Return of the Prepper #8 : Proof of Egg

Today we got our first egg of the year.

That might not sound such a big deal, but it is still January, it is still cold, it is still winter and we only have one chicken.

So well done old girl!

As I mentioned in a recent post I am experimenting with cutting down the externally sourced feed.

I am now just giving the hen and her companion guard goose corn every other day. Instead I am giving them more food scraps and providing piles of compost for them to dig through. I am also investigating meal worm breeding again.

Their compound is over a quarter of an acre so they have a good area to roam around, scratch and graze.

Although we are vegetarian rather than vegan we don’t tend to eat that many eggs these days. Half a dozen eggs per week will more than enough.

In the brighter, warmer days our one remaining hen will just about manage that. But to give us a bit more resilience and longevity on the egg front I will be looking to get another two or three hens in the spring.

I hope they will get along together.

We probably won’t get a rooster at present, particularly while the goose is still about. When he goes I may reconsider that particularly if we are wanting to raise some more chicks by then.

If we do start getting a surplus of eggs with the extra birds we could always pass them on for vaccine production.

With the current coronavirus outbreak growing so rapidly, once a vaccine has been developed it is going to be all eggs on deck…

I was going to write about the dramatic growth of the coronavirus again today, but the situation is changing so rapidly I feared I might I get my facts scrambled.

It is turning into a very serious situation. Definitely not something to yolk about.

If you do fancy a little horror story before bedtime, check out the graph in the bottom left corner of this webpage…

In the meantime it’s goodnight from me, and it’s goodnight from Jim.



[ images from @pennsif ]

Return of the Prepper #2 : Tins v Freeze-dried for long term food storage

Like any good prepper building up a stockpile of long life food is part of the plan.

Traditionally the go-to route for any hardcore prepper is freeze-dried ready meals from the likes of Mountain House, the Wise Company or My Patriot Supply.

These can come in sachets, tins or buckets, with shelf-lives ranging from around 7 years to 25 years.

In the UK the choice of producers is much more limited than in the USA. Mountain House has stopped producing in Europe, so I believe anything still available here is old stock or imports.

Generally these freeze-dried meals are also considerably more expensive in the UK than in the USA where they are much more widely available.

Over the last few years I had been buying some of these products for long term storage. I had managed to collect about 6 weeks supply, and had been planning, when funds permitted, to buy much more – maybe eventually even a year’s worth.

But they are very expensive – commonly up to £5 / USD6.50 per meal – and because of the price, not rotated in with our general eating plans. Therefore they can represent a lot of locked-up capital that is not then available for more immediate prepping needs like investing in solar power.

So recently we have decided to swap our long term food prepping strategy to building up a good supply of tin foods, along with some dried goods like beans, rice and pasta.

Tin food is much cheaper than freeze-dried, and can therefore be much more readily rotated in with our general food consumption.

If you shop carefully at the discount supermarkets like Aldi you can find decent unbranded tin food with up to 2 years marked shelf life (and more in practice) at very cheap prices.

Common products like baked beans, soups, broad beans, sweetcorn, assorted beans, tomatoes as well as tinned fruit, rice pudding and custard are commonly only 20p – 50p, and there often 4 for 3 type offers to bring the price down further.

Pasta and rice are also quite inexpensive and will commonly have a shelf life of up to a year.

This tin based prepping strategy might not appear so long term and mobile, but we are very much thinking in terms of bugging-in not bugging-out. And at our age (approaching 60) thinking 25 years ahead does feel rather extreme and almost inappropriate.

So our current food prepping plan of action is…

  • Collect up to 12 months supply of common tinned foods (baked beans, vegetables, fruit, creamed rice etc)
  • Buy only products that we like and commonly eat
  • Look out for offers and bulk buy opportunities, and buy as cheap as possible
  • Manage the stocks carefully and ensure good rotation so the oldest are always used first
  • Buy 6 – 12 months of dried goods (beans, lentils, rice, pasta) as shelf-life permits
  • Hold up to 3 months of more short life products like flour, UHT milks, sugar, tea, etc, and rotate well
  • Supplement all this with as much fresh and preserved home-grown produce as possible.

I would also like to learn more canning techniques to increase the amount of our own surplus garden produce we can put by. Canning is nowhere near as common in the UK as it is in the USA.


Depending on the exact nature of any emergency I think we can ensure we would have up to a year’s supply of food that is sufficient in calories and in nutrients, and varied and enjoyable enough to eat.

To date I have been following an ad-hoc path of buying as and when offers and funds have allowed. But now I am adapting a more strategic and more methodical route – even bringing a spreadsheet into play.

We are upping our own food production and buying in 3, 6 and eventually 12 months supply of tinned and dried goods.

Finances will have some influence of course, but the plan is to reach full capacity by the end of the year.

What’s your food prepping strategy?



[ images from @pennsif – note, the first image is from before we became vegetarian ]

Return of the Prepper #1 : Keeping chickens for free?

Currently we are down to one chicken and one guard goose.

Our flock of hens was up to about 14 the summer before last but due to age, foxes and buzzards the number has since dwindled. But we were not too fussed as we were spending a lot on feed and producing more eggs than we needed at peak times.

I’m looking to get a few more this spring, but not too many. Many another four or five hens and a new cockerel.

And more importantly I’m looking to have a zero input chicken operation.

Relying on externally sourced corn or pellets is expensive and not self sustaining.

From a prepping point of view I want to move to a system that will continue regardless of what is going on in rest of the world.

Having a cockerel (or two) means we would be able to keep rearing our own birds regardless. Although we would need to introduce fresh bloodlines from new cockerels every year or two to prevent inbreeding.

That is where community resilience would come into play. Hens, cockerels and eggs are great for local bartering and swapping. We have done quite a bit of that already.

Feed-wise we are not looking to raise birds for meat as we are vegetarian now so a high input diet is not needed.

We only give the birds a small amount of mixed corn each day now but I think with better planning that could be eliminated altogether to make our egg production zero cost and totally self-sufficient.

Because of foxes in the area we can’t let the chickens free-range even with the guard goose in action, but they do have a good sized fenced compound to roam in.

That compound will be doubling up as a second orchard this year with the planting of at least dozen mixed fruit trees. In a few years windfalls from the trees will add to the diet of the chickens.

I have just been re-watching Justin Rhodes “20 Creative Ways to cut Chicken Feed Costs by 100%” video.

Some of his suggestions are a little hard core for the here and now – using animal carcasses and roadkill for example. And others such as slaughter by-products and excess cows milk don’t fit in with our operation.

But others are quite usable. We don’t produce anywhere the quantity of food scraps and kitchen waste as Justin’s much larger family appears to, but what we do produce already does go to our flock. Surplus eggs also go back to them when we have too many to give away.

Soldier flies, worm composting, forage crops like buckwheat, blackberries and winter squash are ideas I am going to try.

I’m interesting to hear other ideas. Do you keep chickens? Do you buy in food, or are you self sufficient?

That’s it for now. Time to sleep.

I wonder – do chickens dream of electric eggs…



[ images from @pennsif ]

Return of the Prepper

As I mentioned yesterday, one of my resolutions for the year is to get back to the ways of the Prepper.

Before I came to Steem, prepping was very much my thing with a good dash of homesteading thrown on top.

I’m not a Doomsday Prepper guns and camo type. I’m more Good Life wind and two veg.

My prepping journey began in the 70s with John Seymour’s ‘The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency’ and trips to the Centre for Alternative Technology.

My early adult life took various twists and turns until, at the symbolic age of 40, we moved to our homestead in the hills. 17 acres and a lake on a Welsh mountainside.

The dream finally came true. I was where I wanted to be.

Alas life/work/business got in the way a little, and not all the grand plans fell in to place. But the self-sufficient, or perhaps better termed self-reliant, life has always remained firmly in our sights.

Now 20 years on, with the world getting hotter both politically and climatically, it seems an appropriate point to take stock and refocus our efforts.

We will be consolidating what we have already started, and we will be starting what we haven’t.

Food production will be ramping up, water provision will be expanded, energy generation will be initiated.

We will be starting in the middle and working out.

It does feel a little selfish to be focusing on the us, but I hope we can expand out from here.

Making more connections locally, producing surplus food to give to those in need, sharing resources and skills with others around with a similar mindset.

A big part of prepping is community. That is very much part of the plan.

We are not lapsed preppers by any means, but the last couple of year I have rather taken my eye off the ball at times.

But this year I am feeling rejuvenated and eager to get back on it.

Stay tuned for what comes next…



[ image from pixabay.com ]

Pennsif’s Progress #573 – I go out to dine every day, and it doesn’t cost me a penny

 

One thing I like to do it each day is go out to dine.

But I don’t go far – usually just down our lane and into our fields.

I gorge myself on berries and leaves and buds and seeds.

Ever since I got a copy of the original edition of Richard Mabey’s excellent ‘Food for Free’ (now reprinted) I have been hooked on foraging.

I just love being able to graze on little bits of nature as I walk around our property.

Of course you have to be a bit careful of what you eat and where, but there are many excellent foraging books available as well as lots of great videos and articles online. And if you do have the opportunity to attend a local foraging course go for it.

My hit parade of favourite foragings varies with the seasons but three of my favourites at the moment are…

Blackberries (Rubus fruticosus)

As mentioned in yesterday’s blog me and the dog just love gobbling up the blackberries as we are out on our walks.

And we have lots of blackberries – wild and organic – all over our 17 acress, so we will never run out.


Nettles (Urtica dioica)

We have loads and loads and loads of nettles.

I started drinking nettle tea about three years ago. Then we started adding nettles to soaps. And then I got the idea from a @papa-pepper video of eating them raw as a green leaf. Tasty … and you will soon get the hang of picking them without getting stung.


Pennywort (Umbilicus rupestris)

This one I picked up on from a foraging course about 4 years ago.

This grows in good abundance along our rather shaded quarter mile long lane.

Pennywort is lovely and juicy and succulent. It tastes a bit like fresh peas.

It is definitely one of my favourites at the moment.


Foraging is a key skill…

For any prepper or would-be prepper.

Oddly they rarely seem to feature it in most post-apocalyptic / SHTF type movies. The main characters often seem to get close to starvation rather than grab any of the abundant free food all around them.

Learn to forage and you will never starve.

Homesteaders & Preppers on steem – time to revive the list

You might remember the list of Homesteaders and Preppers on steemit that I use to compile.

I updated it for about 6 months until the beginning of the year.

It had reached version 12 by then and had over 300 homesteaders and preppers.

I did make a start on version 13 but I didn’t follow through for a number of reasons.

One of the issues that I was commonly getting comments on was that so many people in the list were no longer active. That is certainly true – when I did some checking through about 3 months ago I found around half of the people on the list appeared to be inactive. That was a very sad reflection on the poor retention rates on steem.

Another issue with the list was that as it had grown bigger it was becoming technically difficult to manage with the very rudimentary tools that the steem interface offers. Now I am trying some new steem technology in the form of SteemPress to make the management of the list easier.

Now seems like a very good time to revive the list. To help me find guests for The Alternative Radio Show that I host on MSP Waves Radio an up to date list will be invaluable.

It might also be useful for other new initiatives designed to help the homesteading and self-reliance communities like the new Global Homestead Collective @ghscollective just set up by @freedompoint, @freedomtowrite and @steemcafe.


Are you on the list?

If you have joined steemit since January you probably won’t be on the list.

If you joined before January you should be but might not.

If you are not sure check out the previous list :

If you are not on the list and would like to be post a comment below with your account name, when you joined and where you are (ideally country/state). Or if you prefer message me on Discord (Pennsif#9921).

I will wait a week or so and then put out a new updated version of the list.

My feeling is to leave off all inactive members. Maybe anyone who hasn’t posted / commented / voted in the past month?  I would appreciate your thoughts on this point.

That’s it for now. I hope Steempress works. And I hope the new list will be a useful too for networking for homesteaders and preppers again.


You might also be interested in some of my other posts :
MY RADIO SHOWS
MY PROJECTS

 


[ header graphic by @pennsif ]