In a previous post, “What Makes Life Good?,” I talked about prioritizing good living over materialism. In the article comments, Justin pointed out that many people might go hungry next year, and he suggested you might want to pick up a copy of Grow or Die: The Good Guide to Survival Gardening. Yes, and yes.
No one can predict the future, but it seems like food shortages are possible, at least in some places. Industrial farming relies on massive amounts of fertilizer and long supply chains. When gas prices go up, food prices go up.
The good news is, America is still among the top four producers of food in the world, and we’re the #1 exporter. We have a lot of food, but that doesn’t mean that supply chain disruptions or economic depressions won’t impact food supply in the future, at least for a few months.
It seems prudent to have a garden or raise a few small farm animals. And it’s fun.
Chickens are my favorite farm animal. We currently have a rooster and five hens. We free range them on just over two acres of land. We get about three to four fresh eggs a day. They’re pretty easy to maintain, they do a great job of eating bugs and mosquitoes.
We have raised ISA Brown, Barred Plymouth Rock, Silver and Black Wyandotte, and Ameraucana. We are currently raising 16 chicks we bought from Rural King and Tractor Supply – four Buff Orpington and 12 Barred Plymouth Rock. Our favorite breed so far is the Barred Rock. They seem to be the best foragers.
When we buy chicks, we keep them in a dog crate in our mudroom for a couple weeks. You’ll need a chick heater or heat lamp, waterer, feeder, some grit, food and water. After a few weeks, they can survive outside as long as they have a heater and are protected by some type of chicken tractor or coop. At eight weeks, we let them out of the chicken tractor, but still keep them in poultry netting for protection. When they become adult chickens – four to five months old – they get to free range.
Some people like coops. I prefer to free range, because the chickens roam around my property and eat the bugs. At some point, they will find your porch and roost and poop on it, but hey, a little poop never hurt anyone. We’ve lost chickens to predators. We’ve had chicks die on us from illness. It sucks, but it happens. We just buy new chicks, raise a new batch, and move on.
There’s a bit more to it than just buying chicks and food, but it’s not hard, and you should start now.
We have a couple good books on hand – The Small Scale Poultry Flock by Harvery Ussery and Hatching and Brooding Your Own Chicks by Gail Damerow. Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, also by Damerow, is good, as are any of the other Storey’s Guides. Go ahead and buy real books. There are also plenty of articles on the Internet about how to raise chickens. My friend The Survival Gardener has a lot of interesting articles on his site.
So, make a plan get some chickens in the new couple of weeks. Figure out how to raise them on your property. Read some articles or buy the books above. Or put in a garden and figure out how to grow some sweet potatoes. Don’t wait until you’re hungry to learn.
The leets want to you eat the bugs.
Do you want to eat the bugs, or the eggs?