Happy almost New Year’s Eve, Pack. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Because of the holiday, we did not do a lot of prepping this week. Having friends and extended family in over the course of three days did give us the opportunity to push more of our self-reliance lifestyle onto them (again, for some of them) as they all fell in love with our secluded patch of land. Our youngest grandson turned 4 on Christmas day – he was born at 3:16 a.m., making his special day one that coincides with my favorite Bible verse.
Showcasing the homemade gifts and the skills it took to create them also gave us the chance to coerce others to learn or hone their own skills and expand the tools they possess. Even our littlest grandchildren were able to show of their outdoor knowledge during the Christmas holiday.
We got Colt a “bear hunting” kit for part of his birthday. The kiddos love to go up on Mad Dog Drop trail and hunt for bear, dinosaurs, and of course their ultimate favorite thing to hunt and actually find (in copious amounts) acorns.
The little drawstring backpack kit had a pair of binoculars, a decent compass, a solar – manually powered flashlight, canteen, magnifying glass, and several other handy items. We also got him this wild animal caller megaphone toy. It makes a bear, bobcat, coyote, eagle, and wild duck calls. Kids of all ages that have been in and out the house have had a blast with it and all wanted to know if we could do a bear hunt while they were there. Learning the sounds the animals in the woods make, and being able to distinguish between them is the next step in our orienteering and tracking private wilderness school curriculum.
Now that my Christmas tree is down and all the excitement and gift making is over, Bobby and I have been working out plans and location spotting for a new greenhouse in the spring and building a new chicken coop with an extra large run. The one that came with the property is falling apart – it was make out of particle board! We reinforced it and make it the Fort Knox of chicken coops, but it is barely going to make it through this winter.
I love to let my flock free range, but that has cost us birds. Now, with that dang bobcat still in the area, I am even more concerned. Making a huge run has always been part of our prepping plan. When the SHTF allowing the flock to free range unattended simply will be too risky.
No one can see our meat and egg livestock from the road or hear them unless one of the miniature donkeys start carrying on, so humans are only a secondary worry. Losing birds now is upsetting and an added expense. But during a long-term disaster when there is a finite supply of livestock, losing birds could lead to the starvation of our family.
The new coop and run will be right next to my barn and attached to Bobby’s pole barn that connects to my barn in a tunnel type fashion. They will be better protected from predators because the mini donkeys hang out in that area all day. Mini donkeys are superb coyote attackers, they seem to love to kick the stuffing out of them.
The large and tall nature of the run, that will be built entirely out of scrap materials except for the additional hardware cloth we will have to purchase, won’t leave me with gut-wrenching guilt because they won’t really seemed caged. They will be, but will have about the space of a two car garage to roam, and will be able to fly and roost way up high.
It has been an adjustment not having the birds out all day for weeks now. They are not getting enough protein in their diet, which is especially important for my Buckeye chickens. Finding game bird feed locally has been impossible, and kinda surprising. Game bird feed boasts a higher protein content than typical chicken feed.
I am so grateful to have found Buckeye chickens, and feel it is highly important to preserve heritage breeds of all livestock. But, those cute birds are, well, just plain weird. They really do not like to fly – or just do not know they are supposed to.
Every once in a while I catch one flying up to the sawhorse perch in their run, but that’s about it. They mostly hop or flop down to the ground to get off of it and not fly. All of our other chickens love to fly up in the rafters in the barn, and spend the day when they are not foraging for food, but not my Buckeyes. The hens also do no seem to care for dirt baths. It does not look like a hen has ever once flown up to their nesting boxes. Like I said weird chickens… but beautiful multi-purpose birds all the same.
When you raise birds in a cage they also do not naturally get the grit in their diet that they need. So, free-ranging is both more natural and a money saver. While we stockpile livestock feed, how long it will last during a SHTF event will depend upon how long the disaster lasts and the weather. A year like last year when winter went on for what seemed like forever, that would make us dig deeper into our stockpiled livestock food and ration it out far more slowly.
We need our poultry flocks to be able to feed themselves as much as possible just like our goat herd, horses, and cattle. The goats can survive on underbrush all winter, and as long as the weather is decent, we have enough pasture and hay fields to support the horses and cattle, that only leaves our smallest livestock to find a sustainable way to feed during a disaster.
I believe our new large run will do that just that, at least enough to supplement supervised free ranging if it becomes necessary. Our new greenhouse will give us more space to grow food just for the flock that can be dehydrated and rationed out as needed.
So, onto this week’s questions:
- Do you have a greenhouse or plan to build one?
- If you have a greenhouse, please share some details about it and what you grow.
- How are you prepping to feed your livestock during a long-term disaster?
- Were you able to urge some loved ones closer to becoming preppers this year? How?
- How did you prep this week?