Archive for October, 2015

How to Start Raising your own Flock of Chickens – Part 1

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

The following article was contributed by Bill S in NY state

This is a big topic to cover, so I will break it down into a series of articles, to make it manageable. This article covers basic terms and facts so you can learn enough to make wise choices when starting your new flock.

Having your own chickens is a great way to supplement your food supply and to increase your food security. Even if you only have them for the eggs, you will have the peace of mind to know that should times get hard, you always have the option of butchering them for meat. In many situations, though, it is usually a little more expensive to raise and butcher your own, then it is to buy packaged chicken at the store. But, meat you have raised yourself will be fresher and usually healthier than most store bought meats. Even if there is a large scale contamination problem arising from store bought meat someday, your own food supply will probably not be affected, as long as you take some precautions, which I will discuss later on.

Important Things to Know Before You Start Raising Your Own Chickens

Basic Considerations

They will need you to provide feed and suitable housing year round, so they can remain healthy and productive. Keeping them restricted to your own property is a must and can be challenging, since chickens can fly, after a fashion. Flying up to and over a 6-foot-tall fence, for most chickens, is not a problem, but finding their way back over it to your property, without help, and before it gets dark, may be expecting too much of them. Chickens are almost blind at night. You may need to go round them up and help them find a way back to your yard. Limiting noise and odors and providing sanitation are vital unless you live in a very rural area. While some neighbors may welcome a rooster crowing early on a Sunday morning, most will not.

Unless you have someone who is willing to take care of them twice a day when you are not there, going on a vacation or staying away from home is difficult to do. Chickens, like any livestock, need to be cared for 7 days a week, rain or shine, summer and winter. Predators will quickly know where to find a good meal and, at some point, you will most likely lose some birds to them. But there are ways to keep this to a minimum.

Predators

hawkAny animal that eats meat, loves a dead chicken.

Predatory animals can vary with your location, time of day and season. The main culprits are hawks, owls, fox, raccoon and can include your neighbor’s dog. It is just something you should be aware of from the beginning. You will, most likely, at some point, have need to kill an injured or sick bird quickly. This usually means a firearm, which can be a concern for some – especially if you have small children.

Bio Security

Another thought is bio security.

With the Avian Flu that is infecting so many these days, you must be able to limit the people who are allowed to have access to the chickens. Especially other people who raise chickens.

It is a good practice to leave a pair of rubber boots to be used only in the chicken’s area. This way you won’t bring in unwanted disease into the chicken’s area and you won’t track in manure or disease into your home.

Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling the chickens or any equipment used in their care. Keep feeders and watering equipment clean and pay attention to the birds so you will notice signs of injury or illness quickly and keep loss to a minimum.

Here is a link to the CDC for more info

How to Keep a Low Profile when Raising Chickens

You should make sure you are allowed to raise chickens where you live.

I would first look around and see who, if anyone is keeping a flock. (A flock can be any number of birds) I would use caution asking town officials if you are allowed to keep chickens. If they say “no”, you will then be on their radar. Most towns will allow you to keep at least a few chickens as long as you keep it clean and quiet. I find it best to ask for forgiveness rather than beg for permission. But use your judgement.

Chickens come in almost any imaginable color, so if you do not want to advertise, look for birds in subdued colors, like the one’s below.

Chicken1 Chicken2 Chicken3

Discreet Coops

If you want to be even more discreet about raising chickens, you may be able to put your coop inside a kids play set or hide it in a shed or even a large dog house. Making it look like an old hot tub may work too.

You can make just part of it hidden, too. Like under a porch but with an enclosed run in the open. If you use shrubs in the corners, you can string thin wire mesh between the shrubs for a run. It shouldn’t be very noticeable. Put some lawn furniture around it, maybe. Some people have built them partly underground even. Just remember to give them a way to run above ground as much as you can. They shouldn’t live locked away in a shed all the time.

Examples of Discreet Coop Designs

Here are some examples of coops that would stay under the radar:
coop1

coop2

coop3

Keeping Your Flocks Under-the-Radar

You can raise just hens (females) for eggs and go unnoticed by most people if you are discreet. Including a rooster (male) in your flock will make a lot of noise and announce his presence to the world. The positives are that they will guard the flock or at least warn them (and you) of danger, as they perceive it.

But, they can be loud and aggressive, even towards larger animals and people. Having more than one rooster in a small flock can lead to fighting that may leave one or both injured or dead. If you want to keep under the radar, because you are worried about hungry neighbors
stealing them or using force against you or your family to acquire food, or if you might be going against town regulations by keeping chickens, then a loud rooster might not be a good idea. Discretion rarely goes unrewarded.

But, if you plan to have a self-sustaining flock, meaning a new generation of chicks each spring, then a rooster is a necessity unless you want to butcher the flock before winter sets in and then buy new chicks in the spring. Hatching eggs and raising chicks can require some special equipment and knowledge plus time and work. You may want to get used to raising mature birds for a while first before jumping into that.

Important Facts about Keeping Chickens

  • The color of an egg has no bearing on how nutritious it is or how it tastes. All other factors being equal, they are the same. Different breeds lay different color eggs. In the early 20th century, most people thought that a white egg represented a more “farm fresh” or “natural” egg.

    Today, the brown egg is the fashion. Eggs come in many colors like dark brown, speckled, blue/green and others. The only factors that effect taste and nutrition is the diet and health of the hen.

  • “Chicken wire” fencing is not good to use when building your coop. It is too flimsy and will not keep out any predator and can trap the head of a chicken accidentally. Use hardware cloth. You can get it with different size mesh and it is much stronger.
    Chicken Wire

    Chicken Wire

    Hardware Cloth

    Hardware Cloth

  • When making “hard boiled” eggs, using a slightly older egg will make peeling the shell off easier. As the egg ages, the albumin, the clear, runny liquid in the egg, pulls back a bit from the inside of the shell and when boiled will make getting the shell off easier.
  • Fresh eggs have a GoreTex like membrane covering the egg to allow the egg to “breathe” and keep moisture out. Once you wash it though, you wash the membrane away.
  • Chickens use the same orifice (called the “vent”) for defecating and laying an egg. Urine and feces are excreted from the vent together. Chickens do not have a separate orifice for urinating.
  • Chickens absolutely love meat of any kind
  • Gardening and raising chickens are a perfect combination but chickens should not be let loose in your garden while it is growing, they will destroy it.
  • If you are concerned about ticks and Lyme Disease, get a few Guinea fowl. They LOVE ticks and will keep your property almost tick free. They can be kept with chickens and will not destroy your garden like chickens, because they do not scratch at the ground or peck your veggies. The hens also lay some eggs, which are very good to sell to restaurants, but will not lay as many as chickens. But, they make great “watch dogs” for your property as they will sound the alarm when any intruder (human or animal) is near. Their alarm call sounds like they are hollering the word “buckwheat”. They love to look at themselves in a mirror. Guinea fowl are low maintenance, too. They will tend to fly higher and range father than chickens do. If you need to keep them away from prying eyes, they may not be for you.
  • Ducks are also great for eating bugs in the garden and will not damage anything, unlike chickens. Plus, they are very weather resistant and tolerate cold well, usually. But, they are messy and take more maintenance than chickens or guinea fowl.

All of the poultry you read about today will help keep you and your family a little healthier, safer And more secure.

Helpful Holistic Organic Tips for Survival Emergency Prepping

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

The following article was contributed by Dayna Colvin, a holistic organic writer. She is a very active environmental advocate. She and her husband live in the Pacific NW, USA and are happy new parents of an adorable baby boy and share their home with 2 adorable, wonderful, sweet cats, their furry babies. You can reach her via email and social media at:

email: permadeva@yahoo.com
Twitter – notperfume
Facebook Author Page – EarthStewardWriter
NotPerfume Organic Nontoxic Scent Information – notperfume

Why Prepping Goes Beyond TEOTWAWKI

Preparing for emergencies is not just about preparing for “the end of the world as we know it”. It is important to prepare the body, the mind, and the spirit to be able to do better than just cope and survive. We all have important self-care needs and the last thing we need to be concerned about when the worst case scenarios occur is wondering where our food will come from, how we will take care of our hygiene, and how our families will cope and stay healthy. It is important to think beyond the basic survival mode needs. Self-care includes meditation, aromatherapy, yoga, Tai Chi, positive affirmation, visualization, laughter, everything that helps you stay well and feeling well. A good way to begin to prepare is to start your day acting as if there has been a loss of power and imagining how you will get through your day. It is not easy to put your mind in this mode and think this way, but it is a very real scenario and can occur any moment. Being mindful and aware is very important so that you are not caught off guard.

My husband and I found out the painful hard way that lack of prepping for surviving emergencies turns into a very painful learning curve. When people think about survival and prepping, they mostly think about organizations like the Red Cross and the limited supplies they can provide to victims of disasters. After watching many episodes of families working hard everyday to ensure their families are protected and safe, I have a very good understanding of what it means to prepare and what is necessary to do it. However, I will take it a big step further because my approach is holistic and organic.

One afternoon, my husband and I attended an emergency preparedness demonstration given by the Red Cross and they offered us fruit punch and cookies as a snack and drink. I asked them if they had any healthier options to offer the public and their response was when you are in an emergency crisis and you have to survive, you take what you can get. As a healthy person who is an avid label reader and is very careful about what I eat and drink, I do not like the idea of taking risks with my health. Healthy eating is just as important with prepping as it is for everyday living. There is no difference. The only difference is that I stock up on all the supplies I need as a prevention measure and instead of just one bottle of organic peppermint essential oil, I have two bottles. As a mama who has endured many crises in her life and natural disasters, I have become quite the boy scout. There were times when my husband and I’d have to go shopping for groceries and we would run out of gas and I didn’t think ahead to bring a tote bag filled with healthy snacks and drinks to help us get through the day. Additionally, my husband and I endured some very stressful hurricanes in Florida several years ago and discovered the painful hard way that if you don’t act fast, you lose. Having to go shopping to stock up on supplies only to discover that the shelves are empty is a huge painful awakening. I know it’s a very painful delicate subject that no one wants to think about, but unfortunately, it’s very real, and time is of the essence.

Now is the Time to Prepare

A very important factor to seriously keep in mind is that in the event of any crisis or disaster, you will not be able to count on hospitals, emergency rescue, or your doctor to be available if you get sick or have a painful injury. Also, depending on where you live, should there be Martial Law or the military is out in force, you will not be able to get in your vehicle and drive to the store to buy necessary supplies, so if you don’t stock up now, you are out of luck. This article is not meant to scare anyone. It is intended to make you think and realize that things in the nation have changed and not for the better. My husband and I were born and raised here and we are devastated by the way things have changed and we never thought we would wake up to this happening here. Unfortunately, it is very real and it is only going to get worse.

Tips to Get you Started

To get you started with the supplies you need in order to cope and stay well and protect your family’s safety, here is a list of items you must have in your bug-out bag and your emergency preparedness kit. As you walk through your home and address your needs, whether it be eating, drinking, resting, getting dressed, or taking care of your personal hygiene, it is a good idea to take a good look at what you use everyday and ask yourself a very important question. Should disaster strike, such as the lights going out, no more water, am I well prepared for any eventuality and am I stocked up on everything I need?

I am holistic and organic down to the baby wipes I use for my baby and the capful of organic apple cider vinegar I put in my bottle of spring water to alkalize it and help me stay healthy. I am an avid label reader and I am a 100% holistic herbalist.

My first aid kit contains:

Two bottles each of essential oils of peppermint, lavender, lemon, sweet orange. Peppermint is great for energy, helping the lungs, indigestion, and headaches. Lavender is great for healing burns and is very soothing for babies who are feeling stressed. Lemon is great for energizing your drinking water and keeping it fresh. Sweet orange is great for healing aromatherapy and soothing a stressed baby. Lemon and sweet orange are also wonderful for cleaning the indoor air and keeping it fresh.

Additionally, my first aid kit contains the following basic essentials – hydrogen peroxide, an ace bandage, scissors, and band-aids. I Use organic chlorine-free paper products for personal hygiene.

We have two large bottles of Bach Flower Rescue Remedy when we feel traumatized and stressed and we have two large bottles of melaleuca tea tree oil as a natural oral care disinfectant and to treat wounds. We have six boxes of chamomile tea and six boxes of peppermint tea. I keep one bottle of tea tree oil and Bach Flower Rescue Remedy in my purse and the other bottles in my bathroom.

We rely 100% on Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet for everything. The most important aspect of relying on nature’s medicine is that plants and herbs will always grow in the ground and there is no need to worry about shortage or something being discontinued. Chamomile, garlic, ginger, peppermint, and red cayenne pepper have grown wild for centuries and will always continue to grow wild. My husband and I recently ordered two very important books online that will teach us about wildcrafting and foraging for wild food that grows in our backyard. In times of crisis and disaster, it is important to act as if we were thrown back into the 1800’s before any business came into existence to manufacture and provide the products you find on the store shelves.

Preparedness Brings Peace of Mind

It is challenging after growing accustomed to the convenience of walking into the store and buying it, but the peace of mind that comes from knowing you are prepping now to ensure your family’s survival and you won’t go into shock and be caught off guard, is well worth it. We are avid label readers and when we buy our everyday food items, we buy extra quantities of each to help us prepare and stock up. It is very empowering when can take a glass and pour clean drinking water into it and add an envelope of Emergen-C and a capful of organic apple cider vinegar, stirring it well, you can drink it and protect your immune system. It is very empowering to know that you can take care of your self-care wellness with healthy supplies you have in your cupboard. That feeling will not be created by relying on your pharmacy and knowing that any day, the store may close and you are out of luck because you didn’t prepare.

My husband and I very thankful that we are 100% holistic and we do not rely on synthetic pharmaceuticals for anything, including headaches and indigestion. They have no health benefits for us and we are protecting our health because we are not risking dangerous side effects. We are protecting our health with cannabis, colloidal silver, acerola Vitamin C, organic apple cider vinegar and many other important healing plants and herbs that we learn about everyday. We never supported or believed in pharmaceuticals to begin with and we use common sense and logic and we know that we are healthy, safe, and smart. It is a very smart idea to learn to grow your own herbs and medicinal plants and have the peace of mind that you can rest assured that you will have plenty of all the healing medicinal plants you need for any emergency.

The Need for Victory Gardens

It is interesting to note that in the 1800’s and during World War II, it was very common for people to have victory gardens in their own back yard. Food was becoming scarce and it had become a dire necessity to grow your own food and be self-sufficient for your family. Today, the only people who recognize this as a necessity grew up in these eras and they taught it to their children who are now in their 40s and 50s, like my husband and me. When I was sixteen years of age, my Mother and Grandmother worked together to grow a beautiful vegetable garden in our backyard. At first, I thought they were doing it as an experiment and because it was a nice thing to do, but they told me that the prices of vegetables were going up and they no longer liked to go to the market to buy their food. They wanted to learn to be self-sufficient and they wanted to teach me the same thing. When I saw the vegetables sprouting up and we ate a delicious salad from the vegetables we grew, I had a profound appreciation for growing our own food and it was delicious. Today, my husband and I are growing our own organic herbs and vegetables. The feeling of knowing that we are taking important steps toward protecting our family and ensuring our future gives us tremendous peace of mind. We are very thankful for the knowledge and awareness.

Self Defense for Every Survivalist

Monday, October 19th, 2015

The following article was contributed by James Smith, an avid prepper with a passion for self-protection at all levels.

fingerlock11

As humans, we are always vulnerable to danger, no place on earth is safe and no one can be immune from experiencing the unexpected.

People, who laugh at the idea of prepping or learning to survive in the face of danger, don’t realize that no one on earth has ever lived without experiencing anything terrible. Not that we want to experience something like that at all, but we want you to be mentally and physically prepared if things go wrong because dangers are somehow inevitable.

Given the growth in crime rate and the rise in catastrophic events due to various reasons, it is very important for people to learn how to defend themselves. In fact, everyone; men, women, young or old should be able to fight back if someone tries to attack you or anyone close to you. Rather than giving your attacker the benefit of the doubt that you are weak and can’t do anything you better learn a few basic self-defense techniques which can sometimes save you from any big loss.

Here’s a summary of highly effective self-defense tactics that don’t require much in terms of strength or skill:

Simple but Effective Means of Self-Defense

Get the eye

When attacked, the first thing people do is slap, kick or punch as a natural reflex. However, what you can easily and safely do is gouge the attacker’s eye. For this, you don’t have to keep your fit closed, like you do when punching someone. Instead, keep your fist open in a way that your fingers are sprouted out and can hit the eyes. Naturally, humans are rather sensitive with their eyes and when you scratch the attacker’s eyes, he/she will automatically move back or touch his/her hurt eye to ease the pain. This gives you enough time to either run for help or disarm your enemy. If you think your attacker is physically stronger than you then make sure you hit his thigh with an intensity that causes maximum pain and disables your attacker in the most effective way.

Quick tip: Don’t make your action too obvious to your attacker by just spreading your fingers out in the front as he might get an idea and grabs your hand before you even attack. So keep your hand movement as subtle as possible.

Ear Attack

Ears can be easily torn off they require only 10 lbs. of pressure to do so. Furthermore, a real hard slap around the ear can send off the attacker to a state of shock, immediately. Like we earlier said, a punch may leave you defenseless, because if the attacker grabs your closed fist there are chances he’ll leave you entirely powerless. Tearing off your opponent’s ear causes more pain than a punch. Also, the latter requires more force and pressure and might.

Chop, chop

Although basically being a martial arts and a karate trick but you can use this easy and majorly effective trick when you’re attacked or are in a dangerous situation. Keep your palm flat and strike with the edge of your hand—the beginning of your wrist and top of your pinkie finger. Target for the neck, near the throat or on nose and leave the opponent unconscious.

Break a finger

This again is simple and effective as fingers are the easiest bone to break. Smartly grab the palm of your assailant and bend his fingers to an extent they break. This may sound ruthless but when you’re in a situation where your or your family’s life is in danger this aggressiveness comes naturally. If your attacker is armed then it is better not using this technique. In a stressful time like this when you’re threatened by someone, you won’t be remembering difficult movie stunts or karate tricks but some simple and useful tricks can be of great help.

Bite

This one comes naturally and even children are aware of this reflex action if someone tries to grab them against their will. The harder you bite the more pain it will cause. It’s a simple yet brutal self-defense technique. The most sensitive areas like fingers, neck or ear can inflict extreme pain. If you are within close range of your attacker, this is the best technique to use and can give you time to run and even scare your attacker.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  1. Always carry some sort of weapon like a folding knife or extremely strong pepper spray.
  2. You should always carry a flashlight with you so that if your attacker takes you to a stranded place and you somehow manage to escape, you have something to use for help or see in the dark.
  3. If your attacker is armed, don’t try to intimidate him/her because this might provoke him to attack.
  4. If your attacker is unarmed then give an impression that you’re not afraid and have the power to call for help or even fight back.
  5. Teach your children how to respond in an emergency and give them code words to remember if they are ever in trouble. They, themselves should know a few tricks to attack someone. Yes, even children can be brave and powerful enough to strike back.
  6. If you’re unfortunately stabbed or wounded then you should know how to provide first aid or stop an open wound from bleeding.
  7. Sometimes your best bet is to do as you’re told rather than fighting back. Trust your gut if it tells you that the attacker is extremely powerful and can cause harm.
  8. Always keep some emergency numbers on quick dial and teach your children to dial 911 in emergency.
  9. Before trying out any of these tricks make sure you’re not going to make things worse for you. Try to figure out your attacker’s size and physical strength before you just go about hitting him with a kick.
  10. Although, it’s easier said than done but if you show your attacker that you’re stressed and panic he will take that as a sign of weakness and can attack you more easily.

Sharp Knives for the Dull Wallet

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

The following article has been contributed by Nathaniel Kincaid

Wilderness and survival are usually joined together like a bullet rammed into a shell. In the shadowy forest of their definitions lurks the glint of the blade. From man’s conception they have adored the blade; whether it be a knife, a dagger, or a sword. In our short heritage, Generals have treasured the seductive curve of the saber. Doughboys in World War I felt the slap of their tall bayonets as they paced in foreign trenches. In Vietnam, dark bulky daggers clung to Marines as they penetrated the death jungles. Today, we are still invariably drawn to worship the blade.

No post, or video, on a survival site is complete without a long tally of modern knives. Yet today, the hoard of knives in production is so vast, a wise choice in selecting one can be a daunting task.

While I may dream of finding a dusty knife at a pawnshop and noticing in a split second the butterfly wings of the Benchmade brand I’m well aware this is unlikely. I squirm in frustration as article after article flings out review of fantasy knives. Perhaps a good quarter of survival enthusiast live in situations where $300 is just a bit too much for a new knife. So how about taking a second look at some of the ugly duckling of knives that never get any press.

The Lowly Utility Knife.

UtilityKnifeYears ago, as a boy, I handled with joy a beautiful pocket knife crafted in Ireland. But soon, I realized that the blade dulls quickly. True knife sharpening not only can be a daunting task but also time intensive. I know purist grouse that such fast fading skills should be relearned no matter the cost in time, but sometimes I’m just lazy.

Years ago some brilliant engineer plucked up the humble carpet cutter utilized by thousands of leathery handed laborers and converted it into an even more portable tool. Recently the market has exploded, and I have joined the crowd that just can’t have enough of these tools.

The Kobalt speed release utility knife is a capital example. Able to be purchased at under $15 you can’t go wrong. The belt clip on the knife’s side is aggressive in it’s hold. The hard plastic handle seems sturdy with a grip enhancing texture. The blade whips out with a press of the button and a flick of the wrist. I know this doesn’t excite most people. But I love cheap things that just work!

Over the years probably millions of carpets have been vanquished by the teeth of the razor blade. Just a month or so ago, I flicked open my Kobalt knife and began paring off wood splinters to start a fire. At home, my knife opens those stubborn plastic cases that hold your kid’s toys captive. The chief advantage of this knife is that you can always have a blade razor sharp in seconds. Whether you’re cutting rope, or duct tape, or even shaving wood for a fire, you can count on a razor edge on this knife. Utility knives now come in every size color and shape. So far this is my favorite to date.

The Hybrid Utility Knife

hybridNow a flock of new knives have begun to bloom. The Sheffield 12339 Rhino Lock-back Utility Knife combines the utility of the utility knife with a more conventional replaceable blade. I was thrilled when I saw these. It seemed like a brilliant idea, and I still think it is. But unfortunately it seems most of these knives and the blades are limited to sale on Amazon and the blades only truly fit the Sheffield knife. I have almost bought these blades just to carry in my bug out gear, but so far at about $10 for a couple blades, at last check, I haven’t made the leap.

The Surgical Knife

havalonThe Havalon Knives have caught on with hunters with their coy style.   Marrying a surgeons scalpel with a hunters knife again births a new genius.

Gerber also has a similar knife and I hope others follow suit driving the prices down even further. On a good day, the Gerber Vital can be found for around $20 or so. Ebay can supply an endless amount of cheap blades for these handy deer skinners. If you really feel cheap you can even buy the medical handle for about $6 to attach these lightning sharp blades to.

The Outdoor Edge

outdoor-edgeSome people will look at your utility knife, whatever species it may be, and chortle at such a thin blade. For years, utility blades have been hacking through carpet which is far from easy with its highways of thread fiber. Yet still, scoffers will be found.

The advantage of the Outdoor Edge brand of knives is that it lends a spine to the utility knife family. While blades can easily come and go, at the top, the spine lends a stiff support. The knife also comes with its own pouch for belt carry. What I find most exciting is that all these knives can be had for under $50.

The Case for the Humble Utility Knife

I still remember handing my little pocket knife over to my Grandfather and watching sparks fly as he sent the blade skimming across his bench grinder. It was crudely effective. New bright scars would be embedded into my small blade. Within a couple cuts, I would need a new surgery preformed. I still wonder in almost reverence at the select few who can hone a knife to razor sharp. Those with eyes that can set the perfect angle again and again on the stone. Those who take the time to produce a knife that can send hair on your arms falling like a forest being timbered.

But today, my little pocket knife is downstairs in my drawer. You can sharpen a blade again and again relaxing to the buzz of metal against stone or diamond. Or you can invest in a kit, cheap or expensive, that almost gets the knife sharp, but as for me? I would just rather change my blade.