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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Forget the Raccoon, the Bears are Here

This is a perfect example of why you should never let your guard down. The bears showed up two days after I had relaxed because our mystery visitor was just a raccoon.

Less than 48 hours after writing “I have been so focused on the possibility of a bear eating my honey that I hadn’t been paying attention to a raccoon that wants to steal eggs,” the bear made an appearance. A mother bear and her two cubs ran across the dirt road at the corner of our property, less than 30 feet in front of me.

Happily, I was in the car rather than on foot. I was also happy that the dog was not in there with me.

I was less happy that this is the end of the property that is near the bee yard/garden/chicken coop. The bears headed towards the bee yard, not away from it, so I assume they had not been there yet. After I got home, I checked the area and there was no sign of their presence and the electric fence was on, clicking away at full power. This time, I didn’t test it out personally.

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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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Are Rabbits the Perfect Livestock for Preppers?

Raising rabbits produces meat rapidly and inexpensively. They take up little room and an be raised almost anywhere, making them perfect for preppers.

I was reviewing some old PDFs I had in my “prepping” folder and I came across these figures from a book copyrighted in 1922:

“Eight rabbits and their offspring will produce in one year 480 rabbits, making 3,080 pounds of meat. Fifty chickens will produce in one year 600 chickens making 2,400 pounds. Two pigs (sows) will produce in one year 32 pigs weighing in all 2,800 pounds. Six sheep will produce in one year 9 lambs weighing 800 pounds. One cow will produce in one year one calf weighing 300 pounds.”

Granted, this was from Common Sense Rabbit Raising, a book clearly written to promote raising rabbits, and our chickens are bigger and heavier 100 years later, and it depends on the breeds. The exact numbers may no longer be correct, but the idea remains on target, especially from a homesteading point of view. Obviously,

I’m not sure I want to eat rabbit daily, but in a survival situation, I can see how it might be very desirable to have one or two to eat every week.

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Rebuilding our Electric Fence the Right Way

Fixing my electric fence meant tearing it down, installing larger insulators, and almost starting from scratch. But it was a learning experience.

Back on September 15, I documented how I had screwed up my electric fence install, primarily through inexperience. Since then, I bought larger plastic insulators. Then I disassembled and rebuilt the electric fence. I pounded a few stakes in to ensure the new wires that did not come close to grounding out on the welded wire fence behind it. Then I carefully inspected each run of wire before I turned on the energizer. Not even a sizzle or a crackle. The electric fence still did not work.

I caved in and bought an electric fence tester. Instead of more than 10,000 volts, my fence was carrying less than 500, the lowest setting on the tester. When I got shocked while using the tester, it was a barely noticeable tingle. I disconnected the fence from the energizer and tested it. It was working fine. The problem was still on my end.

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How to Shorten Your Personal Supply Chain

As the supply chain crumbles and threatens to collapse, you can take steps to ensure your personal supply chain is in better shape.

It’s all over the news: supply chain problems are causing delays of car parts, appliances, Christmas presents, meat, apparel, toilet paper, and other common goods we rely in our everyday lives. The just-in-time economy, where you can run out to a big box store and buy whatever you need with no waiting, is failing us.

Getting your car repaired takes longer due to the wait for parts. Your tractor might be laid up for days because the dealer needs a component. If your refrigerator stops working, you might wait weeks to have a new one delivered. I have friends that are getting their bathroom renovated. The wait for new cabinets is 30 weeks. Last time I was in Dollar General, I heard one employee say to her boss:

“It was supposed to be here Thursday, but now they are saying Friday.”

Her manager said, “Or Saturday, or Monday, or never.” They both sort of laughed in dismay.

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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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Pay me in Cash: How to Survive Without a Paycheck

Apparently 30 million working-age men are managing to survive without a paycheck. Here’s how they do it and what you can learn from them.

According to this article on Yahoo News, almost one third of working-age men are not in the workforce. I guess I am one of them. But I’m not alone, that’s reportedly 30 million people, and that’s just the men.

You can read the entire article, but the author suspects these people are surviving on one or more of the following:

Unemployment insurance – Except that’s long gone for most of us.

They retired early and get a pension –Many public servants and union members can retire with a full pension and health insurance. Some pension programs allowed you to retire when your length of service and your age equal a magic number, like 75 or 80.

Disability payments – the article seemed to presume these were often fraudulent claims, but I know there are plenty of people out there who are legitimately claiming disability.

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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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