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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:57 am 
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A little over a year ago I moved back to the small town in Alaska where I grew up. I've been staying at my grandmother's house. Back in 1963, when my mother was very young, my grandparent's moved to Alaska from South Dakota and staked this place under the Homestead Act of 1862. These days it has electricity and indoor plumbing and the Internet and everything.

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I've been trying to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle. I spent much of my childhood living off-grid and gardening, raising livestock, fishing, etc. I moved to Fairbanks to go to school and then stayed for work. I decided that city life really wasn't for me, and that I should try moving back to the country. Luckily for me (sort of) an IT job became available back home, so I would have a decent income while trying to implement some of my projects.

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I meant to start a bunch of threads for each of the projects I was working on, but I just didn't have the time. So instead, I'm going to make a year in review thread.
 
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I think the best summary of my first summer was that I bit off way more than I could chew and everything fell apart. I knew I was taking on too much, and I did it anyway. I couldn't help myself. So most of my projects failed, but it wasn't a total disaster since I was trying to learn new things and see what I enjoyed.

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I tried a lot of different things this summer. Instead of writing one big, long post I'm going to try to write a bunch of smaller ones as I have time. I like to ramble though (as you've probably noticed if you've been on the forum for very long) so likely this plan will just end up with me writing a whole bunch of long, rambling post instead of just one. :lol:

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 6:54 am 
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Thanks Quazi, I'm looking forward to reading more.

You bit off more than you can chew on an established homestead? This concerns me, please explain.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 1:26 pm 
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Hiroshima_Morphine wrote:
You bit off more than you can chew on an established homestead? This concerns me, please explain.

The short version is that I started a bunch of new projects that were not already up and running on the homestead. A lot of these things had been tried in the past, but either hadn't worked out or hadn't been done for decades.

The amount of self-sufficiency activities on the homestead had been decreasing for some time. A lot of conveniences came through, like grid power and road access, and many family members moved away for school and work (myself included). Most of the infrastructure is really old and falling down. I spent a lot of time trying to cobble together things out of scraps of fence and old rotten posts.

(I was walking around this spring after the snow had melted but before anything had leafed out. Everything looked brown and dead. There were lots of old cars parked decades before, falling down fences, buildings with holes in them, ramshackle constructions of boards and chain-link and spiked posts. I realized that the homestead looked an awful lot like Fallout 4. :lol:)

I don't want to make it sound like my relatives weren't doing anything with the place. They planted a big garden every year. There was a flock of four hens. There were three goats, but they were pretty much just pets and served no useful purpose. They also had their own jobs to deal with, and this was a year where by unfortunate coincidence most of the full-time people had non-homestead projects taking up all of their time and none of the part-time people came up for the summer. I also have a full-time job, and if I would have limited myself to just two or three new projects I think things would have gone much easier.

A lot of things went wrong, like me getting sick for about a month straight and the goats figuring out that they could get all the grain they ever wanted by smashing their way through the chicken run. I'm hesitant to just list all the things that went wrong right off the bat for fear of sounding whiny
and ungrateful the opportunities I have been given. I'll touch on most of them as I post about the things I tried to do.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 1:50 pm 
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Working a full time job and running a 'homestead' as an after-hours project is completely different than running the homestead as a full time, must work to feed my family, working every day from sunup to sundown.....

The secret to success is to pick something and work at it until done.

Is this in the Mat Su area?

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:29 pm 
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Quote:
I moved to Fairbanks to go to school and then stayed for work. I decided that city life really wasn't for me


I'm sorry you said you moved to a city st some point? Which one was that? Cuz man if Fairbanks is too much for city for you then you need to never leave Alaska....
Quote:

Working a full time job and running a 'homestead' as an after-hours project is completely different than running the homestead as a full time, must work to feed my family, working every day from sunup to sundown.....

The secret to success is to pick something and work at it until done.


BTDT, that is the best you can do. The pain is watching other thing fall apart while you work your project. While you think you are getting ahead the to-do list gets longer and longer.

Some tips I have found that help:

- When you do get the extra helpful labor you need for big projects make a plan and stick to it so time isn't wasted
- At a minimum do an annual spring or fall cleaning (twice a year here) get rid of all the junk that has been piling up and you think you are going to repurpose or whatever and just get rid of it. Because if it hasn't moved in a year it likely won't ever get used.
- Goats are crazy animals that need a lot of attention to be made to behave. This is why they have goat herders. Unless you want to be a goat herder (or hire one ) just treat them like pets or get rid of them. Left to their won devices they will always be somewhere you don't want them to be. They work great in more primitive cultures where goat herding is a permanent career move or you run a homestead full time.
- Prioritize properly and be prepared to change your list when something breaks. I have a wife that lets me know that having a functioning toilet is more important than a shooting range. You may never get to the stuff on the bottom of your list but you will be have a higher standard of living if that is your priority.

Feel free to meander around and show us what you have. I find it cheaper on me to learn from other people's whoopsies.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:44 pm 
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TacAir wrote:
Working a full time job and running a 'homestead' as an after-hours project is completely different than running the homestead as a full time, must work to feed my family, working every day from sunup to sundown.....

Yep. People use the term homesteading to mean different things.

Some people use it to mean pursuing self-sufficiency projects part time while working full-time and living in the suburbs.
Other people are more strict and say that you're only homesteading if you're clearing land and building a house out in the middle of nowhere.
I've even run into a couple people who think that there is no homesteading anymore, because if it isn't being done under the Homestead Act it doesn't count. (I disagree with this one.)

I think the first two are both reasonable definitions. Most people these days seem to be using the term homesteading in the first sense, which I think is fine, but I'm also not opposed to the more strict definition.

Some people talk about "modern" homesteading. Maybe "classical" homesteading would be a good way to describe the second definition?

I'm going to be all lawyerly and point out that I titled the thread "Homestead Year in Review" and not "Homesteading" Year in Review". :lol:

TacAir wrote:
The secret to success is to pick something and work at it until done.

You're right, and I knew that going in, but I went ahead and started too many projects anyway. It's a character flaw I have.

I also had a "problem" with people being helpful. Not that I don't appreciate the help, and that I didn't benefit from it, but it meant a lot of my projects got interrupted by people wanting to help with other things and never ended up getting finished. I don't play well with others, and I have a hard time switching gears between tasks, so those are a couple more personal flaws of mine.

Next summer I'm focusing on perennials and infrastructure, and I'm going to try to politely inform others that unasked for advice and help will result in heavy objects thrown at their heads. :lol:

(I actually had a lot of beneficial help, particularly at the end of the season. It was during the spring when a lot of time-sensitive stuff needed to get done that the interruptions were super frustrating.)

TacAir wrote:
Is this in the Mat Su area?

Yep, I'm in Trapper Creek.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:48 pm 
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Stercutus wrote:
Quote:
I moved to Fairbanks to go to school and then stayed for work. I decided that city life really wasn't for me


I'm sorry you said you moved to a city st some point? Which one was that? Cuz man if Fairbanks is too much for city for you then you need to never leave Alaska....

For me, Fairbanks was big city living. :lol:

I actually realized that I should never leave Alaska shortly after joining Zombie Squad. People were talking about how they hated when their neighbors parked on the grass. This seemed really strange to me, where else would they park their extra vehicles? Why would you care if your neighbor had a car on his lawn, it's not like he parked it on your lawn. So I asked them and they said it made the place look like a junk yard. I asked them what was wrong with junk yards, and they told me to never leave Alaska. :lol:

Stercutus wrote:
Quote:
Working a full time job and running a 'homestead' as an after-hours project is completely different than running the homestead as a full time, must work to feed my family, working every day from sunup to sundown.....

The secret to success is to pick something and work at it until done.


BTDT, that is the best you can do. The pain is watching other thing fall apart while you work your project. While you think you are getting ahead the to-do list gets longer and longer.

Yeah, I had a lot of trees sit in their pots too long not getting watered and a of of vegetables unharvested and covered over by weeds. :(


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:59 pm 
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Stercutus wrote:
- When you do get the extra helpful labor you need for big projects make a plan and stick to it so time isn't wasted

This is good advice. In my case it seemed like help more often than not came unexpectedly and as a monkey wrench to my current plan. I guess maybe I need to get better at planning for unexpected help?
Stercutus wrote:
- At a minimum do an annual spring or fall cleaning (twice a year here) get rid of all the junk that has been piling up and you think you are going to repurpose or whatever and just get rid of it. Because if it hasn't moved in a year it likely won't ever get used.

But I love junk! Stop trying to get me to abandon my hoarder ways! :lol:
Stercutus wrote:
-- Goats are crazy animals that need a lot of attention to be made to behave. This is why they have goat herders. Unless you want to be a goat herder (or hire one ) just treat them like pets or get rid of them. Left to their won devices they will always be somewhere you don't want them to be. They work great in more primitive cultures where goat herding is a permanent career move or you run a homestead full time.

You're right, they are a handful. The thing is we've had goats for about ten years and they weren't that big of a problem until mid way through this summer, when they realized they could just smash things rather than go over, under or around things. I could have built a tougher corral, but I didn't want to take the time because I figured we would be getting rid of them anyway (over the objections of one particular person who wanted to keep them but didn't seem to be willing to do the fence building). We now have no more goats. :D
Stercutus wrote:
- Prioritize properly and be prepared to change your list when something breaks. I have a wife that lets me know that having a functioning toilet is more important than a shooting range. You may never get to the stuff on the bottom of your list but you will be have a higher standard of living if that is your priority.

This is a big one that I need to work on. I was really bad at this. I had a list of priorities, but I'd be 70% done with a project when I'd realize that if I just did this one other thing I could save the next project from failing. That other thing would take way longer than I expected, and then someone else would convince me to work on yet another project and the first project never got done.

Next year I'm not getting any more animals and I'm only going to work on a very small part of the garden. I'm going to focus on getting my perennials transplanted first and long-term infrastructure second.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 5:08 pm 
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I came up with some rules for myself part way through the summer after I got sick and burned out.

If I don't know exactly where it is going to go, it doesn't exist.
If it takes someone else's help, it doesn't exist.
If I have to drive more than forty-five minutes to get it, it doesn't exist.
If it won't fit inside of my car, it doesn't exist.
If it would require reading a manual, it doesn't exist.
If it is dependent upon doing something else first, it doesn't exist.

(Obviously the things I'm talking about do exist, I'm just using that phrase to tell my self not to even think about it.)


I don't have access to my pictures right now, so I haven't been able to do the next part. I'll probably post about my experience raising chickens and ducks for meat.

Here's a partial list of the things I tried to do this summer:
Raise chickens for meat and expand our flock of laying hens.*
Raise ducks for meat and start a flock of layer's.*
Build a "duck moat" around one of our gardens for slug control.
Build raised beds.
Start a bunch of perennials from seed.
Plant and transplant a bunch of perennials I had bought this year and last year.
Graft a bunch of my apple trees.
Put up an orchard fence.
Help out with the annual vegetable garden.
Plant a big pumpkin and winter squash patch in addition to the normal garden.*
Experiment with different kinds of beans for storage.
Experiment with garlic.
Experiment with soil blocks for starting seeds.
Try growing paste tomatoes and melons in pots in our greenhouse.
Harvest berries and such from the wild.
Preserve a bunch of food for the winter.
Research rules and regulations. (Blegh!)
Observe and make plans for the future.
Lose weight (not exactly a homesteading task, but part of the reason I moved back out here was for that reason).

I'm not including various projects that I had planned for but never did anything with, such as the mushroom spawn plugs that are still sitting in my refrigerator. :clownshoes:


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 6:22 pm 
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quazi wrote:
I came up with some rules for myself part way through the summer after I got sick and burned out.

If I don't know exactly where it is going to go, it doesn't exist.
If it takes someone else's help, it doesn't exist.
If I have to drive more than forty-five minutes to get it, it doesn't exist.
If it won't fit inside of my car, it doesn't exist.
If it would require reading a manual, it doesn't exist.
If it is dependent upon doing something else first, it doesn't exist.

(Obviously the things I'm talking about do exist, I'm just using that phrase to tell my self not to even think about it.)


I don't have access to my pictures right now, so I haven't been able to do the next part. I'll probably post about my experience raising chickens and ducks for meat.

Here's a partial list of the things I tried to do this summer:
Raise chickens for meat and expand our flock of laying hens.*
Raise ducks for meat and start a flock of layer's.*
Build a "duck moat" around one of our gardens for slug control.
Build raised beds.
Start a bunch of perennials from seed.
Plant and transplant a bunch of perennials I had bought this year and last year.
Graft a bunch of my apple trees.
Put up an orchard fence.
Help out with the annual vegetable garden.
Plant a big pumpkin and winter squash patch in addition to the normal garden.*
Experiment with different kinds of beans for storage.
Experiment with garlic.
Experiment with soil blocks for starting seeds.
Try growing paste tomatoes and melons in pots in our greenhouse.
Harvest berries and such from the wild.
Preserve a bunch of food for the winter.
Research rules and regulations. (Blegh!)
Observe and make plans for the future.
Lose weight (not exactly a homesteading task, but part of the reason I moved back out here was for that reason).

I'm not including various projects that I had planned for but never did anything with, such as the mushroom spawn plugs that are still sitting in my refrigerator. :clownshoes:


* means what, Quazi?

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 6:33 pm 
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Hiroshima_Morphine wrote:
* means what, Quazi?

Whoops, I meant to delete those. They were originally going to mark the projects that I feel took up way too much of my time and I wish I had either not done in the case of the birds or done very differently in the case of the pumpkin patch. I decided to discuss that in a future post, but forgot to delete the asterisks. :oops:


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 6:42 pm 
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Deleted my comment because I miss read and you already answered :)

But thanks for keeping us up to date, I love reading threads like this because it does help to learn from your mistakes!

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 7:45 pm 
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quazi wrote:
I came up with some rules for myself part way through the summer after I got sick and burned out.

If I don't know exactly where it is going to go, it doesn't exist.
If it takes someone else's help, it doesn't exist.
If I have to drive more than forty-five minutes to get it, it doesn't exist.
If it won't fit inside of my car, it doesn't exist.
If it would require reading a manual, it doesn't exist.
If it is dependent upon doing something else first, it doesn't exist.

(Obviously the things I'm talking about do exist, I'm just using that phrase to tell my self not to even think about it.)


I don't have access to my pictures right now, so I haven't been able to do the next part. I'll probably post about my experience raising chickens and ducks for meat.

Here's a partial list of the things I tried to do this summer:
Raise chickens for meat and expand our flock of laying hens.*
Raise ducks for meat and start a flock of layer's.*
Build a "duck moat" around one of our gardens for slug control.
Build raised beds.
Start a bunch of perennials from seed.
Plant and transplant a bunch of perennials I had bought this year and last year.
Graft a bunch of my apple trees.
Put up an orchard fence.
Help out with the annual vegetable garden.
Plant a big pumpkin and winter squash patch in addition to the normal garden.*
Experiment with different kinds of beans for storage.
Experiment with garlic.
Experiment with soil blocks for starting seeds.
Try growing paste tomatoes and melons in pots in our greenhouse.
Harvest berries and such from the wild.
Preserve a bunch of food for the winter.
Research rules and regulations. (Blegh!)
Observe and make plans for the future.
Lose weight (not exactly a homesteading task, but part of the reason I moved back out here was for that reason).

I'm not including various projects that I had planned for but never did anything with, such as the mushroom spawn plugs that are still sitting in my refrigerator. :clownshoes:

No wonder you need a new flashlight :idea:

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 7:50 pm 
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flybynight wrote:
No wonder you need a new flashlight :idea:

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. :?:


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 8:11 pm 
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quazi wrote:
flybynight wrote:
No wonder you need a new flashlight :idea:

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. :?:
so you can see to get your work done ( dang I even put a light on the end to help ya see :clownshoes: )

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 8:26 pm 
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flybynight wrote:
quazi wrote:
flybynight wrote:
No wonder you need a new flashlight :idea:

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. :?:
so you can see to get your work done ( dang I even put a light on the end to help ya see :clownshoes: )

Oh, I gotcha. I thought that's what you probably meant but I can be pretty dense so I figured I'd ask. :oops:

I did spend a lot of late nights transplanting. One nice thing about Alaska in the summer is that it's light all of the time, so it's possible to work really late. Sometimes I wouldn't pay attention and would accidentally stay up way past midnight working, which isn't so great when I had to get up at 6 AM to take care of the animals and head to work. :oops:


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2016 11:05 am 
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Quazi, thanks for the posts and beautiful pics. I loook forward to more.

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Quote:
But I love junk! Stop trying to get me to abandon my hoarder ways! :lol:


When I get rid of stuff my task list drops fast because I ammore focused and less distracted. Since you are not using it anyway you will never miss it. Just having the wherewithal to get rid of it is tough some times.
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Why would you care if your neighbor had a car on his lawn, it's not like he parked it on your lawn. So I asked them and they said it made the place look like a junk yard.


I'm in Alabama, half the state looks like a junkyard on any given day. I have one neighbor (cattle farmer) he has 7 passenger cars and trucks parked in his front yard as well as three tractors all parked haphazardly. He lives right on the main highway a few miles from me. Now I have never seen any of these vehicles move, ever. He mows around them when he mows (not often) but it has been five+ years and they just sit there.

It has gotten to the point now where I simply don't notice that stuff anymore. Gated communities are becoming a thing out here now much the same way the sprang up in Texas about 20 years ago. These micro (sometimes macro) communities keep the places policed up with HOA's and other type organizations. Everyone is peeking into each other's back yards and windows. Park in a yard and they send you a bill for offending their sensibilities.

There is no happy medium out here.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 8:59 am 
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Yeah, I grew up in a gated community in Atlanta..... and you see where I'm moving to.

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Lots of ZS folks wish for exactly what you have; a decent amount of land in a fantastic state that is underpopulated. :mrgreen:

Post progress reports and pictures when you can!

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 1:15 am 
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We had four old hens that were still laying a decent number of eggs. They were of a breed that almost never goes broody, and I wanted to have chickens and ducks for meat, so I ordered some through the mail.

I ordered 25 Buff Rocks, which are a dual purpose breed, and 12 Red Rangers, which are a hybrid meat breed. The Buff Rocks I ordered straight-run (males and females) and the Red Rangers I only ordered males.
Image

They took four days to get to me through the mail, which is longer than it should take. The post office called as soon as they arrived, and we picked them up immediately. We followed all instructions, and my grandmother had raised chicks that she had ordered through the mail previously. While they were all alive upon arrival, half of them died within the first two days. :( The ones that died had no interest in eating or drinking. We had dipped all of their beaks in water, and wiped the butts of any that had poop stuck to them. I also had them under a brooder that was not in the picture.

I contacted the hatchery (Murray McMurray) and they sent me out replacements for all that died without any hassle. Those only spent two days in the mail and they all lived. I'm happy with the customer receiver I received from Murray McMurray.

I also ordered four Runner ducks and eight Pekin ducks from Murray McMurray. The Runner ducks are a very small breed mostly kept for laying eggs. The Pekin ducks also lay a lot of eggs, but they get so big they are usually raised for meat. The Runners I ordered straight run and the Pekins I ordered all males.

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I also bought six mutt ducks of various breeds from a local guy.

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The first group of chicks arrived in late April. I kept them inside for a week or so, and then moved them out to a small run that I constructed. The run was 6' by 15'. On one short side was our old hay barn, and on the other short side was our old pig shed where I put their brooder. The long sides were 4' chicken wire reinforced with vertical posts and boards along the bottom. I had netting over the top to keep ravens and magpies out. I braced a pallet in front of the pig shed door during the night for additional security, and during the day I just left it leaned against the side of the run. I stopped using the pallet after it flopped over and killed two of my chickens. :gonk:

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This first run was fairly secure. I did lose one bird to a predator. The bird's body was up against the side of the fence, and it's head was missing. It must have stuck its head through and then something was lying in wait and grabbed it? We don't have raccoons or possums or any other predators that use their hands, so I don't think anything reached through the fence.

The run was supposed to be temporary. My plan was to get some portable electronet fence and build a moveable coop and keep moving them around, but I never ordered any of the stuff to do that.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 2:38 am 
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I didn't want to throw the replacement chicks in with the first ones, as they were about three weeks apart. My grandmother let me put them in her greenhouse. I kept them in a dog crate that I closed up at night, as while the greenhouse offered quite a bit of protection it wasn't completely secure.

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(They liked to sit on top of the power supply for the brooder.)

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(The blanket on top of the dog crate was because the night before the power had gone out so their brooder wasn't running.)

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I got the ducklings in late May. I put them out in the greenhouse with only a lamp, and I only bothered to keep the lamp on for a few nights. It was pretty warm in their by late may and the ducklings seemed a lot less bothered by the cold than the chicks. I did lose one Runner duckling. It somehow got wrapped up in the paper towels we were using as bedding and we didn't notice until it was too late.

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For about a week the two groups of ducks stayed away from each other, but eventually they formed one group.

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The ducklings and chicks got along relatively well. At first the chicks put the run on the ducklings, but the ducklings grew really fast and relatively quickly started putting the run on the chicks. Mostly they left each other alone.

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(This one little chick had the whole group of ducklings running for it.)

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One of my dogs might have killed a few chicks. They're usually good about leaving the hens alone, but they aren't used to being around the babies. We walked outside and the dog came out of the bushes and laid a dead chick down next to two others.

The chicks escaped out of every little opening in the greenhouse. They came back in at night, and they stuck close to the greenhouse and kept under cover, so I figured it was fine. The Pekins and Runner ducks would also get out and roam around the lawn, but only during the day, except for one time when they got lost. The mutt ducklings were not at all interested in leaving the greenhouse.

Then one night I lost half the chicks, three Runners and two Pekins. I had checked on them at about 8:30 PM, went inside and watched a movie, went back outside at about 10:30 PM to close them up and they were gone. I never heard a commotion, and there was no sign of blood or feathers. I walked all around thinking maybe they had wandered off and got lost, but I couldn't find any trace of them. :(

During the next day something got one of our older hens. I found her feathers pretty far away from where the chickens hung out, so she must have run for it. (We let our older chickens free range.) I started sleeping where I could see the chickens. We lost another old hen the next day. I had spotted a fox once or twice, but I didn't have a firearm on me. :oops:

Then one night I woke up to a weird barking noise. It wasn't our dogs, but instead it was the fox barking at our cat. I grabbed my shotgun, and ran out the front door. The fox ran by and I managed to get a shot off, but I either missed or barely winged it. There was a little fur but no blood that I could see. We didn't lose any more birds to predators for a couple months after that.

It was way past time to move the birds out of the greenhouse so my grandmother could start planting things in it. The chickens were sort of easy, as they went to sleep in the big dog crate. I carried it over to the run, but it ended up being a bit of a fiasco since the crate had no door, was barely held together with wire and it wouldn't fit through the barn door. I was surprised that there seemed to be no fighting between the two groups of chickens.

The run was too small, and had already had the vegetation eaten out of it, so I expanded it by linking other buildings and bits of fence together to make a run. It was kind of kludged together, but I figured it would probably keep a fox out.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 3:19 am 
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We have a slug problem. My plan with the ducks was to make a run all around one of our gardens with an exterior fence to keep predators out of the run and an interior fence to keep the ducks out of the garden. I put together a temporary run next to, but not enclosing the garden. I herded the ducks over to it. With out stopping they ran to the far side of the run, wiggled underneath a part of the fence I had yet to secure, and ran into the woods. Luckily they came back to the greenhouse eventually. I said screw it and we threw them in with the chickens. (Getting them into the crate was a real rodeo as they did not go in by themselves at night.)

The ducks and chickens got along well.

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I put in a plastic wading pool for them. I had been watching Jack Spirko's videos and it seemed like moving a little wading pond around would be a good way to get the ducks to hang out where I wanted them. The hardware store had big ones and little ones. The big ones were about the same price as the little ones, so I got a big one. This was a mistake, as I couldn't flip it over when it had a lot of water in it.

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I actually had a pump, and I planned to make a big pile of wood chips and pump the water from the pond out onto the woodchips. I also thought about directing some of the water into the garden, but I have a few reservations about doing that. I never had time to chip any wood and never setup the pump, and I just bailed it out with a sauce pan when it was time to change the water.

This is gimpy. He was one of the Red Rangers. He didn't walk very well, and never grew very large. He didn't act like he was in pain, but despite us sneaking him extra food he just wouldn't grow. I should have shot him, since he was a waste of money, but I didn't really want to do it. We had to be sneaky about giving him food because the other chickens would run right over top of him to get it. We eventually made him his own hidey hole away from the other chickens, but eventually he ended up dying all on his own. I didn't bother dissecting him to see if there was something obviously wrong inside.
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We had one other Red Ranger that had a little bit of a limp and didn't get quite as big as the others. I butchered him and didn't see anything wrong inside. The Red Ranger breed is a hybrid chicken meant to put on weight quickly. They take a little longer than Cornish X to get up to size, but aren't supposed to have near as many leg problems or other health problems. I'm glad they took a little longer to grow and didn't have their legs give out or die of heart attacks due to being oversized, as that let me slowly butcher them over time without so much pressure.

Red Rangers are also supposed to be good foragers compared to Cornish X. Maybe, but they weren't nearly as active as the Buff Rocks. They spent a lot more time laying in the sun and stretching out.

I had never butchered a chicken before. I'd butchered several cows and moose, and plenty of grouse, but no chickens. The first ones we butchered while they were still fairly small. Actually, the more experienced people in my family said they were getting just a bit big to be fryers although they were a little small for roasters. It took forever to pluck them, both because I was bad at it and because I timed it wrong and they had lots of pin feathers. :gonk:

Here are the first two cut up. They fit inside of two gallon zip lock bags, except for the backbones and wing tips and a few organs we set aside for soup.
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I got better at plucking and it started to go a lot faster. I still pretty much could only make myself do one at a time. That's a lot of preparation work for one chicken. If I got a better system in place and a table at a height that didn't kill my back I could probably do more. It worked best to rope other people into it and we'd each do one bird. My grandmother tells me she used to pluck two dozen a day when she did it for money. :shock:

I let the rest get a lot bigger and didn't bother cutting them up into pieces. I like baked whole chicken better than fried chicken anyway. I know, I know, I'm a weirdo. :lol:

When I'd take chicken legs into work for lunch a couple different people made comments along the lines of "That looks like a tasty chicken leg... wait, turkey leg?" so they were pretty big. To be honest I thought their breast meat tasted more or less like store bought chicken. They had a lot of dark meat that was extra tasty though, and I prefer dark meat myself.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 9:12 am 
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I prefer dark meat and baked chicken, too.

Murray McMurray is awesome! I bought some Pioneers (for meat/eggs) and some Auricans (Easter Egg chickens for fun and kids) a couple years ago when we first set up our little homestead in GA. I gave the few I had left away to a friend when we moved to OK. I live in town and can't have livestock, and I don't think I could register an entire flock as emotional support animals.

My next flock I was going to focus on egg production and starting a legacy flock. I was going to get some Austrolorps for up there (broody, excellent egg production, brown layers, large- but not big enough to be considered meat birds, cold tolerant). I'm sad to hear you had shipping issues. I was planning to have my next flock mailed to me up there, but being 10 air miles from the nearest post office when I move up there.....

The delivery shouldn't take more than 2 days, but they do say that they don't make guarantees for AK. I'm really glad to hear that they made it right for you.

How bad was the shipping costs?

I might just order them here and bring them up, that is what I'm doing with the goats. Red Rangers and Buff Orpingtons: brown or white layers?

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