Monday, October 20, 2014

A SO SO Product Review

Despite the fact that it is almost November and I am still having to mow my grass my little experiment with temporary fencing has had to come to an end. The Cutting crew ate everything in the areas I had them housed in and I finally had to put them out in the main pasture for these last few weeks until they get introduced to the rams. This is all just as well because the batteries on my Solar electric fence chargers both decided to die this week. Not even a full years worth of charging power in those things.

We went and picked up two replacement batteries which ran us $30.00 each btw. Seems a bit expensive to me and if the replacement batteries only last a year themselves well the entire thing just seems a bit too temporary for the money in my opinion.

That being said I have to admit the set up worked and worked well as long as I used the light nylon and foil fence wire. The charger really didn't have the ohms or whatever to kick solid wire into gear. Everything was fine except for those one or two Sheep that finally figured out their wool was thick enough they could ignore the wire. After that it still basically did it's job because the one or two trouble makers didn't have the courage to get too far from the others who wouldn't walk through the fence. The trouble makers (Looking at Sandwich and Molly) would stay close to where the other sheep were grazing and just be happy to be in the greener stuff. Eventually some loud truck or something would drive by and start a panic attack and they would jump back in with the others.

After the lovely green moist grass began to dry up however the entire dynamic started to change. A third troublemaker joined the other two. The big Whether who is the size of a steer named Bob. He was a bottle baby and treated like a pet for so long he knows all the tricks and would head for the front side of the barn where he knew the grain was kept along with the treat bag and if all else failed the Alfalfa field.

All this was going on as the battery was dying and kicking out very little juice so the others began getting brave and I caught them all in the Alfalfa field last night. Not good. Green Alfalfa is not stuff you want the critters to graze on because it can cause bloat and other bad things unless it has been properly dried and baled. So I have been having to run em into the pasture now and then putting them all up at night. The cutting crew's days of browsing whenever they want has come to an end because of a little section of electric fence they wouldn't respect.

As I said the setup worked well most of the Summer but as a long term plan if the batteries die after less than a years use it wouldn't work too well. All in all when you count in the money I spent on wire, stakes, the charger and such I am not sure if I really saved money over the long run. I certainly did save some time and feed costs though.

I still think a permanent fence design will work better overall.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Reading - Osage Orange Tree

While I don't see many Osage Orange trees around the Small-Hold anymore these days, down South of us a bit where I been cutting firewood the last several weekends there are quite a few nearby. I counted several in a couple of cow pastures with the large green fruit scattered about and a few dozen cattle lounging under the canopy.

This ancient specie of tree that was once found only in a small pocket that encompassed parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas can now be found growing in many parts of the country although I see it a lot more out in Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas these days.

The wood from an Osage Orange tree is truly beautiful with a yellow color that is reported to make some of the best bows in the world. Some experts even claim it is a far better wood for bows than English Yew. Personally I don't know enough to argue either way but I can tell you that Osage Orange wood was known to bring a premium cost during the frontier days.

It is also extremely rot resistant and makes some of the best fence posts or any other use that requires contact with the ground or wet. Many categorize the Osage Orange tree as a shrub but I have seen them grow tall when hemmed in by other trees and when left to grow unmolested will branch out like a shrub but with branches two feet thick or more. These branches will grow horizontal a few feet off the ground and if you can find a large copse of them to clear out inside make some wonderful campsites with ready made benches inside a secluded shady area.

One sure fire way to identify an Osage Orange tree are the huge, round, green fruits they bear. They kinda look like a big plushy ball but are not exactly soft. The fruit is edible but I hear it has a chemical taste like eating bug spray or something although I have also heard like Persimmons it begins to sweeten after a good frost. Still in a survival situation it maybe all you can find and it is easily identifiable. As far as I know there is no imposter fruit out there.

If you ever resorted to burning Osage Orange as firewood, something I simply can't imagine doing unless it was fallen dead and had been laying a long while, it is reported as having the highest BTU heat output of all wood types. It is rated as a 30 on the MBTU chart with a density of 4845 pounds per cord. It's a dense heavy wood. I would also be very careful if I was burning Osage Orange in a wood stove as too much air flow could easily do damage to the stove.

Osage Orange is also reportedly a very quick growing tree as well. SO much so it was often used as a wind brake or field hedge to act a as fence. The younger trees will also often have thorns but these seem to disappear on the old specimens.

All in all if you access to it the Osage Orange tree is one of the most useful trees you can grow. Eventually I plan on introducing a few around the field edges here at the Small-Hold.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

Friday, October 17, 2014


I have been a big advocate of permaculture for quite a while now. Every time I mention Permaculture someone has to ask me what I mean by that term. I didn't invent the term by any means but started seeing it used several years ago when gardeners and organic farmers/homesteaders began mentioning it when referring to fruit bearing perennials grown to give many years of production. Basically I always took it as mostly referring to trees and berries but could also include things like Asparagus and other self seeding plants as well.

Basically anything you could plant and not have to continuously replant and would eventually produce food.

Since reading about it some years ago I have been attempting to incorporate Permaculture into the food production of the Small-Hold as much as possible. From my Plum tree hedge idea to various nut trees (Hickory and Walnut so far) assorted fruits (including the PAw-Paw!!) etc. etc.

Anyway I came across this article this evening and it has some merit and good information.

Growing Fruit in a Nuthouse: Designing our orchards for economic collapse and Climate Destabilization 

Not sure I readily agree with everything the author has to say on the subject. I am certainly not a believer in the whole global warming/climate change religion but there is still some damned good advice and information in the article so I can put up with a little global warming jebberish.

One interesting point I found was the author claiming fruit trees grown from seed are more hardy, easier to care for etc. I have long been of the impression that the trouble with growing fruit trees, especially Apple but others as well, from seed is that you stand a high chance of getting barren or undesirable fruit from them. Especially with the more cross breeding tolerant varieties and that grafting was necessary for most fruit trees. Apparently this is not the case because I have begun seeing many articles that recommend growing fruit trees from seed and have even had local contact with a few people who do just that.

Anyway like I said the article is well worth reading if you have plans or are already growing your own orchard or fruit trees.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What? Rare Women Preppers?

So I get around to finally checking my email. Something I am notoriously bad about doing as many people know. Anyway I have the usual emails in there about adding advertising links, paying for guest posts and content yadda yadda...

Then I come across one advertising links to various Female or Women oriented survival and prepper websites and webcasts. The body of the message says something about how Women are not adequately represented on the web for outdoors, homesteading, survivalist and prepper oriented sites and we should rectify that situation...?

Ahhhh What?

Ok. Now I will admit they have a point. There are in fact few actual Prepper/Homesteading/Survivalist sites out there oriented towards or written by Women. I know of some that are worthwhile and useful because you will find them linked off my site either to the right or the left. I am sure there are more than a couple I don't know about too but I am always on the look out for them.

That important fact being pointed out however the number of sites claiming to be within that genre written by Women far outpaces the number of Male oriented sites by a huge amount. I even went on a little jaunt through the sites I don't directly link to to see how many claim to be self sufficient, prepper or Homesteading oriented and if they are Male or Female authored or written. I counted almost a 4 to 1 ratio of Women to Men oriented sites.

I got to read about their recipes and how they threaten innocent passersby with their carry pistols. I know all about their trips to the doctor or what drapes go with a statue of some amphibian they like. All useful stuff I guess but nothing that answered my question.

How can anyone proclaim Women are anything but over represented in the World Wide Web of survival, homesteading or prepping blogs and sites? I mean I see them everywhere.

Now let me repeat here I am NOT bashing this fact only questioning the premise of this email I received is all.

I simply do not understand it.

I did wonder if maybe the Women are only getting paid 75 cents for every dollar the Men Bloggers are getting? :)

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!



Just Junk Today

I loaded up two old refrigerator/freezer things this morning and a stack of metal sheet roofing that was so rusted up it was coming apart and tearing almost like paper.

The old fridge/freezers were the type that they started making I think back in the late 40's or 50's with the locking handles that are illegal to leave laying around these days because they would lock children inside. I am just guessing that these were used as feed storage or something, all I know is they have been in the barn rotting away since before I was born.

They also weighed at least 300 pounds each. In fact I would say closer to 400 pounds because the entire load weighed in at 850 pounds and I doubt that stack of rusted paper thin metal sheets amounted to even 100 pounds altogether. I know it took everything my step dad and I had to lift em up into the bed of the truck and neither one of us are exactly weaklings. Although I will say they were more awkward than anything else due to the rounded corners and the old style design that didn't leave much of any place to get a handhold on em.

One thing about this old farm is there was a lot of  junk laying around. Stuff like that tended to just accumulate since no one was living out here. I don't think anyone even knew the old used roofing sheets were out there until I started clearing the brush from behind the barn. I have removed piles of old fence wire, beaten up metal water troughs, and over 100 years of rusting hammer heads, pitchforks, you name it. I would say 75% of the junk has been in there well over 50 years as my mother only used part of the barn and never bothered to clean the stuff out that was there when they bought this place originally back in the early 60's.

What I have taken to doing now is loading up an old fridge/freezer and then as I clean out a section of the barn or outbuildings throwing all the metal parts into the already loaded freezer to hold it. Last trip I had over 100 four to six inch pulleys in an old wooden crate that fell apart when I touched it. These pulleys would have been great to have around except they were so rusted together they were almost one entire mass. I have also found fence stretchers, hay rake tines, buckets of lag bolts, an old wood stove, well the list is endless. Stuff that would have been worth something if it hadn't been allowed to rust away for decades.

A few items have made me down right mad or disappointed too. I found three bayonets and six magazines along with three oil bottles that I am almost sure were for Enfields. Was kinda hard to tell because of the rust and the bayonets wouldn't even come out of the metal scabbards but the magazine shape was pretty distinctive. They didn't come from anyone in my family because my Mother has been the only one to use this place before we bought it from her and no one but me has ever owned an Enfield.

Oh well I did get $70.00 bucks at the scrap yard for all that rust and I am damned glad to get rid of it. Why I would have paid to get rid of it so being able to scrap it is a bonus. This is like the fourth load I have hauled out of here and I can tell you scrap prices are way down. I think the first load I took out last year was only 650 pounds and I got more money for the trip. The big pile of scrap metal at the center is also much smaller than I remember it being. Not sure if that tells us anything but usually a booming economy pays better prices for scrap.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!

Tractor Time: Sunny Skies!!!

It's stopped raining and so time to start catching back up on work around the old Homestead.

Using the Old Ford to pull a couple of 60+ year old freezers out of the barn and taking em to the scrap yard and I have a stack of rusted out sheet metal roofing panels to go as well.

The Tractor Girls are ready to help too as long as they can catch some rays while doing so of course.

Aren't many days like this left before Winter now so better get all the mileage you can out of what's left.

As usual click for a larger image. Be back this afternoon to catch up on comments and the like.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How Much Time Do You Think You Have?

I wonder how many of us truly know how much food we consume individually on a yearly basis? How many have truly done the numbers?

Let's take a simple staple like say Rice. How much rice would you consume in a normal day if that's the only thing you have to eat? Half a pound? Ok let's start with that number. Half a pound of rice is equal to about 1 and 1/4 cups of dried rice which will cook up to about 3 cups when done. That in turn equals out to around 612 calories per day. Not gonna put on weight with this diet are we?

A five gallon pail of Rice with a mylar bag holds about 30 pounds of rice or the equivalent of 60 days rations for one person. You would need six of these pails for one person for a year. Twelve for two. Eighteen for three. You get the idea.

Family of four? Twenty Four pails for one year at half rations. This is assuming a base (the Rice) and that you are foraging or growing/raising, hunting etc. other proteins and fat to go with this Rice.

Now what are you going to do? In one years time you are going to be out of luck. This gives you the Winter to consume and then the Spring and Summer to replace the 24 pails with something else. Assuming of course you cannot grow Rice in your area.

But wait. Does that vacuum sealed can of ready to plant seeds you been keeping in storage have enough seed to plant 6000 bean plants? What? It only has 300 bean seeds? Oops well I guess you can write off the first years growing season because your going to need all those beans produced the first year just to have enough seed to make a full planting the next year.

Ok guess we need 48 pails of Rice now.

How much space does 48 five gallon pails take up again? Let me tell you it makes a pretty good wall with a few acting as night stands too. Remember this is just Rice. Nothing else. And a half ration of it at best. Just a base.

You have the super condensed, high calorie MRE packs? Last I looked a 30 day's ration of MRE in the case was about twice the size of a five gallon pail more or less. Of course no foraging is required when you have those right? You only need to have 96 of them stored and ready now along with your tin of emergency seeds to build from.

If you are not dead certain you have the knowledge and means to jump off Spring with exactly the amount of resources needed to provide yourself and your family with a years worth of food after one growing season than you better have at least two years worth of stockpiled food going into Winter.

I have seen entire rooms stacked floor to ceiling with pails and cases of canned goods but when you truly do the math what looks like a never ending supply comes out to six months tops.

These numbers are pretty much just fairytale numbers anyway. No way on earth a grown man or teenage boy is going to get by on 604 calories a day. In a grid down situation you are going to need 1500 plus just to get by on. One measly can of tuna has 45 calories. Do the math. Even a family of three is going to require a warehouse behind their home to store that much food.

The older I get the more a realize a year is not all that much time. If you aren't ready to be on your way to becoming truly self sustaining within six months after you begin hitting your preps you will more than likely run out of time and food before you start producing.

Look at your preps. Run the numbers and have a plan.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

Bean Numbers are In

The Bean numbers are basically all in and figured out for this year. I believe my old average yield v. numbers came out to 1206 plants to provide one person with a years worth of dried beans figuring it at one cup per day.

Despite the fact that this seemed like an incredible year for beans my numbers came out slightly lower (in yield)  overall. The only difference is this year I doubled the amount of plants I put up which may mean the overall yields per plant goes down as the number of total plants goes up. That kinda makes sense in a way as I have less time to tend them all and the plants get spread out over a larger area which means any local benefit of top quality soil won't effect the overall yield as much.

Pole Beans - I planted 100 seeds this year. Most of them came up and the ones that didn't I managed to find some volunteers that I transplanted. I transplanted about 20 of these volunteers and they had a slower start of it so that may account for some of my reduced yield. Overall I came out with 28 cups of dried beans from the Pole Variety. This would equate out to roughly 1304 plants to provide 1 cup of dried beans to one person for an entire year. Rounded up. That's 98 more plants than my earlier figures but using twice the numbers for a control group. This is leading me to believe the actual safe number maybe somewhere in the vicinity of  1500 or more plants although one would assume an up and down yield variance in that many plants.

Blackeyed Peas - This is the first year I have grown these in any significant amount to begin crunching numbers. I started out with a small section but ended up getting a large number of volunteers especially mixed in with my Melons. Since the Melons got hit by Squash bugs so badly I decided to continue on and get some yield numbers off the Cowpeas.

Note: I switch the name Cowpea and Blackeyed Pea back and forth. The original package I bought years ago were listed as an Heirloom Cowpea but I don't think there is any difference in the two, they certainly look the same. They have since continued to come back year after year without my plating them to the point I decided that anything that prolific and easy needs to be grown and used.

Overall I had 30 Cowpea plants growing this year. They yielded out 20 cups of dried peas which equals out to 547 plants total to produce 365 cups of dried peas. This is a relatively small control group however so I wonder if the results will decrease as the control group increases like it seems to be doing with the Pole Beans? The advantages of this type of legume seems to be that it is incredibly hardy and volunteers prolifically, with a higher number in production the honey bees started working the blooms something I have not noticed before this year.

I was happy enough with the Cowpea numbers that I believe I will add this variety to my overall planting scheme in much greater numbers. Since the bees like em that is also a huge plus. Also believe it or not they are not done producing yet as I noticed today I have several more dried pods to go out and pick.

No matter how you look at it though the final numbers come out to a lot of plants per person for a year's worth of food, not to mention the seeds that must be kept on top of those numbers. I am figuring the numbers to provide 1 cup of the dried beans per day as a base. I am well aware you may not need to only rely on beans and there will be other crops and foodstuffs mixed in. I am simply undertaking this experiment to get some hard figures in place.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!