Prepper Diary and Homestead Update, October 28

A view of scenic West Virginia in the fall
A view of scenic West Virginia in the autumn

I’m not far from our wood stove, which is keeping the room a comfortable 73 and the house at 68 degrees despite the rain and wind we’ve experienced on and off over the past couple of days. Ten logs per day is keeping us plenty warm and grateful not to have a propane bill.

At first, the dog was scared by the fire, which I would guess is an instinctual reaction. She’s gotten used to it now and lies near it after coming in from the rain. She looks at the pile of firewood as an endless supply of chew toys. I have to leave a couple of smaller pieces near the end of the woodpile so she doesn’t pull the whole thing down. I don’t mind her chewing the firewood, as it keeps her occupied and focuses her attention on something besides my hat, which she likes to steal when I am not looking. Besides, it’s a new way to make kindling.

It’s growing cold enough that I will have to stop feeding the bees soon. I hope they are stocked up for winter. I’ve done what I can.

Two Down and One to Go

The dog had a run in with the electric fence. I could hear her painful yip from the house and immediately guessed what had happened. She bolted in fear, tearing the leash out of my wife’s hand, and took off for who-knows where. I don’t mind her running off so much because I like to think she would come back. I worry when she does it while dragging a leash because the leash could get caught on a stick or wrapped around a tree, trapping her.

We went up the hill to visit that neighbor, which is where she usually runs, but no sign of her. So I drove down the mountain, past the apple trees, and finally found her. She was in the yard with a young neighbor I had met once before. She and the dog of looking at each other like neither was sure what to do. I stopped the car and called out. “Can you grab her leash?” She did, and I recovered the dog and we chatted for a few minutes.

The poor dog was definitely gun shy after the fence shocked her. She curled up inside and didn’t want to leave the house. She was still eating and drinking, but it took a good 36 hours before she started to recover her normal playfulness.

After seeing the dog’s reaction to the fence, I have no doubt it will deter a bear.

Now that the dog and I have both been shocked, we have to see how long it takes before my wife gets zapped. I hope she won’t be, but I tend to think it is inevitable. I may install a cut-off switch outside the fence to reduce accidents.

Eggs, Plentiful Eggs

We are now getting four or even five eggs per day, and all but one chicken is using the nesting boxes. I have given away two dozen eggs, one dozen to friends we went to visit and one to our nearest neighbors. They seemed especially excited to get them. We also made a scrambled egg for the dog and may feed some to the chickens.

My last bag of chicken food lasted for 19 days. That means I am spending about $1 per day on chicken feed plus a few cents’ worth of scratch (I haven’t used up a bag yet, so I can’t calculate my per-day cost). We are also feeding them kitchen scraps, what greens we can still get from the garden and meadows, and apples. After Halloween, they may get some pumpkin, which I have been told they should enjoy. Based on this math, if we eat three eggs per day, we are breaking even on feed costs because a dozen free-range eggs usually sell for at least $5.

Our eggs are still on the small side, but they are already getting bigger. By the time spring rolls around, I hope to be getting a dozen large brown eggs per day. That’s when I will consider selling them. For now, we’ll keep eating them and giving them to friends and family.

A Weekend Wedding

Last weekend, we came down from the mountains and drove through a chunk of West Virginia to attend a wedding. It was somewhat of an nontraditional wedding, but a good time was had by all.

The fall foliage at the some elevations were at their peak, so it was a beautiful drive. We stopped at a scenic overlook or two. The photo above is from one of them.