Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Preppers Meet

This is a busy time of the year - when isn't it busy! -but last weekend my husband and I took off and traveled quite a distance to meet with some like-minded-soon-to-be-friends.  You might wonder why that would deserve a blog post all it's own but it was such a great event and I want to share some of the highlights.

We weren't a big group - a bakers dozen in all - who had "met" on the internet through a website called the International Preppers Network - we were the Canadian contingent of course.  Each of us came with different skills and abilities, lots of questions and admittedly some fear of the unknown as well.  This is the internet age and cross-country or cross-continent communication is all the rage but meeting someone face-to-face has more risk to it.  I could comment and say - how sad that we've sunk so low that meeting with a stranger has to be such a big deal.  However - we all braved the unknown and what we discovered was beautiful.

We met at a conservation area and were thankful to have the use of a picnic shelter for the day as it did rain off and on.  The weather was warm and muggy and the mosquitoes were in their happy-place eating us alive until one very smart prepper pulled out the new OFF Powerpad Mosquito Lamp    - It worked really well and reduced the bugs to almost nothing.  They are definitely on my list!

With so much in common from our shared interests we started the chit chatting right away - in fact we had to rein in the conversations long enough to eat the wonderful potluck meal.  Lots of laughter and fun and great conversations about building a chicken coop without giving up the man-cave, how to raise rabbits for meat and ear muffs, the basic needs of being prepared for an emergency, life in your community, how to grow garlic and how not to grow garlic and what mylar bags are used for.  Later we shared what we wanted to learn next on our prepping journey and opened the conversation for others more knowledgeable to give us some advice.

We talked about canning and did a canning swap - I can't wait to try out some of the new jars of  food I brought home. We brought some things to barter and had some good-natured conversations about whether some homemade  buns were worth 3 or 4 mylar bags?  or who wanted the homemade salve the most and what they were willing to trade for it.  We traded for cookbooks, sewing needles, an Esbet stove, homemade soap, homemade buns and of course toilet paper!

There was a demonstration on how to make home made deodorant and we talked at length about how to make homemade laundry soap.  The tips flew as new friendships were made and old ones more deeply established.

Later in the day a nature walk was organized to look for plants that could be used as food or medicine.  I admit to staying back and huddling around the mosquito lamp as the bugs LOVE me but in the meantime I had some really great conversations with some others who stayed behind.

If you've ever thought of going to a meet but chicken'd out I want to encourage you to give it a try.  Please do be wise and meet in a public place and use common sense but don't let your fear stop you from attending.  You may find what I did -  a great learning opportunity  and a group of new like-minded friends.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Chicken Feeders, Nesting Boxes and Outdoor Runs

I thought I would take some pictures of my red-neck/simple set-ups for the animals.  Below you can see a portable outdoor run made from a dog kennel we found on kijiji.  I wanted  a safe place for the chicks to go outside without being bothered by the other chickens and ducks.  Their mothers were very protective and weren't letting them out at all through the main door.  I can't say I blame them it's like rush hour in there when all the animals are being let out.

 It was cheaper than building anything out of wood and hardware cloth.  I added a small tarp for shade and some chicken wire to the bottom around most of it to keep the chicks contained to some extent.  They are still able to sneak out through some holes but they can also get back in when no one else can - a very handy place to run if they feel threatened.  It looks a little messy so it won't stay there permanently. 

This is the inside of the same pen.  The chicks were too small to fly up to the window sill so I built them a ladder out of an old piece of barn board and some shims for the "steps".  It works pretty well.  

Here's a close up view of the chicken feeder I was writing about the other day.  It's so simple and I am more than pleased with it.  We ended up building an extra one for outside because getting into the coop and filling it up was risking your life some days!  The chickens were so hungry they would peck and scratch your feet trying to get at the feed bucket.  Adding another feeder outside means we can fill it up before we let them out and refill the inside one while they're busy eating we fill the inside one and shut the door.

One 10 foot eaves trough and two ends plus 4 feet of 2x4 and a few screws: total cost brand new is under $20.00 and it's better and more efficient than any plastic or metal feeder I've ever bought!

One other great idea is using these storage buckets as nesting boxes.  We already have almost 20 nesting boxes in their coops but as soon as we let them out there are a few chickens that just gotta do it THEIR WAY!  They want to lay in the hallway so I beat them at their game and left nesting boxes there for them too.  It's better than searching high and low for missing eggs.

Since there's always room in a post for a picture of a kitten here's my favorite one this week. She's sleeping on the window sill.  We have 8 little fur-balls growing up right in front of the kitchen window this year.  There were two litters about three weeks apart.  All of them are black with little white hairs.  

Sleep well little kitty!