practical information : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I think that this has been a great forum in which to exchange information about Y2K, thoughts, feelings, etc. There seem to be quite a few people who, either directly or indirectly because of the crisis, are planning to move to rural areas and/or become as self-sufficient as possible. Some have had extensive experience at some time with gardening, animals, etc. Others have had some experience, but certainly not to this extent. Many others have no other experience, but are earnest in their desire to learn. Books are a great place to learn, and if there are other resources that helps too, but there is nothing like experience itself. I would like to hear from people with experience in various areas of expertise. Some thoughts of what might be helpful to people would be: what types of animals have people found to be most practical for small homesteading? solar electric experience? What type of non-hybrid seeds have gardeners found to be most productive and least troublesome? These are just a few ideas, but I think it would really help people to hear practical homesteading tips also.

-- Damian Solorzano (, September 23, 1998


I second that!

I am a certified city girl -- we're talking: my idea of "camping out" is when room service is late.

I am actually contemplating getting some chickens and a goat for milk, cheese, etc.

Advice on the easiest, safest, healthiest way to do this in an environment that is NOT a working farm would be appreciated. Also, what supplies would have to be stockpiled for the animals?

Farmers only need apply.

-- Sara Nealy (, September 23, 1998.

Note that "farm animals" are not allowed in many urban/suburban areas. Having said that....

Fencing is important, especially with a goat. You can also tether a goat in a weedy lot & he/she will clean it out.

Chickens. If you're talking eggs, you need to build a coop for them to nest in. If you're talking meat, some kind of shelter is going to be important. Dogs & hawks will make quick work of any chickens they can catch. Chickens will also take a dump any old place they feel like it.

Killing a chicken can be dang difficult or very easy, depending on whether you know how to do it or not. If you want to know more, see, September 23, 1998.

Chickens: you need to get something like 50 at the time, get a good cross variety that will work for meat or eggs. When large enough, start killing worst egg layers for meat. They need grain type feeds for good production.

pigs/hogs: You'll need a solar fence charger for these; they'll tear up anything! One adult sow will produce about 18 to 20 pigs per year under excellent care. After pigs are ten or twelve weeks old, they'll gain about 2 to 3 pounds per day on optimum feed (they eat about 6 to 8 pounds per day) They can survive off the land, but don't expect them to put on weight nearly as fast.

Cows: Plan on one calf per cow per year. (Should be more, but conditions aren't going to be good) You'll need about one acre of good grass for them to eat off of if you don't supply with feed.

If you've got the land, you can supply yourself and family with enough meat to choke off all blood flow with:

3 cows and 1 bull 3 gilts (female hog that hasn't had pigs yet) and one boar hog (male) 50 chickens and a couple of roosters

You'll also need:

A couple of acres of land if you have feed for animals on hand (be careful, it takes a lot!) or: About ten acres of pasture for them to graze on if you have little feed stored (you need about double the land because you have to rotate the use so they don't destroy the grass)

You'll also need: medications for animals like Pen, wormer, etc.

The one thing I can't figure out is this: I live in an area where crime is low; everybody owns lots of guns, keeps them loaded, and will use them if pushed. However, it's going to be really difficult to prevent someone from walking off with your animals in the middle of the night. The "taking turns to guard the stock" situation won't last long, everybody's got to sleep. Anyone with any thoughts.

-- Greg Sugg (, September 23, 1998.

A dog. A BIG dog. A BIG dog who doesn't like strangers.

That why they were invented from wolves several thousands of years ago.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, September 23, 1998.


I happen to have a Rottweiler, lots of guns (loaded - they don't do any good empty!), a stocked pond behind the house, garden, etc. Also, most of the people I grew up with consider they have bragging rights when their seven year old kid kills his first animal. I STILL worry about how the bulk of unprepared people are going to react if things get tough. Oh well, blame it on "redneck" paranoia.

-- Greg Sugg (, September 23, 1998.

Before anybody gets anxious to go out and buy a goat or a cow or anything else in the livestock category (which to me is anything other than a lapcat or my silly puppydog), read up on the subject as much as you can to find the breed that will work best for you. Countryside and Small Stock magazine is dedicated to the small farmer, and regularly contains numerous articles on raising livestock; Garden Way Publishing puts out Raising Milk Goats the Modern Way; look for The Homesteader's Handbook to Raising Small Livestock, which covers goats, chckens, sheep, geese, rabbits, hogs, turkeys, guinea fowl, ducks and pigeons (ISBN 0-87857-122-1); Keeping Livestock Healthy [A Veterinary Guide] (written by a DVM, ISBN 0-88266-134-5); Butchering Livestock at Home, Garden Way publishing bulletin A-65, ISBN 0-88266-279-1; and check to see if the University of Pennsylvania still offers their correspondence courses in various animal husbandry topics, including beekeeping.

If you aren't already keeping livestock, consider partnering with a neighbor who is and trading skills or produce for milk or meat or education in keeping the animals you want.

BTW, Guinea fowl (I hear) are better than dogs to alert the homeowner to approaching visitors.

-- Karen Cook (, September 24, 1998.

Okay, Okay, I know when I'm licked:

Get a chicken, a BIG chicken, a BIG chicken that doesn't like strangers. Make that Several BIG chickens. Make that LOTS of BIG chickens. Make that LOTS and LOTS of BIG chickens.

Uncle De.., check me on this, but soemthing doesn't sound right.....can I go back to Rotweiller?

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, September 24, 1998.

Hmm, I see I hosed up that link. It's, September 24, 1998.
Hmm, I see I hosed up that link. It's Chicken House Hell.

Greg Sugg, I did a little bragging myself last winter. My son (10) nailed four squirrels with his BB gun. We had a couple of them with T'giving dinner. :-)

-- Larry Kollar (, September 24, 1998.


Just got off your web site (excellent!, it gets a 4 Jean rating by my daughter's scale)

Are you sure you wouldn't recomend LOTS and LOTS of REALLY BIG chickens to guard the homestead?

On second thought....

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, September 24, 1998.


Would you not then have the task of teaching the chickens to spare the dogs?

-- Uncle Deedah (, September 24, 1998.

Don"t try to have a Noah's Ark of animals. You will need a vet (not army) to help on occasion. I grew up on an Okla. farm and we had a wide variety of animals: horses, cows, sheep, hogs, chickens etc. The most practical would be the chickens....White Leghorns for eggs and White Plymouth Rocks for meat. The leghorns lay white eggs and a good layer should give you 250 eggs per year. Its easier to pluck the feathers off a white chicken. (Do not investigate the Chicken Ranch that was in Texas for years as that was another business entirely) Keep the roosters away from the hens unless you are wanting fertilized eggs. You would only need about 3 or 4 roosters per 100 hens and the roosters will fight. The droppings make great fertilizer for the garden. The white stuff in the chicken droppings is chicken droppings too! (Paper Moon). Next time we will discuss pigs. (See Orwells Animal Farm) or (Babe)

-- ronbanks (, September 24, 1998.

An excellent book that talks a lot about small scale homesteading for the beginner is called "How to Live on Almost Nothing (And Have Plenty)" by Janet Chadwick. Talks about gardening, raising animals for food including rabbits (which we can have in town), pigs (buying them as babies - or trading for them - in the spring is a lot cheaper in the long run than keeping and feeding and caring for a sow), chickens, geese, ducks, and veal calves, which can be butchered in 14 wks. Also about how to make good, cheap versions of the convenience mixes we buy like cake mix, biscuit mix (the kind you also make pancakes with), soaps (liquid and hard), wines - good stuff. I have used that book for about 10 years now!

-- Melissa (, September 24, 1998.

For raising chickens go to This should answer most of your questions. If you are raising chickens for the eggs only, you don't need that many hens. We have 2 hens and they provide all the eggs we need for a family of 5.

-- none (, September 24, 1998.

One thing that I'd like to ask is that if you are good enough to recommend a book, please post the ISBN#. This is a unique number that is assigned to each book to facilitate retrival by data systems. Titles are okay, but after working at a major bookseller for a few months, I became a firm believer in ISBN'S. For example: I purchased "Mortgage Free!" bu Rob Roy (Really.) The ISBN, which is located in at least two locations, the back of title page and above the upc, is 0-930031-98-9 Take this to any bookstore or any web- based bookseller, type it in and see what happens. By the way, this is a GREAT book, giving you all of the info that one needs to live a Motgage- free life. Mortgage means, literally "Death Pledge." Those of you that hold them know of what I speak. For those of you that post the ISBN, thanks. For the rest, Please?

-- Damian Solorzano (, September 25, 1998.

Damian, I have to agree and disagree with some of the others. I agree that you should read the books, but, I disagree that you necessarily should read them first. Go get some of whatever you can have wherever you are and experiment. Experience is by far the best teacher. My wife got started rasiing rabbits a few years ago and would occasionally get up to 200 or so in the summer. It's pretty easy to do, the rabbits do most of the work...well that is except for building all those cages and feeding and watering twice daily. See what I mean. Everybody told us it was Sooo easy.

The anamils can be a lot of work but they are also a lot of fun. We have spent many a fine evening setting outside watching young goats play king-of-the-mountain on and old cable spool. Geese are just funny by themselves.

Guineas are a MUST have if you are isolated. From our experiences they are FAR better than any dog at sensing something strange and I personally am FAR better than any dog at giving the appropriate level of welcome to strangers. You will have to put up with them occasionally getting upset at a full moon, but then this isn't a perfect world. They do pretty much take care of themselves.

Read a little, but do a lot. Then go back a read some more and the books will mean a lot more.

I posted this a couple of months ago but will repeat it here for any newbies: The one MUST-HAVE ESSENTIAL book is

The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery ISBN 0-912365-95-1

If you can have only one book, make it this one.

Gary Hale

Now, if I could just cross a large Guinea with a Rotweiler and teach it to carry a .45 .... hmmm

-- Gary Hale (, September 25, 1998.

I was going to say that the only thing stupider than a dog is a chicken, but I forgot about guineas. My wife told me about having some when she was a kid.

They are SO stupid...

... how stupid ARE they?

They will look straight up at rain coming down & literally drown!

But they *do* make a racket when something disturbs them. So do peacocks.

-- Larry Kollar (, September 25, 1998.

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