“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

― Frank Herbert

Monday, July 7, 2014

Chickens and vegetables, and other related issues.


In the past, if we wanted vegetables we drove through the forest on an old dirt road.  After we forded two creeks, and passed a waterfall, we eventually popped out on a paved road.  There is a nice little country store there, where they sell every kind of vegetable you could want, all locally raised. The price is negligible.

Our needs are easily met there, so our current experiment with growing vegetables is being done with an eye to the possibility that the little store may not always be available.







We have a farmer's depot in town.  This is a big store, with lots of warehouses and sheds. They sell everything you could need for living in the country. Tools, feed, seeds, medicine. The whole spectrum. Before Walmart I bought just about everything there, and I still purchase a lot of our materials at the farmer's depot.  If it were to go away, along with all the other stores, I can get hay from people I know. I'd need to get by with whatever tools and materials I already had on hand though, which is why I am so careful about keeping my inventories up to speed.


As I've mentioned before, we buy case lots of canned goods, paper products, spices, and other items at the discount grocery in North Carolina.  We're well provided for with storage space, since the whole purpose of our home here was to enable us to be as self sufficient as possible.  Storage space is important and we made sure to plan for plenty of it.



In 1999, I got three hens and two roosters from a friend.  Today I have sixty something chickens. That's way more than I need, and they produce more eggs than my greedy dogs and cats can eat. So there are a lot of fat dogs and cats around the place now. But in a crunch, the eggs and chickens would come in handy.


I do keep a lot of bulk dried foods stashed away in one big storeroom.  I think bulk foods are the way to go overall.  My canned foods are just to help my wife cook interesting and tasty meals. Bulk foods like rice, dried fruit, dehydrated potatoes, rolled oats, powdered milk and eggs, are all good. But you need some additional supplies to cook them up in a fashion that people will not get tired of them. I've got a lot of books on cooking with bulk storage food that have been very helpful to us.





I know I've talked about dried, smoked country hams here before, but for long term storage they are superb. Keep them hanging in a cool, dry place and they will not go bad. The protein level is high, and the fat content is low but there is a little fat on them, which is good for bad times.  They aren't cheap, but you need some meat stored away and it has to be stored in such a manner that power to run your freezer is not required.


I keep water stored on hand in a number of different ways. One of those ways is 1 gallon jugs. These come in handy primarily for the times the power goes out for just a few hours .  I can always crank up the generator and run the pump, but it's easier to just get a jug to wash dishes, clean up, flush the toilet, or whatever.  Overall I keep about 250 gallons on hand at the moment, in one to 5 gallon jugs. Most are stored in the heated spaces of the barn, but I have some in storage in the house for the sake of convenience. I rotate the water by using it to water the animals, so I am using about five gallons a day from my jug supply. The pennies on the lids are part of the rotation system.


  When you consider water storage, remember it has to be in a climate controlled space. This sheet of ice on the rock face is normal for winter here. This past winter, when we had many days of sub zero weather, heating storage space became even more critical.

You have to back up your heating system. I use electric oil heaters in the shop, the barn, and the apartment. But if the power goes out, I can use propane heaters in all three.  If the propane runs out, I can switch to kerosene heaters.

In the main house, I use propane heaters as my primary, and the wood burning stove and fireplace as my secondary.  That may seem backwards, but when it's freezing cold outside it's nice not to have to go out on the porch and bring in wood. We have fires just for the pleasure of it, as well. This next winter I may have to rethink my priorities, depending on what I wind up spending to top off my propane tanks before winter comes. Right now, propane is reasonable at $2.67 a gallon.



Miriam and I like living here.  It has it's rewards, and it's challenges.  For the most part, it's a matter of getting everything done before the bad weather comes.  Sometimes it's hard keeping up the buildings, vehicles, and handling all the logistical aspects of what you need to make it here. I think it's worth it though.

35 comments:

  1. I didn't realize you had so many chickens, that's great!

    I've always been envious of your setup. Between you and Kymber/Jam, I've made a lot of changes in our life over the last few years to try and be more self sufficient. It's post like this that remind me of where I am, and where I need to be.
    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Max, brother, you couldn't ever possibly say something so nice. we really appreciate that! thank you!

      Delete
    2. Max, I've been working at it for more than thirty years. And still, I have a list of projects still to go. Kymber and J are naturals. It helps that he is good with fixing and building, and she is good with growing and cooking.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the post Harry. We have made a lot of changes, but I am not comfortable with the stage we are in. But way better off then most. We need to stock up on flour, sugar, rice, powdered milk, to name a few. My biggest weakness is water storage. We have 2 5 gallon bottles. Right now we use that for my grandsons drinking water. Funny its now July and I am already thinking about winter. I think those of us regulars are doing so, but most not at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rob, buddy - the one thing that you have more than anyone i know is a close-knit family that all work together to get things done! you are thinking about winter because you are a true prepper!

      Delete
    2. Rob, if you have a couple of reliable sources of pure water that are in no way dependent on the city or county water, you can get by in a pinch.

      I think you have done very well at using the assets you have to prepare. Your food storage is head and shoulders above what it was just a short time ago.

      Delete
  3. Dude, youre my preparedness role model!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am but the lowly acolyte of the High Priest of Survival, Herman the German living out in the New Mexico High Desert. But I strive for perfection!

      Delete
  4. Stored bulk food is the best I think too but I stopped at a two year supply and figured being able to meet my own needs off my own homestead was the ultimate in survival living. Of course salt will never be something I can get off my own land so eventually outside contact is going to be needed. I have enough salt stored to last twenty years though I think.

    I have most of the numbers all run but the trouble is spoilage and rotation, especially in seeds. If a collapse happened say today there is still enough time for me to throw the plow on the tractor and carve out enough room for 2 or 3 thousand more bean plants. Another month and would have to wait until next year. With luck I would rarely have to depend on my bulk stored stuff or worrying about a store closing.

    Heated storage around here is at a premium however.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. listen wiener - can you please stop leaving comments that i absolutely HAVE to agree with!!!!! thank you very much!!!

      Delete
    2. I have to leave em here to be sure you see em since my blog doesn't get daily comments from you these days :)

      Delete
    3. went over and left you a little love, wiener! bahahahahahah!

      Delete
    4. Stored food is good as long as it lasts. If the disruption lasts longer than you planned for, it's not good enough on it's own. But growing food requires resources, and those have to come out of some other portion of your budget. Not to mention how hard it is to work a successful garden. I don't like working in a garden, but I guess I will learn to.

      Delete
  5. I look at what you and your wife have done to be self sufficient and I think, "Oh, crap. I am so very far behind." But then I look around me and realize that even if I'm not yet where I want to be, I am light years ahead of most who buy only what they will need for a few days and think no further ahead than that. I envy your storage space. I will just have to continue to do the best I can with what I have to work with. You are an inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nobody is ever where they want to be. I just read "Deep Winter" again, and I had three legal pages of notes on places where my planning falls short when I finished. Based on what I've read on your blog I think you've done an outstanding job. We all have to work within our means. If you are loaded with gold you can solve problems with a phone call. The rest of us mere mortals have to take some time and effort to get the same things done.

      Delete
  6. Harry, my dear friend - sorry to hog and clog up all your comments! but it's posts like these that i love the most! you have taught us so much over the years and your advice has always been sound and true. we have always appreciated that, and your friendship!

    much love to you and yours always! your friend,
    kymber
    (p.s. - do you think you could mail me 3 or 17 of those hams???)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kymber, I am always delighted to see you comment. For one thing, I tend to be dry and a bit dull with my comments. You are always much lighter in tone and make the conversation more interesting.

      I'm not any higher up the totem pole than you and J are, but it's nice of you to flatter an old geezer.

      Delete
    2. hey - what about the hams???? bahahahahah!

      Delete
    3. I will bring you and J some hams when we come to visit, something I would like to do one day. If I mailed you one do you think they would let it through customs? I had a hell of a time with Israeli customs when I sent a friend there some boiled peanuts in a can.

      Delete
    4. Harry - i'm just teasing with you but when you come to visit a ham would be a nice gift. don't even try to send a ham - my friend Mike from Living Prepared tried to send me some russet potatoe seeds and neither of us can find out where they are. just promise to visit and bring a ham! much love buddy!

      Delete
    5. Oh, I knew you were kidding but it seems like a good idea if Canada will not hold the package , or charge you a fortune in import tariffs. We did eventually get the can of boiled peanuts released by the Israeli customs people. But never did anyone have to work so hard over a five dollar can of peanuts.

      Delete
  7. One rifle for each row of buckets. I like that. --Troy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't have room in the gun safes for my entire collection, so you find old bolt guns in some odd places in my compound. Anywhere that is climate controlled is subject to Enfields or Mausers being in odd corners and crevices.

      Delete
  8. Harry - How long do one of those buckets last you? Seems like you have all your prep bases covered, and you have the added advantage of living in the woods, which, if necessary, means that you would have fuel for the wood burner - clever boy :)

    Hmmm, if you "went through the forest on an old dirt road, and after you forded two creeks, and passed a waterfall, you will eventually pop out on a paved road. There is a nice little country store there..." and maybe you can supply them your home grown veggies ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dani, we usually don't use the food in the bulk food storage pails because they are flushed with nitrogren and there are sealed mylar bags in them. They are for long term storage. Some of the things with limited shelve life, like powdered milk and corn meal, we do use. Some of it even spoiled after we opened the pails and didn't use the materials promptly, but none of it went to waste as the animals consumed it all.

      Alas, one of the things people do here to make a little extra money is set up vegetable stands by the roads and sell home grown produce. Since so many do garden, a lot of the food just gets given away. I think the only thing people grow here that you could really make some money on is pot. The pot chopper comes over my meadow ever so often, looking for the nefarious weed, but all I have is the kind of grass animals eat, I don't have any "herb."

      Delete
  9. You have a nice set up. We need a few things, primarily salt and some way to have flour, although I know you can use other things in a pinch. We don't have a water source other than a well but we do have a spring fed lake on the other side of the street at the bottom of the hill so we could purify it. I also buy cheap alcohol and store it in the basement, particularly vodka. I don't drink it but it can help to make things (medical, cooking) plus good for trade if you needed to. We always say whoever owns the tobacco and alcohol can get by. We have Missouri tobacco seed but nowhere to dry out the stuff for months to years. It was a very pretty plant though with beautiful flowers on top.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can buy red and white wheat sealed in nitrogen flushed, mylar bags, in pails, for dirt cheap. Then you just need a grain mill to make all the flour you need.

      If you have a well, you should be in good shape unless a bad drought comes.

      I keep booze in the basement for trading. Some of it is cheap stuff and some is "the good stuff." All of it comes from the state run hard liquor stores in North Carolina, as selling hard liquor is illegal in the North Georgia mountains. We have only had beer and wine sales for a fews years now

      If you can grow and dry tobacco you can trade it for almost anything in hard times. I am sure your husband could build you up a drying shed, I have seen them in North Carolina and they are no great shakes.

      Delete
  10. Seems like you have a really great setup. I had no idea you had so many chickens!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Want some?

      chickens breed like crazy when they are free range. If you feed the chicks well, and make sure they can't get into other animals water bowls and drown, you can raise a huge number of chickens in no time.

      Delete
  11. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    I admire what your doing and where you live.

    My ancestors are from Atlanta (when it was farmland) and left about 1865 (when there was nothing left but ashes I'm sure)
    I can see the advantages of Georgia.

    If Texas were to fall to the Democrats, I may have to consider moving down the road from you.
    The way things are going right now with all the OTM's (other than Mexicans) streaming over from every central American rat hole, I'm starting to get concerned. Over Govenor (Rick Perry) does not have the balls to activate the Texas National Guard and send them to the border. Something needs to happen on the state level of Government to outright defy D.C. but at the same time not trample basic human rights of illegal aliens so none of them get hurt by some "Bubba with a Baseball bat"

    I am seeing more 'seething hatred' of D.C. posted on more and more comments on the internet.

    Like I said before, this is a powder keg waiting to go off. I just wish somehow States Govenors of Texas and other border states can pick up where the feds have left off.
    My mind goes back and forth over this but ultimately I have to look at the 'history of nations' over the past 5000 years and gauge how this may play out in the big picture. That leads me to the conclusion that this country is 'doomed'

    The rot from within will cause the tree of liberty to collapse.

    I hate too sound negative, but the social and cultural 'balkenization' is well underway. This problem has been brewing long since before I was born.
    I wish we could keep our Constitutional Republic going for another 200 years but alas, when I study history and 'see the big picture' I see that this country is on the path self destruction.
    I hope, I am wrong but no one wants to make the hard choices, everyone has their hand in the cookie jar and 'special interests. are pulling things apart.

    What we need in the White House is another George Washington, or an American Winston Churchill. We need 'term limits' on the bastards in Congress and the Senate, and Federal and Supreme Court Judges that hand down verdicts based on the Constitution and not personal or 'popular public opinion'

    Is all that too much to ask??

    I guess so. The "fundamental transformation of the United States" is well under way and I think the 'liberals and progressives' will get a lot more than they bargained for when things start to break apart and there is outright chaos in the streets' coast to coast.

    The only silver lining to this dark cloud is a whole lot of people will be 'reversing course' back to Mexico and Central America where the grass is greener.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't say that I disagree in principle with anything you said. The chaos on the border is horrific. So is the ill concealed intention of Barak Hussein to make sure that these thousands of kids with no one to care for them becomes wards of the federal government, and an increasingly unsupportable burden for the rest of us.

      It's a popular theme in Mexico that they will take back "Aztlan" , which means Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and California, not with weapons but with their tremendous birth rate and with illegal immigration. Seems to be working out for them pretty well.

      Delete
  12. That does look like a great place to live!

    I'd love to have a few chickens. I imagine you have way too many eggs! Eggs can be pricy in the store.

    We grew a lot of veggies this year. With all the rain they seem to be growing very well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have just started putting out some test seed beds. If they do well, I will try to do a real garden next Spring. I know I need to be self sustaining and without the capacity to produce food I'm not. The problem is, I really don't like working in the garden. But my wife does, and if she goes out maybe it will be more fun for me.
      I don't think there is any such thing as a "few" chickens unless you keep the hens penned up, or don't have a rooster. Chickens are nasty if they are free range, they can be a handful. But they do provide eggs and if necessary you can eat them, so I put up with them.

      Delete
  13. Question: what are those small darker circles on top of the lids of all those repurposed containers full of water. It looks like a coin sitting atop each. If thats the case, what are their purpose? Only thing I could come up with was that they were some sort of reminder as to whether a container had or had not had something done to them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The containers are stacked in rows, in all my buildings. I go into the room I'm currently getting animal water from, and when I use a jug, I put a penny on the refilled jug. Next time I go in for water, I take one with no penny. When I have used all the jugs, in all the rooms, I start over but this time I take a penny off when I use a jug. Just a simple way to make sure you use all the water in all the jugs in an orderly manner. In August I haul all the jugs and other containers out to the parking pads, flush them with fresh water, fill them with a bleach water combination, and clean them out good.

      Delete