A little over a hundred years ago, most Americans were still fairly independent. They grew their own food, or traded for it.
They didn’t depend on grocery stores to provide food or electricity to preserve their foods and take care of their families. Even if they did buy food, they did it because they chose to, not because they didn’t know any other way.
Much of their way of life got lost through the centuries. We rely too much on bought food, which makes us weak and less healthy. But you can make your way out of it, by going back to healthy, natural food just like we used to get in the old days!
Returning to the ways of our forefathers makes sense for several different reasons. Let’s talk about them!
Groceries are expensive. If you’re single, you probably spend at least $50 a week on food, and that’s assuming you’re eating on the cheap. If you’re buying organic, it’s much more than that. Add in a family, and your costs will double, triple, or even quadruple. That’s a LOT of cash that you don’t have to spend.
Even if you grow a few vegetables and herbs, you’re going to save money because that’s where most of your grocery cash likely goes. Fresh produce is crazy expensive; I just paid $1 per sweet pepper and $2.99/pound for tomatoes that didn’t have any flavor.
Thankfully, I’ve started my garden and paid $5 to start 42 beefsteak tomato plants. The first three tomatoes will pay for the entire batch. Now, admittedly, I don’t have room for all of those plants, but I do have room in my pocket for the cash that I’ll make selling 30 or so of them. And I’ll still have plenty of tomatoes to eat and to can.
At the end of the season, I’ll can juice, spaghetti sauce, salsa, and whatever other tomato-based product that I would usually buy at the store.
So, let’s add this up. I paid $5 for as many fresh tomatoes I can eat and enough spaghetti sauce, tomato juice and whatever else I want to can. Since I’m selling most of the plants, I’m actually getting paid to have all of the tomato products that I’ll need for at least a year. That’s even better than the coupon deals that I find!
Oh, and I’ll also have peppers and herbs to add to that, so I won’t have to buy anything for any of the sauces, either. I’ve probably saved $300 on my grocery tab just from the fresh tomatoes and tomato products that I’ll can, plus I’ll make another $150 or so from selling the extra plants. That’s $400 in my pocket, just from the tomatoes that I’ll be growing on my patio.
Mealy, tasteless grocery store tomatoes were what finally pushed me to start growing my own veggies again. I was raised in West Virginia and until I moved away at the age of 29, I typically ate fresh garden tomatoes, at least through the summer. I can tell you – once you eat a home-grown tomato picked at the peak of ripeness, you’ll never want to eat another store-bought tomato again.
The same goes for home-canned spaghetti sauce. I have canned tomato products, fruit jellies, vegetable soup, and peppers, plus I have several containers of freshly dried herbs.
Speaking of herbs, they lose their flavor over time. You may have noticed that some herbs taste stronger than others when you buy them, even if they’re the same thing. That could quite likely be because the herbs have been sitting in storage somewhere or a year or so. I know exactly when mine were grown!
I don’t just can plain fruits and veggies, either. I can soups, sauces, pie fillings, and other prepared goods. When I serve up my vegetable soup, I always get compliments about how fresh it tastes. When I say it’s been canned for a few months, everybody is always amazed. That makes me smile!
This is a huge thing. I didn’t really think much about this until I started getting serious about what I was putting in my body. A tomato is a tomato, right? Well, no. Emphatically NO. Commercial growers have one thing in mind – profit. That means that they need to grow as much produce as they can using minimal space. If a plant dies or a veggie rots because of bugs or mold, they lose money.
To battle that kind of loss, they use pesticides and herbicides to minimize the risk of losing any product. Most of those products have been linked to serious health problems in humans. You can buy organic, but the produce is a lot more expensive and you still have the problem of flavor.
You’ll be paying good money for an inferior product when you can grow at least a couple of plants yourself. A good beefsteak plant will yield as many 40 1-2-pound tomatoes over the season, so it’s well worth your time and the little bit of space it will take up. A single pepper plant will yield anywhere from 20 to 40 peppers. At $1 per pepper, that’s nothing to sneeze about.
When speaking about ready-to-eat foods, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you to check the ingredients. You likely won’t be able to even pronounce many of those ingredients, but you can bet that they’re not natural. Artificial flavor, colors, and preservatives have almost certainly been added to processed foods, and many of them have been linked to horrible sicknesses.
All of my sauces, soups, deserts, fruits, and veggies have natural ingredients – you’ll be able to pronounce every word on my label!
So far, we’ve got delicious, chemical-free produce that we can literally get paid to grow. If this isn’t sounding like a good idea to you, then I’m not sure what would. I have one more point to help convince you if necessary.
This is worth its weight in gold. You won’t have to spend your money at the grocery store and you won’t have to depend on the store and commercial growers to provide you with food.
I’ve been through more blizzards than I can count, as well as three major hurricanes. In all of those situations, I didn’t have access to a grocery store for up to two weeks at a time. Through all but a couple of the hurricanes, I had home-grown and canned food to fall back on.
While everybody else was cracking open canned spaghetti rings, I was making fresh spaghetti. During the hurricanes, I had to do it over an open fire, but I did it. And I also had canned fruit.
Of course, you can buy generic canned fruit at the store, but you’ll pay a couple of bucks a can, and it won’t be seasoned and spiced (or even have that fresh taste) that home-canned fruit will. Oh, and mine had zero chemicals or additives.
To drive the importance of food independence home just a little better, let me tell you about my grandparents. They were kids during the Great Depression, and they both lived on a farm. Before the depression, they were considered poor kids. During the Depression, they were sharing their lunches with the kids who had been well-off or rich before the Depression.
Unlike the “rich” kids, my grandparents lived in homes that were independent. They grew and canned their own food, so their lives weren’t particularly changed because of finances or food costs. We live in uncertain times. There’s nothing to say that a time could come when we will need to know how to feed ourselves without depending on a grocery store.
A plant takes anywhere from sixty to ninety days to bear fruit from seeds. I don’t know about you, but if something were to happen today, I wouldn’t have to wait that long to eat. I’ve got my plants growing. I have food canned. I’ll be set. I won’t be eating as well as I would have when I was a kid because I don’t have that much grown yet, but I won’t starve, either.
That brings me to another suggestion, and another benefit of growing your own foods. I have plenty of seeds to start my garden again next year. I had to buy some to get started, but after the first year, you won’t have to buy seeds again. That means that if you already have plants going when things go south, you’ll be set indefinitely as long as you save your seeds.
There’s no reason why you can’t grow at least part of your food. There are plants meant to be grown in small spaces. They’re more compact and hardier than standard plants.
So without that excuse, what are you waiting for? Get those seeds in the dirt, then get those plants in the ground and wait impatiently for your first round of food that you grew all on your own!
Preserving the Old Ways
It’s generally true that if we forget history, we’re bound to repeat it. In this case, that’s not the case. Once the knowledge is gone, it’s gone. If you don’t know how to grow your own foods and suddenly find that you need the knowledge, it’s not going to be there for you.
All of the discoveries and progress that our forefathers worked so hard for will be lost and we’ll have to start anew. How popular are they going to be in a scenario where grocery stores no longer exist? Really popular.
Fortunately, there are still many people who have the knowledge, and the book I wrote is all you need for going back to eating the way that our ancestors did! And I’m sharing it with you so you could kick unhealthy, expensive, store-bought food out of your kitchen and get back to healthy food for life!
When I was growing up, it was a given that the bacon grease would be sitting by the stove in Grandma’s tin canister. Or maybe it was aluminum.
Whichever it was, that grease sat out forever. We used it to fry potatoes or season beans, or just about any other time we wanted to add flavor.
But, knowing what we know today, shouldn’t that grease always be kept in the fridge? My personal answer is “Meh.” It hasn’t killed me yet, and I’m reaching the age where death by bacon grease is the least of my concerns. I mean, if I have to go, at least I know I got one flavorful last meal, right?
Does animal fat, including lard, have some sort of preservation properties?
Meats like bacon have two things going for it. First, it’s cured in salt. And in the case of modern, store-bought bacon, nitrates and nitrites are often in there as preservatives, too. We know that salt is an effective preserving agent. It creates an environment where bacteria can’t thrive.
Add that to the grease, which isn’t a great environment for bacteria growth either, and you’ve got a decent preservation method. The fat essentially seals out the bacteria, much like waxing your jellies.
But recently, I heard about meat being preserved in just lard. Lard has no salt or other chemicals in it – just fat. Specifically, pork fat.
So is there some magic quality to this that makes it keep meat from going bad? Can you preserve meat in simple lard? If so, that could be great for those of us who are worried about survival when SHTF.
From what I discovered, storing meat in lard or another fat would be effective for the same reason that waxing it is – it keeps the bacteria locked out of the food.
In researching this question, I found that it’s been a common practice for centuries, in various forms. In French, the word confit means preservation.
You’ve probably heard of duck confit because it’s a delicacy. The traditional confit method involves salt-curing the meat – usually duck, goose, turkey, or pork – then poaching it in its own fat until it’s tender and storing it covered in that fat.
Back then, they didn’t refrigerate it at all. They just trusted the meat fat to preserve it.
You can do that if you want, but we don’t live in medieval times anymore. Take advantage of the modern conveniences and refrigerate it, at least until you can’t anymore.
A properly confited bird will store in a cool, dry place for 6 months, then you can repeat the process and extend it by another six months, though you should eat it in the first six months to get the best flavor.
The process is the same for pork or beef. Today, many people skip the whole sat-curing step and just preserve it in the lard, suet, or schmaltz (bird fat). I wouldn’t recommend that, though. Salt is a powerful preservative that adds flavor as well as protection.
So, can you just cut off a slab of meat, stuff it in lard, and leave it alone? Absolutely not. For a few reasons. First, the meat may have bacteria in it already. That’s why cooking, or even better, salt-curing then cooking, is important. Also, if you’re storing food, you should probably make sure that the container you’re using is free of bacteria before you put the lard in it. And just to be safe, heat that lard up, too.
For that matter, cook the meat in it in the traditional confit manner.
Madeleine Kamman, author of The New Making of a Cook, offers up this recipe for making a salt-cured duck confit. Because of the curing, it is at least a two-day process. But if you want to have prime duck legs five months from now, that may be a small price to pay.
Confit of Duck
Six duck legs
36 garlic cloves
8 cups of rendered duck fat
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp finely crumbled dried thyme
1 Turkish bay leaf, finely crumbled
Mix all the spices together and sprinkle them evenly over the legs. Measure out enough kosher salt to have 1/3 ounce for each pound of meat, and sprinkle it evenly over all sides of the legs. Set them in a flat, glass baking dish with the garlic cloves, cover with plastic wrap, and cure them in the refrigerator for 36 hours.
Preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C;). Drain all the liquid from the baking dish. Pat the legs, garlic cloves, and dish dry. Return the legs and garlic to the dish and cover with the duck fat.
Bake until the garlic cloves have turned a deep golden color, which will take 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Let the meat cool in the fat until it can safely be transferred to a large canning jar.
Strain the fat through a cheesecloth, and pour enough over the meat to cover it by at least an inch. Cool it completely, seal the jar, and store it in a cool, dark place such as a cellar or refrigerator for up to six months.
Straight Lard Preservation
According to Frank G. Ashbrook in his book, Butchering, Processing, and Preservation of Meat:
“Good lard has so many uses, it is so digestible, and forms a foundation for so many tasty dishes that it pays to render and store it with extreme care. It is also a satisfactory preservative for meat if only fresh meat is used and if precautions are taken to keep everything clean and sterile.
Cook meat as you would cook it for serving. Place it in a dry, sterilized crock and cover immediately with hot lard. Cover with clean wax paper and place on this a crock cover or plate. Store in a cool, dry place. Do not keep meat packed in lard during hot weather unless the storage place is always cold.
When meat is removed from the crock, be sure to pack down the remaining meat and cover it again with melted lard so that no air will reach it. It is better to store this meat in small crocks than in large ones, for then it will not be disturbed so often.
Roast pork, pork chops, pork steaks, and sausage patties can be cooked and preserved in lard.”
To touch on this for a minute, I do know that all of our canned meats always have a nice layer of fat on top of them and people cooked their meat, stuffed it in a jar, covered it in fat, then put the rings and seals on while it was hot.
When most people think of homesteading they think of chopping their own wood, raising their own food, and being self-sufficient in as many ways as possible.
In all actuality, homesteading has many different levels.
So if you already have a few acres of land, great! If not, don’t fret…you can start right where you are and here are all of the things you need to know before starting a homestead.
1. How Self-Sufficient Do You Want to be?
This is the most important aspect to consider before launching your homestead.
Some people just want to grow their own vegetables. Others want to raise their own animals. Some take it even further and want to live totally off the grid. It is important to have a goal in mind before getting started so you can create a more accurate plan.
If after you achieve the goals set and decide you want to take it a step further, go for it! However, having that initial goal is so important for motivation in the beginning.
2. Gardening: How do I Make This Plant Grow?
If you are starting a homestead, you need to know how to start something from a seed and make it produce. It is all about how to produce healthy plants that can feed you and/or your family with as little dependence upon the outside world as possible.
You’ll need to do lots of research to decide which methods you would like to try.
For instance, you can choose to till your garden or do the no-till method where you pile your compost and woodchips on top of the soil and let it compost. You can choose to use pesticides or go completely organic.
It is your homestead so you have the freedom to decide what works best for you.
3. Preserving Your Food
Most people go into the lifestyle of homesteading because they want to know that they can survive regardless of their circumstances. Whether you are concerned about a time that there will be no grocery store available or tough financial times, being able to grow and then preserve(i.e. can) your own food are some of the most essential parts to homesteading.
It is important to learn how to process your food safely.
You will also need to know what materials you will need in order to preserve your food so that way you can begin stocking up on them.
When canning your food you will need lots of Mason jars. You will also need lids and rings to seal the jars. A pressure canner is an essential part of canning so that way you have the option of pressure canning or water bathing in order to preserve.
Then there is a matter of finding and perfecting the best recipes to save your food in the tastiest way possible.
4. Start Searching for Land
It is important to understand you can homestead on a full fledged farm with acres and acres or something as small as a half-acre or less. You will need to go back to step one and assess how far you want to go to determine how much land you think you will need.
If you want a milk cow obviously you will require more land. If you think you just want a garden and some chickens, you can get away with having less land.
The most important thing to understand when searching for land is that everything must have its place. When looking at land, map it out and see if everything will fit.
You will be surprised at how little land homesteading can actually take. You can also research and find that there are still some areas that give away free land.
When searching for land, it is also a good time to decide what type of home you want to go along with the land. Some people are choosing to build inexpensive tiny houses, others buy old mobile homes or RVs and fix them up, and some choose to place their dream house on their dream land.
The main thing is to map everything out to be sure you can fit all that you want in that space and leave yourself with a little room to grow.
(You will be surprised how your interest in homesteading grows as your confidence level rises.)
5. Learn to Build Anything and Everything
Don’t let this tip discourage you.
When homesteading, it is important to develop carpentry skills, but you don’t have to be an expert. You will soon learn that functional homesteads are not always pretty, and they don’t have to be.
However, if you know how to build things you will save yourself a lot of money. You will be able to upcycle many items as well. Carpentry is what will give your homestead character.
6. Research Livestock
A lot of homesteaders choose to raise livestock. This can range from a cow to goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs, honeybees, and so much more. Research all that homesteaders actually raise. You will be surprised!
Then it is important to learn all about keeping as many animals as you fancy. It is trial and error when keeping animals, but the more knowledge you have beforehand the less painful the learning curve will be. For instance, many people don’t know that you can raise chickens and get eggs without a rooster.
This is important to know because if you just want to raise chickens for eggs then you won’t have to worry about buying a rooster. However, if you want to raise chickens to hatch then you will need to make the investment and buy a rooster.
Homesteading is all about utilizing EVERYTHING! You will be amazed at how much you currently waste once you begin this journey.
Scraps are now compost that can be fed to the animals or used for dirt.
Chicken and rabbit droppings are now fertilizer.
Ashes from the fireplace are now thrown out on the garden to enrich the soil for better growing in the spring.
I can’t stress enough the importance of researching through the internet. You will find all kinds of amazing ideas that people have used to upcycle items that are able to meet a legitimate need for little or no cost to them.
8. Equipment…and Pallets
You will need very little equipment to get started homesteading. You will need the basics like hammer and nails. As time goes on you may consider investing in an old tractor, tiller, and other tools that might make your life easier.
However, I don’t recommend purchasing a lot before you get started because your plans will change. You will make many mistakes and learn what works.
With that being said, you will find that you will need different things. So make sure you have the basics in order to build with but not much more.
Do start stocking up on pallets.
You can find them for free at many businesses. They are magnificent, cheap items that can be used to build fences, make gates, buildings, walkways, and a lot more. They are usually very sturdy and a great thing to have on hand when you need to build something and don’t want to waste money on different materials.
Many people think that they have to have all of this money upfront in order to start a homestead. That is incorrect so please don’t go take out a massive loan to fund your journey. Homesteading is about simplicity so don’t complicate it.
Yes, it will take some money to develop your homestead but take it a project at a time.
Homesteading takes time so even if you wanted to fund it all upfront, good luck getting it all done that fast.
Develop a plan (see step 1) and take it one step at a time. This is a lifestyle so it will take patience and ingenuity, but you will be amazed at the homestead you can create for very little money.
10. Say Goodbye to the Jones’s
The last thing you will need to know before launching your homestead is to adjust your attitude. When you decide to homestead your priorities have to change.
Your mindset turns from the “finer things in life” and starts looking at the simpler things in life.
It is no longer about keeping up with your neighbors but about doing more with a lot less. This is how you gain knowledge and learn how to survive without being dependent upon all of the things modern day society has become dependent upon.
Homesteading is an art and it takes time to learn how to do it all, but you can do it! It is an amazing journey to freedom and knowledge.
Now that you know what to consider before launching a homestead, what excites you most about taking this new journey?
Whether you’re raising chickens, ducks, geese or other fowl for meat or eggs, knowing how to incubate and hatch various species of fowl is an incredibly useful skill to have. There are many benefits to incubating your own eggs, including the fact that you can hatch a far greater number of chicks in an incubator than you can under even the best of hens.
Being able to hatch more birds is especially advantageous in a post-SHTF or TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) situation because those chicks will be valuable, potentially worth many times their weight in gold, in trade and barter.
Even if you don’t intend to hatch a large number of birds, knowing how to incubate and hatch your own fowl is still good because you can’t always rely on a broody hen to do the job. Some hens may go broody but then give up after a week or two, leaving their clutch to die as a result.
Then there is the fact that many popular breeds, especially those used for egg laying, have been selectively bred for decades specifically to get rid of broody behavior since it decreases egg production, which again results in a lack of broody hens to hatch the next generation.
To ensure that your eggs are fertile, your laying hens should be left to roam with a suitable rooster. Most roosters can handle 6 – 8 hens for reliable fertilization of the eggs, while some breeds (like the bantams) can handle upwards of 10 – 12 hens, so stock your flock accordingly.
If you’re collecting eggs over the course of several days, you can store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat. In nature, hens often let their eggs sit for upwards of 7 – 10 days while they lay a full clutch. The eggs will remain in a dormant state until the temperature rises to 99 – 101 degrees Fahrenheit, with the best viability being within 4 – 8 days of being laid.
Preparing Your Eggs
The first step in preparing your eggs for the incubator is to ensure that they are all clean. Bacteria on the outer shell of your eggs can permeate through the pores of the shell to contaminate the egg. Such contamination can result in the death of developing embryos. Worse still, contaminated eggs can actually incubate the bacteria, causing toxic gas to build up within the egg until it explodes, in which case your whole clutch can wind up contaminated.
The best way to avoid contaminating your eggs is to keep the nests where your hens are laying clean and fresh, so that the eggs need little or no extra cleaning when you take them for incubation. If you must use eggs that have been dirty, then wash them thoroughly with warm water. Don’t use cold water to wash your eggs since the difference in temperature can cause the contents of the egg to contract and suck bacteria through the pores of the eggshell as a result.
Once your eggs are clean, you’ll want to label them; many people use a marker to label their eggs, but if you’re concerned about the ink permeating the eggshell you can use a pencil instead. Numbering your eggs for easy identification is highly recommended, but at the very least you should mark one side so that you can tell which way to rotate the eggs, especially if you intend to rotate them by hand instead of using an automatic egg turner.
Incubation Temperature & Humidity Levels
The ideal temperature for incubation is a nice solid 100 degrees Fahrenheit, while relative humidity should generally be kept at about 50% for the first 18 days. During the final 2 – 3 days you will need to increase humidity levels to 60 – 70%.
To maintain the proper humidity levels, simply follow the instructions that came with your incubator. Please note, though, that when you need to add additional water to maintain the humidity, you should preheat the water to 100 degrees in order to avoid causing any ambient cooling from the cold water.
Slight variations in temperature, while tolerable to a certain extent, should be avoided when at all possible. A degree or two lower will extend incubation times and may result in birth defects, while eggs that cool to even 95 degrees run the risk of killing the embryo. Temperatures above 100 degrees are, again, likely to result in birth defects or the death of the developing embryos.
For the purpose of candling your eggs, or if you need to turn them by hand, the incubator should be opened for as little time as possible and as infrequently as possible. Maintaining a constant temperature inside the incubator is one of the chief reasons why an automatic egg turner is such a good idea.
Automatic egg turners also relieve you of the responsibility of turning your eggs 3 – 4 times a day, a fact that is crucially important and all too easy to forget. Eggs that are not properly turned run the risk of birth defects, spontaneous death, or the chick becoming stuck to the shell.
Candling is an old technique that you can use to determine whether the eggs you are incubating are developing properly or not. A small flashlight is ideal for this process, but you can use just about any sufficiently bright light.
You can candle eggs starting as soon as 24 hours after you have begun incubating them, but for the best results it’s generally good to wait until the third or fourth day at least, if not the sixth or seventh.
To candle your eggs, darken the room and simply take the egg to be candled gently in your hand. Holding the egg horizontally between the thumb and forefinger of one hand, bring the flashlight to press flush against the fat side of the egg.
The light will shine through the shell of the egg, rendering it translucent and allowing you to observe what’s happening inside. Eggs with white or light-colored shells are easier to candle than darker brown eggs.
As a point of reference, especially if you’re new to incubating fowl, you can also candle your eggs prior to putting them in the incubator. This will give you something to compare to when you candle them at 4 – 7 days. When you’re ready to candle the incubating eggs, you’ll be looking for a network of blood vessels; you may also be able to see a dark spot, roughly the side of a pencil eraser or smaller depending on how early you candle, which is the developing eye.
If you see no development, or you’re not sure, you can leave the eggs in the incubator a while longer; some eggs simply take longer to start developing, so you can make a note of suspect eggs and candle them again at 12 – 14 days incubation.
If you see a blood ring within the egg while candling at any stage of development, then you can remove and discard it, as a blood ring indicates that the embryo has died. A blood ring is pretty easy to identify, and often looks like someone drew a ring on the inside of the eggshell with a marker.
Pipping & Hatching
Starting on the 18th day, you should remove your eggs from the egg turner if you used one. At this stage they can be left simply laying on the floor of the incubator, as the chicks will begin rotating within their eggs to poke their beaks into the air pocket inside the egg.
By the 19th day you’ll probably be seeing the eggs move, and you may also hear peeping from within the eggs. Then the chicks will start pipping, with the earliest hatchers emerging on the 19th day and everyone else coming out between the 20th – 22nd day.
When a chick is ready to hatch, it will start to break out of its shell by first breaking a small hole in the shell. This is called pipping, and in most cases the chick will complete the process of hatching within 8 – 12 hours of initially pipping.
After pipping, the chick will drill through its eggshell in a horizontal circle before busting out. Once a chick has begun pipping, pay attention to how much time has passed; most chicks will get out of their eggs just fine on their own, but occasionally you may need to help a chick.
If a chick has pipped for more than 24 – 36 hours, it’s time to consider lending a hand. You must be extraordinarily careful if you assist a chick, since it is very easy to hurt them at this stage. When helping a chick hatch, pay close attention to the inner membrane and use plenty of warm water to keep the egg and membrane moist. If there is any bleeding, stop immediately and wrap the egg back up in a moist paper towel and return it to the incubator.
Unlike mammals, chickens do not have an umbilical cord, instead they are attached to the network of blood vessels that line the membrane of their egg. These blood vessels are the last thing to be absorbed before hatching, and if you assist a chick in hatching before it has fully absorbed the blood vessels you run the risk of causing it to bleed to death. A few drops of blood often accompany the hatch, but more than that becomes dangerous for the chick.
Once your chicks have successfully hatched, you can remove the egg shells from the incubator, but leave your chicks inside until they have thoroughly dried out and fluffed up. After that, you’ll move them to their nursery location where they should have an adequate heat lamp to keep them warm in the absence of a mother hen.
Don’t Count Your Chickens…
Until They Hatch
When it comes to incubating your own eggs, it’s easy to get excited about your upcoming hatch, especially if you’ve candled your eggs and can see the little chicks developing.
Still, resist the temptation to tally up your chicks because that good old phrase is around for a reason. Spontaneous death of the developing chick(s) can and does happen.
Usually, if it’s going to happen, it will happen early during incubation, or by the 12 – 14 day mark, but some chicks die just a day or two before hatching, or they simply don’t make it out of their shells once they start.
Sad though this can be, it’s one of those things that happens, and you should be prepared for the possibility. So abide by the wisdom passed down from generations before you, and don’t count those chickens until they hatch.
– a short youtube video showing how to candle a few different types of eggs
Peasant food, while simple and frugal, has been around for centuries – in every culture around the world. Using fresh roots, herbs, and foods available to them, households would whip up a soup the family could feast on for days. Soups such as pot-au-feu, minestrone, cawl, and Acquacotta would give the family sustenance during hard times. But why is this simple meal so nutritious?
The Health Benefits of Soup
During the winter months, one of the things we neglect is taking in an adequate amount of fluids. This is understandable, as cold doesn’t make you feel thirsty the way hot weather does. Nevertheless, the fluid dynamics and balance requirements are the same, and sometimes more: we expend more energy in the winter trying to stay warm. Guess what? We still need about a gallon of water per person, per day.
That being said, let’s discuss some facts of digestion. Shunting is the term where, when you’re digesting, all of the blood in your periphery (arms, legs, and such) shunts inward to your thoracic cavity…where you’re actively digesting your food. The term “food coma,” is a humorous description of lack of mental alertness while your body digests the meal.
Then again, we make it hard on ourselves. The best time to eat a large, sit-down meal is for dinner when you’re able to be home and to digest your food and then turn in for the night. During the day? You’re running around and active…then you turn into a “stone” after that huge meal of chimichangas or gigantic beef brisket sandwich and fries. Then you don’t understand why you feel as if you’ve been hit head-on by a train.
Take the Anguish (and guesswork) Out of It
Soup is a must from a dietary standpoint. It is more easily digested, and the ingredients you need (protein and carbohydrates) are broken down faster without taxing your system as hard. In addition, vital electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium) are more easily taken in. In other articles, we discussed the thermogenic factor of food: how protein takes more energy to break down, but with greater return. We also discussed how 10% of your intake is spent digesting the food.
Soups and broths make it easier on your body by giving you the nutrition you need in a form that is more easily digestible. Do you remember that piece I did on the Thermos, and how it is worthwhile to pack your own lunch from a practical/economic standpoint? There was more to it than dollars and cents. You can give yourself the best of food, in a form that it is easier to handle. Let’s talk about some steps to it…maybe I can give you some good ideas that you can use.
5 Tips for Making Soup as Nutrition-Packed as Possible
If you’re going to buy your soups, then invest in high-quality material: organic, non-GMO, with some actual good statistics to it. Look for protein, look for your electrolytes, and stock up on these.
Next, pick up some good meats…what is your favorite, in a high-quality (look for leanness, no additives, and organic if you can swing it financially. Grill them or broil them, and store them in your fridge. Here’s a tip: If you grill meat with garlic…as in fresh, sliced cloves, the garlic neutralizes cancer-causing agents in the meat that affect your colon…and garlic lowers your risk of colon cancer and stomach cancer substantially.
Take your meats, chop them up nice and small…and add them to your soup, along with extra vegetables and herbs to your liking…such as onions, garlic, fresh carrots. Heat up your soup, and then add these after you’ve taken it off of a boil. Throw it in your thermos.
If you make your own? Stick with high-protein legumes, such as lentils, kidney beans, and such. Legumes also lower cholesterol. “Batch” up about 5 gallons at a time to make it cost-effective, break it down into quart containers, and freeze your excess.
The Blender is your Buddy! Yes, you can go back to that article I wrote about using the blender to make that hamburger into a “puree,” then adding to the base, or just throwing it in some tomato juice. Hi Ho Lycopene and Protein! You’re only limitation is your imagination.
Not to mention the fact that if you’re packing it around with you, this decreases the travel time to obtain food, eat, and go back to the grind. That thermos can be your best friend: pack it with good, reliable proteins, fluid, and electrolytes in the form of a hearty soup. Who knows? You might start a trend in your workplace. Then after the winter, you will be able to start the spring in better shape, as eating healthy will prevent that transformation into the Michelin Man. Bon Appetit, and stay in that good fight! JJ out!
Here in the United States, we rarely hear much about what’s going on in the rest of the world. Our news media is so focuses on the latest scandal, many of which are of their own creation, that they tend to ignore what’s going on in other countries.
Yet every day, people around the world face crisis and disaster that we don’t hear about.
Such is the situation in Cape Town, South Africa today. There’s a countdown to disaster going on there, as the 3.7 million residents in the area race towards what is being called “day zero.” This is the day when the city runs out of water and it’s currently projected to be May the 11th; just a few short months away.
On that day, the city water authorities will be shutting off water to all but critical installations. People will be forced to get their water from centralized locations, carting it home. A maximum of 25 liters of water (6.75 gallons) per person, per day will be authorized until the day zero crisis is over.
While some people are trying to stockpile bottled water now in preparation, not everyone can do that.
So, what has brought the city to this point? Many say that it has been poor management of the municipal water supply. Accusations of leaky pipes that have not been repaired, poor management of the infrastructure and lack of planning abound.
Water crisis in Cape Town as 'day zero' approaches - YouTube
But regardless of whether these accusations are true or not, the reservoir that Cape Town depends on for water is down to 26.3% of capacity, after three years of drought.
Government officials are blaming the current water shortages on global warming, which makes a handy scapegoat. But droughts have existed throughout the history of the world, regardless of whether global warming exists or not.
Not developing the necessary infrastructure to survive those droughts is irresponsible on the part of any government, essentially ignoring their responsibility to protect the people they are sworn to serve.
Currently, a massive water conservation campaign is going on in the city, as the residents pull together to extend the date for day zero. So far, this has added four days to the calendar. While that may not seem like much, it is a major victory, one that can be expanded upon.
One news interview of a resident shows how hard people are working to make this campaign work. The man stated that their normal water use was 19,000 liters (5,135 gallons) per month, but that the last month his family only used 8,000 liters (2,162 gallons); a reduction of 58%.
But that probably isn’t going to be enough. Further cuts will have to be made, unless the drought breaks and the reservoir fills once again.
To put that in perspective, the average American uses 80-100 gallons of water per day. So, a family of four would use roughly 12,000 gallons of water per month, more than double what the middle-class South African family uses.
Of course, that interview was of a typical middle-class homeowner. The poor of South Africa, like the poor elsewhere in the world, get by with much less water than that.
Any time people don’t have running water available, and instead have to haul water from the local source, whether a natural source of a government installed community water pipe, they find ways of living on much less water.
I’ve spent time in the villages of Mexico, places where they didn’t have running water. Instead, each family had a water tank out front and the city water truck would come and fill it twice a week. That gave them 100 to 150 gallons of water to last three to four days; roughly 15 gallons per person, per day.
But that’s not the worst. If there is anywhere where people struggle with having enough water it is in sub-Sahara Africa. The norm there is for people to live on five gallons of water per person, per day. That takes care of drinking, cooking and cleaning, including bathing, washing clothes and washing dishes.
Can This Happen Here in the US?
The big question this brings to mind is whether this sort of thing could happen here in the United States. Let’s be honest with ourselves a moment; we’re spoiled. We expect to turn the faucet on and have a virtually unlimited supply of clean, purified water to use.
But that doesn’t mean that it will always be that way. In recent years, we have seen a number of droughts plague various parts of our country. It seems like hardly a year goes by, where there isn’t one part of the country or another which is in drought.
A few years ago, I was in the Colorado Rockies and saw first-hand how low the reservoirs were at that time. Several states depend on the water from those reservoirs, which are filled by the melting winter snow.
Southern California, where a large part of the country’s produce is grown, has seen severe droughts over the last few years, and it is unlikely to get better soon.
Since the area is normally arid, the state has spent billions of dollars over the last few decades, in creating the necessary infrastructure to collect and transport water from the wet northern part of the state for use in farming the southern part.
But politics got in the way of practical reality, and the water which was intended for those farmers was instead flushed down-river to protect the delta smelt, a feed fish.
It is easy to say that this was a situation caused by mismanagement of the available resources. Had the politicians stayed out of the way, the drought would have been manageable and the farmers would have had enough water. But by allowing shaky environmentalism to overcome practical necessity, California’s government has put many of the state’s farmers out of work.
But that’s not the worst situation we face, as far as our water supply is concerned. The scariest piece of data to come forth is that the water level of several of our major aquifers is dropping. We are using the water from those aquifers at a faster rate than it can be replenished.
The aquifers most seriously affected by this are: the Canbrian-Ordavician Aquifer, the High Plains Aquifer and the two aquifers in Southern California.
These are the aquifer that provide water for a large part of the nation’s farming. So, water shortages in those areas means more than just a lack of water, it can lead to shortages in food as well. While water is a higher survival priority than food is, we need both of them to survive.
What Should We Do?
The reality is that you and I are subject to facing the consequences of those who control our water supply, as well as any natural disaster or drought. The economic, technological and military might of the United States can’t do a thing to stop drought. All we can do is prepare for it as best we can.
I don’t care where you live, unless maybe in the Pacific Northwest, rain is not consistent. There are wet spells and dry spells, and just about every resident who has lived anyplace can tell you when they usually are in that area. This is why our country has invested so much in building reservoirs, with over 84,000 dams in the United States.
The reservoirs allow us to have water during the dry spells; but even then, there is a limit to their capacity.
Of course, even if the reservoirs are filled to capacity, that water has to make it from the reservoir to our tap before we can use it. This makes the entire system dependent on electricity, the easiest part of our infrastructure to interrupt.
Blackouts which last more than 12 hours, can be accompanied by a lack of water pressure or even the water shutting off, just because there isn’t power to run the pumps.
The only solution for you and I is to have our own water stockpile. But more than that, we need a means of harvesting water from nature, so that we aren’t totally dependent on the system. That way, if something happens, at least we will have water, even if nobody else does.
This is really the only way we can protect ourselves from ending up standing in line, waiting our turn to get a few gallons of water, like the people of Cape Town. While we will probably still find ourselves having to ration water, at least we’ll have water to ration; and it will be our water, not water that the government can turn off or give away to some bait fish that we’ve never heard of.
There are actually three things we need to do here:
Develop a means of harvesting water
Have a way of purifying water
I’m not going to get into a detailed discussion about these three areas here, as there are other articles here on Survivopedia which do. But there are a few key things that I want to mention.
Water is difficult to stockpile, simply because of the vast amount of water we need. Since dehydrated water is only a joke, there is no real way of reducing the water’s volume, making it possible to store it in a smaller space. So the question then becomes, where can you find all that space?
I suppose if we all had the money to build an underground cistern or a private water tower, this wouldn’t be an issue. But we don’t; so we need a less-expensive alternative. That’s actually easier to find than you’d expect. All you need is an above-ground swimming pool, which you can buy surprisingly inexpensively.
The chemicals used to keep the water clean for swimming, are the same chemicals that make it safe for drinking.
The two basic means of harvesting water are rainwater capture and putting in a well. In both cases, there are legal ramifications that you have to consider, depending on where you live. Some states don’t allow rainwater capture and others limit who can drill a well. So before making a decision on this, you have to see what your state allows.
I’ve never liked the government telling me I can’t do something, especially if that something doesn’t hurt anyone else. So, just as a thought for your consideration, if I lived in a state where they didn’t allow rainwater capture, I’d put it in anyway.
To keep anyone from knowing what I was doing, I’d bury the water barrels, making it look like I had nothing more than a French drain for my downspouts.
New technologies are emerging, which show considerable promise. These focus on extracting moisture from the air. If you live in an area with high enough humidity to have fog, you can build simple fog catchers, which will allow you to convert the moisture in fog into drinkable water.
Other, more complicated technologies allow for extracting moisture from the air, even when there isn’t fog. These are still expensive, as they are new, but prices should drop as they become more readily available.
Any water you harvest needs to be purified, even rainwater. Birds tend to do things on the roof of our homes, which ensure that the rainwater we capture isn’t as clean as we might expect it to be. So don’t expect that water to be pure, if you haven’t purified it.
Likewise, well water can contain a considerable amount of bacteria, even when it comes from one of the deep aquifers. The only way of being sure that it is safe to drink is to purify it.
But water used for gardening, bathing, cleaning and flushing toilets doesn’t have to be purified. We use purified tap water for that now, just because it is cheaper to do that, than it is to put two water lines into every home, one for purified and one for non-purified water.
Be sure to have more than enough filter cartridges for your water filter, if you are using filtration to purify your water. Even the best cartridges only last so long, so put in a good stock.
No matter what you do to harvest water from nature, it’s probably not going to be enough, unless you also work to conserve water. The 100 gallons of water, per person, per day, that Americans use, is the highest rate of water consumption in the world
People in South Africa are given a breakdown of water usage, that comes down to 50 liters per day. That’s a mere 13.5 gallons!
Many survival instructors say that you need one gallon of water per person, per day, for survival. But that’s just taking into consideration the water you need for drinking and cooking. It also doesn’t take into account hot temperatures. If you live in the Southwest, limiting yourself to that quantity of water could cause you to suffer severe dehydration.
Is it possible to live on the 13.5 gallons of water that they are recommending in South Africa? Yes, it is. But it means making some serous adjustments to our lifestyle. Take bathing for example; the average American bathes daily, using from 17 to 36 gallons of water per day.
But people in poorer countries can’t use that much water. Even in Latin American countries where they bathe daily, the average water consumption is much lower, with bathing accounting for only a gallon or two of water per day.
One of our biggest water wasters is flushing the toilet. Older toilets use as much as seven gallons of water per flush, while newer ones can be as low as 1.6 gallons per flush. So, changing out toilets can drastically reduce the water consumption of your family.
The other thing that can reduce it is not flushing every time it is used. Urine is biologically sterile, so unless the urine concentration in the water reaches a point of causing it to smell, there is no reason to flush every time you urinate.
But we have a water user that’s even bigger than toilets; that’s our lawns. With the large lots that we typically have for our homes (based on a world-wide average) and the fact that we all seem to plant lawns, we use an enormous amount of water keeping that grass alive.
To provide your lawn with one inch of imitation rainfall requires 62 gallons of water for every 10’ x 10’ area. So you could easily go through several hundred gallons of water in one day, just by watering your lawn.
I’ve lived in a couple of different arid areas during my life and I remember water rationing. During the rationing, we were only allowed to water our lawns certain days or not at all. When you’re living in a hot climate anyway, not being able to water your lawn could be enough to ensure its death.
So How Should We React?
Potential water shortages, even severe shortages, are no different than anything else that you and I prepare for. Like other potential disasters, the key is to be as self-sufficient as possible. That’s the only real protection for ourselves and our families.
Taking the actions I’ve mentioned above, as well as others you can find in this website, will ensure that you won’t be standing in line for hours, waiting to be able to get your daily ration of a few gallons of water. You and your family will be able to live a much more normal life, even if everyone else is suffering.
That’s not to say that you should flaunt your relative wealth. Part of good OPSEC is living as much like everyone else as possible. If you’re watering your lawn and washing your cars, while everyone else is fighting to have enough water to drink, it will quickly become obvious that you have an abundance of water.
You can expect that to be immediately followed by a line of people forming at your front door, expecting you to share with them.
However, one way of hiding your wealth might be to co-opt your neighbors. If you have enough water to share, then why not share it with them? Allow them to get their water from you, rather than having to go to the water point and stand in line. Just make sure you know how much water you are able to produce and how much you can afford to give them.
Sharing your water with your neighbors could act to help protect you, as they would have a vested interest in your source of water remaining a secret. That has some real tactical advantages, especially since it will be much easier to co-opt their cooperation, than trying to hide what you’re doing from them.
Unless your OPSEC is perfect, you have to assume that your neighbors at least have some idea of what you’re doing.
Finally, whatever you do, don’t panic. Panicking will just make it more difficult to survive. Nobody can think clearly when they are in panic mode. But there’s really no reason for you to panic. You’re the one who knows what to do and has prepared to do it.
So, while everyone else is worried about how they’re going to survive, you don’t have to worry. All you have to do is put your plans into action and keep going forward. You’ll be all right.
For some people, homesteading is scary. You have to deal with animals, plants, and a whole new different lifestyle. Well, one thing I’m learning to overcome is the fear of trimming my goats’ hooves. That may not sound like a scary thing, but I hate running the risk of hurting one of my animals.
That way you can do it safely and your goats can be healthy and vibrant.
Goats are not huge fans of having their hooves trimmed. So for their safety and yours it is a good idea to place them on a milking stand while performing this task.
Which means, you’ll need to first make sure you have a milking stand on hand. If not, this is a great resource for building your own milking stand.
Once you have the milking stand ready, you’ll need to place a favorite grain in the bucket of the stand to encourage the goat to be happy while on the milking stand.
For my goats, sweet feed is a must on a milking stand. They rarely get sweet feed so it is a big deal when it comes out.
So whatever treat keeps your goats happy is what you’ll want to use. Once you have your goat secured on the milking stand, you’re ready to begin.
2. Let Them Pitch a Fit
When you begin the hoof trimming process you’ll want to grab the hoof that you’re working on and bend it at the knee. This is so you can have a better grip and be in a better position to work on the hoof itself.
However, your goat probably is not going to like this. Let’s be real for a second. You are making them stand on three hooves which probably isn’t the most comfortable position for them.
And you’re interrupting their snack.
So naturally, they are going to be a little peeved. It is better to let them stomp their feet and try to flop you off of their hoof before beginning the trimming process.
As I mentioned before, I was always terribly afraid of cutting to close to the quick of the hoof. If they are fighting against you, it ups your chances of it actually happening. That is why it is better to let them get their fit out of the way before beginning the actual trimming process.
3. Start at the Front and Work Around
This is a preference, but you’ll need to pick a rhythm to trim the hooves in. If you start at the front and then go to the back hoof.
Then over to the other back hoof and finish on the opposite front hoof, then you aren’t having to moving so much. For me, starting in the front and working around is just a smoother method.
But truly, it is your call. If you find a better trimming rhythm for you, then by all means, go for it.
So once you have picked the hoof that you are going to start with and your goat is over their fit of awkwardness, then you’ll need to bend the hoof back at the knee.
Then you’ll line the clippers up with the overgrown part of the hoof and clip that part off. There are a few details that will help you not to trim the hoof too close, but I’ll discuss those in greater detail further down in this post.
4. Sit Behind the Goat to Trim Back Hooves
When you move around to the backside of the goat, you’ll want to sit behind the goat instead of beside it. It just makes for an easier time trimming in my opinion.
So again, when you get situated, you’ll want to bend the hoof at the knee so you have a better grip for trimming.
Then begin to slowly trim the overgrown part of the hoof (the front wall) down to where it should be. That is when it is even with the rest of the hoof.
Also, you should trim the heel gradually as well. You’ll want to clip it down until it is even with the sole of the hoof.
5. Start Trimming…Slowly
This is the trick to properly trimming goat hooves. You’ll need to trim the hooves very slowly. Instead of going in with the hoof clippers and snipping away, you’ll want to make smooth, shallow strokes so you don’t cut too close.
Then you’ll get the hooves nice and even without causing the goat to bleed.
However, it is obvious when you are getting close to the quick (which is the blood flow in the hoof.) You’ll realize it because the hoof begins to turn pink. When you see any sign of pink on the hoof, then you’ll know to quit trimming because you are getting close.
But if you do end up getting too close on the goat’s hoof, don’t panic. Instead, sprinkle a healthy dose of the Blood Stop Powder on the hoof and it should help stop the blood quickly.
Nothing will really take the place of the proper trimming techniques for trimming goats’ hooves. If you don’t trim your goats’ hooves, they could potentially get to the point where they can no longer walk properly.
However, if you trim their hooves unevenly, it can leave them struggling to walk too. So here are a few alternatives to traditional trimming that may help you to prolong your trimming times.
1. Cinder Blocks
I’ll admit, I used this method for far too long when I was afraid of trimming my goats’ hooves. But it did help keep their feet from being much of a problem.
However, one day I looked at my billy goats’ feet, and I began to see the sides becoming overgrown. So I knew it was time to bite the bullet and just trim his hooves.
But I still use cinder blocks in their goat yard. What I do is stack 5-6 cinder blocks up in a pyramid formation. That way the goats will prance up and down the formation because they love to climb.
Yet, while they are climbing up and down, they are trimming their hooves. You will have to change out cinder blocks periodically because the goats will wear them down to where they become smooth and lose their effect.
So basically, it is no different than walking you dog on concrete in order to keep their nails trimmed. You just let them prance and let the concrete do the trimming for you.
As I said, it worked for a very long time with my goats. Actually, I think what made it stop working on my billy goat was the fact that I failed to change out the cinder blocks when they became smoother. I didn’t realize how much he had worn them down until it was too late.
So I definitely recommend this method for maintenance of hooves. Your goats will love it, and as mentioned, it should keep you from having to trim their hooves as frequently.
2. Pruning Shears
Let’s say you are working on a budget. Hoof trimmers aren’t out of this world expensive by any means, but there are times when you are working on a shoestring budget.
So what can you use instead to help you get the job done but not have to spend any extra money?
Well, you can invest in some pruning shears. If you are a homesteader or an avid gardener, chances are you already have some.
These pruning shears should do the same job at the hoof trimmers as they are basically the same thing. Depending upon the type pruning shears, the head of them may be a little more curved than the hoof trimmers.
So you’ll just have to make a few more shallow snips on the hooves and use a little extra precaution. But you should be able to safely trim your goats’ hooves with them without much of an issue.
We have even provided a guide to help you pick the best pruning shears for your homestead. Hopefully it will help you save some money while trying to take on the adventure of pruning your goats’ hooves.
A Few Word of Caution:
When trimming your goats’ hooves, it is very unlikely that anything catastrophic will take place, but you should pay close attention in some cases.
1. If You Cut Too Close
If you cut your goats’ hooves too close, you need to pay attention. Usually a goat will limp for a couple of hours.
However, if your goat is still limping days later, then you need to revisit that goat’s hooves. Make sure that no infection has set-up anywhere.
If so, then you’ll need to call the vet immediately to make sure that the infection gets nipped quickly.
2. If Your Goat Isn’t Walking
Sometimes if the hooves get trimmed unevenly, then it becomes difficult for a goat to walk. If you’ve recently trimmed your goat’s hooves and then they suddenly are struggling to walk, then you’ll need to examine that.
If you find that the hooves are uneven, then try to even them up the best you can. If you are still struggling, then call the vet. You don’t want to do long-term damage trying to fix the hooves.
3. If Your Goat’s Hooves Are Really Overgrown
There are some instances when a goat’s hooves become extremely overgrown. If this is the case (and you are a beginner to hoof trimming) then you need to call in a professional. The reason is that extremely overgrown hooves have to be cared for in a multi-step process.
So they’ll begin by trimming small amounts of the hoof away. This is done in order to cause as little discomfort to the goat as possible.
If this is your goat, then call a vet and begin the healing process. Once the hooves are taken care of, then you can try to begin caring for them so they don’t get out of hand again.
4. If Your Goat’s Hooves Are Smelly and Oozing
There is a disease that goats can get in their foot called foot scald which eventually turns into foot rot. This happens because of the levels of copper and sulfur in a goat’s diet.
So as the scald progresses, it will cause foot rot. This will cause a foul odor to come from the hooves and then pus to discharge from the hooves as well.
This is corrected by cutting away the unhealthy tissue on the hoof, and then correcting the copper and sulfur levels within the goat.
However, if your goat has this, you may want to contact a vet to help so you don’t accidentally trim away healthy hoof tissue in the process.
Now you are aware of how to trim a goat’s hooves, the few things that can potentially happen if you trim them improperly, and when you should grow concerned.
But now I want to hear from you. What has your experience been with trimming goat hooves? Are there any tricks of the trade that you’d like to share? I’m always looking for anything that makes this task a little easier because I’m always fearful of cutting too close by accident.
Are there any other things we should be on the look out for while trimming goat hooves or after the trimming is complete?
When the body of Otzi the Iceman was discovered frozen in the Italian Alps, a window opened, and that window gave us a glimpse of survival EDC (Every Day Carry) in 3200 BCE.
It was one more step to understanding that if we want to better master any survival skills, we must roll up our sleeves and learn the basics.
BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front):
Even throwing smaller rocks at larger ones produces usable fragments sharp enough to prepare dinner with or scrape hides, so do not make this more complicated that necessary getting started.
Finding varieties of quartz is not difficult in most of the world. If you find a rock that is common and scratches glass, chances are you are holding some type of quartz.
Quartz crystals are like naturally occurring handle drill bits. Set one in a spindle and you are in the primitive hole drilling business.
The time to learn flintknapping and other first skills is before you find yourself in a survival situation.
Quartz as a Survival Resource
Maybe Otzi was one of your ancestors. According to granddaddies of primitive survival like Larry Dean Olsen, Dave Wescott and David Holladay, even if Otzi wasn’t a relative of yours, everyone living today has ancestors who used stone tools.
They teach that primitive skills are really “first skills” and are the foundation upon which modern survival skills are built. Just as studying the origins of science gives us powerful insight into everything built on top of them, if we want to understand survival skills, we must roll up our sleeves and learn the basics.
Once you can survive with only what the earth provides, you will be that much more effective with modern tools, the resources available to you in built areas or with what others have left behind in the wilderness.
Otzi’s equipment tells us a great deal. While he carried a copper axe with a two-foot haft carved from yew and a narrow head, he also carried a knife with a flint blade mounted to an ash handle, an antler tool for flint knapping and arrows tipped with flint, so he had tools of copper and stone.
One of the most interesting pieces of gear to me was his fire kit, in which flint also played a role. The extreme hardness of flint enabled Otzi to use his knife to strike iron pyrite in much the same way flint and steel is used to start fires.
His flint knife was his ‘striker,’ iron pyrite was his ‘steel’ and charred tinder fungus was his ‘char or char cloth.’
Survival Uses for Quartz
Here comes the next question: how many uses can quarts have if used for survival?
Fire Striker – The extreme hardness of quartz enables it to be used to strike sparks from iron pyrite.
Edged Tools – Quartz-based rocks can be worked into a variety of shapes and produce serviceable cutting tools and scrapers.
Projectile & Spear Points – Arrows and atlatl (spear thrower) darts penetrate deeper and cause greater blood loss when tipped with projectile points which is crucial for hunting medium and big game and for use against predators or two-legged varmints.
Quartz Tipped Hand Drills – Drilling precise holes can be a real chore without modern tools. Hardwood drill bits can be tipped with quartz, quartz crystals or small crushed crystals can be used as an abrasive compound to polish or abrade a hole in any softer material which, in the case of quartz, is most other abundant naturally occurring materials. Hand, bow or pump drills can be used to drive the drill bit.
How to Find Quartz
Since quartz in one of the Earth’s most abundant minerals, it is not particularly hard to find. Quartz is composed of silicon dioxide and all silicates are derived from quartz, making up around 12% of the earth’s crust.
Quartz is a crystal and crystals are not much good for knapping tools such as knives since they fracture along faces, producing edges that are not sharp enough to work with effectively, but quartz crystals do make effective drill bits. Tools knapped out of quartz crystal are beautiful, but with few exceptions, they are sharp or durable enough to be very useful.
For flintknapping tools, more homogeneous rock that can be flaked into very sharp edges is needed. Two cryptocrystalline varieties of quartz that both have wonderful properties for flintknapping are flint and chert.
Flint and chert are fine-grained sedimentary rocks composed of cryptocrystalline or microcrystalline silica, so depending on its origin, it can contain microfossils and/or small macrofossils. Flint and chert have a similar, fine-grained appearance and both can vary a great deal in color and both form in nodules.
Telling them apart is more relevant to geology than survival since they are both good for the same things, but flint typically has a lighter colored crust around nodules of flint, whereas chert does not. Quartzite can also be suitable.
Strikers for Flint and Steel
I wouldn’t be caught dead without a zircon ceramic bead on my person that is a wonderful striker for ferro rods or flint and steel and can also shatter tempered glass such as the side and rear windows of cars, but even if I’m turned loose with just the skin on my back, I know I can find a rock to use as a striker.
Any rock or mineral of 7 (softer than hardened steel) or harder, on the Mohs Scale of mineral hardness, will serve in the role if striker. The Mohs scale uses a simple test to determine hardness which is that harder materials can visibly scratch softer materials, but the reverse is not true.
If you can scratch glass with a rock (which is a, you have your striker. On the Mohs Scale, iron is a 4, steel is 4-4.5, obsidian or volcanic glass is a 5 and manufactured glass is 5.5 and quartz is a 7. Since quartz is harder than steel, it can be used to flake hot sparks from steel.
Quartz is the hardest natural material that is easy to find, which gives it great utility. Flint and chert produce sparks reliably enough that they have been used as the mechanism of ignition for the many types of flintlock firearms since at least the fifteenth century.
Flint and Chert Nodules in Limestone and Sandstone
Nodules of chert can often be found embedded in limestone and sandstone. To get at them, you will need to break away the limestone or sandstone using a hammer rock or a large or by dropping the sedimentary rock containing flint or chert nodules on an anvil rock.
For flintknapping, the best rock is brittle and uniform in structure with the fewest possible flaws. Since chert and flint are so fine-grained, they are better than crystalline quartz if available. Tap rocks that you think might be suitable with a hard object. Candidates that strike a higher note are typically better material.
In a survival situation, you may have to do whatever is necessary to save lives, but if you find chert cores surrounded by flakes and chips, realize that they are part of an archeological site and should be left undisturbed if you are training.
In the Southwest Desert, white veins of quartz are often visible in mountainsides and hills, sometimes at a considerable distance, which can save a lot of leg work, so scan hillsides. Veins of quartz may yield crystals or pieces that are more homogenous looking without grains and the fewest possible flaws.
They will be milky in color, often milky white and I have found many quartz and chert projectile points, and pressure flakes from the manufacturing process used to make them, hiking the desert Southwest. When you find a rock that produces good pressure flakes or small, controllable chips when struck, as opposed to shattering, you are in business.
Quartzite is a metamorphic rock formed from quartz sandstone by exposure to heat and pressure. The surface can be grainy, glassy and speckled by the grains of sand that were fused to make quartzite or may feature elongated crystals that are fused together.
Quartzite it very hard and angular. There is quartzite along the Wasatch Front of the Rockies, in the Appalachians, Idaho, Arizona, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, South Eastern California and Central Texas.
How to Make Survival Tools
It is a mistake to overly complicate the construction of stone tools when starting out. Making basic stone tools is literally as simple as striking two stones together. If you use the right type of stone, throwing smaller rocks at larger ones produces useable fragments capable of basic tasks like preparing game, processing plants and scraping hides.
Primitive Stone Survival Knives: Archaic Quartz Blades - YouTube
From this humble starting point, you can begin improving your technique, but that is all you need to get started surviving.
Quartz Crystal Hand Drill
Putting an eye in a bone needle or fishhook, creating a divot in a bearing block or hearth board for a fire kit, putting a hole in a seashell, an antler button or piece of turtle shell are all examples of challenges faced in primitive tool making.
A quartz crystal-tipped hand drill is an effective tool for any of these tasks and is capable of drilling neat holes.
Constructing this tool is very simple with the right shape of quartz crystal. Just construct a suitable spindle and sand the business end flat on a rock. Drill a socket in to the flat face of the tip of the spindle by hand using the crystal.
Fire harden the spindle. Then glue the crystal in place using the best glue available. If you have hide available, hide glue will work best. If you do not have easy access to materials for hide glue, pitch will due in a pinch.
Flintknapping is the art of making flaked or chipped stone tools. The key is to control the way rocks break when struck or pressure flaked.
Modern flintknapping was largely researched and revived by a man named Larry Dean Olsen back in the 60’s and 70’s. Olsen divided stonework techniques into: pressure flaking, percussion flaking, pecking or crumbling and abrading. I recommend you read Mr. Olsen’s book titled, Outdoor Survival Skills and tap into the primitive skills community before you learn pressure flaking.
Since the scope of this article is limited to quartz, percussion flaking is most effective to produce flakes and blanks from quartz which are then refined through pressure flaking. Flint, chert and quartzite are varieties of quartz that can be suitable for flintknapping.
With glassy rocks, such as jasper (a gemstone variety of a type of quartz called chalcedony with a hardness of 6.5-7) and obsidian, percussion flaking using a punch and hammerstone is effective. With flint and chert, pressure flaking is effective.
Flintknapping is dangerous and I do not recommend you take your first crack at it in a survival situation. Cutting yourself will turn an already lousy situation even more dire in a hurry. In a survival situation,
I recommend sticking to the very basics and breaking smaller rocks on larger ones to produce the few cutting tools you need to feed yourself if you are out so long it becomes necessary unless you are already an experienced flintknapper.
Flintknapping Tools and Materials
I will list flintknapping tools and their purposes, which will teach you much of what you need to get started training, but you are not going to learn what you need to know in one article.
Core – A nodule or rock suitable for flintknapping and too large to be suitable as a blank.
Flake – Flakes are smaller convex pieces of stone knocked or flaked off larger cores or blanks with a hammerstone.
Blank – A flake being worked into a tool.
Hammerstone – A hammerstone, antler baton (strike with area where the antler joined the skull) or billet (dense cylindrical stone) used in percussion flaking. A good hammerstone is a dense round stone that fits your hand.
Anvil Stone – A larger dense, but softer stone, upon which the stone to be worked is placed and worked.
Punch – The tip of an antler with a flat base that is struck with a hammerstone to produce percussion flakes.
Limestone or Sandstone Slab – Used for abrading and grinding stones softer than quartz.
Pressure Flaker – An antler tool used to pressure flake stone, typically approximately a foot in length. Alternately, a piece of bone or tooth can be socketed into a wooden handle. A pressure flaker should have a chisel-shaped point to secure purchase on the stone blank.
Fine-Tipped Pressure Flaker – A fine tipped pressure flaker for precise flaking such as the notches on projectile points where they will be lashed to the shaft of the projectile.
Pad – A pad of leather, bark, moss or similar material used in conjunction with a pressure flaker. The pad protects the palm, heel of the hand and fingers from the stone being worked.
Protective Equipment – Flakes can be surprisingly sharp, so gloves and hide or similar material to protect your hands and legs is needed. I also recommend wearing eye protection. You should also work in a well-ventilated area.
We spend a lot of time looking at annual crops and gardens, but perennials have their places. When it comes to fruit trees, we have many options in sizes. There’s little more majestic than a full-sized cherry tree, and not much will match a standard apple for yield. However, there are a lot of times when we’d be equally or better served with a smaller tree, and lots reasons to consider dwarf trees or semi-dwarf instead of a standard, even when there aren’t space constraints that affect the ability to get pollination partners. I’m starting with a primer on size and expected yields by size and species, then hitting considerations such as maintenance, resiliency, harvest size, and more.
There are some generally accepted sizes for dwarf, semi-dwarf, and standard sized fruit trees.
A lot of fruit trees have about the same spread (circular footprint) as they do height. Dwarfs are usually 8-12’ (also regularly seen as 8-10’), semi-dwarfs tend to range 10-16’, and standard fruit varieties are usually considered to be 18-25’.
There are exceptions, such as peaches that are naturally already fairly compact at 12-15’ and cone-shaped pears with a spread of just 10-12’ but a height upwards of 20’ for mature standard varieties. Some standard trees are also just smaller, such as plums and figs.
Part of planning the size we want is planning for space around a tree or shrub where we can work. As a permaculturist, I love stacking spaces and full canopies. However, there’s not much room to maneuver underneath a dwarf or semi-dwarf tree – their canopies tend to start around thigh and shoulder height – and it’s not like all standards are roomy below the canopies. I can create a planting plan that allow me to maximize the space I have without encircling each and every single tree with a path, but somewhere through there, I do have to give myself room to harvest and rake and prune.
Dwarf and semi-dwarf trees produce the same type and size fruit as standards, just less per tree.
Yield By Size
A nice lady who ran a blog once went through and compiled yield ranges from the information Stark Bros. puts out. I turned it into a single-page printable for clients (with citations). As with any, this information should be taken with a grain of salt. Climate, soils, care, and disease can all affect yield, and yield can vary greatly by variety within a species. Still, it makes a nice printable to use for a ratio comparison between dwarf, semi-dwarf and standard trees.
Be aware: Yields vary depending on soil types, nutrients, water, pests, pruning and variety of tree within each species. I halve the numbers from Harried Homemaker and Stark Bros. when presenting estimated to clients.
Remember, locally produced trees and shrubs, even grafted, will have more success than shipped-in specimens most of the time.
There are all sorts of even smaller fruit trees and ways to tailor fruits to our needs. Espalier can be done against walls and fences, or grape style in the middle of a yard. Some fruits that are commonly produced on trees have a bush variety, such as the bush nectarine or some of the bush cherries. There are also potted varieties of a lot of fruits now, trees to shrubs and brambles, specimens specifically bred and designed to thrive in a container and be more compact.
Cordon or columnar fruit is available in several species, and while expensive, it can save space to increase diversity and allow homeowners variety and resilience.
Columnar or colonnade trees are extremely narrow and small. They can be potted or directly planted. Their yield suffers due to their size, but they can be excellent as canary varieties for us and they excel at providing some backup pollinators, especially for folks in small spaces or who want edible beautification. However, they are pretty darn pricey.
Container fruit needs a lot of water and nutrients over the seasons, but if we stick them on rolling casters, it lets us maneuver our fruit into protected areas. Those minis can allow us a sustainable source of things like citrus, tea, figs, and peaches. Likewise, an espalier against a wall will typically be warmer as well as easier to protect and keep damp than a freestanding tree in a yard.
Dwarf, container, trellis and espalier fruit can transform a compound into a more pleasant space, allow perennial production in urban and suburban environments, and let us take our fruit trees and shrubs with us when we move.
Yard-planting container-intended columnar, bush and espalier fruit has particular application not only for those who are spacially challenged in their yards, but for those with compounds. There’s no reason our castle has to look industrial. In fact, back when castles were in vogue, they typically made use of every inch with plantings, which were tailored both for form and function.
Benefits of Smaller Specimens
Increases harvest season – One benefit to smaller trees is that we can spread out the harvest season. The common standard tree yields of 10-20 bushels is a lot to deal with inside the 1-3 weeks of harvest season for each variety, and once it’s in and processed, there’s no more fresh fruit. Instead, we can tailor our home orchard for 3-6 months of fresh produce by selecting varieties from late, mid and early seasons within their species and having a couple of other species with them.
Spreads out the workload – Avoiding a single-type glut such as can come from even just 1-2 large trees (or species) by tailoring our home orchards by harvest period can let us select varieties that go straight to storage to complete the sweetening and softening process, while still having some fresh fruit now. Since summer and autumn are already hectic seasons for a lot of us and will be more so if we’re producing our own food, it’s nice to have that option. Even without storage fruit, smaller amounts harvested over 1-3 weeks per species lets us process fruit at a slower, steadier, more manageable rate.
Easier Management – The workload from processing harvest isn’t the only thing that goes down. Smaller trees allow us to work around them with less use of overhead tools. They’re easier to harvest and prune with only a step stool, and it’s easier to see what’s going on in the canopies. That alone can help us spot problems early.
Increase variety and species within a space – Instead of having three apples in standard sizes, we may be able to fit 5-9 dwarf and semi-dwarf trees, in addition to any wall-hugging espaliers and the super-compact minis or potted varieties. Sometimes that means we can get two pollinators for a primary semi-dwarf, and sometimes that means we can have a pair of small apples with a plum and a peach. Other times it means we can have a fruit tree or five, and still have sunlight and space for other perennials or an annual garden.
Smaller trees can allow us to increase variety and resilience in the same space. If one species, variety, or specimen is lost or damaged by pests or weather, others may survive.
Increases resilience to varying weather conditions, climatic change and pests – Diversity is always a benefit in many ways, but in this case, it’s tangible. A lot of our fruit trees share pests and diseases with each other and other plants, and many require pollination.
Graphic: Using a mix of semi-dwarf and dwarf trees can increase the total fruit yield in a space as well as create resiliency. *Yield estimates taken from Harried Homemaker Preps’ compilation of Stark Bros. estimates
If there are only two varieties of apple (or other species), and one is sensitive to something around us, the other has lost its pollinator. We won’t get any more fruit. If we get a semi-dwarf or a single standard for the tree we want most, then 3 smaller trees that cross pollinate, losing one of them to a pest/disease and one of them to weather (drought to storm) still leaves us with a pollinator. We still get our fruit harvest from our target tree. If we had 5-7 smaller trees and lose 2-4, we increase our chances of good harvest in harsh conditions even further.
The resiliency benefits extend beyond pollination partners. An early-season fruit tree stands more chance of having late frosts and freezes or false springs kill off the buds. Summer storms, bug/pest seasons, and late storms and frosts can all become risks as well. With 3 smaller trees instead of one large tree, we can still get a harvest if one fails or if we lose a tree entirely, inside a species or by planting a variety of species.
Whether they’re small or not, having multiple varieties and species can help avoid total losses and it can help us spot problems early enough to save a harvest. Even if we don’t catch something for the first variety or species, because so many pests are common within domestic fruits, we may be able to treat later-blooming and later-fruiting specimens.
Faster Maturation – Most dwarfs and semi-dwarfs will begin production and hit average, mature rates in less time than standards. Their ultimate total yields are lower, although that can be mitigated with multiple trees.
Future Moves – Dwarf and mini fruit that can handle containers is also beneficial for those who plan to move to a new, larger space or compound. Some of us just can’t justify putting fruit into our small spaces, then leaving it. We can also go ahead and get our fruit trees the day we move, with the plan to transplant once we study and develop our plan for our homestead. That way we’re a little (or a lot) closer to our mature production rates when we hit our new locations.
Small Trees for Big Spaces
Small fruit trees can also be used as “canaries” a la mine-shaft mode, especially on large spreads. We can tuck a sampling of dwarf and super-dwarf compacts in similar light, water and soil conditions along our driveways and near our homes. Doing so lets us keep better track of flowering, health, and fruit development, especially in our busy daily lives, since we see them right there, all the time.
Dwarf and espalier fruit can be trained to hedges, serving multiple functions on our property as well as producing food.
We still need to check on orchards – especially if they’re planted in blocks of the same species or close cousins. Differing microclimates may (will) produce fluctuation even within members of the same species.The diversity of fruit species and other landscaping and gardening can protect our canaries, and lower compaction might be leading to better soil health in one spot or another. Then there are things like chickens, goats, pigs, deer and porcupines that can be affecting outlying trees but not the ones where our dogs and people run most frequently.
Still, over a few seasons, we’ll pick up on the trends and be able to use our canaries to tell us what’s going on in an orchard or even just a few trees that are out of sight-line.
Small Trees for Home Orchards
A small fruit tree isn’t always the solution. For larger families and groups, and anyone interested in silvopasture or sticking crated/kenneled livestock under trees, standard varieties may be a better choice. For those who are looking at age, physical ability, resilience, and small spaces for an edible orchard, smaller trees and container fruits may be a major boost to our capabilities. Smaller trees can also just be faster and easier to care for than large trees, and provide a variety of fruits sooner and a longer harvest period for a busy working family, which may better serve some people.
Water is the most essential resource plants need to survive, but gauging how much water your vegetable plants need can be difficult as there’s really no specific number that fits all gardens in all areas. Weather conditions, natural climate, micro-climates, and the category and variety of plant all act as variables to water needs. A few tips can help give you a basic framework for developing an individual water schedule for your garden.
How Much Water?
Before approaching a water schedule, keep in mind that both too little water and too much water can stress your vegetable plants, causing both a reduction in growth and overall harvest. Stressed plants also invite disease and pest damage into your garden. The benchmark for most gardens is 1/2″ of water twice per week for those with sandy soil and 1″ of water for those with clay soils once per week. Those with sandy soil may need to increase watering depending on how much sand is present, as water may move too quickly through the soil, leaching nutrients with it.
The temptation is always there to go out and water every day, but that typically results in shallow watering. It’s much better to focus on deep, infrequent watering for optimum plant health.
CLICK HERE to find out how to build your proven-to-work portable device which provides clean fresh water 24/7.
Gardeners aren’t perfect, and even the most experienced gardeners can have trouble gauging water needs. Luckily, keeping your watering schedule consistent can help offset these effects, as the plant is able to adapt to the level of moisture in the soil. Even then, watering schedules need to be slightly altered to account for sudden weeks of drought conditions or heavy rains. Climate is also important to keep in mind, as wetter climates like Seattle will need to adjust for natural rainfall, while dryer climates like Phoenix may need to increase watering during hot summer months.
If you grow in pots, you will most likely need to water your vegetable plants daily as there’s not as much soil mass to hold onto water over longer periods of time. The greater surface area exposed to the sun on the sides of the pot also cause water to evaporate faster from the soil.
Use a Water Timer
Water timers used to be expensive, but increasingly more manufacturers are coming out with more affordable models with just as many features as higher end water timers. A water timer not only saves water, a great feature for those in areas with watering rules and restrictions, but it also makes successful gardening easier. Simply hook up to your water line like you would a hose, set what days and times you want your garden watered, and run your hose or irrigation line off the nozzle. Your garden will automatically be watered without even thinking about it. A multiple zone system like the one below is also helpful, as you can divide your garden into zones based off each plant’s water needs, creating a different schedule for each zone. Many models also have rain delays, allowing you to pause the watering schedule when rain is in the forecast, or manually turn on the system extra days during higher temperature weeks.
Add Organic Matter
Whether you have clay or sandy soil, adding more organic matter to the soil can help your watering schedule. Add high quality compost to break up clay soil or bulk sandy soil to improve their water holding capabilities. As you add more organic matter each year, you not only improve the soil’s ability to hold water, but you improve the health and life of the soil, resulting in vegetables with higher nutritional value and more disease and pest resistance.
Don’t Water the Leaves
Contrary to popular belief, watering from above does not automatically mean that you’ll burn the leaves or end up with powdery mildew. However, it does increase the risks of these issues (less so with leaf burn as there is continuing discussion on whether or not watering your plant leaves actually causes the majority of leaf burn issues). Whenever possible, water at the ground level. If you must water from above, consider laying down a layer of mulch near the base of the plant or use weed block to prevent soil from splashing up onto the leaves. Soaker hoses are a great way to keep water where the plants need it without wasting water or hitting the leaves. Opt for flat soaker hoses if you need to weave in and out of plants or through raised beds as they tend to be easier to manipulate and bend.
Look For Signs
It’s important to not only rely on a watering schedule, but use common sense as well. Look for signs that your plant is not receiving enough water, such as wilting or drying of the leaves. Leaves wilt as their internal water stores decrease or external heat increases as a protective mechanism to decrease the surface area sunlight can hit. However, some plants with large leaves, especially squash, may do this even if their water levels are okay, especially in warmer climates. You’ll know they’re probably fine if they bounce back later in the evening or early in the morning.
If You’re Unsure, Dig
Don’t gauge how much water your plants need by how dry the top soil looks. Dig two to three inches into the soil, and if below that level it’s still dry, your plants probably need more water.