here’s a video tutorial depicting all the details for making a simple chicken feeder from PVC pipes.
Video first seen on Specific Love Creations
Actually, there are three different models along with the first T-shaped one, so go ahead, take your pick. There’s this next one:
Video first seen on Hobby Farms
And then these other really cool ideas:
Video first seen on Green Power Farm
Video first seen on Carolina Coops
Project 2: The Rodent-Proof Chicken Feeder
If you’re having a pest (read rats) infestation problem in your backyard where your chickens march gloriously enjoying the spring breeze, what are you going to do? You can’t just let the rats spread disease and eat you out of house and coop. Call pest control?
Well, that could work too, but the elegant, more permanent, chemical-free solution would be to build a rodent-proof chicken feeder. By rodent-proof, I mean the rats will be unable to get inside and grab a free meal on your dime whenever they want.
Enter the Chicken Feeder 9000; check out the video below and don’t worry because the door shuts in slow motion so that the chickens are safe and in a couple of days, even the oldest and stupidest hen will learn how to use it. And yes, it works folks. You can see the desperation in the little grey fellow’s misty eyes, can’t you?
Video first seen on East Bourne Diver
Here’s a video that will help you with the DIY job if you’re into trolling rodents!
Video first seen on TCSRock78
Project 3: The Wooden Chicken Feeder
This falls into the “high end” category of DIY chicken feeders and it requires excellent skills in terms of wood cutting and assembling. However, if you’re good with tools and wood, this project will fit you like a glove and your chickens will be happy. As you know, happy chickens give more eggs, so go for it.
In the photo source you can find detailed information about the respective job, including parts list, tools list and schematics. Materials required are screws, plywood, redwood plant stakes, veneer and miscellaneous materials (washers, sandpaper etc.). And here’s how the end-product should look in the end. Beautiful, isn’t it? On top of its astounding looks, this high-end feeder is bird/pest-resistant and, not counting the labor, it will cost you about 40 bucks tops.
Photo source: Back Yard Chickens
Project 4: Zero Waste Chicken Feeder
Here comes a similar project, the zero waste chicken feeder, which also requires moderate carpenter skills, but don’t worry, here’s a video which will help you a lot with the DIY job. It looks easy and simple, right? What are you waiting for?
Video first seen on Stan Sullivan
Project 5: “The Best” Automatic Chicken Feeder
I don’t know if this one’s the best, as the ad says, but it certainly looks pretty good. The gizmo will provide your chickens with enough food to last 10 chickens for 2 weeks and it can be built for less than 40 bucks. It works very nicely and helps reduce food waste a lot. You can fill it with both pellets and crumbles and here are the detailed instructions.
Video first seen on Shawn Whetsel
Project 6: The Bucket Feeder
If you’re on a tight budget or just looking for the best deal in town, the bucket feeder is the answer to your prayers. This project will cost you 15 dollars tops and I think it’s the best idea that’s been created for a chicken-lover since immemorial times, or at least since plastic buckets were invented.
So, all that you’ll require for this bucket feeder/waterer (it works both ways, check that out) is a 5 gallon plastic bucket with a lid, an oil pan, washers, a nut, adhesive and some screws. I bet that most of you already have them around your homestead somewhere, right? So you may end up with 0 costs after all. Here are the detailed instructions.
Project 7: The Bulk Chicken Feeder
For this project you’ll require a drum, a flanged elbow and some basics tools, like a ruler, a pen, hacksaw or something similar for cutting the hole. Total building time? 10 minutes. Budget? 20 bucks. Satisfaction? Infinite!
Here’s the video tutorial, so check it out.
Video first seen on Rob Bob’s Backyard Farming
Project 8: The Three Bag Easy Automatic Chicken Feeder
Almost last but definitely not least, ladies and gents, I present you with the 3 Bag Easy Deluxe! This project requires a thirty gallon trash can (go for the least expensive one), six 3” pipe elbows and six 3” pipe end caps. The end result will be an automatic chicken (and duck) feeder which is fairly easy to make and works like a charm.
And here’s the video tutorial, folks. Life is great with chickens, isn’t it?
Video first seen on J&J Acres
Project 9: The Absolutely Free Gravity-Operated Chicken Feeder
The best things in life are free, including gravity operated chicken feeders. This project is at an 8-year old level of skill, it requires $0 and it can be built in 10 minutes or less. All you need is a PVC bucket, some thick wire, a knife and a few spare minutes to build it, so check out the tutorial.
Video first seen on Anže Rogelja
I hope this article helped and if you have suggestions, comments or other ideas about feeders, feel free to express yourself in the dedicated section below.
This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.
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We’ve talked about gardening on our previous Prep Blog Review, and now we are focusing on taking care of your livestock too. Once the weather gets warmer it’s the perfect time to start cleaning their spaces and think of adding up to your existing farm animals.
So, with that in mind, let’s look at five articles on this topic we found for you these days!
1. How To Attract Barn Owls (And Keep Your Homestead Rodent-Free)
“Rodents in your fields and gardens can decimate your crop, and their resilience and numbers make them hard to eliminate. Enter your new best friend: an owl. Owls love to eat rodents, mice, rats, voles and sometimes larger animals like moles. A nesting owl is a killing machine, storing dozens of dead rodents in preparation for incubating the eggs.
Barn owls don’t build their own nests, however; they look for sheltered places to roost and nest. Traditionally invited into barns, today’s owls rely on natural crevices and man-made boxes to find a place to hatch and rear young.”
Read more on Off The Grid News.
2. 3 Non-Lethal Ways to Protect Your Livestock from Predators
“Losing your livestock to predators is expensive, frustrating, and flat out heartbreaking — and protecting them isn’t always the easiest of tasks.
While you may be tempted to break out your shotgun, there are numerous non-lethal steps you can take to keep your animals safe. Join us for this guest post!
Guardian animals are one of the oldest forms of livestock protection. While dogs tend to be the most common guardian animals, llamas and donkeys are also popular choices.
Guardian dogs are raised from puppyhood with the animals they are meant to protect. Certain breeds are commonly used, such as the Akbash or Great Pyrenees — however, not all dogs within those breeds are suitable.”
Read more on Homestead Lady.
3. This Little Piggy Went to Slaughter
“It is always a joy whenever my wife writes for the blog. She doesn’t do it often, but when she does it is always from a viewpoint that either I haven’t considered or is presented in a way that just touches people that I normally can’t. I really appreciate the fact that she is so supportive of my crazy idea about writing and recording podcasts. It is just one way that I believe we can help others that are on the same journey as we are toward a more sustainable life. I find it really sad that there are so many couples out there that don’t take an interest in each others passions. Life is always fuller when you have an engaged partner.
Without any further delay, I present to you my wife, the Un-country Country Wife and This Little Piggy Went to Slaughter.”
Read more on The Rural Economist.
4. How To Keep Poultry Through The Winter
“Are there certain steps that should be taken to keep poultry through the winter?
Making sure that your poultry flocks are happy and healthy through the winter will ensure that they reach the spring and prime egg laying time in top conditions. What types of things should you be looking for, and how warm do they need to be?
Winterizing The Coop
Ideally, winterizing the coop should have been done in the fall. Making sure the structure and roof were solid and that any holes were repaired is best accomplished in the fall, during nicer weather.”
Read more on Self Reliant School.
5. Alaskan Chicken Coop 24×10
“Hi All!! I just wanted to add in some Coop photos. Our Chicken house is close to being completed. The actual chicken area is 10×16, it also has a feed room/egg access doors in a 4×10 area, and a 4×10 front porch.
We started building the coop in the shop.
Two coats of paint. We used yellow because we had accidentally bought the wrong color last fall and didn’t end up using it in the house. So it was just sitting around”
Read more on Backyard Chickens.
And if you want to learn more about tending to your chickens, check back our website again tomorrow for a great article that will show you how to DIY 9 awesome types of chicken feeders!
This article has been written by Brenda E. Walsh for Survivopedia.
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If you’re contemplating bringing a new animal home to the farm, there’s a lot to think about first. Animals should never be an impulse purchase. You shouldn’t just go pick up a milk cow, a pig, or even a dog without first considering 12 “must know” facts that you’ll find below.
1. Can You Afford to Take Care of This Animal?
From feed and supplements to milking supplies and unexpected visits to the vet, animals can be expensive. Before you bring home a new animal, take an honest look at your financial situation. Can you afford this creature after it’s yours?
If you aren’t sure exactly what everything will cost, try making a list. You can call local vets or feed stores to help make your numbers more accurate. Here are some expenses to consider:
- Initial purchase price
- Feed (hay, grain, treats, etc.)
- Supplements (salt, minerals, etc.)
- Supplies (varies based on animal, but could include)
- Leash, collar, halter, lead rope, etc.
- Milking pail and stool
- Cleaning and sanitation supplies
- Clippers or shears
- Heat lamps
- Vet visits
- Annual check-ups
- Any required vaccines
- Emergency care
- Hoof care
- Fences or pens
Of course, you can always look for second hand supplies, and try to cut costs in many ways. But, at the end of the day, if you aren’t able to afford the care and keeping of an animal, it’s best not to bring it home. No matter how good of a deal you can find.
2. Do You Have the Land Bandwidth?
Animals, even small animals, require space. Do you have the room they need? Will your land support another animal now, or do you need to implement rotational grazing or other practices to improve your pastures first? The last thing you want to do is overgraze your land and find it in shambles.
Will this animal be free ranging, tied out, or in a structure? Do you have your fences built and shelters constructed? Don’t bring an animal home without being ready—temporary arrangements often just make everyone miserable. Take care of the to-dos first, and make sure your animal has a comfortable, safe environment to come home to.
Your plans may change over time, and that’s okay. You’ll have a place for the animals to call home while you rearrange. Our chickens are currently free-ranging, but we’re planning on enclosing a large run for them this year.
We’re tired of searching high and low for eggs, and also of stepping in poop. Building a run will give them the benefit of being outdoors, and allow us to not have to watch our step every time we head outside. They love our lawn too much! Here’s one of our roosters strutting his stuff right outside of our house.
It’s also important to think about land space for feed. Will you be growing food for your new animal? Do you have the space and equipment needed to do so? Do you have fields set up to grow vegetables to supplement the diet? Or will you be buying all of the feed? If you’ll be purchasing it, make sure you have local suppliers lined up ahead of time.
3. Do You Have Time?
Think about the time commitment your new animal will require. Even if they just need feed and water a couple times a day, that’s time you’ll have to spend. When you factor in longer chores like milking, cleaning pens, or training, along with the daily chores, do you have the time?
Does your schedule allow consistent time for animal chores? Most animals prefer to eat on a regular, predictable schedule. Here’s one of our Dexters, munching away on some hay. If we don’t feed him on time, he lets us know by bawling and causing a commotion. It’s much better to keep him happy with some hay on schedule!
If you’re buying a milk cow that’s currently in milk, be sure to find out when she’s used to being milked. While you can change the milking routine, you’ll want to do so gradually over time. Your cow’s milk production can suffer otherwise, and she’ll be prone to mastitis.
No matter what species you’re thinking about adding, take a close look at your schedule before bringing any home. Make sure you (or someone else) will be around to take care of the new addition. Oh, and if you’ll be adding a milking animal to the mix, remember that milking sessions the first few weeks WILL take longer. You and the animal both need to get used to a new routine.
Also, it’s a good idea to stick nearby the first few days, in case your new animal tries to escape. They will almost certainly try. And, they’re all pretty good at finding holes in fences.
4. Have You Done Your Research?
Even if you know you have the money, land requirements, and time for a new animal, you still aren’t quite ready to go out and buy one. You have to do your research first. Otherwise, you could end up with an animal that’s not a good fit for your farm.
Let’s say you want to buy a milk cow. Do you know what breeds of cows are best suited for your area and climate? Do you know how much milk you want to deal with? For instance, there’s a big difference in milk output between Holsteins and Dexters.
There isn’t a perfect breed of cattle, just like there isn’t a perfect breed of dog, rabbit, or sheep. All breeds of every species have their pros and cons, and you have to figure out which one is right for you. You might even make a list of two or three breeds that you’d consider, and then use individual animal temperament to make your final decision.
I prefer Dexter cattle. They’re small, require less food, and since they put out only 2 gallons of milk at their peak, they’re perfectly suited for once a day milking. Their meat is excellent. The steer calf in this picture is almost a year old, and though he’s small now, he’ll put on some weight when he heads back out to the pasture. When we butcher him in the fall, we’ll get about 500 pounds of delicious beef in the freezer.
In addition to researching breed, you should also find out what kind of care this animal needs. Will you have to brush it or provide supplements? How will it get its exercise? There are many books on animal care, and your local library may even have one or two you can check out. That way you’ll have a better idea about what you should expect.
5. Have You Seen the Animal?
Buying an animal sight unseen often causes problems. From health problems to breeding issues, there are many sellers out there just looking to make a quick buck, or cull their problem stock. Do yourself a favor, and go check out the animal before agreeing to purchase. Or make your inspection a condition of the sale.
Don’t just look at the animal, try to see it in action. If you’re buying a milk cow, ask to come by at milking time so you can see how the cow responds. Otherwise you may get home and discover that your new “sweet hand-milker” tries to kick your head in every time you touch her.
A gender check is also appropriate. Otherwise, you may spend six months wondering why your rabbits never reproduce. I did that, until the day I finally decided to catch my American Chinchilla, Beast, and check things out for myself. That’s when I realized that instead of two females and a male, I actually had three females. So Beast’s name was changed to Beauty, and I’m now looking for a male to bring home.
If you’re buying breeding stock, it’s important to ask to see some records. Is the animal proven, or still green when it comes to making babies? Are the parents on site? A reputable breeder will happily answer your questions.
Doing some quick research on the people you’re buying from is also wise. Check out their names online, and see what information you find. See if they have a website that includes testimonials, or reviews on Facebook. Not having an online presence isn’t a definite red flag, but several negative reviews probably are. You can also trust your gut. If you don’t feel comfortable about the animal or the buyer, don’t feel bad changing your mind about the purchase.
6. What Does Your Family Think?
If your family isn’t on board with you bringing home another animal right now, it may be smart to listen to their opinions. I’d have a lot more critters around if it were solely my decision. But, animals affect the whole household, whether you do all the work or everyone helps. You don’t want your spouse or children to resent the time you spend doing chores at the expense of being with them.
Try to find out if there’s a fear or concern with this particular animal, or this type of animal, or if there’s another issue going on. The more you know, the better able to address the problems you are. Perhaps the perfect animal for your family is out there, but it’s not this one.
Also, if you are married—don’t just bring home an animal without first discussing it with your spouse. It’s just the respectful thing to do!
7. How Will You Take Care of This Animal in the Event of a Major Crisis?
When the SHTF, what’s your contingency plan for this new critter? With the world being like it is now, it’s important to have an answer ready.
Are you self-sufficient enough that you can provide food solely from your land? Are you stockpiling feed? Do you have a clean water source onsite? Will you butcher this animal in the event of a crisis?
There’s no right or wrong answer here, and no one can tell you what you need to do. You just have to think through this situation to make sure you have an answer before you bring home a new animal. When life as we know it changes, you’ll still be the one responsible for your animals. You don’t want them to suffer because of poor planning on your part.
We’re currently stockpiling some hay from local sellers, and trying to build our land up to produce more. Ideally, we’d be self-sufficient on the feed front, but we’re not there yet. In the meantime, in the event of a crisis, we’d butcher a few animals to save on care costs.
8. Does the Animal Provide Any Benefits?
Will the animal be contributing to your homesteading efforts, or just another mouth to feed? While it might be okay to have a couple of pets, you don’t want to continually bring home animals that don’t earn their keep.
What will you be gaining from this new animal? Will it be providing food, fiber, or bearing offspring? Will it provide protection around the farm? Make a list of what you’re hoping this animal will accomplish, and make sure you think it’ll be worth what you have to put into it.
9. Is the Animal Safe?
If you have children, especially small children, the last thing you want to do is to inadvertently introduce an aggressive animal to the farmyard. When you go inspect the animal before purchase, watch for signs of aggression. Also, know that some animals are more prone to dangerous behaviors, and should just be separated from children even if there hasn’t been a problem yet.
Bulls are especially notorious for aggression. They’re also strong enough that they can cause significant damage to fences, structures, and other critters. Have solid fences and sturdy pens ready before bringing home a bull, or other animal that could cause damage. You need to protect your family, property, and other animals.
It’s best not to allow unsupervised interaction between small children and any new animal. Animals are animals, and can easily respond in fear to loud noises, sudden movements, or any number of stimuli, especially when in a new environment. Before bringing home any animal, make sure you have a plan in place to ensure everyone’s safety.
My red Dexter bull, Rusty Redbull is pretty tame as far as bulls go. But, we still make sure he’s in a secure pen and don’t allow the kids in the field when he’s doing his bull business each spring. Just in case.
10. What’s your Poop Plan?
From large cow pies to tiny rabbit droppings, all animals poop. How will you deal with all that stinky brown stuff? Before bringing an animal home, you should know what you’ll be doing with the poo. Otherwise, you may find yourself knee deep in poop wishing you’d never bought this crazy animal!
If you have a compost pile, most animal poop makes a great addition. But, you still have to pick up the poop and get it to the pile. Will you use a tractor with a bucket to clean out the muck? Will you do it by hand? Either way, make sure you have the tools ready and nearby to keep the job as easy as possible.
You should also know how soon you could use the poop. Many people take rabbit poop and throw it into the garden fresh. Other manure needs to age a bit to avoid burning the plants. If you’re unsure how long how to compost your animals’ poo, this Survivopedia article can help.
Some poop can’t be used as easily. For instance, dog poop isn’t recommended for composting. Make sure you have a plan to pick up and dispose of unusable poop as well. That way you or the kids aren’t stepping in piles all over the yard and tracking it into the house.
11. Do You Have Someone to Call in Case of Trouble?
Is there someone you know you can call if you run into trouble with your animal? If you’ve never milked a cow before, it can be intimidating the first time. Having someone experienced on call or better yet at your side can provide peace of mind. While not having someone to bounce questions off of doesn’t mean you shouldn’t proceed with your purchase, it might mean you should spend more time researching before you take the plunge.
Do you have any friends who have similar animals? How about a neighbor with the same kind of critter? Can you call the person you’re buying from if you have a question?
It’s also important to know the name and number of the local vet. Not all veterinarians offer large animal care, so check out the services offered beforehand. You’ll also want to find out if you have to bring the animal in or if the vet makes farm calls.
12. What’s Your Winter Plan?
Most animals join the farm in the spring or summer. If you’ll be wintering your animal, it’s crucial to have a winter plan in place. The needs of many animals change depending on the temperature and weather conditions.
Do you have shelter lined up that’ll protect your animal from the wind and snow? Is it well ventilated to avoid respiratory problems? How will you fill the water tanks when the hoses are frozen?
Before you buy an animal, think through all the seasons your area experiences. Make sure you’re able to provide care all year long.
Are You Ready?
If you’ve taken time to consider these 12 items, you’ll know if you’re ready to bring another animal home. You’ll be prepared to take care of it as long as it’s at your farm, and you’ll have plans in place for when the going gets tough. As long as you’re ready, animals make a great addition to the farm. I love all the critters around my place!
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Most of the meats that reach your table today are raised commercially. Big operations where cattle, chickens and turkeys, are kept confined, and fed special diets, given shots for health then slaughtered, processed and shipped to stores, to be purchased by you.
What would happen to the animals if the SHTF and the human component of the operations ceased? Naturally, Preppers would consider the farms to be a source of food, but others would as well and a wholesale slaughter of these animals may happen quickly, because for the most part the animals raised commercially are not allowed to roam free and graze. They are penned up; fish in a barrel if you will, and even inexperienced hunters could manage to kill a few dairy cows and some beef cattle.
Unless you live close to a farm of this sort, you would not be able to take advantage of the situation. Most people would not know how to slaughter an animal correctly, so the waste would be immense. Many of the animals would die from dehydration, and starvation, because no one would be there to tend to them. Even if the animals were set free, many would die because there probably would not be enough grass for grazing and there would be limited water supplies for large herds.
Ones that have long-term survival in mind would, of course, gather a few of the animals to start their own farms. This would, of course, require land, experience, feed, and water supplies.
There are horse farms, as well, and if the crisis was extended, then horses may be the only mode of reliable transportation, so keep this in mind if you live close to any farms that raise horses. Forget about trying to corral wild horses for transportation once the SHTF. This would require extensive experience and time to break wild horses to the saddle or pack.
Animals would die and those in the zoos might escape, or someone out of sympathy may let them loose to create havoc in the local communities. Most of the animals would not survive long out of the zoo. Certain reptiles may adapt and create problems similar to the python problem in Florida.
Some of the reptiles could cause you problems, as well. Exotic snakes may live long enough to bite someone or some animal and if they live, they may begin to change the ecosystem in the area.
Large predators would cause problems as well, in the short term. Lions and tigers, for example, would seek out domesticated animals first for their meals, (the easy kills) and then hunt for wild game, which could cause you problems either way.
The fact that you live near a zoo may not raise any red flags, but in the event of a catastrophic event, there could be problems.
Right now, you can start to map out where the farms are, where animals are raised so you can take advantage of this food source during a crisis if the farms are abandoned or the owners die because of the crisis.
For most people, animals from local zoos wandering around will not pose a great threat, but it is certainly something to keep in mind once the SHTF.
Man, do I love chickens and fresh eggs in the morning. I also love hogs, and the pork that I can turn into Virginia hams and back bacon. Goats and cows provide milk and delicious red meat. But with the exception of the chicken, none are as easy to raise for food as the good old “rascally rabbit.”
In fact, I have come to learn that the rabbit is just about the easiest animals one can raise for food, and certainly one of most delicious. If you have never had rabbit on your dinner table, you are missing out. It is lean (only about 10 percent fat) and flavorful. Hasenpfeffer, Spanish rice and rabbit, or roast rabbit on a spit. I am getting hungry just talking about such table fare.
I grew up fishing and hunting. We hunted squirrel and rabbit as kids and teenagers, and to this day I still consider rabbit one of my favorite game animals.
When I turned 14, I had an interest that lasted for several years to start raising rabbits to sell them, but that never materialized. It was not until I started working for a farmer after high school that I came in contact with meat rabbits.
We had a couple dozen at a time on the farm, and along with my other duties, I cleaned their hutches and fed them vegetables and straw. Over time, I really came to appreciate how easy a rabbit is to care for as opposed to goats, and cattle or even chickens.
The Humble Hare
Rabbits are not picky eaters. I have fed them hay and straw, and even grass clippings from the yard and weed clippings from a garden. You can feed them rabbit pellets or cattle feed. They will eat almost any organic material — provided they like it. Not every rabbit is going to like all food items, but that is normal. You can try feeding the rabbits different things as you go, and soon enough you will find what they like.
These critters are not too picky about shelter, either, although you don’t want to leave them outside in the bitter cold. In temperate climates you can raise them both indoors and outdoors. Outdoor hutches are the most common, with wood floors and a waterproof roof, and mesh on at least one or two sides. Cleaning the hutches every couple of days is paramount to prevent disease and mold build-up. Remove any food they have not partaken of after 24-48 hours, and keep the rabbits well-stocked with fresh forage and water.
You also can build indoor hutches (in your home) for rabbits. Of course, being indoors you will need to pay close attention to keeping these indoor hutches clean, as there is the absence of fresh air that you get with an outdoor hutch. Cleaning these living quarters will also keep the smell down, as indoor rabbits can stink a wee bit.
When it comes to killing and butchering, rabbits are much simpler than the chicken. My preferred method of dispatching a meat rabbit is using a wood club to strike firmly on the base of the skull. I then field dress the rabbit as I would any small game animal I harvested afield. After the rabbit is field dressed, I wet the fur to prevent hairs from getting in the meat. Skin them as you would any small game animal, with cuts around the hocks, legs and tail and a pulling motion which removes the creatures hide quickly and efficiently.
The rabbit can be quartered, de-boned or used whole. It can be stewed, grilled, broiled, fried and roasted. How does it taste? Like chicken, of course! OK, not really, but it tastes like rabbit and it is delicious!
If you are looking for an easy-to-raise animal for additional meat for your family or farm, take a glance at the rabbit. Getting started is cheap, and if you can get past the “cute and cuddly” aspect of the critter, you can enjoy some excellent meat!
What advice would you add on raising rabbits? Share your tips in the section below:
Growing up on the farm we made lard in an iron kettle over an open fire. That’s the old-fashioned way to melt pig fat. You had to watch it constantly and keep the fire hot. Too hot and you would scorch the lard, too cool and the fat wouldn’t melt.
I make much smaller quantities today, and it’s simple and easy thanks to my good old crock pot.
Where Find Lard
If you are not on a farm, you can find lard at many butcher shops or small processing plants. Of course, you can also have the butcher save the fat from your own pig if you have one slaughtered and packaged. Ask them to separate the leaf lard from the rest, as you will want to render it by itself. (Render is the proper name for melting pig fat)
Leaf lard is the highest-grade fat from around the kidneys and the inside of the loins. It is used mainly for baking, as it has little or no pork flavor.
The rest of your lard will be from the fatback and trimmings that the butcher has left over when cutting and packaging your pork.
How to Make it
Put about half of a cup of water in your crock pot or slow cooker. This keeps the fat from scorching until enough of it melts to replace the water. The water will evaporate off by the time you are done.
Turn the crock pot on medium to high, add the chunked-up fat to the water, and place the lid on top. You can expect it to take around eight hours if you get your crock pot just hot enough to melt the fat and not much hotter. Getting the temperature too high can result in scorching or burning the fat, which gives it a burnt taste and dark color – not what you want!
Stir the fat occasionally as it renders, which will help you determine if it’s getting too hot and aid in breaking up the small bits of meat, etc. that will not melt.
When the lard is about done, you will notice that it has stopped melting and you have only smaller brown pieces much like curds. If the skin were left on the pig, this would be cracklings. Growing up on the farm, we always left the skin on the pig so it meant straining the lard and pressing these cracklings in a lard press.
Almost all pigs today are skinned, so what you have left after the fat renders completely can be strained off and fed to the birds, chickens or thrown away.
I use a small strainer that fits a quart Mason jar and cut a small piece of cheesecloth to fit the bottom of the strainer. This ensures nice, clean lard, although if you do have a bit of material get through, it will settle out if you let the lard solidify at room temperature.
Once the lard has rendered down, simply pour through the strainer into clean containers and allow to cool. I prefer to use glass jars. Once the lard is cooled down, refrigerate it. You should freeze it if you are going to keep it for the long-term.
This method of making lard is easy and can be completed while doing other things. Just make sure to check it often in the beginning to make sure it’s not getting too hot.
All that’s left is to enjoy your lard for cooking some delicious food and baked goods!
What advice would you add for making lard? Share your tips in the section below:
You’ve enjoyed fresh honey all summer long. Maybe you’ve even made some candles from the beeswax, or experienced the pleasure of selling your goods at the local farmers’ market or giving them away to friends and family.
Regardless, your bees have given you pleasure during the warm and pleasant months of spring, summer and fall. Now it’s winter, and it’s time for you to take care of the bees that took such good care of you.
Bees, just like all wild creatures, have natural ways that they survive through the winter but since you’re keeping them in an unnatural habitat, there are some steps that you need to take to help them along the way.
Help Your Bees to Survive Winter Naturally
If you’ve done your research, and I’m sure you have, then you know that your bees don’t hibernate. As a matter of fact, it’s probably a good idea that they don’t or else they’d freeze pretty quickly –have you ever seen a fat honeybee?
Instead of hibernating, honeybees form clusters so that they can generate heat. They do this whether they’re in the hive in the wild or in captivity. The thing is, when they live in the wild, they have the option of choosing the perfect conditions, but if they’re kept in captivity, it’s your responsibility to provide them with an environment that’s conducive to their survival.
And what have we learned, as preppers trying to be as off-the-grid as possible? Keep things simple. Let bees be bees. They know how to take care of themselves because they’ve been doing it for thousands of years, so let them do it!
Let Them Make Propolis
Propolis is the glue that bees use for a variety of purposes in the wild. They use it to seal their hives and they also use it to keep their hive clean. It has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that are so powerful that it actually mummifies any other insect that makes its way into the hive.
If something inside the hive dies, the bees wrap it in propolis and the little corpse is actually preserved much like a mummy. Appropriately enough, propolis means, “defense of the city” in Greek. Sealing the hive with propolis protects the bees from viruses and bacteria that could cause illness, too.
People have also begun to appreciate the health benefits of propolis – it’s available for sale as a supplement and is used to treat a wide array of conditions including cancer prevention!
Even knowing all of this, many commercial hive operations have bred the propolis making out of their bees because it’s a sticky mess that’s similar to pine tar. Don’t make that mistake – bees will use the propolis to seal their hives in the winter so that the cold and yuck can’t get in.
Breeding bees that can’t make propolis is like de-clawing your cat – it makes your life easier but it takes away the natural defense and way of life of the creature. The bees will become dependent upon you for survival, which is needless. Let bees be bees.
Don’t Take All the Honey
Again, commercial operations, and even many small-time breeders, insist that it’s fine to feed your bees high fructose corn syrup in lieu of leaving them their natural winter food source – honey.
There are several reasons why this isn’t the best way to go for the bees, but that’s a debate for another article. In short, don’t be a pig. Leave your bees enough of their hard-earned work to feed themselves over the winter. If you aren’t sure how much they’ll need, harvest your honey in the spring instead of in the fall.
Ventilate Your Hive
As we discussed above, bees cluster to create heat. The inside of this cluster is 96 degrees Fahrenheit and, as you can imagine, when this kind of heat meets cold, condensation is created. This can gather at the top of the hive, then drip down on the bees and get them wet, which can cause them to freeze. Just like us, it’s hard for you bees to stay warm if they’re wet. Thus, it’s important to properly ventilate your hive.
Natural hives are usually made of porous wood that absorbs moisture. They also have another fail-safe in case there’s so much condensation that the wood can’t absorb it – the single entrance/exit hole in the hive is at the bottom so that the condensation can drip out. This hole serves a secondary purpose of ventilating the hive. When necessary, the bees can fan air through the hive up from the hole.
You can either choose to use wood that’s thick to try to emulate the natural hive, or you can add SMALL ventilation slit off to the side of the hive so that if the condensation does build up, it doesn’t drip down on the bees.
Don’t make this hole large because it will let in cold drafts that will cause the bees to have to work harder to stay warm. More energy used means they’ll need more food, or perhaps won’t be able to generate enough heat to stay warm.
Insulate the Hive
Since the wood that you used to make your hive is probably much thinner than what would typically make up a natural hive, you need to insulate it to help keep the heat in. The bees are going to seal all of the holes with propolis, so you can just use a layer of foam then a layer of roofing paper to wrap the hive in so that it holds the heat.
Also, move your hives to a spot that gets full sun in the winter, especially if you live in a place that gets bitter cold. Try to put them in a place that’s protected from the wind as well. This, combined with the black roofing paper, will help keep your hives warm.
Reduce the Entrance Hole
You don’t want to live with mice, spiders and other vermin in the winter and neither do your bees. You may have a larger “reducer” on your hive for summer months so that many bees can come and go at the same time.
This isn’t a good thing in the winter for a couple of reasons. First, it lets in too much cold air. Second, it lets in vermin. Reduce the size of the hole because in the winter, bees will only be flying on fairly warm days. You won’t need much room for them to make mass entrances and exits.
Let the Snow Gather
You’re going to be peeping out your window from your warm and cozy house looking at your hives. If you have horses, you’ll probably be looking at them, too. Both will have snow gathered on them and you’ll want to rush out and brush it off, but there’s no need.
As long as the snow isn’t getting the hive wet, it’s actually a really good insulator. Leave it where it is – there’s nobody in the wild to sweep the snow off for them.
When Should You Winterize?
This is a question that doesn’t have a definitive answer because it depends on where you live and when it gets cold. If you live in the far northern United States, it probably gets colder earlier in the year than if you live in the central or southern states.
You don’t want to winterize your hive too early, because as long as it’s warm, your bees are flying and doing what bees do. But you also don’t want to wait too long. Typically, if it’s going to dip below 20 or so at night or it’s going to be below freezing during the day, it’s time to winterize your hives.
Video first seen on David Burns.
The bees will sense it coming and will start with their natural preparations. They’ll start sealing cracks to eliminate drafts. “Natural” beekeepers won’t disrupt the hive after November or so when the bees have sealed it up but if you need to, make sure that you seal it back well. The propolis is gluey so you can push it back together fairly well but don’t do it unless you have to.
Just as with anything we do, getting your bees ready for winter is best done if you try to work with the natural order of things. Keep your hives as close to a natural wood as possible, let your bees eat honey, and let them make their own propolis to seal the air and cold out of their homes. Help where you need to and you’ll have a happy, healthy hive to start out with in spring!
If you have any additional tips to winterizing your hive, please feel free to add them in the comments section below. We know that there are different types of hives, and we all have different ways of doing things, so let’s share some information!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
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Pet Preparedness in a Disaster
Everybody should have an emergency plan in the event of unforeseen disaster. And if you’re a pet owner, your disaster preparedness should consider their health, safety, and well-being as well. It may seem obvious, but not everybody thinks of it. So here’s a list of tips for pet owners to consider when making emergency preparedness plans.
Any emergency preparedness plan involves starting at the beginning, which is to say, consider based on climate, topography, and geography, which types of disasters are most likely, and plan accordingly. For example, if you live in an area that is prone to certain natural disasters, such as tornadoes, earthquakes or floods, the majority of your preparations should be specific to those kinds of events. In many cases the safest thing to do in an emergency is to stay home so let’s consider some tips for ensuring safety in the home.
Being prepared in the home
- Determine the most structurally sound buildings and make those your safe havens. These will be rooms that are free of hazards such as windows, and excessive shelves along the walls.
- Utility rooms, bathrooms and basements are typically good safe zones because they are easy to clean and they offer access to water, provided that plumbing systems aren’t compromised. Access to fresh water is important.
- If flooding is one of the more likely disasters in your area, pick the highest location in your home as a safe haven. Either that or a room with access to counters or high shelves where pets can take refuge.
Be able to identify your pet in case something happens
- If your pet is lost in the chaos of an emergency, his or her ID tags are their ticket home. Make sure all tags are up-to-date and securely fastened to their collar. If possible, attach the address and/or phone number of your evacuation site. Also consider micro-chipping your pets.
- Keep a current photo of your pet in your emergency essentials kit.
- Included your cell phone number on your pet’s personalized collar or tags
You’re the caretaker so an emergency for you is an emergency for them
Not only is it important for you to prepare your own emergency food storage, and supplies, it’s also important to prepare an emergency kit specific to your pets needs, like a blanket made of fleece fabric for them to sleep on. Here are a few other items you might want to include:
Manual can opener
First aid kit and other medical supplies
Find a place to stay in advance
When an emergency occurs, public health concerns take precedence over most other things. Sometimes those public health concerns mean pets are excluded from consideration. That’s why it’s important to identify a place to stay in advance. Some emergency shelters are not allowed to accept pets as occupants. Here are some tips to consider.
- Locate motels and hotels in your immediate area that allow pets well in advance of needing them. There are guides that list hotels and motels according to which ones are pet-friendly.
- Include your local animal shelter in your list of emergency numbers.
- Keep a secure pet carrier on hand, as well as a leash and/or harness to make sure they can’t escape if they panic.
After the disaster
Pets continue to need special care even after the disaster is over. If the disaster forces you to leave town, you must take your pets with you. They aren’t likely to survive on their own. In the aftermath, pets may be a little rattled for a while and their behavior may change. But, as long as you leash them when they go outside, always maintain close contact while they reacquaint themselves with their environment, and make sure they steer clear of any new hazards they may encounter due to changes caused by the disaster, they should recover in no time at all.
This article first appeared on American Preppers Network and may be copied under the following creative commons license. All links and images including the CC logo must remain intact.
The following is a guest post from a friend on food preparation skills that all preppers should have. This post covers information on various methods of raising or hunting meat, cooking and preserving it.
A major, if not the most important part, of being a self-sustaining prepper or homesteader is having the skills and knowledge of how to prepare food. That includes how to raise, catch, and cook and preserve your own food.
Everyone has to eat!
As a prepper, you should be ready to be involved in the process from start to finish — so understanding the different ways to put and keep food on the table is essential.
Here are the basics you need to know:
Having your own livestock to rely on, gives you a variety of ways to use the animal to supplement daily life, from supporting yourself to providing to your community.
Chickens are a good example of that. Hens, besides being a good source of protein, can lay eggs. Eggs provide you with not only a highly nutritional supplement, but a major component to baking and cooking.
Turkeys can also be used for their eggs, and they tend to get along with the chickens if they’re raised together. Turkeys can provide a greater amount of meat on average, and they are the classic Thanksgiving meal!
The birds require the same living amenities so setting up the pens and feeders is nearly identical. In the end, the birds can provide a lot for your home and are a very profitable animal to invest in.
Rabbits are also a good source of protein, and relatively easy to raise. The few key components that go into raising the rabbits are a clean pen with clean water daily, and a lattice bottom (this will keep the waste from contaminating the pen).
You also need to make sure to feed the rabbits good quality hay, and limit their access to greens (which can cause the animals indigestion).
Finally, you have to keep in mind that any time a female rabbit comes into contact with a male there is the possibility of pregnancy due to no set estrous period.
Goats and Sheep
Goats and sheep can be key to life as a preparedness enthusiast since the animals can provide milk, meat, and wool. And while the two animals are known for foraging, they eat quite differently.
Sheep prefer grass, while goats prefer twigs, shrubs, and even poison ivy. So while you’ll need to make sure each herd has their own grazing spots, raising them together within the same fenced area isn’t a problem.
If you are on the move for some reason or don’t have permanent roots, then hunting will be the best way to keep protein in your diet.
Trapping using snares can be a very effective type of hunting if approached properly. When trapping you need to be familiar with the type of animals in your area, and the type of animal you’re trying to catch.
You can easily figure this out by scouting for tracks and droppings, as well as nesting areas. Once you determine what’s around you, you can then set the right type of trap.
Bow and crossbow hunting is another important hunting technique, that when done properly can provide a lot of meat. First and foremost, you should become registered and licensed with your local municipality.
And, when choosing your bow or crossbow make sure it’s tailored to you, it should be the correct size, draw weight and draw length. Having these key bow components down will make it a lot easier, and a lot more likely that you’ll catch game.
Cooking Off The Grid
Now that you have meat, you need to cook it. Everyone should be able to cook on a gas, electric, or wood burning stove or oven – so let’s look deeper and see what we may need to do when the grid is down.
Smoking is an easy, and delicious way to cook and preserve your food. You can use anything from wood and coals, to smoke barrels or drums and smoke boxes — so you have a lot of options.
When smoking, the preferred method is low and slow. But when preserving, you should combine smoking with another form of preservation like salting or drying. While smoke acts as an antimicrobial, it only penetrates the first layers of the meet, so to keep that in mind.
Campfire Cooking – Open Fire
Campfire cooking is another essential to cooking as a prepper. Meat and veggies over an open flame is a fast and efficient way to grill, or just throw a kettle over the fire and let a soup stew. Traditionally, a cast iron dutch oven is used for cooking over an open fire and it served the pioneers and frontiersmen well.
Slow Cooked Underground
Another low and slow method is underground cooking. Simply dig a pit, throw wood inside and let it turn to coals (about 1 to 2 hours), and put your meat in on top.
You can wrap the meat in anything from tin foil to large sturdy leaves (usually used in more tropical areas) or clay or pottery.
Once you get the food, chances are that you will need to store it. Whether it is fresh crops or a deer you hunted, the bounties are normally large and come all at once. Here are a few ways to preserve food to ensure it is safe to eat for as long as possible.
Dehydrating is a widely used food preservation technique that takes a bit of time, but produces a delicious product that’s well worth the wait. It can be used for fruits and veggies as well as meat, like beef jerky. You can dehydrate red meats fairly easily – go for the leanest cut of meat as possible since fats can go bad fast. Wild game is normally very lean (deer and elk for example) so they can make outstanding jerky.
The best part is afterwards there’s no refrigeration needed. Methods of dehydration vary from sun dried to using an oven — and you should always research the best ways to preserve different foods.
Water Bath and Pressure Canning
Canning is a key component of prepping because it means you can make your harvests last longer. Getting started is easy, and once you have the basics of: cans, lids, and a pressure canner you’re ready to go. Make sure to always sterilize your jars, and to research the best ways to preserve your harvests.
Easy to Learn With Practice
These are skills that every prepper can easily learn, and are essential to daily life. Everything from raising livestock to canning is going to take some practice, but in the end the fruits of your labor will provide a lot for your home, and can even become a supplemental income.
Hunting is a great way to provide protein for you and your family, partially because the meat harvested is organic, free-ranged, and delicious.
Often, though, we talk only about the big-game animals available to us, such as whitetail deer, mule deer, moose and elk. We may even discuss waterfowl or turkey. But another group of game animals has been feeding America since well before 1621 (when my first ancestor landed at Plymouth Rock).
Small-game animals are a plentiful resource. Population numbers are high, they are everywhere, and most of them taste terrific. They can be harvested using a small rifle such as a .22 or .17, a shotgun using light game load, or even an air rifle. In a survival situation, they are often the only game one is able to harvest. If there is ever a major catastrophe, they may make the difference between life and death for you and your family.
Here are five small animals that are readily accessible, and ready for the dinner table.
1. Dove. One of the most prolific game birds in all of America, and quite tasty. Mourning doves especially are quite common in almost all of North America. Between 20 and 70 million of these birds are harvested every year by hunters, and that doesn’t even put a dent in their huge population. They have a year-round range in all of the USA, Northern Mexico and Southern Canada. To hunt them you will need a shotgun shooting 7 or 8 shot. Look for mourning doves around old barns, field edges, tree lines, bird feeders, etc.
When it comes to cooking them, the birds have a great flavor. One of my favorite recipes is a spice jalapeno, mustard and lime-based marinade. The recipe is called “doves from hell, and can be easily found online. I like it spicy, but some people may prefer it milder.
2. Rabbit. Cottontail, snowshoe hair and even introduced European rabbit all have thriving populations in different parts of the continent. Rabbit and hares have graced dinner tables since before recorded history, and in some places are considered a delicacy. These small mammals are plentiful and quite nutritious. But beware: A diet of strict rabbit (or even squirrel), can lead to protein poisoning. Rabbit has almost no fat, and that is not necessarily a good thing in a survival situation.
Rabbits are easily hunted in brushy fields, forest meadows, backyards, tree lines and so forth. I have hunted them with a .22 or a shotgun. Many people use dogs to flush them and chase them. I prefer to stalk and shoot at 40-50 yards with a rim-fire rifle.
3. Nutria. Not as tasty an option as the rabbit or squirrel, but in a pinch nutria can add both protein and necessary fat. Nutria is a large rodent introduced to the USA from South America for its pelts. Originally brought here in captivity, some escaped and now the Gulf Coast states have plenty of these critters.
You can hunt for Nutria along river banks and in marches and swamps in the Southeaster USA. A .22 is sufficient to dispatch them. The meat is lean, though not as lean as rabbit, and is easily prepared.
4. Woodchuck. If you must eat, and game has dried up, chances are you can find a humble chuck still clinging to his bit of turf. A woodchuck is a type of ground squirrel, by the way, but does not have much in common with its tree-dwelling cousins. Chuck meat is edible, provided you marinate it overnight to take out the gaminess. If you do that, it is quite tasty, especially on the grill. Yes, I have eaten chuck before.
To hunt chucks, sneak along the fence line, or hedgerows bordering fields. I use a scoped .22 WMR and take the shots at around 40-70 yards. Woodchuck hunting can be almost as fun as prairie dog hunting out West.
5. Turtles. Turtle meat is very tasty. You will have to check the regulations of catching and killing turtles, as it varies from state to state. Snapping turtles, diamondback, terrapin and other species are huntable in certain parts of North America. You can use a firearm and dispatch the animal with a shot to the head (most common). Some states allow netting.
The best way to eat turtle is roasted or in a soup. Recipes are easily found online.
What animals would you add to the list? Share your advice in the section below:
Got my first egg from the new chickens! It is the white one in the center.
This was obviously from one of the two white hens in the pen and not one of the bantams but I watched one of the red bantams fly up to the nest today and it had no problems with that so I know at least the red ones can get up to the nest too.
I have been very busy knitting. Order after order for Minecraft hats came in. I finally had to stop taking orders or I would never get my grand-daughter’s stuff done in time to send for Christmas. It was nice getting all those orders though. I am working on the last one today and then will be working on the more important grand-daughter stuff.
Today is my birthday. I was pretty sure I was still in my 20’s but apparently I am 47. Phil got me several skeins of yarn, a styrofoam head to display my hats on and a nice set of circular knitting needles. Everything I really wanted. He is real good with birthdays but I really suck at them.
Thanksgiving was very nice. We had a meal at home on Thanksgiving and then a “Thanksmas” with our family that weekend. My brother and sister-in-law made me a very nice yarn bowl out of a thick wooden bowl that they drilled a hole in. Works great and is so creative. My other sister gave me an apron that has a towel sewn right into the front of it. I really like that as I am always tucking a towel into my pocket when I am cooking in the kitchen and I needed another apron (I am not sure what happened to my last one but I think it was worn during the pig butchering..). Anyway, there were other very nice goodies as well. Phil fried a turkey and we had another one in the oven and both were great.
Christmas is coming and I am almost ready, just have to get all these boxes packed and sent off so they get there on time! Time always runs out so fast and I am left scrambling to get out packages at the end but I do try. I think Phil and I are going to have to sit down and do all this wrapping tonight…ugg….not my favorite chore…
Nature is very diverse. And we all know (roughly) the dangers that lurk in the wild, especially when it comes to wild animals. We all have the common knowledge and common sense to stay away from big fangs, sharp claws or insects with stingers. It’s as clear as day that an encounter with a creature that posses such tools will result in a harmful or even fatal outcome. But nature goes beyond of what the eye can see and some animals you should avoid, even though apparently harmless, can still deliver a world of hurt if we’re naive enough to get in their way. As an adaptation to survival, many animals use the element of surprise as a very efficient tool. Certain self-defense mechanism will not be evident, but are still present. Other animals may simply be disease carriers or territorial in nature, and if you’re not aware of their behavioral patterns, you’re in for a nasty and painful experience. Let’s have a look at some of the animals that are apparently harmless, but actually dangerous.
The swan (Cygnus sp.)
The sawn is a gentle creature that not many of us would consider dangerous under any circumstances. But they’d be dead wrong. Most nesting birds, like the swan, have a very acute parental instinct, meaning that if they feel that they’re nesting ground is danger they’ll fight off the attacker. Most nesting birds will fight only up to a point; if they fill they’re losing the fight or that the attacker is simply too strong to take on, they’ll flee and leave the nest and eggs to chance. But things differ in the swan’s case. The swan is relentless in defending its nest and territory and will keep going until either the attacker or the swan itself is dead. It will attack viciously: it can scratch, bite and poke and if the attacker is a push over, and angry sawn will even try and drown its opponent if they find themselves near water. The bird itself can even grow as heavy as 30lbs, so taking on a defensive mother swan it’s not a thing you’ll want to do.
The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus)
Experts consider dolphins to be the second most intelligent creatures on the face of the Earth, after humans. And rightly so: an adult dolphin has the intelligence of an average 4 year old human. Not only that, but their societies are some of the most evolved on the planet. They are fast learners, work together for common goals, communicate efficiently and even have a sense of humor, as studies have shown that dolphins will regularly play jokes on each other or even on people. But they’re intelligence comes with a price, as they tend to have a larger-than-normal tendency toward violence. They’ll hurt or maim for no apparent reason; cases have been recorded when dolphins kill just so that they get to play with the carcass of they’re victim. They have a higher than average sexual driver and will attack human males for territorial reasons.
Although friendly most of the times, dolphins tend to be unpredictable and should be avoided unless you’re in the presence of trained professionals.
The slow loris (Nycticebus sp.)
The slow loris is a tiny, fury mammal, with big eyes and it’s extremely shy by nature. It makes a great pet because its cuteness is undisputable. But despite being one of the cuddliest animals in the world, it’s also one of the most poisonous. They have an active gland inside the elbows that produces a very powerful toxin. They use this toxin mostly to smear their young, which makes them less likely to be attacked and eaten by predators. The toxin itself, if ingurgitated, produces terrible stomach aches and even death. If attacked, they’ll suck the contents of the gland into their mouth and bite the attackers. This way, the toxin gets injected into the attacker’s bloodstream. If there’s an allergic reaction involved, the bite victim can die in a matter of hours if the left untreated. So think twice before making a move towards a slow loris; it might be the last thing you do.
The hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious)
This big and gentle herbivore is known as one of the biggest mud lovers on the face of the Earth. Because they live in arid places, where temperatures rise intensely, they’re beast means of cooling themselves is to roll around in the mud or muddy waters. Although they’re not violent in nature, they tend to get very territorial and will stop at nothing in protecting they’re mud ponds or females and young. Don’t let they’re funny looks throw you off. Despite their heavy structure, they can run to speeds of up to 20 mph and have a bit of 6,000 lbs of pressure, which is more than enough to snap a human in half. If you find yourself in their presence, thread carefully. You do not want to find yourself in the crosshairs of an angry hippo.
The chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)
The common chimpanzee has been proven to be the closest relative modern man still has in the animal kingdom. There are many similarities between us and our not-so-distant cousins, like opposable thumbs, facial expressions, cerebral activity and many more. They mostly live in small societies or groups (rarely solitary) and they tend to often manifest violent behavior for one reason or another. They’ll attack each other for dominance, territorial feuds or simply if they don’t like someone or something. Their violent nature can’t be completely overridden by training, as there have been many documented cases in which trained chimps have viciously attacked and maimed humans.
It’s plain to see that nature is not meant to be cute. Nature is primarily meant to be persistent. No matter how cute an animal might seem to you, don’t throw yourself directly at it, unless you know the species you’re engaging and you’re absolutely sure that nothing bad can happen. If you’re planning a trip of some sort in a wild location, educate yourself on the animals in the region so to have an idea of what you’ll have to face along the way.
By Alec Deacon
The post 5 Seemingly Harmless Animals You Should Avoid in Wilderness appeared first on My Family Survival Plan.
There are many considerations when choosing the right dairy animal for your homestead. To reduce the risk of making the wrong choice, here’s some factors to consider before purchasing a dairy cow or goat for your homestead.
What Size Animal Is Best Suited to Your Facilities?
A dairy goat might weigh 200 pounds. A cow will weigh between 800 and 1,300 pounds. That’s a big difference when it comes to feed consumption and facility requirements, as well as milking and handling the animal.
A dairy cow will require stronger fencing and housing. For instance, a cow pushing on the fence to reach grass on the other side or even to relieve an itch can topple posts and ruin fencing that would easily contain a dairy goat.
However, goats can be escape artists. They require tight fencing and electric fences, and hard fencing can be a good option.
What About Your Budget?
Cows will consume quite a bit more feed than a dairy goat. That’s definitely a consideration when choosing which one is best suited to your budget.
Be prepared to see prices of $1,000 and up for a good dairy cow. Goats tend to be lower, coming in at an average of $300, although I have purchased great producers for as little as $150.
Milk Production and Other Factors
Cows will produce much more milk, and depending on your needs that may be a good thing. But remember: You’ll be getting milk every single day that your cow or goat is in production. It can add up quickly. If you’re milking by hand verses using a milking machine, then stripping out a cow is much more work than a goat.
Another factor: Cow’s milk seems to have more cream than goat’s milk. If cream is an important factor in your decision, then a cow will come out on top in the cream department.
When breeding your dairy animal you’ll either have to purchase or borrow a sire, or use artificial insemination. Both are viable options. You can contact other farms and homesteads in your area to locate someone who will sell or loan you a sire. You also can find someone who will perform artificial insemination for you.
The important thing to remember is that you will need to determine what your plan will be before breeding season rolls around.
As a general rule, dairy goats are seasonal breeders. That means the females will only become interested in breeding as the daylight grows shorter in the fall.
Cows are aseasonal breeders, meaning they cycle roughly every 21 days. So you can set up the breeding season with more flexibility to accommodate your budget and schedule.
One final thought when choosing a dairy goat or cow for your homestead: Cows and goats have distinctly different personalities. Visit a few farms to get an idea of which one you like best before making a purchase.
As always, do you your research and make an educated decision on what is best for your operation. In the end, you’ll be happier, the animal will be happier, and even the milk will taste much better!
What is your preference for homestead dairy – cows or goats? Share your thoughts in the section below:
The new chickens had a pen but no nest boxes. I had some quail cages but no quail ….
There are 4 quail cages, stacked on top of each other in sets of two but they weren’t attached to each other so we could separate them if needed. So I took the top two cages this morning, cleaned them all out, cut off all but a few inches on the bottom of the wire. I then had to bend the remaining wire down so the chickens would not get cut on it. Turned the cage over so the solid part was on the top and I had some good nest boxes.
The really hard part was moving the big chunks of oak we still had from when the tree fell on the house but once I got them down, they rolled most of the way.
I think it looks pretty darn good.
It is possible I might have to put a step or a ramp on it for the cochin bantams but we’ll see if they learn to fly up to it first.
Oh and the little brown bantam with the badly infected eye looks like it is almost completely better! The swelling is almost gone and the eye is open and looking good.
My brother-in-law called me several weeks ago and asked me if I wanted a free male duck that someone wanted to get rid of. I have really no use for a male duck but I had an empty pen so figured I would take it anyway and give it a good home. But the pen needed cleaning so we decided he would bring it that weekend….and then it rained almost every day for 3 weeks. During that time the offer changed from one duck to 3 ducks, to 3 ducks and a couple chickens and then changed to just chickens. He brought me 8 chickens yesterday. I did not even get to see them except in the dark on their perch because I had to work yesterday but I have been out checking on them this morning. It looks like I have 2 leghorn hens, 4 cochin that I think are two roosters and two hens, and two little brown bantams that I have no idea what are.
I noticed right off that one of the little brown bantams was not as active as the others and was a little puffed up which is a sign of sickness. When she turned around I saw one of her eyes was completely infected and swollen shut. I didn’t even know if she had an eye anymore but got some Tetracycline and put it in their water. I would rather not medicate them all but don’t have a separate cage ready for her so for today it went in their water. She happened to really like that water and came over and drank quite a bit. Maybe 10-15 minutes later the eye popped open and I can see that the eyeball is still alright. Several days on the Tetracycline will hopefully clear up that infection completely.
Since I didn’t know what I was really getting, I am quite pleased that these are all young chickens. I believe they will be laying in just a few weeks.
I am going to make them some nest boxes out of the old quail cages and they will be all set.
If you thought bugging in with children was more complicated than expected, you may be surprised to find a whole new host of challenges presented by bugging in with pets. While you don’t necessarily have to worry about them trying to escape and going back to their old home, there are still many important things to consider.Though some of these problems can be managed with additional space or revisions in training, others will more or less be matters of chance. That being said, you can still do your best to keep pets safe during a bug in scenario and ensure that they are able to stay with you as long as possible.
1. Providing Enough Food
Overall, individuals from small towns or rural areas are likely to find it easier to provide food for their pets. Since many pet animals rely on small game for meat, it may be possible to feed them food from the animals that you hunt. By the same token, herbivores may also be able to consume grass and other plants that may not be readily accessible in a city setting.
Today, most pet owners rely on commercial foods because they believe these inexpensive products offer better nutrition. At the same time, if you ask these people what they think about the ingredients, they readily admit that pet food is more than likely made from ingredients unfit for human consumption.
This includes ulcers and tumors cut from meat that is placed into the human food chain as well as bone marrow, fat, internal organs, roadkills, shelter kills, and all kinds of plant waste.
To add insult to injury, many of the “food” ingredients found in pet foods may actually contain higher levels of carcinogens and toxins than what registers in human foods.
Clearly, simply boiling everything down and forming it into nice neat little nuggets does not mean the food is truly the best or safest for your pets. In fact, research indicates that the rate of pet cancers are skyrocketing despite the fact that pet owners are fairly conscientious about buying special food for their pets.
From this perspective, it can be readily seen that perhaps you are best served by not stockpiling large quantities of pet food for your animals. In a bug in scenario, it is best to do some research on the actual nutritional needs of your pets and look for ways to wean them off commercial foods and onto those that will be used in a crisis situation.
Since animals will diarrhea when diets change suddenly, it is best to introduce survival foods slowly at this time so that they are fully adapted for any problems that come along. As an added bonus, if you decide to grow your own food (including raising insects), this is a perfect time to find out at least one part of how consumption of foods will compare to output.
2. Managing Waste
At the current time, you may honestly feel that you would never eat a cat, dog, pet fish, or bird. On the other hand, when people, including yourself, are starving, just about anything will be considered fit for eating.
Even if you would never eat your pets, anyone that comes across them may simply see a free meal. Under these circumstances, once a crisis hits, it will be extremely important to keep your pets indoors. If you have cats, dogs, or other larger sized animals, this means you are bound to have some problems managing waste.
No matter how hard you try, these obstacles will always be a challenge to overcome:
- There is only so much you can do to tidy up litter and use it for as long as possible
- Disposing of litter outdoors will reveal to anyone passing by that some human being has living animals nearby; and that there may be food and other items fit to loot
- Storing up large amounts of litter will require a lot of space and also may add more weight than the building structure can handle
- The odor of pet excrement can easily alert outsiders to your presence
While managing pet waste can be complicated, there are few things you can do to mitigate the situation. These suggestions are mainly intended for city areas where you may still have a larger population density to contend with. It may also be useful in rural areas where gangs have decided to rove or other problems prevent you from simply letting your pets out.
- Depending on the situation, you may be lucky enough to have functional toilets and other plumbing. In these cases, you can simply dump animal waste down the toilet.
- If you have to dispose of pet waste outside, make sure you do so in a place where it is not likely to be traced back to you. When you leave home, make sure that no one is following you, and that no one sees you.
- When preparing littler to carry, you will need to be able to carry at least 10 pounds. There are no easy ways to achieve this goal without coming uncomfortably close to the waste materials or using some kind of stroller or cart.
- You can use dirt for litter as long as it does not become obvious that you are routinely digging up the ground. You will most likely need a backpack or cart to carry new materials in.
- Today, there are some fairly new products on the market that utilize enzymes and bacteria for breaking down solid waste. If you can find one that is safe to use in an indoor setting, it may reduce the number of trips you need to make in order to dispose of pet waste. These materials may also be of use if toilets and other plumbing stop working. Before a crisis happens, you should experiment with these products to see which ones will work best for your needs. As with many other supplies, this is one that may take up more space than you wish to devote to this kind of product.
3. Managing Noise
Chances are, the sounds of your birds chirping, cats meowing, or dogs barking represent the comforts and security of home. On the other hand, if someone is trying to find a place to loot, these sounds can easily alert strangers to your presence. From that perspective, managing pet noises can be very important to your well being and theirs.
Even though there are open mouthed muzzles that allow pets to drink water, it is not feasible let alone advisable to keep animals muzzled all the time. In most cases, even a muzzle that fits properly will not prevent sounds such as growls and whimpers from escaping.
To add insult to injury, your pet is likely to become emotionally disturbed very quickly when exposed to this kind of treatment. Since you will also need to take the muzzle off at feeding time, this also presents a danger time when sounds can escape and alert others to your presence.
Perhaps the best way to control pet noises involves setting aside at least one or more rooms in your home and making sure that it is sound proof. Ideally, if you have a basement and an attic, you can sound proof each of them so that they are all ready in case of an emergency.
Individuals that live in small apartments should soundproof the room where they most expect to be staying during a crisis situation. While you may actually circulate through other areas of the home, your pets will have to stay in this room until you are certain that the noises they make will not invite the presence of unwanted invaders.
It should be noted that many people keep dogs in hopes that they will act as alarms and also attack unwanted visitors. Unfortunately, there are several problems with this idea:
- Guard dogs and security dogs require years of careful training. Most homeowners that “play rough” with their dogs, use choker/prong collars, and try to make their dogs ready to attack usually wind up becoming victims of their own designs. Dogs only understand love and pain. If you hurt them, they will eventually turn on you. While this may sound very complicated, it is truly very simple. If you want a guard dog and intend to have one for that purpose, go into training with a suitable dog or buy one that has already been trained and then attend training sessions so that you know how to handle the dog. This is one of the few places where “DIY” solutions won’t work and may just cost more than you were planning to give.
- While pre-social collapse thieves may be deterred by a dog, those who survive a crisis may simply see the dog as an opportunity to grab some extra meat for dinner. Not only will these people come in prepared to loot your home, they are also likely to be more than ready to neutralize and kill your dog. Unless you are fully prepared and trained to back up any threat your dog presents to unwanted visitors, you might just as well write a “guard dog” off your bug in list.
4. Injuries and Illnesses
As with human injuries and illness, you will find that pets will also be inclined to suffer more medical related problems during stressful situations.
This, in turn, means that you will need to store away at least some basic medications that can be used for both human and animal needs. In addition, if you are going to grow herbs for medicinal needs, make sure that all of the plants selected are safe to have in the same area as pets. Ideally, you should be able to use these herbs to treat both types of ailments.
Here are some supplies and information that you should keep on hand for managing injuries and illness:
- Detailed anatomy and physiology information for each species of pet in your care
- If possible, try to obtain veterinary textbooks that will help you diagnose and treat pet diseases
- Herbal remedies that can be used in place of conventional medications. This includes medications that can be used to sedate pets.
- As sad as it may be, there may be times when the pet in your care cannot be saved, and there is no doctor or vet on hand to help resolve the situation. Under these situations it is cruel to allow your pet to linger on and suffer until he/she dies. Do some research on herbs that can be used to euthanize your pet. Bear in mind that even veterinarians cannot always guarantee an easy death even though they are using modern medicines and tested protocols. You should also have second, mechanical means available to euthanize your pet. For example, in many cases, a knife blade inserted between the vertebra at the base of the skull may work for both cats and dogs. If you have sedating herbs on hand, you may want to use those before delivering the final blow. As a last resort, you can try cutting the jugular veins in the neck, however that will be very traumatic for the animal and you.
5. Long Term Care Considerations
If you have ever kept dogs and cats, then getting them vaccinated may be a matter of routine. In the post-crisis world, these important medicines may not be available.
Therefore, you will have to be more careful than ever to make sure that your pets are not exposed to rabies, distemper, or other pathogens that will lead to serious, and possibly fatal illness.
In particular, since rabies can be transmitted from animals to humans, you must always be on guard once the rabies vaccine is 3 – 5 years past the last injection (unless your pet is under a year old and has not received the 1 year booster. In this case, the timeframe is much shorter.)
Some critical things to consider:
- Make sure that your pets do not gain access to mice, rats, or other prey animals that may transmit deadly diseases. Unfortunately, once your pet comes in contact with blood from these other animals or gets bitten by them, your pet may contract any number of diseases that were once covered by the vaccines.
- Make sure that you have a quarantine area for your pets so that you can observe them during crucial time frames if needed.
Aside from vaccinations, you must also think carefully about other pet diseases such as fleas, mites, and worms. While there are herbal remedies that will help with these problems, you must know how to recognize symptoms and deal with them as quickly as possible. In particular, worms can be dangerous to you and your pets before you even realize what is going on.
6. A Special Guide for Fish
Contrary to popular belief, if you are in a crisis situation, it may not be as easy as you think to take care of fish. This is especially important to consider if you are going to use fish waste as a fertilizer in hydroponics systems.
Since fish for this purpose can get quite large and become difficult to maintain in crisis conditions, it is important to make adequate provisions for helping them survive during a bug in scenario.
Unlike cats, dogs, and birds, fish only have one little aquarium to live in. Taking care of them in a crisis situation can be very difficult if you are unable to provide adequate filtration and aeration to the water.
It may be of some help to keep battery powered pumps and filters on hand as well as oxygen generation tablets.
It should be noted that bubble up filters can make a good bit of noise, as can the pumps that deliver air into the tank. To deal with this problem:
- Be careful about when you run the filters and then use either airstones or air curtains to increase aeration when the filter is not running. Even though this will not provide filtration, it will help break the water surface so that oxygen can get to the fish.
- Use nitrate reduces, pH stabilizers, water softeners and zeolites to help preserve good water chemistry and compensate for the lack of mechanical filtration.
- Sludge reducers that are safe for aquariums may also be of some use.
- If you are starting a new aquarium in the pre-crisis world, choose fish that can live without large amounts of aeration and filtration. For example, a male betta can live very happily in a 2 – 3 gallon tank and can last for weeks or even months without a mechanical filter in the tank.
Aside from maintaining water chemistry and temperature, you will also need to stock up on fish food. Depending on the species of fish, you may also be able to feed them human food.
For example, some fish are notorious for loving to eat vegetables while others won’t mind eating insects and other forms of meat. As long as you are aware of your fish’s nutritional needs and how to meet them, you will find it fairly easy to keep your fish healthy and thriving.
When you decide to bug in, there is always a chance that you will have to leave your home. Fish can be very difficult to travel with because you either have to place them in plastic bags or some other water tight container.
Always try to use the biggest possible container since it will allow more oxygen and water for the fish to live in. Since fish consume more oxygen when they are stressed, the very act of moving them from their usual home to a bag or smaller vessel may be enough to cause their oxygen usage to double or even triple.
Therefore, while you are in transit from one place to another, you may also need to stop frequently and run a battery operated pump and airstone to provide more oxygen for the fish. Needless to say, if you are using fish as part of a hydroponics system, it will be very important to secure the well being of breeding pairs so that you can repopulate tanks at your next location.
Since modern tropical fish are severely over bred, they also tend to suffer from immune system collapses from a narrower range of tank conditions.
For example, if an angel fish can tolerate a 10 degree temperature change tank water, newer fish may only be able to withstand a 5 degree temperature change before developing swim bladder problems, fungal, bacterial, and other infections. In most cases, you may not find much information on treating tropical fish with herbal remedies.
On the other hand, antibiotics and tank conditioners can be stored for several years without losing their potency. Since these items also take up fairly little space, it may be of some use to stockpile them.
As you can see, taking care of pets during a crisis and afterward can be every bit as challenging as securing your own survival. In some cases, if you have a specific need for certain animals, then you will need to be especially careful about making sure you can supply adequate food, water, shelter, medications, and waste removal.
If you cannot meet these needs in a bug in situation, then you will only cause you and your loved ones more hardship by holding unrealistic beliefs about “best case scenarios”. If you would not leave your well being to fate or luck, then do not simply hope your pets or other animal dependents will get through the crisis somehow.
At the very least, if you believe that a life threatening crisis is within 2 – 3 days of happening, and find that you cannot provide for your animals, during a crisis, it may be best to not take in any new animals, and also give the ones you have to others who will be able to care for them.
Interested in long-term survival? CLICK HERE to find out more!
This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.
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If you are a serious prepper with comprehensive bug out and survival plans an important question comes up as to whether or not you want, or more specifically do you really need, any animals or even a dog in your retreat environment plans?
In other words should you have one, or would you, and the animal, be better off without each other in the “end of days” breakdown? This seems like a loaded question because almost everybody likes dogs to some extent. And in normal times, if you can properly care for your pet, there usually aren’t too many issues precluding ownership.
But in a SHTF scenarios and the subsequent hard core survival requirements involved there are extremely critical elements that change the perspective and dynamics of dog ownership quite seriously.
Pros and Cons
Bad news first. A dog also eats, requires water, creates waste, and makes noise, and takes up space. Sometimes as much as you do, depending upon its size. In an all-out catastrophic long term event, this becomes an unavoidable concern.
And don’t think that you’ll be hunting or trapping all your fresh meat which you’ll share with your dog once you arrive and settle in at your rural BOL. That’s mostly an urban myth unless you’re so deep in critter heavy wilderness/mountains that even God can’t find you and you have an extensive trap line set up and substantial experience.
There’s a series on TV now called “Live Free or Die” and is a mild, orchestrated preview of what to expect if you choose that route, even though the wilderness location of the show is really not that far from civilization.
And what about your actual real time bug out adventure? Hungry dogs are nervous and unpredictable. You have to carry their food and water with you? Do your plans accommodate that? If you are diminutive in stature and deficient in strength to hump an extra-large backpack on foot, did you figure out something else yet, like maybe a small cart the dog could pull or a working dog back pack harness like they have now.
Among other issues, it’s not really a great idea to escape on a bike with your poor dog trying to keep up behind you until his feet start to bleed or he just collapses. In certain really bad scenarios hungry people see your dog as their next meal which they can’t get normally anymore.
They’ll think nothing of ambush sniping him right out from under your nose, and putting a few rounds in your direction to discourage any interference with their dining reservations, hoping you’ll just move on and leave the dog. If you stay and engage in a firefight then you risk your life, and anyone else’s if you have others in your party, and the dog will still be dead.
There are other issues, mainly because it’s unlikely that most people with a dog have it trained well enough to handle all of the complications of a bug out without problems. So all that should get you thinking straight from the start.
As for pros well, truth be told…in a bad bug out survival situation, there’s only two main rationales for having a dog. Possible personal and location security, and/or simple companionship. Especially if you don’t have any human companionship.
So, if you already have a dog, then there’s no real question of whether or not you want or need one in any survival situation. That decision was already made. If Fido is already part of the family, then fine, and that’s that. No dog left behind! But if you really do love your pet, a SHTF catastrophe prompting a serious bug out is a main game changer for both the dog’s and your world.
With that stated, dogs can provide good use and value in several other ways. The main being personal bodyguard protection for you and your family, especially your children. I never could understand how financially well off people with young children and a big home don’t have at least one protection dog, yet they have all kinds of expensive health and life insurance protection?
There are other ancillary uses in a survival scenario like hunting/retrieving game if you are in a wilderness area and have inexhaustible game resources, or shepherd duty over your own food animals you are raising.
I know a family who trained their canine on command to sniff and search for any member of the family who might wander off too far out of sight for more than five minutes on their land. First the dog barks three times to warn anybody else nearby that a member of the family is missing, then on command it will ‘bloodhound’ through the forest to track and find the out of sight family member.
Serious Mission Oriented Training
A question comes up in these discussions about whether or not a dog’s natural protection instinct is good enough for BOL perimeter security?
Based on years of private security contracting specializing in such, and I don’t mean just installing burglar alarms, and knowing a lot about how sentry/guard/security dogs are deployed, my personal professional opinion answer is a simple NO. They must be specially trained.
Your pet might be a good barker, and even little dogs are often decent anti-home break in alerts. This is because most dogs have a domestic pack instinct and naturally protect their “inner circle” or “den”’ which now includes their human family.
But this is not the same as the more complicated problems of having to worry about a concentrated well-armed attack on your BOL retreat if discovered by desperately savage groups, who aren’t really that afraid of a dog in the larger scheme of things or the police ever responding to interfere with their attack assault on your property so they will try to kill the dog first, and then come after the humans next.
Today, the days of having guard dogs or attack sentry dogs loose in an enclosed chain link fence to deter entry and protect property is becoming obsolete due to litigation liability issues and alternate improvements in security alarms and anti-intrusion systems which will soon be including autonomous robots and even tactical defense drones.
Especially as the cost effectiveness factor gets involved and robots become cheaper than dogs, and even humans. Dogs will always have a purpose but more specifically mission tuned to hunting down people and searching while always being in control of handlers. Which is not a main issue in defending your castle.
As you saw in the video of the White House intruder getting attacked by the patrol dog, he gave it a couple fast and serious karate kicks and body slams and wasn’t even fazed, until the K-9 security officers took him out the hard way.
Video first seen on DAHBOO77
In another instance, an ex- military combat vet tried to get into the White House and actually avoided the dogs by sneaking through heavy landscape bushes and only an electronic security breach signal ONCE HE WAS INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE, alerted the Secret Service guards who intercepted him!
In other words, instead of a dog for your serious perimeter security in a BOL compound, the reality is that you are better off with mechanical/physical barrier or electronic perimeter anti-intrusion security combined with alarm sensors and other alert devices, if you really want to protect yourself better.
And don’t start with me about “alarm systems can be deactivated too?”. Not the ones I use. They are something called “max perimeter default systems”. Even if they get through, which is highly unlikely, I will still be alerted with time to spare for the…relatively easy target practice session, or a tactical fall back if necessary. With my dog!
And you don’t have to worry about losing your “best friend” to some psychos who will stop at nothing–until you can unload a face full of double-ought buckshot from a 31/2 inch 12 Ga. magnum on them at close range.
The hard reality is that the best decision if you had to choose between a dedicated perimeter protection system and guard dogs, you would be better off doing the mechanical/electronic anti-intrusion system for all pragmatic consequences and expenses.
Having said that, a good PROPERLY trained dog for perimeter security is way, way, better than nothing. AND, some serious preppers opt for a combination of both a physical anti-intrusion barrier, and a dog.
However in a BOL environment, just like people, survival /protection dogs absolutely MUST be trained and prepped CORRECTLY for the circumstances. Otherwise you’ll both be in trouble. Currently there are specific survival prepping dog training schools in operation, and even videos and books on survival prepping dog training by now.
One of the big differences in normal training is that due to the intense differences in security mode in a bad SHTF combat firefight perimeter intrusion scenario which could rattle even the best of dogs, the tactical need exists to absolutely CONTROL the dog to command signals instantly, and completely, in any situation or distraction.
If the dog is trained for attack on command, they MUST be trained to ‘shut off’ completely on command. If you want a barking alert based on what the dog smells or hears in the distance, the dog must be trained to also stop barking and remain quiet upon direct command because you can’t have continuous noise giving away your exact location for roving predator intruders to home in on.
And if you are falling back for cover or counter attack positioning then the dog must instantly follow you, and not his instincts, if that’s the command. This is an often overlooked but important tactical necessity in combat situations.
The best way to start BOL survival training is to train your dog to be a personal protection dog. Check out this video to see what it really takes to do this right, and whether or not you want or are able to make the commitment.
Video first seen on David Harris
As you saw in this video, it doesn’t get much better than that unless you also teach your canine bodyguard how to CYA in a firefight by tossing a couple frags or smoke bombs to cover your flanking tactics.
And at the end of a hard day of training, make sure you always reward your best friend and sit down, relax and have a cool one together.
Interested in improving your safety? CLICK HERE to find out more!
This article was written by Mahatma Muhjesbude for Survivopedia.
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In a TEOTWAWKI situation, we may find ourselves having to dress wild game anything from rats to deer. Because we cannot afford to get sick under these conditions we need to be more careful about protecting ourselves from diseases while dressing the game.
There are numerous diseases that you can contact while dressing out the game or from the ticks and fleas that are leaving them. As soon as the game begins to cool the ticks, fleas and other parasites will leave and look for new homes. Hopeful it will not be you.
While there are many potential diseases that you can contact from wild game we will mainly concentrate on four. Rabies, plague, rocky mountain spotted fever and lyme disease
Rabies, the virus is not present in the meat itself, but in the surrounding nerve tissue, as well as in the brain, spinal cord and the animal’s saliva. Rabies is only transmitted when the virus is introduced into an open wound or to mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth). For more information on rabies see Rabies – After TEOTWAWKI Rabies Will be a Major Threat
If for any reason you suspect the possibility of rabies or other diseases, avoid touching the animal’s mouth, brain or spinal cord and use the following safety.
- Wear goggles and long rubber or plastic protective gloves while field dressing, skinning, butchering and processing the meat.
- After butchering, wash hands with soap and water, and wash any contaminated clothing and the work area. (this should apply if possible whenever you field dress or butcher an animal)
- Disinfect gloves and butchering utensils in a solution of one part household bleach to 20 parts water for twenty minutes.
- Cook game meat thoroughly. Heat destroys the rabies virus and other disease organisms that might be present.
- Freezing will not destroy the rabies virus. Precautions should be taken while thawing meat.
Fleas and ticks. Here the problem is to avoid getting them on you. As soon as the game starts to cool, the fleas and ticks will start to look for a new home. You need to avoid become their new host. Because you may be hunting at different times of the year, both fleas and ticks may be more prevalent. Both lyme disease and rocky mountain spotted fever are spread by tick bites. Fleas are a carrier of plague, you can contact it from their bits. For more information on these diseases, see the following posts.
- Ticks and Lyme Disease
- Insect Repellants Like Permethrin for Preppers
- Plague, A Hazard After TEOTWAWKI
- How to Get Rid of Fleas when There are No Pesticides Available
For further information on these diseases as well as many less common ones see an excellent article published by the American Veterinarian Medical Association, Disease precautions for hunters this article covers symptoms and contains some information on treatment in both animals and humans. This is a situation in which prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Crafting my own packable survival tools has got to be one of my absolute personal favorite hobbies, especially since they can usually be made in the garage workshop on the super-cheap. I’ve made quite a few slingshots, fishing kits and PVC bows in recent years, but if I had to pick the easiest project of them all, it would have to be the DIY survival blowgun.
It is true that there are quite a few online retailers that will sell a manufactured blowgun for a whopping $50,but believe it or not, you could make a comparably effective one on your own and shell out a fifth of that cost for the materials.
What Can This Baby Actually Do?
First off, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here, because this little DIY-dart-driver isn’t meant to replace your 45-70 for next year’s bear hunt. And no, this is certainly not going to be an effective “home defense weapon” (you’d probably do more damage with a frying pan). But if you’re interested in a survival implement that’s incredibly lightweight and will take little furball critter for brunch … then this should do the trick.
It has three primary benefits:
- Takes down rabbit-sized and smaller animals — In terms of what you can hunt with this DIY blowgun, you’re mostly looking at chipmunks, squirrels, frogs, and no bigger than a jackrabbit/hare.
- Is portable and easy to run — The beauty of this blowgun is that it’s extremely lightweight, and when broken down, it can be strapped to the side of your pack for storing away while trekking and scouting.
- Provides lots of ammo options — Interestingly enough, these blowguns will actually run the same .50 cal dart ammo that’s sold in retail stores. However, you can also make the ammo yourself, too; and in my opinion, the DIY ammo has greater energy transfer and target penetration.
Essentially, you’re looking at a reasonably effective range of around 10 to 15 yards, but I wouldn’t expect much more out of it. At shorter distances, shot placement isn’t nearly as crucial, since the sheer energy of impact will deliver the most shock value to the target, but as distances get longer shot placement becomes crucial, and that requires skill. To give you an idea, here’s a video on what a DIY PVC blowgun is capable of:
Story continues below video
But if you’re going to eventually get good with your DIY blowgun, then we’ve got to get her up and running. So, here’s what you’ll need …
The parts list is rather simple, and can basically be found at any hardware store:
- ½-inch schedule-40 PVC pipe
- Threaded PVC couplers (male and female)
- PVC glue
- Spray paint (camouflaging)
- Wire connectors
- Wire coat hanger(s)
- Wooden grilling skewers
To begin, you’ll need to determine the ideal length of your blowgun. Bear in mind that the longer it ends up being, the more energy can build up behind the dart, resulting in greater velocities. However, the longer the blowgun, the more gravity works against it. The PVC tends to bow in the middle after about six feet.
You can basically use anything that will cut PVC here, because precision isn’t really an issue for this project …
- My suggestion is to cut your ½-inch sched-40 PVC piping down to about 4.5 to 5.5 feet, depending on your level of comfort and the length of your arms. The wide coupler end of the pipe can be used as your mouthpiece.
- Then make another cut, creating two equal halves that are approximately 2.25 to 2.75 feet in length.
- Next, take your ½-inch male and female threaded couplers, and use your PVC glue to fasten them to each half. This will allow you to break down the blowgun when storing, also adding rigidity to the blowgun itself to keep it straight.
- Once that’s done, simply hit the surface with a coat or two of camouflage paint, and she’s all done!
Now, let’s get your ammo ready for target practice. As for the blowgun itself … well … that baby is ready to rock.
Ammo Assembly & Options
This is where your ½-inch diameter wire connectors come in. For some reason, the right size for making your darts usually comes in yellow, but have no fear, because even if you end up wasting money on a pack with the wrong size, you’re still only going to be about $3 invested in your ammo (yet another reason why I love this blowgun).
Next you can either use…
- Straight part of coat hanger. Simply cut it into pieces, pre-drill a hole into the top each plastic wire connector, and fit the coat hanger wire piece into the pilot hole with some gorilla glue. Either sharpen the tip for added penetration or hammer the very top to create a “broadhead effect.”
- Wooden grilling skewers. No cutting necessary; however, you’ll still have to pre-drill a hole into the top of the wire connector and fit in the skewer with glue. These will also work extremely well, and are quite heavy in comparison to manufactured blowgun darts.
- Wire connector without a tip, offering a “stun” option on smaller critters. These are great for target practice, because there’s no prep work, and they’ll send an empty Pepsi can into orbit … along with your sense of self-satisfaction from becoming a blowgun ninja deadeye.
One way to keep track of your ammo is to use that black ½-inch-thick pipe insulation tubing by cutting it into a 4-inch piece. Then, simply fit that piece onto the PVC pipe and glue it down to hold it in place. This ammo-holder works especially well for keeping your coat hanger-wire darts at the ready for lightning fast deployment.
Just because every state and community is different, I wouldn’t actually hunt with this DIY blowgun (or really any blowgun for that matter) until you’ve checked your state laws. You might run into some issues with the local game warden if you’re caught, holding a dead rabbit with a dart sticking out of it. So be sure to do your homework on this one.
Well, other than that, feel free to sharpen your instinctive shooting skills via target practice, but don’t be surprised if you get oddly addicted. I know this addiction from experience: The struggle is real.
What advice would you add on making a DIY blowgun? Share your suggestions in the section below:
Some are our companions, on others we rely for food and others we’d better avoid at all costs if we care for our lives. I’m talking about animals, of course. What would we be without our chicks that provide us with fresh eggs and meat? Or without our goats, that are not just a source of meat and milk, but joy as well. And our dogs, our faithful friends upon which we rely for our safety?
Today we’ve gathered 5 articles that talk exactly about that: the animals we love and cherish for their contribution in our lives, and the ones we should avoid because they’re rather foes more than friends.
Scroll through the articles and let us know in the comments section below which animlas you have in your homestead?
1. Breaking chickens of flying over fences
“We had a chicken-flying-fences problem beginning in September, but it took until our staycation rested our minds before we were able to start getting a handle on the issue.
With problems like this, I’ve found that clipping wings (dealing with the symptoms) doesn’t hold a candle to rooting out the real cause of the problem. So I put on my thinking cap and realized there were several issues at play.”
Read more on Walden Effect.
2. Building a Goat Stanchion from A to Z
“Our original goat stanchion (made from PVC pipe fittings) was a home school project my daughters built around 20 years ago. It needed a lot of work or replacement to make it useable on a day to day basis.
After looking for a good goat stanchion in various catalogs and on the internet I decided to build one from scratch. A really good sturdy goat stanchion can cost upward of 300 dollars. It seemed to me I could build one for much less and with a little ingenuity I might be able to scrounge up most if not all the materials.”
Read more on Possum Ridge Farms.
3. Survival Fishing (Video and Transcript)
“G.M.: Hey, folks. This is Backwoods out here in the… out here in the wilderness again.
Today we’re gonna try to show you how to set up a you know, a primitive fishing pole with just a very small amount of gear that weighs less than an ounce.
We’re down here by the river and there is lots of fish here. You’re gonna see those throughout this video. All we need is some way to get them.”
Read more on American Preppers Network.
4. Working Dogs on the Homestead
“Dogs are awesome. They provide companionship, can protect you, and they are almost always thrilled to see you.
Dogs are a staple member of the farm and homestead team, and they have been since humans started to settle down. Let’s look at some specific roles for our canine friends:
- Pest Control (i.e. Hunters)”
Read more on The Homesteading Hippy.
5. A Visual Guide to the Most Common Biting and Stinging Bugs
“There are a lot of creepy crawlies out there that can’t help but bite or sting you when you get too close. This infographic shows the 28 arthropods most likely to cause you harm, and explains whether their bite or sting is medically significant.
Thankfully, most bug bites and stings don’t require medical attention (unless you’re allergic). Still this identification guide from Luke Guy and John Goldthwaite, and published by Pest Pro App, can let you know for sure.”
Read more on Life Hacker.
Interested in the best self-sufficiency solution during a food crisis? CLICK HERE to learn more!
This article has been written by Brenda E. Walsh for Survivopedia.
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In a survival situation you’ll have to feed yourself and food is not a matter to be picky about. Unless you’re a skilled hunter, with limitless supplies of ammo, you’ll have to change your options a bit, from delicacies to pretty much everything that has a heartbeat (or not even that).
The truth of the matter is: if it’s meat, you can eat it for sustenance. Almost all animals are fit for consumption, with the exceptions of course of those who are poisonous or detrimental in other ways to human health. But the list is not that long, and if you are trained a bit recognizing the poisonous species from the safe ones, you will not go hungry or jeopardize your health. Just prepare yourself mentally and accept the fact that you might find yourself animals to catch and eat; animals that not only walk or fly, but also crawl, swim, or buzz. If you are strong enough to overcome this mental barrier, you’ll find that meat is meat, no matter the shape or size it comes in.
In order to be as efficient as possible in gathering resources with the upmost of ease, you’ll need to read up a bit in the matter. Be aware of the animal life that’s native to your surroundings and know their lifestyle and patterns. So you’ll need to understand the behavior, food preferences, mating season and availability of a certain species. It’s important, as may prove very tricky to track down and hunt while others may be just sitting around for the taking.
In principle, mammals are the best source of proteins available and to Americans is the food of choice. But hunting or
procuring mammal meat has disadvantages also. Most of them won’t come without a fight and the amount of damage an animal can inflict is directly proportionate to its size. So if you’re planning on hunting large game, it’s advised you do so with
professional hunting equipment. But it’s not always a matter of size, as even smaller mammals, like wild boars and even small rodents, can get very aggressive in order to protect their young. In a survival scenario, be very cautious as not to get bitten or scratched;
an infected open wound is the last thing you need. Almost all mammals are edible without boundaries, with few exceptions: scavengers (most of them are carrying diseases), the platypus (it has poisonous glands), the polar bear (has dangerously high levels of vitamin A in the liver) and more.
All species of birds are edible without boundaries and the only variables consist in size and flavor. As most of them fly, it’s very important to know and understand a specie’s habits in order to catch them easily. The best ones to catch are the ones that don’t put much of a fight. So during night time, pigeons can be easily picked up by hand out of their nests. And many other types of birds won’t tend to fly away when nesting, even if they sense the danger. So picking them up it’s just a mere formality. Most birds have a clear pattern, which is easily observable. If you study them carefully enough, you’ll know when and where they fly out from the nest area, in order to drink or procure food. If the nesting area is out of reach, the drinking or feeding spot could become a possible hunting ground. Catching them is easily done by setting traps and snares.
Nesting habits and patterns
Fish meat is extremely nutritious; not only is it an excellent source of protein, but also of beneficial fasts. They’re usually more abundant then mammals and most ways of procuring fish are way easier than hinting. Here too comes in play the knowledge of the patterns and behaviors of species. For instance, almost all species tend to feed abundantly before storms, because right after a storm the water tends to get muddy and impure.
So the best time for fishing is right before bad weather. If the water currents tend to get stronger than usual, fish tend to rest in “sanctuaries” where the water is calmer, like near rocks or other sturdy spots like logs, submerged foliage etc. They also have a tendency towards light during night time.
Salt-water fish can be poisonous, so you have to be aware of what you’re about to eat. Best stay away from species like red snapper, thorn fish, cow fish, puffer fish, porcupine fish etc. But the ones that are safe to eat, if you catch them further away from the shore, you can even eat raw. This is possible due to the high levels of salinity in deep waters, which prevents parasitic infestation.
It’s a whole different story when it comes to fresh-water fish. All of them must be thoroughly cooked before eating, in order to kill off all the parasites. As an up-side, fresh water fish are never poisonous. But this doesn’t mean you don’t have to be cautious when it comes to wandering into fresh-water. The catfish for example has very sharp needles in on its dorsal fin and barbels, which can deeply pierce into human flesh. So tread carefully and avoid painful wounds and infections.
The spikes in the dorsal fin and barbles (the Catfish)
Most crustaceans are easy to spot and catch. The fresh-water shrimp can measure 0.25cm – 1 inch and can form large colonies or simply swim around vegetation. They can also be found in the mud vegetation of lakes. The larger crustaceans, like lobsters, crabs and shrimps are usually found where the water reaches about 30 feet deep. Lobsters and crabs are best caught during night time, with either a baited hook or a baited trap. Shrimp often comes at the surface of the water during night-time, attracted by light, making it easy for you to just scoop them up. Crayfish is also a great crustacean to have for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They’re akin to lobsters and crabs and can be found in the soft mud near the breathing holes of their nests or by round rocks in streams (but only during the day time, since they’re active at night). They have a hard shell (exoskeleton), 10 legs and large pincers.
They’re the most spread life form on Earth, and unlike beef which consists in about 20% protein, insects can pack up to 65% – 80% pure protein. And the best part is that they’re everywhere and very easy to catch. Grassy spots are usually a great place to pick up all sorts of insects and it makes it very easy to spot them. A rotting piece of wood for example may also be a great source for a large variety of insects such as ants, beetles, termites, grubs etc. You can also scout many other places that could naturally provide shelter or nesting places for the tiny critters.
But many bugs do not come bug-free, as some of them (especially those with hard shells) will host a vast number of parasites. So if you plan on having beetles, grasshoppers or cicadas, don’t do so before cooking them. As much as they vary in shape as sizes, so do they in taste and texture. Eating them raw or cooked is one way to go, but another valid option is grinding them into a nutritious paste which you can mix with various herbs and spices, to add flavor.
The ones that you have to avoid eating are the ones that usually sting or bite. The larvae are safe to eat though, as they haven’t developed the stingers or poison glands yet. Also, if they’re hairy or brightly colored, keep away, not only by eating them but also from touching or interacting with them. Also spiders should be off-limits and all of the insects that are carriers of diseases like flies, mosquitoes, caterpillars etc.
If you ever happen find yourself in the situation of having to survive strictly on what Mother Nature provides, you’ll be just fine as you respect the basic set of written and unwritten natural rules. Just educate yourself in the matter, read up on specialized journals and articles in what’s safe to eat and what’s not and never take unnecessary risks. A wrong move might cost you your life.
By Alec Deacon
Are you ready? We live in a challenging time. Many people feel uneasy. Many realize we are one Chinese hack away from an electrical grid shut-down or a stock market melt-down. Some are preparing. Putting away food, seeds, etc. But if you have to provide your own food for a prolonged period, veggies get old and remember vitamins may not be available to supplement an all vegetarian diet. You need a self replicating meat production unit. What is that? It is more commonly known as a sheep, but that is the short answer. Please read on to gain an important understanding of why I am telling you about this at all.
If you live in a city none of this applies to you. If you have been able to get a bit of land, even as little as two acres, you might be able to use this information. I have kept sheep for many years, but not just any sheep. My wife and I have raised Gulf Coast Native sheep for the last twelve years. It is because of my experience with this breed that I believe we have something to offer anyone thinking of preparing for difficult times. Let me explain first about why sheep fit the bill for potential survival scenarios and then why Gulf Coast may be your best option if you decide to get some sheep.
The most important item to consider to start with is this: what will my animals eat? Many people like pork, but pigs eat grain. Grain may not be easily obtained, might be expensive if available and might be better used for feeding people directly. If you have lots of oak trees available, then pigs will grow well on acorns, but we don’t all have the trees. Most people with some land will have grass and/or brush. Here is where ruminants come into their own. With their four stomachs they are quite capable of turning that roughage into meat, milk and/or fiber.
You might be thinking “Well, a cow is a ruminant, I can get one of those.” Yes, that is possible, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Cows are big! If you have a good amount of land, sturdy equipment to handle them and a bit of experience then they can be a good choice. I also have cattle. When you slaughter an animal that size, it can have a serious impact. You will have to kill it, hang it, skin it, gut it and cut it into parts. Then you will have entrails to dispose of, a hide to tan, and a carcass weighing 500-700 pounds. If you have a lot of friends you can have a great party. If it is only for your family, you will have to freeze, salt, dry, and/or can the meat to preserve it for future use. That sounds like quite a bit of work doesn’t it? Now think about doing the above with an animal only 10% that size. I think you would agree that that sounds much more manageable. Throughout the world small ruminants predominate for this very reason. Without the industrial infrastructure to support large scale cattle production and processing most people gravitate to the more practical sheep and goats.
Another consideration is that a piece of land that can support one cow might support ten sheep or goats. What happens if your one cow dies prematurely from disease or accident? You see where I am coming from don’t you? In survival situations you don’t want all your eggs in one basket.
Now that you see that sheep can be a very good choice especially for the small acreage and/or less experienced individuals, I would like to sing the praises of the Gulf Coast Native sheep and why they are the best choice for tough times. First a little history.
The Gulf Coast breed, along with the Navajo Churro, are descended from sheep brought to the new world by the Spanish. They are the oldest breeds of sheep in the US. The Churro is adapted to the Southwest, while the Gulf Coast is adapted to the Southeast. Many centuries of benign neglect (natural selection) produced an animal that is tough, heat tolerant, a good browser, resistant to foot rot and most importantly parasite resistant. The Gulf Coast is a small breed, but that is a positive for heat adaptation. They will produce excellent meat, wool and milk. Unlike many breeds of sheep, they will produce and survive in tough conditions when grain is not available and chemical wormers are not to be found. Prior to the advent of chemical wormers massive flocks of Gulf Coast could be found in the South. Once these wormers became available, larger more modern breeds took their place. They are now an endangered breed. Of course, if you don’t live in the south east, you can still benefit from keeping this breed. There are Gulf Coast Sheep in many parts of the country and they thrive in these ‘easier’ climates as well.
On our farm, we have worked to increase the body size and improve the wool quality and temperament of our animals. We have also worked to maintain the traits that have made this a breed of survivors. We do not routinely worm adult sheep; however, if an animal has another problem, we may worm because of accompanying immuno-suppression. Since we utilize management intensive grazing, we actually increase exposure of our sheep to parasites compared to the conditions that prevailed when they were extensively grazed in the piney woods. We have also had success upgrading the hardiness and parasite resistance of other sheep breeds through cross breeding.
The meat quality of our animals is exceptional. When Americans tell me that ours is the best lamb they have ever had, I thank them, but it doesn’t mean much since most Americans only eat lamb occasionally. When our European and Middle-eastern clients tell me the same thing I know that our lamb is something special.
Our wool has improved in quantity and quality each year until we are now consistently producing a very fine fleece with good staple length. This is a very nice hand spinning wool that could be useful if you are forced to make your own clothing.
We do not milk our sheep, but the breed is being used for that purpose by others. Gulf Coast do milk longer than most non-dairy breeds but the greatest drawback is that they have a more flighty temperament. Through selection over the years, our animals have calmed considerably and I believe could be used for milk production if one wanted to pursue that use.
When times are tough only the tough survive. These sheep are tough and they will survive. If you see livestock as part of your survival plan they may be just what you need. But act soon as the time may be short to make arrangements for you and your family.
If you have questions or are interested in purchasing sheep, my wife Dr. Jan Southers or I will be happy to help. We are:
Hope Springs Farm, Colbert, GA 30628 phone: 706-788-2071 cell: 706-248-1740
There is also the Gulf Coast Breeders Association, 947 County Road 302, Sandia, TX 78383
By C.L. Kitttell, DVM
I have three hens that have been laying all summer but this was the first egg from the baby chicks I bought this spring from Tractor Supply. This is what the “chicks” look like now.
I did have some losses from this batch. I lost several of them when the door came open one night and something killed 4 of them. Right now there are 7 hens and 5 roosters (yes, some of those roosters will have to go). I have been waiting to see eggs because my sister-in-laws “chicks” that she also got from Tractor Supply at the same time I did, have been laying for about a week now.
This morning when I went out to feed the chickens I saw this.
After about a half hour she started to pant and close her eyes now and then and I knew she was really going to lay and egg, then she stood up and we had our first egg. My only white egg layer of the bunch.
I can’t wait until those Barred Rock hens get laying too. They were very interested in what the little white hen was doing in the nest.
We don’t usually eat pork roast on Easter. We always eat ham on Easter but money was a bit tight this week and I had two pork roasts in the freezer already and just couldn’t see worrying about buying a ham. I did want it to be a very good pork roast though, so we got out the smoker and, starting at about 9:30 this morning, we put it in and smoked it with apple chips.
The picture looks rather ugly but the smell was absolutely wonderful and so was the taste! I still think that smoker was one of the best purchases we ever made.
For dessert I had a cake, of course. It did not turn out as nice as I would have liked as I had a problem with the cream cheese frosting being too soft for decorating but it is a carrot cake and it was very, very good.
I hope your Easter is turning out just as nice as ours. The only thing that would make it better would be if they boys could be home.
In other news, all the chicks are doing great. The meat birds will soon have to move to an even larger cage though I don’t know where I will put them.
We also have a new addition to our family. This is Suzette (Suzie).
The local shelter had some dogs at Tractor Supply last weekend when we went in and Suzie was in a pen with her brother. They were the only two left of a litter. She is 11 weeks old when we got her (making her 12 weeks old today). She was a bit too thin (hip bones sticking out) and smaller than her brother..she may have been the runt..but she has put on a little weight just this week so you no longer see her hip bones. She is a very happy busy little puppy who loves to chew up wires (we are learning to try to get all the cords and wires out of her reach but she still finds them). Our other dogs are not real fond of her. Romeo and Scooter tolerate her better than Echo does which we found surprising since Echo wanted puppies so bad that she adopted the chicks but even Echo is getting better with her. She loves to play with any of the cats who will play with her (some of the younger ones will) and it is funny to see her chase them and them chase her back.
Anyway, here’s wishing you all a lovely Easter!
Anyone who has had meat birds, especially Cornish X, knows that they are just nasty birds. They basically eat and poop and grow. They have to do all these rather a lot if you want them to be ready to eat in 8 weeks. Mine have outgrown their tub already. They kept waking Michelle up at night because they would get out of the tub and then peep like crazy cause they wanted back in. They also smelled bad and I refused to play my violin in the spare room anymore because of the heat and smell. It was time for them to go out. In order for them to go out the other chicks needed to move. The other chicks had also basically outgrown their pen and needed something larger. I decided to put them in with my one big mamma bird left from last year. She is a big old meat bird that was always a cripple but somehow managed to live and I didn’t have the heart to eat her. She is in her second year of laying eggs for me which is pretty phenomenal for a meat bird who technically should have died long ago. I have some reservations about that pen however. It is protected from the elements because the pen is under the roof of the back shed, but the pen is open on the top. It does not go all the way up to the roof. I am worried the cats will get in the pen so have been watching it all day. The little bantam roosters did get in and I threw them out, they are also a concern. We’ll just see how it goes as I really don’t have another pen they can go into right now so hopefully this one will work out.
They are quite happy in their new pen and the big mamma bird doesn’t move well enough to hurt them. They have discovered dirt for the first time and bugs and they are enjoying both.
The meat birds are also enjoying their new pen which I had to clean all out and add new pine shavings. They had gotten quite crowded, dirty and hot in the tub and they are now enjoying more space and cooler temperatures. Their pen, unlike the other one, is quite secure.
Here’s hoping everything goes well for the night.
If you have been following along you know I got some Buckeye chickens for myself and my brother right before Christmas. One ended up dying on him but the other two have been laying eggs for a month or so but mine hadn’t laid until today. Mine turned out to be two roosters and two hens. Today I got my first egg from them and I am so excited. It wasn’t a normal pullet egg either which usually is a small egg. This one as you tell from the pictures (the Buckeye egg is the one on the left of the picture) was as large as my other chickens lay. Not that it matters really, as an egg tastes like an egg no matter what size.
I love my new chicks but my old brooder just wasn’t big enough. I can’t feel good about my chicks if I know they are in too small a place, and their droppings cover the floor too fast, and I know they aren’t clean enough, plus the old brooder just couldn’t seem to stay hot enough. The temperature kept dipping down in the 80’s. That isn’t hot enough for new chicks that should be started off at 100 degrees for the first week (at least 95 degrees!). So yesterday I stopped and got one of the biggest totes I could find. It was $10.57. I got some pine shavings and a real red brooder bulb for the chicks (red bulbs keep them from pecking each other). I got the bulb at Tractor Supply and noticed they had a new bin of chicks. These chicks were black and just labeled pullets (all females). They are probably Barred Rocks. I always loved the Barred Rocks I used to have. Yeah, I just had to get some. So now there are six of those. I went home, got the new brooder all set up and the chicks put in it. It is a relief to know they have plenty of room now and that the brooder isn’t too cold. The red light doesn’t make for very nice pictures but they’ll have to do.
Tractor Supply got in their first order of chicks yesterday and today I went and got some. I was hoping they would have some Cornish X (meat birds) but all they had were layers today. They had California Whites which are a leghorn chicken. Leghorns lay more eggs than any other breed. They had Production Reds and another red chick. I think they were Rhode Island Reds but I can’t remember. All the red birds are fairly good layers. They had Americaunas which often lay green eggs (I have one of these here now that lays lovely green eggs) and they had two different kinds of ducks. Ducks are so cute but terribly messy and I am not ready for that mess again. I bought 6 California Whites and 6 Americaunas.
I’d love to be able to say that they are all doing great but unfortunately one of the Americaunas is failing. I have dipped his beak in the water several times but I have never yet had a chick live that looked like this–listless, not eating or drinking. I imagine it will be dead by morning. The rest of them are moving around and eating and drinking though so that should be the only one we lose. Sometimes they just don’t do well considering they are shipped on a plane with only their body heat to keep them warm, then sit at the post office, then are put in the brooder at the store (their heat lamps are awfully high over the brooders) and then caught, put in a box and then a ride in the car to your house. Sometimes they just get chilled too much and don’t make it.
Anyway, I’ll keep you all updated on how the rest of them do.
I recently went back to my roots in West Virginia, visiting there for the first time since I started FloridaHillbilly.com. I stayed with friends from high school, folks that have consistently proven themselves to be worthy of that short list of folks that you know you can call at 3am when you need bailed out, […]
Few things inspire such fear in people as mice.
Sure, there’s “standard” fears; heights, snakes, bugs, spiders, dark places, tight places and so on. None of these are to be made light of, but as a person who is afraid of mice, let me tell you that there is, sometimes, no rationale to fear. Let’s take mice.
Please, take them all.
My eldest son tells me, mice have fear too. Personally, I don’t believe this for a second. But many will tell us that they are more afraid of us than we are of them.
I don’t care!
Apologies to my eldest son, and others who think mice make cute pets.
The little bastards have no place being in homes. They belong outside, not in my house.
Living out in the bush, I can tell you that mouse fertility comes in waves. It doesn’t take a mouse long to get pregnant, carry and give birth to more vermin. The gestation period of the common house mouse is just under a month, and they can give birth to a litter anywhere from 3-14 young. Mother Nature has pretty much ensured the continuation of the house mouse with a range that covers North America. It’s not like they’re a threatened species!
My fear is not unfounded. The common house mouse can carry deadly diseases. Leptospirosis, Murine Typhus, Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis, Bubonic Plague, and the list goes on.
I don’t really care if they live outdoors and remain part of the food chain, but I do not want them in my house.
To that end, we have lifted every vent cover and inserted common window screen, then replaced the vent cover. We did this because a couple of us have spotted mice coming up from the basement this way, then returning to it’s dark sanctuary the same way.
I have scattered mothballs throughout the basement because it’s said that mice don’t like mothballs.
(I can understand that, those things reek!) We’ve also invested in sonic rodent repellers for every room, and while the house was empty, they seemed to work.
So of course, after doing all that to keep the mice out, wouldn’t you know, we got a mouse just the other night.
We had gone three or four nights without seeing one, but then Betty and I heard one in the walls of the back porch late one night. With a growing sense of dread, I knew it was only a matter of time.
We have mouse traps in the kitchen and back porch, but when Eldest Son saw it, it was quite happily exploring the kitchen. Eldest Son talked to it while I tried not to have a melt down and secretly prayed the mouse would bolt for a peanut butter baited trap and die quickly.
Of course not. That would make my life simple!
In the end, Eldest Son was able to capture Micky with a peanut butter baited bowl, flashlight and a piece of cardboard. Mouse was taken down the road (not far enough for my liking, but Son was in his pajamas) and released!
I respect my son’s mouse-whisperer gifts, but I subscribe to the “the only good mouse is a dead mouse” belief. I know I am not alone in this, lots of folks are afraid of mice. But we can fill all the holes we see, keep our homes as clean as possible and yet still have to deal with them!
On behalf of all the mouse-haters, we do not apologize for our fear any more than someone who is afraid of heights can.
All we ask is that you bear with us.
And clean up those crumbs!
How do you feel about rodents?
I’ve had a bit of interest over the last few weeks regarding quail as a backyard meat source. I thought I’d dust off the topic and put another article together covering the ins and outs of raising Coturnix quail, particularly in an urban setting. It is a rather long article, but still not as detailed […]