This week on our survival homesteading retreat was not as active as usual, we are all still reeling from the loss of Matty. Bobby purchased the small yet strong tractor Matty had here from his family – glad it will be staying here for both useful and sentimental reasons.
I want to apologize for the delay in getting the interactive interview with Grammie Pam posted. These last two weeks have been tough with the loss of Matty and I have just not been at the top of my game. I promise to get that interview to Dan by next week. There is a distinguished list of preppers eager to be a part of our interactive interview with an expert experiment and I do not want to disappoint either them or our The Survivalist Blog loyal readers.
We also had to go buy a new refrigerator because the older one that came with the property finally gave out. Driving to the city to get the fridge, that was supposed to be in stock according to the Lowe’s website, was a nightmare and a half.
Long story short, they did not have it in white, or in black, only in stainless steel which I do not care for, though apparently many folks do. We went a few blocks away to get the same model at the same price from Menard’s and it took them 30 minutes to see if they still had a white one like their website (which I got on while standing in Lowe’s in a frustrate state) said they did.
Once we finally got the fridge, the guys at the loading dock put it in our truck on its side – so we had to wait 24 hours before using it. Yes, there was cursing.
We have some renewed predator issues courtesy. of a raccoon family that moved onto our land – uninvited. Not only did they kill two of my beloved ducks, I had to move Pearl and her kids out of the nursing stall where the attack occurred and keep them in the chicken run at night until we put a secure top on the stall.
Never once did I think that something would crawl up the wall and plop down into the nursing stall, but it happened. Learning how to expect the extreme unexpected in order to keep your livestock safe now before the SHTF.
Pearl is quite unhappy about being inside the chicken run at night. My three-legged goat did not like having her freedom abridged at night when she was staying in the larger nursing stall, so she really did not appreciate losing some square footage being sent into the chicken run.
We will soon be getting another nanny goat or doe to increase our herd – and take some of the reproduction burden off of Pearl. I really worried about her waddling around on three legs in the intense heat we had for a month – she got so huge this time since she was having twins for the first time.
The girlie boy goats are no longer with us. It was so difficult to part with them, but free ranging standard and small goats together, especially since one only had three legs, was challenging before the tiny kids were born…and then became super stressful.
I worried daily about Pearl or the kids being injured. The girlie boys, as much as I loved them, made destructive messes and got into way more places than our growing herd of pygmy, Nigerian dwarf, and cross bred babies did.
The girlie boys did not go far though. They are at our tribe member Sarah’s house. One of her youngest daughters, Maya Rose, has claimed them as her own and dotes on them, which they eat up – they were emotionally needy goats. I imagine Maya will be taking goats next year to the county fair instead of hogs and sheep like her siblings, she has a real knack with them.
I could have put the girlie boy standard goats in a pen and all would have been fine – no more goat droppings on the tables in the shelter house, etc. but I didn’t want to see them living a caged life.
It would have difficult for them to earn their keep living in a pen, and I just didn’t have time in my schedule for a daily goat walk supervising session. I didn’t want to tie them out to a cinder block to eat the grass and weeds like a lot of folks do, because of predators and concerns about them getting tangled or tangling up the horses that would be feeding in the same areas.
All of our animals earn their keep in one way or another. We are blessed to have enough land to keep large livestock and bale our own hay to feed them over the winter. Some preppers, even those with the same amount of land or more, caution against keeping large livestock for a variety of reasonable reasons.
But, I feel the extra cost and land use is worth it. Cows are obviously edible and provide milk and the horses have been a passion of mine since I was a child and will be a valuable mode of both transportation and used for agricultural work once the SHTF.
The horses (along with the goats) help keep our woods cut back. This will be even more valuable of a duty during a long-term disaster.
Ruby (the best horse to even gallop across the earth) and her herd regularly munch on weeds and grass just a few feet from the back door, and all around our house and our daughter’s cabin.
We want to keep the threat of wildfires and copperhead snakes threat down to the extreme minimum. Currently, all of the munching by the herd is a money and time saver – we no longer have to mow or weed eat any of the grass on our survival homesteading retreat, the horses take care of it all.
The grassy area between our house and our daughter and son-in-law’s cabin has not been mowed since March, thanks to our hungry herds.
I often tell my Bobby that one day he is going to come home from work and find Ruby in the house – he does not think that is funny. He has this odd dislike of the idea of livestock coming into the house.
So far we have had all of the goats, most of the chickens, and the entire guinea flock at once, come in the back door.
Not one of the animals ever relieved themselves in our house, got in the trash, or onto the furniture – therefore I contend there is no reason not to let them come in. After all their hooves and feet are no more filthy than the dogs’ paws or the soles of our own boots, right?!
The only other prepping we did this week was continued self-reliance training of the stinkweeds. Colt is 3 ½ and Auddie is 2 ½ and they are not feeding and watering all of the livestock in the mornings. They take the bucket to the barnyard spigot and turn it on and fill it and I carry it to the stalls, but other than that assistance, they take care of the turnout chores on their own.
Who needs a swingset when you have a barn gate to swing and climb on?
The kiddos are now cooking their own lunch with me every day, and learning where their food comes from, how to be safe around a stove, as well as how to measure and pour ingredients. We also learn about a specific tree variety every week during our rides and hikes around the survival retreat.
When we are out for a ride or a hike the children are being taught how to stay on a marked trail and how to find their way to and from where they are going. I always let them lead the way, even if they get the end location wrong, and then help them figure out where they got turned around and how to get back to where they need to go.
I don’t think it is ever too young to start teaching self-reliance and general life skills. Doing so instills responsibility, independence, and pride in the children.
I am eager to know how you all prepped this week, and I am hoping we can broaden our lively discussions even more by sharing thoughts and experiences about the week’s prepping topics.
So, my questions to you for this week are:
1. How do you animals earn their keep now and hopefully during a SHTF scenario?
2. Do you (or did/will you) teach your children or grandchildren self-reliance skills from an early age like I am? What tips and pitfalls can you help other preppers avoid in this area?