You Can NEVER Have Too Many Books – An Update

Several recommendations from the last article about seeds mentioned a book, Susan Ashworth’s book Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Growers. This reminded me of an article about books that I had written a number of years ago.

With all things internet being censored, banned, deleted or taken down, real live books you can hold in your hand may turn out to be a precious commodity, especially when you are trying to do things the new-old fashioned way. A number of the links from the old article no longer worked so I have updated them.

Think about your situation, your family and what your needs may be if this electronic gadget you are reading these words on were no longer available. We have all become dependent on this thing I am typing and reading on for everything. Computers literally control the world at the operators behest, from how much water is released from a dam during the rainy season, to controlling your banking activities, to ordering diapers for the baby – everything. What happens when a storm rolls through knocking out the power? You can’t buy anything because the cash registers don’t work, or if a company can still sell something, they can only take cash because the card reader is down and can’t process your debit or credit card. No gas pumps, no internet, cell phone towers have back up generators or alternate power, but they won’t last long with their life giving electrical grid being gone.

No power = truly the dark ages. Short term or long term, man made or natural causes, electricity, and thus all things electronic, are just another means of control. Look what has been happening in California over the last few years with intentional brown or black outs. Any reason will do when an intentional control of a population is the desired effect. Those with the power have increased their methods of control in the past few years and no longer try to hide many agendas, instead they have been blatant in wielding that power in an attempt to woo or force the people into subjugation. We can stand up, stick out and announce with a loud voice that we will not comply and get slapped down to the ground via censorship, incarceration or the disappearing act, or we can fight back from the shadows doing all we can to provide for ourselves no matter what comes.

Books. Do you have enough? For everyone under your care? Adults, teens, children? You can never have too many useful books. Enjoy the article.

Until next time – Fern

Originally published September 20, 2013

It’s true. You can never, never have too many books. I know, I know. What about your Kindle, or Nook, or iPhone, or laptop, or computer, or….or….or…..What about when the power goes down – and stays down. What if…..

We have bought ebooks. We bought all of the past issues of Mother Earth News on CD and downloaded them on our computers – a great wealth of information. Even if we had a solar panel system that would keep our computers running, it would be a waste of energy to do so. Printed material is a necessity for information preservation.

This is a wall in our living room. It is my favorite wall. Frank built this bookshelf just for me and I love it. After we put most of our books on it there was a lot of extra space. I told him, “You know what that means? We need more books!” Then after a while, we had to have the floor reinforced – a worthwhile investment.

A friend of mine – I have mentioned her several times – I told her the next time I mentioned her I was going to give her a pseudonym.

– Grace – for by the grace of God we met and have become friends. So back to books. Grace has laughed and told me I am her only friend that has a ‘bug book’. We have talked many times about needing to know how to do things for ourselves in the case of a collapse or downturn in the quality of life in our country. When she has asked me about a variety of topics, my answer is often, get a book about it. I have been trying to stock my library with many useful reference books over the past few years. 

Patrice Lewis at Rural Revolution recently reminded us that having our important information on an electronic device may not always be a dependable medium. She has printed out and organized her important information so it will not be lost if she can no longer access it on her computer or online. It is a great idea.

I would like to share a few of the many books I use regularly. I will also share a few new ones that I have not had the chance to read yet. Here are a few of my favorites by category.

Gardening

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible – great general information

The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening – We have a very old version that is literally falling apart at the seams. Tons of great, fairly detailed information.

Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver – Good book. All kinds of plant and pest information.

Carrots Love Tomatoes has taught me a great deal about companion planting. I have changed my garden planting patterns with the help of this book.

The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control – My favorite bug book. The one Grace was talking about.

The Seed-Starter’s Handbook is not only good at helping me get my seeds started, I use it for information on how to save seeds as well. It is an old book (1978), but one of my favorites. 

The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food is one of the new books I just got from Backwoods Home and I haven’t had a chance to look through it yet.

I have several new and old reference books I use as well. I have begun keeping my annual garden ‘map’ of where I plant things in a binder to make sure I rotate crops and don’t plant a new crop where it will not thrive because of the last occupant.

Food Preservation

Stocking Up – the old and new version. This is a great book. It covers canning, freezing, drying and storing. 

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is a book I use every time I can something.

I have half a dozen other canning books including Jackie Clay’s book Growing and Canning Your Own Food. It is a great book and full of a lot of information besides canning and preserving.

Another book I have had for a while and just started using with my dehydrator is Making and Using Dried Foods. After I bought the dehydrator, I was surprised that it didn’t come with more instructions. Then I got to thinking…… don’t I have a book about that? Sure enough, I did.

Enola Gay‘s new book The Prepared Family Cookbook is another one of my new books I have not had the chance to read through yet. 


Cheese Making

I have several books, but the only one I have ever used is Mary Jane Toth’s  Goats Produce Too! The Udder Real Thing

Herbs

Our book collection about herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes started many years ago. This is a mixture of old and new that I use most often now. The Herbal Antibiotics book is another new one from Backwoods Home that I have not had a chance to read yet. 

The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants and The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies both have a great deal of information about how to use plants medicinally, but little to none about how to grow and harvest them.

One of my older books Growing and Using Healing Herbs has great information about planting, harvesting, preserving and using herbs.

But the best one I found for information about growing and harvesting herbs is Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. 

When I was researching sources of perennial vegetables that I could get established here I ran across Perennial Vegetables, which has proven to be a good resource.

Animals

When we got our first Great Pyrenees to guard our goats, we wanted to make sure it was a successful venture. We had read enough to know that training a livestock guardian is not like training the Labrador Retrievers we used to raise. We found that Livestock Protection Dogs gave us very valuable information. Otherwise we probably wouldn’t have kept Pearl. She has turned out to be an excellent dog. 


I have a good selection of books about goats – my goat book collection. If something comes up, like an abscess, I look in all of my books and compare the information I find. I feel much better informed this way because not all authors have the same opinions or give the same advice for a particular situation.

All About Goats has some good basic information.

Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats is a good beginners book with fairly thorough information.

Raising Milk Goats Successfully and How To Raise Dairy Goats are very similar and have good basic information.

Natural Goat Care is by far my favorite book. It raised my learning curve on the natural needs and health of goats. I would highly recommend it.

We have other reference books for animals which include The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable and The First Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats.

Resource Books

We have a variety of books that we have not and may not ever use. They are for references when and if the need ever arises for the topics they cover, such as, establishing a black smith shop, how to train oxen, small scale grain raising, cooking on a wood stove, building small tools or equipment, and more. 

Grace and I have been doing some bartering for eggs. One of the things she brought was this Chicken Health Handbook which is another good reference book. Books that will add to your peace of mind are also an important part of a good library. The Simplicity Primer from Patrice Lewis is one of many. We read the Little House on the Prairie series last summer. They are a great resource of information for living without electricity and growing or raising what you eat, or how to do without.

So, to go back to the title – I truly do believe you can never have too many books. Printed information may one day be in very short supply. Electronic media may one day be a thing of the past. As memories age, they don’t keep details stored as well either. I have felt a strong need to include a plethora of books as a very important part of my ‘preps’. 

We have even stored more than one copy of some books to share with others if the opportunity arises. Books such as James Wesley Rawles How To Survive The End Of The World As We Know It and The Ball Book of Complete Home Preserving. James Wesley Rawles’ book is what got Frank started in radio. It was the first place he read about MURS radio frequencies. You never know when that little bit of information can revolutionize a person’s perspective and greatly increase their ability to be self-sufficient and provide for their families.

I will continue to encourage to you learn something new each and every day. It will bless you and yours in untold ways for years to come.

Until next time – Fern

Prepper’s Livestock Handbook by Leigh Tate

If you are interested in livestock for a homestead, we would highly recommend Leigh Tate’s book Prepper’s Livestock Handbook. Leigh writes from experience and research, which is something I appreciate and have learned a lot from her over the years. It is an easy to read, informational text that will help get you started and be successful traveling down the path of raising livestock in a self-sufficient manner.

Leigh is an author of several books, eBooks and the blog 5 Acres & a Dream. Her blog is what led us to raise American Guinea Hogs, make and drink kefir, and this 

year, grow amaranth. Leigh’s extensive research in ways to become more self-sufficient for both the humans and animals at their homestead has led Leigh and her husband to try many different things. The benefit for all of us is that she writes about those experiences.

Leigh includes many resources and references in The Prepper’s Livestock Handbook that will lead you to more information beyond her experiences. I would highly recommend it for anyone starting out with livestock, or anyone that is looking to expand their animal husbandry experience. It is full of natural ways of raising animals and maintaining their health beyond dependence on chemicals and purchasing all that is needed. Leigh’s information focuses on being able to provide for the health and vitality of livestock independently, with knowledge, trial and error according to differing climates and environments, and with forethought and planing. She and her husband strive to provide for themselves and their animals in ways that decrease dependence and increase the probability of survival should the SHTF.

Other books Leigh has written include:

Critter Tales

5 Acres & A Dream: The Book

I learned to make lotion and lip balm using one of Leigh’s eBooks, which I still make and have for years. She has written a number of eBooks on a variety of topics. They show the efforts she has made at becoming more self-sufficient and knowledgeable about decreasing dependence on store shelves.

Leigh is a prime example of life-long learning. I truly appreciate her willingness to share her experience, knowledge and research with us. It has, and continues to enrich our lives daily.

Until next time – Fern

SHTF Animal Feed

How are we going to maintain our animals in a SHTF situation? Good question from Leigh over at 5 Acres & A Dream. She and her husband continually work to improve their land and self-sufficiency goals, so this in an interesting question. This article has quite a few links to previous articles that discuss some of our efforts at providing for our animals. A lot of what we do now is based on how things have developed since we moved to this homestead. Here is Leigh’s question.

“Here’s a preparedness question. I would really like to know how you are feeding and managing your goats. Feed self-sufficiency has been one of my goals for as long as we’ve had goats, but I keep being thwarted and frustrated at so many turns. We grow some of our own feed and hay, but not enough and I’m constantly feeling time pressured to achieve this goal. I have to say I’ve learned a lot from research and experimentation; and made huge changes in my feeding philosophy, but I’m not there yet. I’d love a blog post on how you’re managing this.”

We currently buy grain from the feed store for our goats and chickens. Along with that, they all have access to forage. Right now we keep the chickens penned up until about noon or early afternoon, then let them out to range. If we no longer have access to grain for them, we will let them out each morning to ‘fend for themselves’. We also supplement with garden scraps, comfrey and amaranth leaves when available.

Our current Nubian goat herd consists of three does, eight wethers and two bucks. The males and females are separated into different pastures. Our ten acres is cross fenced into four pastures which is way more than enough for the number of animals we have. We rotate them between pastures during different times of the year for grazing preferences and to help control intestinal parasites. One of the main things we use for parasite control are copper boluses. We have acquired a large supply that will more than last our lifetimes in a SHTF situation, and hopefully will be adequate to help maintain the health of the animals. We also grow a number of plants that help deter worms. I don’t pick and feed them daily like I used to, but they are out there if we need them. After we started using the copper boluses, the goats have been very healthy most of the time.


We have always had a plan for standing hay. It’s warm enough in our location that there is usually something green growing most of the year for the goats to graze, and if not, there is still a lot of forage of the standing dried variety. If we are unable to buy the small amount of hay we use each year for bedding during the birthing season, that is another issue. We currently do not have a solution for that, it’s something we would have to work out. We have plans, but not finalized plans because it is something we have never done.


We realize our milk and kid production would decrease substantially since the does would not be receiving a milking ration of grain. The same would be true for the chickens and their egg production. To hopefully offset some of that, we have some things growing that could be used to supplement the grazing. We have a small patch of Jerusalem artichokes and comfrey.


One crop that grows very well here is cowpeas. We would increase our planting and dry some of these in the greenhouse for winter supplement. There are parts of the country that grow them extensively for animal feed for their protein content. We also have Austrian winter pea seed that has remained viable for about a decade, that loves the cold weather. It doesn’t make a ‘pea’ per se, but the foliage is edible for man and beast and is very nutritious.

The scraps from the garden and winter greenhouse are always saved and taken to the animals, usually the chickens. We were talking about how to save the corn stalks for silage the other day. We haven’t tried it yet, but that might also be doable.

Another crop we are trying for the first time this year is amaranth. So far so good. It is growing very well, we will just have to wait and see how it produces. The plant can be dried and chopped for the goats. It’s highly nutritious and I got the idea from Leigh after reading about it years ago on her blog.

I haven’t concentrated on SHTF animal feed in quite a while, but it’s a good reminder to do so. When we moved to this homestead 11 years ago there were many things to do to increase our self-sufficiency and prepare for the collapse. Now that many of them are in place I am much more peaceful about our preparedness level. The current challenge is our aging bodies and what we can still physically accomplish. We continually reevaluate what we need to downsize or alter to continue to accomplish our goals.

We have watched others try to grow non-mechanized grains and hay. This is something that has always been too labor intensive for our life styles. And now that we are older, this could never be a consideration for us. We have downsized our herd of goats to a more manageable level as we realize our limitations and how they will continue to affect our abilities in the future whether there is a collapse or not. We have to be realistic. Adding in the belief that the SHTF sooner rather than later, we add our aging bodies and waning physical abilities to the equation and adjust accordingly.

Thank you for the question, Leigh. It is a good review for us and helps to refocus on how we might be able to continue providing for our animals, which in turn will provide for us. Milk, meat, and eggs will go a long way toward sustaining us.

Let’s hear from everyone. What other recommendations or experiences do folks have to share? Again, we are all in this together.

Until next time – Fern

Homestead News, Volume 18

I’ve been thinking I need to update you on the animals around our place. They are a big part of our daily lives, so sometimes the changes appear subtle to us, but others notice the changes more readily. The young ones are growing, and some of the older ones will be increasing our numbers soon.

 

I’ll start out with the goats. We still have three older wethers waiting to fill some of the freezer. I’ll have to wait until the surgeon gives me the okay before I tackle this project. Believe it or not, the meat from the previous goat we butchered and ground is gone. Since these are dairy animals, we don’t get a lot of meat from one carcass. Last year we kept three young wethers, this year I think we’ll keep them all. More meat on the hoof that way.

We will be having baby goats soon, January 5th is the first due date with one or two others to follow by mid January. One Stripe, our old lady goat of seven years, will be first. She has developed her characteristic waddle and her udder is developing nicely. I need both hands back in action to begin milking her the day of delivery. I will milk her everyday and give the colostrum to the pigs, dog and cats. After five days, I will begin keeping it for us to drink, which we really look forward to.

Next in line is up for grabs. Back in the summer I turned Cricket in with the buck for breeding, wrote down the date and thought all was well. Later on, she spent the day by the gate with the buck indicating she was back in

heat, so I didn’t think she ‘took’. At that point we had decided to sell the buck and borrow one from Faith, which is what we are doing now. Well, Victor the borrowed buck,

Victor the borrowed buck

has now been here for 22 days and Cricket has yet to come in heat. So, is she pregnant and due in January? She is the only one what knows. She is also the only one I am milking once a day now. We only get about a pint, so it’s barely enough to keep the kefir going, another reason we look forward to new baby goats and an increasing milk supply once again. I didn’t keep Cricket’s summer breeding date so I can only guess a due date. If memory serves me correctly, which it often doesn’t, that’s why I write things down, she is due somewhere between One Stripe and Copper. We’ll see.

Next in line is Copper, one of One Stripe’s daughters. Copper is an old hand now at having babies and she looks very good. Her due date is January 11th. With two does back in full production we will soon have plenty of milk which is very good. We also need to replenish our reserve supply of frozen milk.

Besides having plenty of milk for us, another reason it will be very good is the expectation of having piglets sometime in the next month. That’s a guess anyway. We are estimating Liberty may be due around January 10th if we have an accurate breed date. That estimate could be anything but accurate, so we will just have to wait and let her tell us when the time comes. I figure after a few weeks the piglets will be more than happy to drink some goat milk, so it turns out to be very good timing. Right now the pigs are getting some of our old powdered milk in their daily ration. They will be happy to have goat milk instead.
 

 

Two of the pigs have turned up with greasy pig disease again. From all of my reading, this is caused by a staph infection that sets up in scrapes or scratches. It can be very contagious and it can spread all over their body, but it can also run it’s course and heal without medical intervention. According to the vet, staph bacteria is everywhere, in the soil, on the surface of most animals skin, etc., it just needs an avenue

to grow. With all of the briers and thorny plants in our pastures, the pigs are going to get scrapes and such as they graze and root around, so this looks like it may be a recurring event here. The first time they got it the vet came out and gave each of them a penicillin shot. We don’t want to repeat that performance on a regular basis so I did some research to see what we can do naturally. For now I have added dried minced garlic and yeast to their daily ration. The sulfur in the garlic is great for it’s anti-fungal and antibiotic properties. The yeast contains zinc which is good for the pigs immune system. I have found a book that I will be ordering about natural pig treatments to see what else I can learn.

We did some more bartering with Emmet and he took home all of our older hens and two young roosters that were causing too much commotion in the chicken house. We kept our older Buff Orpington rooster. He is calm, not aggressive toward us, calls the hens to eat and overall, has been a great rooster. This leaves us with 20 young hens, many of which are laying. There are two different ages of hens in this flock from the first two sets of eggs we incubated in the spring, so some of them are almost a month younger than the rest. We are getting 10 to 12 eggs a day for now and a few of them are getting to be good size along with the smaller pullet eggs.

There are about 40 more young chickens that will be ready to butcher in about two to three weeks if the surgeon releases me to do so. This chore will have to be completed around the healing of my right hand and the timing of the surgery on my left hand. It will be the same thing, trigger finger and ganglion cyst, so I will have another splint for a while at some point.

Life on the farm is good. Very good. It fills our days and our bellies. It seems with each passing day we talk to more and more people that see very hard times coming our way. There are pieces of the coming storm that some focus on, the economy, the terrorist activities, the racial hatred, the government, but most don’t consider the immensity of it all. It’s a huge complicated mess and there is no telling which way the avalanche will fall when it all lets go. I have talked to some older folks that know something is coming and they are afraid. Some of them hope to be gone before it gets really bad. Fear is a powerful thing. It can paralyze you or motivate you. Remember, even though it is the holiday season, it appears to become more important everyday to avoid crowds. And if that bus or truck every pulls up out front, don’t get on it. You never know what may await you at the end of that ride, but it will no longer be a life of your choosing.

There is still much to be done here. We can only pray we have it completed before the time comes. You might want to do the same.

Until next time – Fern

Pear Sauce, Pigs & Vinegar

Remember those five 5 gallon buckets of pears? And I said I was finished? Well there are still tons of pears coming off that same tree and we thought it would continue to be great pig food. So I got five more 5 gallon buckets.

From the last of the first batch of pears, I made my first vinegar. It isn’t ‘done’ yet, and I don’t know how it will turn out, so I haven’t told you about it. But it looks right according to all of the pictures I’ve looked at and all of the information I have read. I’m excited to finally try making vinegar. I wanted to and had to because my friend Grace also tried her first batch out of the same pears, and she started hers before I did. Today she is making her first ever batch of soap, too, something we have yet to do. Good for her, I hope it turns out perfect.

Bowl of very ripe pears, vinegar crock, pig bucket, pan for pear sauce


After I brought home the last batch of pears, I decided that pear sauce would be a good thing to make. Since we aren’t eating any sugar and haven’t in almost a year, I was thinking pear sauce, made out of the really ripe, dripping pears would make a good sweetener for things like winter squash pie. Pears have a good amount of carbohydrates like sugar, but there is no processing or additives in these pears. The tree hasn’t even been pruned, sprayed or fertilized for, well for as long as anyone can remember. The only thing I did to make pear sauce, was peel and core the pears and cook them down. The vinegar got the peels and the pigs got the cores and seeds. I did add a tablespoon of citric acid powder, just because. The sauce has cooked down to a beautiful golden brown. It was canned in the water bath for 20 minutes. I think the next time I try making a pie, without a crust, I’ll add about 1/4 cup of pear sauce for sweetener and see how that tastes.

Since the first batch of vinegar seems to be doing it’s thing correctly, it actually made some ‘mother’. I decided that I should start more vinegar, this time in the five gallon crock instead of the one gallon. I’ll give you many more details about the vinegar once the first batch is ‘finished’ and I find out if it actually worked. For now, know I am once again experimenting on us an hope it works and doesn’t make us sick. That is always one of Frank’s concerns, and rightly so, but I just tell him we’re not dead yet.


The pigs really, really like the pears, and so do the chickens. I am truly grateful for this abundance of food, for us and the animals, and the people that are so willing to share. I hope I am able to share something with them sometime that they will enjoy as well.

Until next time – Fern

Projects for TEOTWAWKI Life

A homestead is never without a long list of projects. There are the ones that are in progress, the ones waiting their turn on the list, and the ones that fit better in the distant dream category. Nevertheless, if you homestead, or plan to homestead, don’t be discouraged that the list never gets completed, because if it did, you wouldn’t have anything to do, and you’d be bored. Boredom is not something that occurs here very often unless we’re expending our energy avoiding the things on the list that need to be done.

The installation of this lattice work has been planned for years.
We think it turned out great! I see green beans growing the length of the house next summer.

 
 

A friend of mine recently told me that she just couldn’t keep up with us and all of the things we’re doing. There are a lot of projects that are in progress right now, and when Frank and I stand back and take stock, sometimes it seems like a bit of a whirlwind. One thing that has allowed a lot of this to occur is being able to hire a man like Henry. With his help, Frank has accomplished a great deal in the past few months. The conditions of the world are the major driving force behind the pace of our work and the kinds of projects we are completing. The focus of our work is survival, plain and simple. The things we are doing will make the work required to live easier, we hope, so keep that in mind as you read here. All of our planning, work and goals are with an eye to survival.

Most of the projects we are currently working on have been on the drawing board for quite some time, and in some cases, as long as seven years. Over that time frame we have acquired supplies as our budget would allow. Now we are investing in the remainder of the needed supplies and the labor to accomplish some tasks. These investments will pay huge dividends for the rest of our lives.

Yesterday while I was attending a meeting, Frank and Henry built new steps with a handrail for the front and back door. They are simple, strong, sturdy and wonderful. You see, I like simple, I prefer simple. Anything else just wouldn’t do. We will find another place to use these concrete steps.

Today we planned some odds and ends. While it was cloudy and a cool 68* outside, the greenhouse stayed cool as well. Table tops were cut and barrels were arranged in a workable layout. Don’t they look great? I can’t wait to bring the tubs of plants and seeds in. 

It’s hard to see from the angle of the first picture, but when I take a picture from up here, you can also see the shelves they put along the outside walls. They will show up much better once they are filled with plants.

We had some great comments on the last article about the greenhouse. Several folks mentioned using fans to help with the temperatures. Frank had a fan to use in the building that will house the solar panels and batteries that we hadn’t installed yet. He pulled it out and mounted in over one of the vents in the greenhouse. 

 

He had already put a power pole connector on the wire to the fan, and had an transformer that would work. After mounting the fan over the vent and plugging it in, we were in business. After about 20 minutes the temperature had started to drop.

 

After an hour or so, the temperature had obviously been affected by the fan. Great! One step closer to putting the tubs of seedlings in the greenhouse.

Frank and Henry also utilized all of the sheets of plywood, along with some 1/2″ plywood to cut ten 24″ squares, to put under each water barrel as a barrier from the concrete.

Now we need to rinse out each barrel, place them in their permanent home on a square of plywood, fill them with water and treat them with bleach. Then we will be able to start bringing the seedling tubs and other plants in. That will be a red letter day!

While the men were working on the greenhouse, I was cleaning out the ‘weaning pen’ in the barn. Lady Bug, one of the does we are milking, is still letting her five month old doe, Easter, nurse. I was hoping she would go ahead and wean her, but stay in milk for our use. As I was milking her this morning, and getting very little, I began to wonder if she could be weaning Easter and drying up. This would defeat our purpose of keeping her in milk through at least mid January when One Stripe, Copper and Cricket are due to kid. After this thought hit me I knew I needed to start penning Easter up again at night so I can not only have more milk, but keep Lady Bug producing more, and hopefully longer. Thus, I needed to clean out the pen and get it set up for this evening for Easter. We’ll see how Lady Bug’s milk supply is in the morning. I’ve got my fingers crossed.


We still have some chickens that need to be put in the freezer, so after I finished cleaning the pen, I went down to the house to set up the butchering station. Very soon, this part of the task won’t be necessary. Frank, Henry and the tractor were wrestling with the stump in the outdoor kitchen area when I got back down to the house. Men and machine won out over the stump, although it did give them a run for their money. Now, in it’s place is a nice gravel chip pad and the beginnings of forms for concrete. When we butcher the chickens that grow from the eggs that are currently in the incubator, we may have this kitchen set up so we can dress the chickens here. I didn’t get any pictures of this process because I was butchering chickens down here at the end of the porch, but I was close by and got to watch.
 

My chicken butchering set up, washed and drying for next time.


You may wonder why we are building an outdoor kitchen. It’s not for fun, or looks, or to show my friends. I truly believe that it is something we will need to have in the coming years. It gets hot in Oklahoma in the summer time, and the propane tank that fuels our kitchen stove will run out one day if the trucks quit running. I need a place to cook, process the garden produce and meat from our animals, can food, wash clothes and provide for my husband. This will be where that happens. As we get everything set up and functional, we’ll give you another tour and more explanations. This project is still in the planning stages and has already undergone a number of changes. It will be interesting to see it all come together in a final product. Most of the things installed in this kitchen have been here for a while, some longer than others. A few things will need to be acquired for it’s completion.

Before the wrestling match with the stump commenced, the clothesline poles sprouted wings. We will let the posts continue to cure in the ground for a few more days before we hang the clothesline. I am really looking forward to hanging our clothes out on the line again. As you can see, the clothesline is close to the kitchen which will be very handy. 

After Frank and the tractor won the stump contest, he also ran the disc through the garden again. There are several places that the grass has really grown tall and it’s good he is working it and getting it ready for winter. We will soon be adding barnyard and wood ashes to rebuild what was lost in the early spring torrential rains that took much of our topsoil.
 

We still haven’t decided where to put the outhouse……


What projects do you have in mind for TEOTWAWKI? In the seven years we have lived on this homestead our purchasing has been with an eye to a future that will probably not resemble life as we know it now. Frank has seen the demise of our country and world coming for a long time. That is why we have purchased many supplies that have been waiting in the wings for quite a while. Now is the time for us to prepare these things, for soon the time of preparation will be past. Even if you are unable to complete a needed or wanted project now, obtain as many supplies as you are able. There will be a time when what you have is what you have, and that’s it. Think about that. What you have is what you have. No more stores or driving to town to get something. If you don’t have it, you can’t get it. What is it that you really need for TEOTWAWKI? Think hard, talk it over with your family. Make a list and acquire what you are able. Now. The time is now.

Until next time – Fern

Good Trade

Remember this?

Now fast forward to sometime in the not too distant future. Yes, fast forward. Remember when you could do that with a VHS tape? Most young people have never had the pleasure. Anyway, the not too distant future. What will buying and selling be like? How will we get the things we need? Like the things in all of our preparations we overlooked or outright forgot to get? What about all of the physical labor that will be necessary to live a collapse, survival life style day in and day out? Can you do that? 

Good trade. Bartering. I think this will become, and already is becoming, the new way of commerce. Commerce won’t end with an economic or societal collapse. Person A will always need something that Person B can provide. When there is no longer a monetary basis upon which to make that transaction, bartering or trading will be the manner in which commerce will survive.

There was a young man in Frank’s Survival Radio class that has begun developing his homestead. Not only is he interested in survival radio communications, he is starting a flock of chickens for his young family. Since we use pseudonyms here, we will call him Emmet, which is a German name meaning strong worker. The reason his name is associated with work is because that is what he did here in exchange for a flock of young chickens. We struck a deal of chickens for labor, and while he was here found out that Emmet works two jobs so his young wife can homeschool their children, making it an even better deal.

We have more than enough young hens to replace our current laying flock. From the two batches of eggs we incubated, we have already butchered the older set of roosters, still leaving about 40 or so young birds. From that 40 we kept about 8 hens. That still left many birds to choose from. When Emmet arrived, we first picked out 10 hens and 2 roosters for his new flock. Then the work really began.

It has been too long since our chicken house has been cleaned out. We planned to clean it out long before now, but my sinus issues have kept me out of the chicken house except during feeding time, and on a few occasions Frank was left to do everything on his own. When Frank came up with the idea of trading chickens for a clean chicken house, I thought it was a great idea. He contacted Emmet and the deal was struck.

 

It made pretty quick work for the three of us to get the house cleaned up. Frank brought down the tractor to haul the trashcans full of manure to the garden. We have several empty areas in the garden that received this wonderful fertilizer. The parts that suffered the most when the heavy, spring rains really washed away the topsoil now have a good start at renewing the nutrients for next year.

 

As we left the chicken house I looked at Emmet and said, “Good trade. Have you ever seen that movie? Dances With Wolves?” He had and agreed it was a very good trade. You see there comes a time when you have to ask for help to accomplish some tasks that you used to do with ease. Frank and I are no longer young whipper snappers like Emmet and it was a blessing to have his help. For us this was a very good trade, and it also helped Emmet start a larger flock of chickens for his growing family.

Once the chicken house clean up was complete, it was time for water, coffee and more radio conversation. Frank is a natural teacher and enjoys sharing information about setting up a shack, wiring antennas, or general knowledge about increasing the effectiveness of existing radio communications equipment or techniques. While they talked radio, I got the sourdough rolls ready to bake. I had mixed up the dough earlier in the morning so it would have time to ferment and predigest those carbs for us. After I went to the barn and finished up the chores of milking, feeding and watering the animals, it was time to bake and sample the bread.

There are so many different things we can barter or share, whether it is a tangible, albeit live commodity, or knowledge. The last article we wrote about books is another example of learning information and skills that can be ‘traded’ or bartered. As the time draws nearer to a total change in the way business is conducted around the globe, but more importantly in your neighborhood close to home, having tangible goods, skills or knowledge that can be traded for something you need or want, will not be a convenience, but a necessity. So how are your bartering skills coming along? 

Sharpen up your skills and senses. Keep a keen eye on what is in your midst and fast approaching over the horizon. Time keeps ticking along, sometimes almost imperceptibly, bringing us closer and closer to the inevitable. Don’t get caught in a stream of regret where you would ‘trade’ it all for one more day to prepare.

Until next time – Fern