Prepper Diary October 17: A Long Awaited Day Arrives

It’s full fledged autumn here. The leaves are falling, the temperatures are dropping, and we’re getting ready for winter. Are you ready for a “dark winter?”

I was excited to have four eggs for breakfast today. They were smaller than usual because they are pullet eggs and came from our young hens. Yes, the chicks we got the first week in June are now beginning to lay eggs. Now they can earn their keep and pay me back for their feed by feeding me.

(In the photo above, the larger egg on the right is a commercial egg. The other four smaller eggs are our home grown eggs.)

I look at it as being one step closer to being food independent. Are we going to live on eggs and honey? Of course not. But the price of eggs had increased by 12 percent in the past year, so producing them on-site will help our grocery bill. As I have stated before, having eggs will allow us to help neighbors and give us something to barter with. As the chickens get older, the eggs will get bigger. I expect our daily harvest will increase as well.

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I Have a Late-Night Encounter and I get a Big Shock

Sometimes things go bump in the night. Sometimes the dog barks and we don’t know why. Then I saw a pair of glowing eyes in the distance.

Frequent readers may recall that I patrol my property late at night. OK, I am actually just walking the dog, but I think of it as a de facto patrol. We walk down the drive way to the road, scout the perimeter, and check the chickens and their enclosure. I hope our presence and smell motivates any predators to think twice about paying a nocturnal visit to the chicken coop.

Each night, I don my headlamp, and I am always armed because, well, I am always armed. Some nights, especially of the dog has been acting like something might be out there, I strap on a 1911 with a Streamlight TLR-2 light/laser combo mounted on it.

I bought the TLR-2 relatively cheap years ago for use on a Smith & Wesson M&P with an extended magazine that was my bedroom self-defense gun. How long ago was this? Let’s just say that the light has only 135 lumens. Yeah, that’s old. Still, it is enough light to identify your target at pistol-engagement distances.

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My Wife has been Bitten by the Prepping Bug

Some preppers complain about unsupportive spouses, but I’ve never had that problem. Lately, my wife is becoming quite gun ho.

I’ve been a hardcore prepper for a couple of decades. My wife? Not so much. She has been more than tolerant of my prepping, rarely complains about the money I spend, and is never obstructionist. She says nothing about the number of guns I own or the 5-gallon buckets piled up in our garage. More importantly, she willingly moved to our prepper property in the Appalachian mountains.

Lately, she’s begun showing tendencies of a more serious prepper. For example, I’ve caught her buying extra food at Walmart, something I usually do, and the last time she went to Costco she brought home a 25-pound bag of rice. Last week, she voluntarily ate two MRE entrees. (That’s a record for a woman who says she won’t eat Spam until TEOTWAWKI.) Then she told me she wants to buy a new holster.

The other day she asked if I thought the five cords of wood we had were enough for the winter. I explained it may not be, but I’m running out of storage space. My plan is to burn one and then replace it with new wood.

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Our New Dog is Sneaky

Sometimes I wish I had a dumb dog, a dog that wasn’t smart enough to be mischievous or sneaky. But I don’t think that would be anywhere near as fun.

I’m beginning to think we should have named our Anatolian Shepherd “Sneaky” because, well, she is.

Annie is a pretty big dog. More than 70 pounds, she will probably will top off around 85, but she can squeeze through a tiny hole. Three times in the past four days, she has done exactly that.

Each morning we go on a lengthy walk and then we come back to our property and I do my chores. While I am feeding the chickens, I lock the dog in the fenced garden, which is attached to the chicken run. She’s usually fine with this. She either lies down near the chickens or she chases grasshoppers, which is a fun diversion for us both. (Seeing a big dog pounce on the abundant grasshoppers and then snap at them when the fly off is may sound amusing, but I promise you, it is even more fun in person.)

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Goldenrod and Asters Help our Bees Prep for Winter

You could consider bees preppers. They stock up nectar (carbs) and pollen (protein) to help carry them through the long. cold winter.

The goldenrod and several varieties of aster have been blooming for a couple weeks, but I haven’t seen bees on them until this week.

Both flowers are known for providing bees with critical nectar and the pollen they need to bulk up their stores and get prepared for the winter. It’s possible last week’s rain washed out some resources, and they weren’t worth gathering from them until things dried up. It’s also possible that the Jewel Weed, the Iron Weed, and other flowers were a bigger draw for the bees. Now these plants have gone to seed, so the bees are focusing on the goldenrod and asters, which are among the final blooms of the season.

Just another sign that fall is here. Time to get the hives prepared.

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Yesterday was “Eat like a Prepper Day” at our House

It’s important to test your preps so you know what to do when the SHTF. I recommend holding an “eat like a prepper day” a couple times a month.

I try to “eat like a prepper” at least once a week. This not only helps us use up and rotate our stored food, it allows us to test our stored food to make sure it is still good. For example, last week I ate a lentil stew MRE entrée that was made in 2014. Yep, it was fine.

For breakfast today, I made eggs over easy and served them over a can of corned beef hash. We usually buy and eat the Mary’s Kitchen brand of has from Hormel, but today I opened a can of Great Value hash I had bought from Walmart. We’d never eaten their brand of has before and I wanted to try it.

I had high hopes for the Great value hash because it has the same ingredients as the Mary’s Kitchen brand, and they are in the same order on the label. More importantly, the nutritional information is identical, from calories to grams of protein to the percent of vitamin RDA. This made me suspect that Walmart’s brand of hash is made by Hormel.

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Taking Advantage of the Cooler Weather on the Homestead

We are working to make fall plantings, clean up the homestead, stock up, and generally make sure we are ready for winter.

We are enjoying the break from hot summer weather and the end of the rain to get some work done and enjoy ourselves around the homestead. The chickens are benefitting as we are throwing armfuls of weeds and uprooted garden plants into their run.

Weed Whacker Upgrade

I was using 095 string in my string trimmer, but the larger plants would just destroy the string. It would break it off so close to the hub that new string would not come out. I’d have to stop, flip the string trimmer upside down, disassemble the spool of string, and re-string it. After three or four times, this got annoying.

I finally upgraded to a metal blade. I was looking for the big three-point blade, but no one had one locally. Instead, I installed one of the four-point “grass” blades. What a difference! I am now mowing down thick woody plant stems, green and dried grass, and small trees (about half an inch) with ease. It works so well, I may never return to sting. It also looks like the blade will simple to re-sharpen with a file, although I only hit two rocks, so far. You definitely don’t want to use the metal blade close to your house or a fence line.

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Prepper Diary: Autumn Arrives in a Deluge

Autumn is bringing us rain, but also apples, hunting, and before long, fires in the wood stove to keep us warm.

If there was any doubt, nighttime temperatures in the 40s have announced the arrival of fall, which officially took place on Wednesday the 22nd. We have been experiencing rain and cooler temperatures much of this week.

I moved some firewood into the basement, but we are planning to hold off using the wood stove as long as possible. For now, I am wearing a fleece. Yesterday, I put on my wool socks for the first time since early spring.

This is the time of year when your electric bill drops. The AC doesn’t run, the heat doesn’t kick in. With any luck, our dehumidifiers will stop. (If not, they certainly will when we fire up the wood stove.)

Apple Season

Another sign of fall is trees filled with ripe apples. I’m looking forward to cider.

The tree in our main image is less than half a mile from our house and is growing at an old homestead. There’s nothing let of the homestead except the chimney, the spring, and five apple trees (the sixth one died) in drastic need of pruning. The neighbor who owns that land, which is on a bigger parcel, said half the apples are for eating, half for baking. We spotted at least three varieties.

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How to Screw Up Your Electric Fence Build

I’ve never installed an electric fence before, and it showed. Sometimes watching YouTube can’t replace trial and error.

I have had the supplies on hand to install the electric fence for months, but I was always busy working on something else. We had the welded wire fence and two gates, so I wasn’t in a big hurry to complete it. I set a goal to the electric fence up and running by September 1 to prevent any bears that might find my beehives a tasty treat before hibernation.

Bears can destroy beehives. While cartoons and storybooks have led us to believe that bear like honey, they also eat brood, or the eggs, larva and pupae of bees which provide protein.

Let’s just say I missed the goal by a long shot.

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Prepper Diary September 4: A Homestead Update

We face our second hurricane in two weeks, prepare for cooler temperatures and ready our bees to get through the winter.

We survived the aftermath of Hurricane Ida unscathed. It must have brushed by us, saving its anger for folks in New York and New Jersey. We got less rain and less wind than we did with Fred. The power was out for less than two hours.

There was a period of wind when there was a tremendous banging outside. I had to put on my muck boots and my poncho and head out there to batten down the hatches. The big gate to the garden and had blown open. It was slamming against the pole with every gust of wind. I latched it and added a couple of bungee cords to minimize bounce.

I am not sure whether our chickens are brave or stupid. Most of them would rather hang around outside in the rain than in their coop. As a result, I delay letting them out when it is pouring. Our four roosters are all crowing now, but have not been loud enough to wake me up. Still, the day is coming where we have to eliminate at least two of them before they kill each other.

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