Backyard Girls aka: Chickens

… a rooster in town is a bad idea and I think you can imagine why.

I grew up on a small farm so of course I know a considerable amount about Chickens. Growing up I didn’t like them but now that I’m older, it has almost become an obsession. I don’t have chickens at the moment for these reasons… First, I live in town. Albeit a rural town where believe it or not, a lot of people do have chickens in their backyards. Secondly, I did have chickens and it went sour. When the neighbor knocks on your door furiously to tell you that your chickens are tearing up their flower beds, something has gone wrong. Third, a rooster in town is a bad idea and I think you can imagine why. And lastly, I don’t have adequate accommodations for chickens… yet.

I’ve been doing some research into backyard chickens and different styles of coops and yards. I’m leaning toward a small coop and a run that is basically a “tunnel” that runs around the yard wherever you want. In my thinking, I’ll make mine to run around the perimeter of the yard and garden areas to cut down on the bugs. The coop will be small yet large enough to house 6-12 chickens and will have outside doors for egg collection. One thing I want to make sure of is ease of cleaning. I’m still researching that but I’m thinking a raised coop with a wire floor that I can cover in straw. I figure I can change out the straw when necessary and anything else will drop through for easy raking. We’ll see where that goes after I do a little more research. Coop with outdoor yard and tunnel yards. I think that’s the way to go.

I would like to be able to accommodate 6-12 chickens, strictly for personal use. I’d love to have some acreage for a larger operation but right now, I’m good with going small. Laying hens are my focus first then I might add some meat hens to the mix for something different. I never liked butchering chickens growing up because the smell was horrid, I know now that skinning is the way to go. My goal this year is to begin the process of becoming non-dependent on the grocery store as much as possible. We’ll talk about my garden in another post at a later date, but soon. I’m getting excited about planning that too.

Back to chickens. They say chicks start laying eggs at 5-6 months old and commercially they keep them for 1-2 years but will continue laying for 5-7 depending on care and environment. The older they get the slower production. There’s a lot to consider when choosing what breed to get and I’m still unsure what I’ll go with. It will probably be decided by what my local feed store has in stock when spring rolls around. Living in a rural area choices are limited. Right now I need to concentrate my efforts to their habitat, so I’m ready when the time comes.

I need to get back to planning! Have a great day and thanks for reading!

~ Jane

Detour in Progress…Focus on Being Prepared!

Storing food in Mylar bags is easier than you think and you can make your packages in a variety of sizes.

When I started this blog, and I know it’s been sporadic at best, I said I was going to write about whatever random thoughts came to mind. That is still true but I’d like to focus more on getting ready for an emergency or disaster, “prepping” if you will. I want to start from the beginning, which is essentially where I am right now. I’ll be sharing what I’ve found, where I’ve found it, techniques I’ve discovered and organization tips. That is my goal anyway.

What I have collected at this point amounts to a random supply of freeze-dried foods some of which I picked up at Wal-Mart in the Augason Farms section, and some of which I have gotten from Thrive Foods over the internet, through the mail. I know other companies out there like Wise Food Storage and Mountain House exist, but I haven’t gotten to them yet. We’ve also purchased large bags of beans and rice from Cash & Carry that we’ve sealed in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers and placed in food grade 5-gallon buckets.

Let’s talk about the ones I have gotten to. Both Augason Farms and Thrive life have good flavor and texture as far as freeze-dried food goes but I’ve found that, once opened, Thrive Life food doesn’t last as long as they say it will. You will need to use it up within a month or so to keep the freshness. I ended up having to throw a couple of cans out after about 2.5 months. Augason Farms has a great vegetable stew blend that can be modified to create other meals by adding bouillon, meat, pasta, etc. We like to use it on a normal day because it’s quick and easy.

I found this handy food calculator on line and I’ve used it in the past as a guide. Here is another one that looks similar but includes a bit more information. Punch in the number of people in your family and hit calculate, simple. The Food Guys break it down more, the amount of vegetables and fruits. I will probably use both calculators in combination. The packaging of your foods should tell you how much a serving size is and go from there.

Storing food in Mylar bags is easier than you think and you can make your packages in a variety of sizes. I’ll include a couple of links to sites that sell them and the oxygen absorbers at the end. All you have to do is dump your dried beans, rice, pasta, etc. into the bags, toss in the oxygen absorbers, suck out the air and seal. We used a small shop vac that we purchased for this purpose. The size of your bag will decide the number and/or size of oxygen absorber(s) you use. To seal, we used a straightening iron and DONE. Here are the links to the Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. We actually got ours at Crazy Mikes, a little hole in the wall emergency supply store across the border. Check around, you might have something similar near you. Or on Amazon

Keep tuned, more to come! FYI: Featured picture is of my pantry in 2011 when we very first started collecting food. 😉

~ Jane

That Prepper Life

I’m also looking into hydroponics as a means to grow food throughout the winter months and solar energy to keep everything running if power goes out.

I’ve always had the prepper mentality, even when I was a kid. My parents always talked about the end times but never done anything to prepare for it. In spite of living on a 5 acre small farm, we struggled most of the time. Me though, I had a shoe box full of small toys that I was saving for “end times”. The ones you get in a happy meal, still in packages to give to my siblings on occasion when life as we knew it ceased to exist. According to my dad, that time was soon approaching. It’s pretty much all he talked about, to the point of giving me nightmares and anxiety. Nothingever happened.

As an adult, I always make sure we have at least 2 weeks worth of food in the pantry at all times, most of the time it’s closer to 2 months worth. With everything going on in the world today, I’ve decided to up my game and take it a little farther. I’m creating a “Pantry” binder complete with inventory, serving sizes, recipes, etc.. I’m researching water filtration systems and stocking up on other essential items like toiletries and medical/first aid supplies. I’m also looking into hydroponics as a means to grow food throughout the winter months and solar energy to keep everything running if power goes out.

I’ve created lists of supplies to buy, supplies we already have, research subjects, bug out bag items, list of suppliers, emergency plan for family not living at home, etc.. It’s always been my philosophy to prepare for the worse, hope for the best. I plan on printing out vital information on topics such as wound suturing, how to build a snare, edible/medicinal plants, etc. and create binders for those. I want to be knowledgeable if shtf. I’m now a stay at home wife, so I have a lot of time on my hands to do this, thankfully.

I’d be interested in like-minded individuals to bounce ideas and information off of. You can find me @Janeway0768 on Twitter.

~ Jane