As I’ve said before, I’ve been prepping to prep for most of my life. I’ve seen the soundness of preparing for unforeseen situations. I’ve usually kept an emergency bag in the car. I try to keep all important papers in one spot (I really need to get all of those scanned to a jump drive for my go bag). I’ve always felt uncomfortable, if not down right twitchy, if I don’t have bulging pantries. I’ve even gathered an eclectic skill set and am always looking for more things to learn or familiarize myself with the basics. My parents tend to the same mindset. And then, there’s my sister.
I’ve always known she and I have been different in many ways. We joke we’re opposite sides of the same penny. We take different paths, but usually to the same destination. Since she is also a skill gatherer, and a master penny pincher, I’ve thought she would also jump on the “consciously prepping” bandwagon along with me. She already lives on the same 20 acre homestead with my parents and me. Boy, was I wrong.
She doesn’t berate me for my preps, and she acknowledges the uncertainty of our economy and possibility of natural disasters (we live on the Texas Gulf Coast). However, she refuses to “stock up”. We’ve discussed it in the past, and she says she doesn’t want all that “clutter”.
I’ve worried she wouldn’t be prepared if something does go wrong. She, and her family, are people I could never turn away in an emergency situation. It has never been more obvious to me how inadequate her panty is until our conversation this morning.
She has her three daughters and her husband living in her home. Last night they had to girls spending the night at their house. Having planned breakfast burritos for dinner, they discovered they only had 9 eggs to feed seven people. My sister ended up only getting two small breakfast sausages as her meal. There was not enough to around. Since today is grocery shopping day they were at the point where the pantry was empty.
As an older sister, it was hard not to slip into the ” I told you so” attitude. I know from prior experience that she is as stubborn as a boulder if you point out her failings. So all I can do is sit back, try to increase our back stock, and worry.
So here I kneel on the couch, pressing my face to the window while watching a goat’s butt. It has been an hour and eighteen minutes since i first noticed tiny hooves peeking out of her rear end We have only had one other baby goat born here, and we lost it. A beautiful rust and black male that died because we didn’t know enough. We had been told by friends who have goats that labor can take up to two days and DON’T TOUCH. We weren’t told to watch the time after the water breaks.
Man ‘o man did I read everything I could get my hands on after that heartbreak! So as Buttercup has neared her time I’ve felt more confident. Until today – at one hour and twenty three minutes after I noticed those hooves. She’s hunching again! Push, girl! Push! …… Nope. All the websites say don’t wait more than half an hour after the water breaks before you help. Our goat farming friend with experience says 1-2 hours is ok. Me, I’m wondering how long I can hold my breath … How long can that baby hold it’s breath? My cousins daughter (a 4H marvel) texted her best friend who lives on a goat farm. The teenager’s Dad also says 1-2 hours. Buttercup has laid down again.
My Mom, a NICU nurse of 30 years has brought over another goat book while my husband tries to feed the rest of the animals without stressing our laboring little momma.
My Mom and I nervously joke about pacing the floor, boiling water, and ripping up every sheet in the house. Her books says “After the water breaks they push a few times and the baby comes.” yeah, right.
We are at an hour and 45 minutes.
Shoot. Why can’t this be easy?
Coming up on two hours. My hands are scrubbed. My jewelry is off. I have a bucket of soapy water and towels. I’m ready…. Nope, gotta pee first.
Ok. Now I’m ready. Please Dear , Lord … Steady my hands and steady my head….
Well…2 hrs and forty seven minutes since I first saw a hoof….
Still no baby.
We’ve finally found the other hoof…and the mouth. We touched teeth. We only pull downward. We only pull when she is contracting.
We fear at this stage we are just waiting on another lost baby. But, I don’t want to risk loosing the momma, as well.
Right now, we are letting her rest. She tried hunching again and passed some fluid. What to do? What to do?
Another half hour since my last post. The head keeps slipping down and around to the side. If I could just get that head up in position maybe she could deliver on her own. We are all taking a rest. Poor little mamma. She cries and bawls. We pray. It’s an hour past my toddlers bedtime and no one’s had supper.
My little girl says the baby doesn’t want to come out. It’s taking a nap.
We’ve come in to eat. Us adults are head to toe goat hair except elbows to hands where we keeping washing up.
Did we make things worse? I honestly don’t know. Frustrations, and dare I say accusations, are high. We are all so very tired.
You probably are thinking I should have called a vet by now. Yeah, that would be nice. The nearest one that will deal with goats is three hours away.
A phone call from a friend who raises goats. He’s home now. He’s on his way over now. We’re just shy of four hours. I try to think of what to say and all that comes out is a heavy sigh.
No matter how this turns out I’m afraid I’m not cut out to raise goats. Our rabbits are doing good. I wonder how many meat rabbits someone would take in exchange for a young weathered goat.
Harvesting grown animals for their meat is one thing. But, I can’t stand the thought if we were the cause of losing babies.
How do you type tears?
I keep hoping we’ll get a call or a message from someone with some practical experience who will show us the magic “release” button on this poor mamma. The friend that called and said he was on his way still hasn’t shown up here. There isn’t much we can, or I guess should do until he does.
Well, the verdict is in. She is fevered. Not only has the baby already passed, it apparently has been gone a while. We can take some relief that we were not the cause.
The baby is not coming out on it’s own.
The decision point came. Do we put her out of her misery. We still don’t know if there is a second living baby. Do we risk killing her in the process of pulling the body? We make arrangements to quickly put her down if she is injured to badly, but want to at least give her the chance.
The details are heinous, and I won’t subject you to them. At one point my husband decided to send me away to protect me from all that must be done.
I went. Not because I couldn’t stand it. Not because I was offended or disgusted. I went because it is how he shows he loves me.
So I go in the house and kneel on the couch, pressing my face against the window to stare at a goats butt.
She is still alive. Now it’s my turn again.
I make up an injection of penicillin. She doesn’t move when I give it to her. But, she is still breathing. Next I mix molasses in warm water and take it out to her. She has moved her head, but doesn’t respond when I pour some on her mouth.
It’s after midnight. It’s my husbands birthday. It’s been six hours – it seems like it’s been days. I keep kneeling on the couch. I’m no longer looking at the goats butt.
I’m counting her breaths. Come on, girl. You can do it. I want her to pull through. But, I have to watch for more than just our poor little mamma. We still don’t know if there is a second baby. If she stops breathing we have to find out.
If you are heading off to bed, sleep a bit for me. It’s going to be a long night. I’ll be kneeling on the couch…
It’s one thirty. There wasn’t another baby.
To those who follow along, sorry I’ve been absent. My mother had surgery, and just about every one of us within the three homes have been sick in some form or another. I’ve actually started three separate posts (medical preparedness, canning experiments, animal husbandry) and just couldn’t keep it all together long enough to complete and post.
Personally, I have an infected tooth (dental appt tomorrow) that has sent me to the Dr twice. It is also been the root of fevers, extreme pain, and nausea.
All of that said, I’d say my biggest concern after any kind of civil collapse is medical and dental.
We have medical personnel in the family, as well as a decent stock of medical supplies and knowledge of how to use them. My concern is that there are a lot of infections that are resistant to Amoxicillin or other common antibiotics.
All I can do to combat my concerns is continue to educate myself, and those in my family, of alternative medicines and continue to acquire supplies to meet a variety of medical needs.
Water is most likely one of the most underprepared item that people store. In many ways, I think it is misunderstood and often undervalued. Unless you have spent any time doing extended backpacking trips (or already experienced a water emergency of some time) it is unlikely that you have a firm grasp of where water should fall in your priorities.
Most likely, all of us are aware of the statistics regarding how much water each person needs, and how often. However, these challenges are about turning “book learning” into practical understanding.
Challenge: Water shortage
Take an old Clean milk jug and fill it up with water. This is what you have for a water supply for the next 24 hours.
For making ice, tea, cooking, brushing your teeth. Any time you would normally turn on the tap you now have this one source for your water. If you live on city water, you may add a second gallon for washing.
Please realize, there are many types of water crisis. Some situations you may still have water access, but it may be compromised. In our home we are on well water. In the case of a power outage we would need to use our generator to even wash dishes or bathe. Yes, we have a generator, but it will also be needed for things like the freezer.
It will be interesting to hear how you fare!
I often see people asking the question of whether or not children should be involved with prepping. As a parent of two toddlers it amazes me that the question is even asked. After all, do you ask at what age they should be introduced to church or allowed to meet your family? If prepping is truly a part of your life then you must believe it is a positive thing. Therefore, why would you hide it from your children?
I guess I should also qualify, at this point, that prepping should not be done in a spirit of fear. It is not necessary to dwell on the negative things that could happen in order to prepare for them. I’d say about 80%, if not more, of the things “we” do are completely kid friendly. Even gun usage is something that can/should be shared with children. No! I am not recommending you set your two year old to shooting a shotgun. However, gun safety can be taught to any age. Personally, when I was being raised we were not allowed to even play “bang! Bang!” with a finger gun.
We were taught that every gun should be treated as real and loaded. My parents had guns, and used them for hunting and potential personal protection. (say THAT three times fast) as a military family we moved often and usually lived in areas with a lot of neighbors with children. As such, I think my parents felt it was better to teach a healthy respect of TOTAL hands off.
My husband was raised in a country environment and was shooting BB guns at 5. He was also taught how to carry a gun – and respect of the damage a gun can do. Honestly, I can’t tell you which way is better.
When it comes to the basic concepts of prepping I believe that children are already surrounded by examples and opportunities to talk with them about preparedness. If you’ve had young children within the last few years you are probably familiar with The Fresh Beat Band. A show watched, and loved, by my two kiddoes. On an episode shown today, one of the characters said “Well, I like to be prepared.” at least 4 times. How much more of an example do you need?
Yesterday, our family was watching “Twister”. My almost 4 year old was fascinated by the “bad storms” and we talked about the “safe places” the families stayed in during the storms. We are still doing fire drills and both children (2 and 3) know exactly where to go if anyone yells “Fire!”. In truth, there are many, many, opportunities to discuss why and how to prepare for emergencies.
This is a series of challenges to develop prepping ideas into skilled reality.
Have you ever looked out the office window and seen a rabbit hopping across the manicured lawn and thought “See, there’s plenty of food. I’ll be just fine if I need to gather food!”? If you’ve been looking at ways to prep for possible long term survival, you have probably become aware that we are often surrounded by food sources even in the city.
It is a high priority to have a storage of food on hand in case of an emergency. No matter if the emergency comes about from a job loss or the next Great Depression, your food needs are the same. Your food stores will last longer if they are supplemented with items that are foraged. However, no matter how well stocked you are, there may come a time when the pantries are empty and it is necessary to kill/gather your food from nature.
Challenge: Empty Pantry
This weeks challenge is to make a meal from “apex scratch”. In other words, have the main meal ingredients come direct from nature. It is all well and good to have thought through where your meals can come from – remember the bunny out of the office window? However, the practice of hunting or even just killing the animal may turn out to be a little tougher than we think. Even if you are a vegetarian, the realities of gathering enough forage for a meal – from nature – may not be as quick and simple as it would seem.
If you are not a vegetarian, I challenge you to kill, clean, and cook a whole meal for your family. If you do not live in an area where you can hunt your food, at least purchase a live animal. There are many resources on the Internet on how to humanely harvest and clean small game such as chickens and rabbits.
A quick look on Craigslist and I was able to find both meat rabbits a chickens for between $10-15 a piece. This might be a bit pricier than a normal home cooked meal, but if you’ve never processed your own meat then what you are buying is the “knowledge of how”.
Many of us have chosen to supplement our food storage with live animals. There are a few good small animals that can even be housed in suburbia which provide a variety of food sources. Chickens, for example, provide eggs on an (almost) daily basis, while also providing an obvious source of meat. Goats are not quite as welcome in “town”, but are another multi-purpose animal that gives a lot for a small space requirement. One of the best meat for space animals is the cute, fuzzy bunny. However, it is arguably the most likely to test your squeamishness when it comes to harvest time.
In the past week, we have finally started having baby bunnies from our California rabbits. Unfortunately, one of the mommies apparently didn’t know what to do and I was a bit heartbroken when we lost the whole litter. At this point, we’re not sure if the loss was due more to her inexperience or ours. We had some bad thunderstorms (which can apparently stress the momma), as well as the fact that her nest was placed where the kids could see the kits. They could not touch them, but it still may have been too close for her. We thought about moving it, but we weren’t sure if the movement of the nest would be just as upsetting.
As you can see, having rabbits is not a guarantee that you will have plenty of babies- at least, in the short term. We are learning fast, and I fully expect to have them in good “production” in the coming months.
For now, we have the advantage of living on property with resident wild rabbits. They may not be as plump as our domestic rabbits, but they take care of themselves and are a nearby renewable food source. My husband has brought a few home, and recently he shot another one. In the past, he has cleaned them. However, I decided it was time for me to step up. I am getting to be a better shot, and I feel it’s important that when I finally shoot one myself that I am knowledgeable on how to dress it out. My goal is to take one from forest to table by the end of this summer.
So, I did a YouTube search on how to clean a rabbit and got to work. It took about 10 minutes and I was done. I’d say the biggest thing I learned was that I need a better butcher knife. What I have does the job, but a good cleaver would have made certain things go faster.
At this point, my biggest concern is killing the rabbits we raise. Admittedly, I do have a heart, and although I’ve harvested chickens, they aren’t as cute and cuddly as a rabbit you’ve watched grow from a baby. It is not the issue of turning fuzzy sweetie into dinner. It is the issue that I don’t want to cause any “unnecessary” pain/stress. Between hand and shoulder damage I am concerned that I may not have the requisite strength or technique to dispatch them with one swift movement.
For now, I’ll just keep gathering recipes on how to fix them and counting weeks for when Jezebel can be re-presented for mating. Hopefully, Juliet will turn out to be a good momma and I will have new pictures of cute cuddlies that I can post. No matter what, I have a couple of months before I find out how I do with the harvesting phase.
Easy Rabbit Dumplings
Clean and quarter 1 rabbit
Place in pressure cooker with about 3 quarts of water and:
Cook for about an hour
Debone meat and put it back in the pot
Add a Knor chicken broth packet
Mix 2 Cups Bisquick with enough water to make a sticky dough
Drop dough by spoonfuls into boiling soup
Add 1 cup milk
Keep at medium boil for about 20 minutes
Sure, when TEOTW comes we may no longer have apps and smartphones, but until it does I fully intend to take advantage of every resource I have available. Now that we have finally had a rabbit successfully breed (more difficult than their reputation would imply) it has crossed my mind that I would like a comprehensive app that would allow me to track all of our animals. I must say, that the apps available have left me sorely disappointed.
On the homestead (includes my parents and sister’s family) we have 4 horses, 3 donkeys, 5 goats, 3 rabbits, 16 hens, 1 rooster, 12 chicks, 1 dog, 4 pups, 1 parrokeet, 1 beta and 1 turtle – oh, and I might as well add the half dozen or so goldfish in the water troughs.
We also have a garden for personal use. With all of the above, I lose a bit of track when it comes to worming, shots, vet visits, hoof cleaning, baths (hmm, maybe I should add the 6 kids?), drenches, breeding, gestations, fertilizing, watering, mineral blocks, ETC.
SURE, I could put it all in my calendar. Some things are on there now. However, I am hoping for something that allows me to track (and keep a history) on individuals. How often has rabbit Alpha been bred?, how large are her litters?, how many lived? This could all be in notes within each “breeding” she has had.
I have found some comprehensive livestock trackers. Some of these costing as much as $50 or having monthly fees of $25, while there are even some for free and in the .99 range. Unfortunately, those are usually specific to cattle and only occasionally offer support of goats / horses. For what I would call a “ranch”, these are perfect. For a homestead or small farm situation they just don’t cover the variety found in common situations.
I have looked into database apps, and I can adapt one to cover much of what I want. However, I would really like to have it generate notifications to warn of upcoming events.
Hmm, not asking for much, am I?
So here’s my question. How many of you could use an app like that?
Do any of you have knowledge /resources to create such an app?
What capabilities would YOU like to see in a “homestead helper” app?
For those who have followed along, I’m sorry I haven’t had very many updates recently. We’ve been working on a few things and my mind’s been a bit occupied.
We have finally finished the new chicken yard. Hurrah! No more chickens roosting on my porch! They seem to have finally settled in and we had a full nest of eggs this morning.
The next step is to put a smaller yard inside the big pen for the chicks we have that are too big for the breeder box but too small to deal with the full grown hens. Then we will be building a more permanent coop for everyone. We currently have nest boxes, but we want a more weatherproof structure.
We also have been working on the garden. We’re a bit behind schedule, for what I would like, but we should be all right in the long run.
As a nice topper, one of our rabbits treated us to a litter of babies! We’ve had them for about six months and had become a bit frustrated that it wasn’t “working”. Now we have 5 babies and I believe the other female will be having a litter within the next week.
My three year old kept calling them baby pigs, but she seems to have it straight now. I can understand where she gets it, but I’m sure that will clear up once they grow hair.
Wake-up Wednesday is a series to help bring preparedness efforts to practical reality.
This week’s challenge is to evaluate how realistic you efforts are for an unexpected emergency level evacuation of your home. In the case of a tornado or fire (of which many have been in recent news) it is necessary to not only leave your home quickly, but to do so with whatever you need to survive.
It is often recommended, especially if you have small children, to do a fire drill so that everyone knows where to go. However, I propose to add a level or to of practicality.
At some time before next Wednesday conduct a Preparedness Drill, call it whatever you like to explain it to your family. The rules are:
1. You must leave the house as quickly as possible in one trip. You can not return to the home.
2. You can warn your family that a drill will be run, but try to minimize foreknowledge of when it will be. If at all possible, have a friend or relative initiate the drill by calling you or knocking on your door at a time completely unknown to you. To get the full impact try something in the middle of the night (weekend?) to test how you respond when awoken from deep sleep.
Once you’ve made it to your “safe zone” ,and established everyone is there, evaluate what you’ve brought with you. If you’ve done this in the middle of the night, take everything carried out and put it on the table. Do not add anything once you’ve returned to the house.
Do you have a bug out bag (BOB)? Would it really take care of your family if your house was destroyed and you could not return (money, clothing, copies of important papers)?
Can you carry the BOB and a small child if they are half asleep and unable to move quickly?
Good Luck! I hope to hear what experiences you have.