Raising Backyard Chickens will not only provide high-quality eggs (organic if you chose to feed them organic feed only), but also serve as master gardeners, pest exterminators, and garbage collectors. With all More »
Often apartment dwellers and even homeowners think they cannot have a home vegetable garden because they have a tiny yard, deck or even any outdoor space at all.
Gardening in a small space can be a challenge but there are many options that will allow you to have fresh vegetables and herbs no matter the size of your backyard or indoor space.
Small Garden Ideas
Planting a small vegetable garden simply requires more careful planning than a larger space.
The best vegetables for a small garden are compact varieties that do not require extensive roots such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants and leafy greens.
Some small garden ideas are using raised beds, large pots and containers that are specially designed to grow several varieties of vegetables in a confined area on a deck, patio or any room that gets some sun.
Not only can these garden containers grow fresh produce to serve your family but they can even be incorporated as a nice decoration or a splash of color.
A “Living fence” is another favorite contemporary garden idea because they are formed from vining crops like cucumbers and beans that will grow up poles or string to create a unique natural fence.
Let’s take a look at some small garden ideas:
Square foot gardens (4 ft. by 4 ft.) are surprisingly productive. Dividing the space into 4×4 into 16 -1 ft square areas will allow you to grow 16 different vegetables and herbs.
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peppers, and eggplant may need staking and space 3 plants for each square foot. Cabbage and cauliflower produces a single head planted at one to a foot.
Trellises can aid in small vegetable garden plans. A trellis is useful to gardeners seeking to maximize space. So rather than allowing vine crops to sprawl across the garden, a trellis will allow plants such as beans and cucumbers to grow up.
In addition to space-saving planting techniques, gardeners have an additional resource: dwarf varieties and bush forms of plants that originally grew only as vines.
Just be advised that while the dwarf varieties take up less room, the harvests are going to be somewhat smaller than their full size relatives.
Another great small garden idea is to use containers.
Pick a sunny location for your container garden, if you are going to use the containers indoors you may have to supplement with some grow lights. Fill your containers with a good quality potting soil with compost and fertilizer already added.
Plant your vegetable seeds or small plants following the planting and spacing instructions on the seed packets or plant labels. Be sure to provide plenty of water during hot weather. A container garden will dry out more quickly than a typical in the ground garden.
Growing tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, radishes, peppers, eggplants, onions and more is easily accomplished in a container garden. Use a cage or a trellis to support larger-growing vegetables such as tomatoes, beans and cucumbers. A wire cage gives the best support.
Remember, just because you have a small vegetable garden that you can’t grow many vegetables. Even the smallest of gardens can produce a bumper crop.
If you are thinking about raising some chickens in your backyard, you will be joining millions of Americans who are taking some baby steps to living a more sustainable, healthy lifestyle.
This article will give you the details on how to raise chickens.
Just in case you need more convincing on why you should get some chickens, read 10 Reasons you should be raising backyard chickens.
How To Raise Chickens
Just a quick over view on why you might want to raise some backyard chickens:
- Fresh Eggs – This is the most obvious reason of course. If you allow your chickens to “free range” you will find them to be much more flavorful and nutritious than anything you can buy in the store.
- Composting – Chickens are composting machines! They turn your leftover table scraps into the best fertilizer you can buy.
- Insect and Landscaping Control – If your chickens are allowed to roam about they are insect mercenaries. No bug will be safe! They will also landscape around all trees and shrubs, all at no cost.
- Pets – A chicken as a pet? Seems strange I suppose, but if you raise them from chicks they will eat from your hand, come when you call them and wait for you wait for you by the door just like your dog. They are low maintenance unlike your dog though, you can leave them alone as long as there is food and water available.
- Self-Sustaining Lifestyle – You already know about the eggs, but they of course if after they stop laying eggs you wish to eat them, you find them to be much better than anything from the grocery store.
If you need help in choosing the right breed of chicken, this article will help you decide.
Chickens are pretty simple animals to care for, just give them shelter, food and water.
Caring for chicks will be covered in another article. We will focus on adult chickens and if you are brand new I suggest you start with pullets (chickens ready to lay eggs).
The chicken coop will provide your chickens security from predators. All types of animals would find your chickens a tasty meal: weasels, dogs, cats, raccoons and even hawks if you live in a more rural area.
See this article for chicken coop requirements. Your coop should be completely wrapped in a wire cage. The wire holes should not be larger than an inch. All cracks, and loose boards must be secured. You would be amazed at how little an opening predators need to get in!
A Chicken Run
Your chicken coop needs to have some space for your chickens to forage and run around. A 4ft by 8ft is more than enough for 3 hens. The chicken run needs to have the same protection as the coop, meaning it needs chicken wire with less than an inch opening around the entire enclosure. While its not hard to learn how to raise chickens, you must protect them!
An Elevated Roost
Like all birds, chickens have a roosting instinct and need an elevated, enclosed and ventilated space to roost in. The roosting area needs a perch bar that they will sleep on. Preferable rounded and at least an inch in diameter.
Your coop needs a nesting box. This is a roughly a 12”x12”x12” space that they will lay their eggs in. It needs some straw, wood shavings or a nesting pad.
Chicken Tractor (Mobile Coop)
A Chicken tractor has some advantages or a stationary coop. Chickens will strip the ground bare in just a few days. So to keep the ground from getting muddy and nasty you will need to put hay, gravel or some other material. Have a mobile coop will allow you to move it around every few days to forage in a new area without letting them out of the protection of the coop.
You can of course just let them out of a stationary coop during the day, just be aware they are then vulnerable to predators. Make sure you put them back in the coop at night for protection.
The second need for your chickens, food. Remember you will be eventually eating what they eat. The quality of their eggs is going to be determined by what you feed them. Try and let them free range as much as possible. Chickens will LOVE your leftovers. No scrap of food will go to waste when you have chickens!
Since that may not be enough for them, you will need to supplement their food with some type of commercial chicken feed. Invest in a good feeder and make sure the food in it doesn’t get all moldy.
Also your chickens need some type of grit. This is how they digest their food. Put out a bowl of sand and/or crushed oyster shells. The shells contain calcium that will keep the eggs shells strong.
Chickens of course need fresh water. Invest in a quality waterer, make sure in the winter it has the capability of having a heater attachment so the water doesn’t freeze. We have covered the basics on how to raise chickens, shelter, food and water. There is not that much to it.
Time Involved to Raise Chickens
Raising chickens is a low-maintenance pursuit. There is the initial labor of setting up the coop/run, getting the birds, buying the feed but everything after is fairly simple.
You feed them, change the water, clean the manure every few days, move the chicken tractor if have one. For the most part, though, raising a few chickens in your backyard is not much work.
Chickens are easy to care for and have a lot to offer. They are inexpensive to keep and will help you on the way to living a more sustainable lifestyle. So don’t be afraid to make the leap, you won’t regret it!
Here are some FAQ’s that I get asked frequently on How to Raise Chickens:
Q: What are the best breeds of chickens?
A: Rather than answer that question here, I wrote an article on it, click here. But in general the most popular breeds are: Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, and Americana/Araucanas.
Q: Do I need a rooster?
A: Unless you want fertilized eggs to hatch your own chicks, you do not need a rooster. If you live in an urban area, most likely you will not be able to keep one anyway due to city ordinances.
Q: How often hens lay eggs?
A: It depends some on the type of breed, but you can count on 5-6 eggs per hen per week in the Spring, Summer and Fall. Less in the Winter.
Q: What health issues to chickens have?
A: Like an animal, they can get sick. Your best bet to diagnose their issues is in a forum. You most likely will find someone who has had the same problem and can give you the answer. BackyardChickens.com has an active forum. You will find as long as you provide their basic needs they will tend to stay healthy.
You have no doubt heard the term “prepping” or “preppers”. Unfortunately with shows like Doomsday Preppers it has gotten a bad rap.
You may think its “out there” or just for crazy people.
In this article I want to cover some reasons why you should take some common sense steps to prepare for emergencies.
Why you Should Start Prepping
You have to agree that some preparedness does make sense. I mean sh!t happens. I live in FL and we have to constant worry every year of hurricanes. The fact is though is that most of North America, and really most places on planet Earth are subject to violent weather, earthquakes or wildfires.
The problem is that the media has demonized people who take some steps to want to prepare for the unforeseen event. You don’t have to be a “fruitcake”, angry militia member or hoarder to do some basic prepping.
I know plenty of “normal” families, you know, 2 kids and a dog who have a garden, raise chickens and keep some extra supplies on hand, just in case. We don’t wrap tin foil around ours heads, we don’t have bunkers and we don’t have a room full of MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat).
As I write this, Ebola is all in the news. And while I don’t think that Ebola is going to spread nationwide and turn us all into dying zombies just maybe having a plan for a what if, isn’t a bad idea after all. So if its Ebola that makes you take notice that maybe its not such a bad idea to do some simple, common sense prepping then maybe some good has come of it.
Fact # 1 Disasters Happen
Not to be a gloom and doomer and try to get ready for the end of the world but the fact is that disasters do happen. Most of us has experienced some type of situation, be it a bad storm, tornado, earthquake or hurricane. This is the best reason why you should start prepping.
- A Really Bad Storm: Most of areas of the country have some type of extreme weather. When they happen, business shut down and grocery stores quickly empty of all food and water. It may take days or maybe more to get back to normal. It is probably the best reason why you should start prepping.
- Civil Unrest: As I write this Ferguson is still in the news. If you have seen any of the unrest you can see the havoc it can wreak on a community. Riots, looting and general chaos after a black teen was shot by a white cop. Many residents had to hole up as to avoid the mobs rather than risk getting beaten up or worse just try to goto the grocery store.
- Water Supply Contamination: Maybe its just Florida, but it seems like every few weeks I hear about some town that has to boil their water because of a water main break. After superstorm Sandy ripped through NY, the local water supplies were contaminated by raw sewage. If you didn’t have some bottled water on hand, you were probably out of luck as stores sold out of water in less than an hour.
- Natural Disasters: Earthquakes are a frequent occurrence in the US. Some of them happen in places you would not expect. As a matter of fact the strongest recorded earthquake was not in CA or Alaska, it was in New Madrid Missouri. Not where you would expect. When an earthquake hits, roads get closed, there are power outages and water supplies get interrupted and/or contaminated.
- Power Outages: This is a common occurrence after a natural disaster. Be it an ice storm, hurricane or earthquake. A long term power outage will take you back to living in the 1800’s. Imagine, no phone, computer, lights, stove or microwave is useless, no A/C or heat. You wont be able to use your credit card for any purchases. Some prepping doesn’t seem so crazy now does it?
- Financial Meltdown: This may be a bit more farfetched but during the financial crises of 2007/8 we came dangerously close to that exact scenario. From what I read we were only days maybe hours before the entire financial system collapsed. Of course it would come back up, but it may have taken emergency measure and who know how long it may have been before you buy groceries at the store.
Its really not that out of the realm of possibility that one of the above could happen on any given day. They have happened before and they will happen again. You can’t control them but you can take some basic steps to protect your family.
See this for how to start Prepping
Even if you don’t have a lot of time or space you can still take advantage of some creative techniques using containers and vertical gardening that will make use of even the smallest areas.
You don’t need a yard and have to deal with rocky, shallow or slow draining clay soil conditions. You can easily be growing vegetable indoors with some techniques I will show you in this article.
With some creativity you can grow a bounty of fresh healthy vegetables indoors.
Growing Vegetables Indoors
Indoor Container Gardens
Indoor gardening can take place in wooden boxes, baskets, clay pots, and half barrels, almost any container can create the ideal environment for root development.
A HUGE plus for indoor container gardens is that weeds, grass and tree roots will not be an issue.
Indoor container gardens tend to thrive due to ideal soil conditions, freedom from invasive weeds and total control over watering.
So if you have some extra space the container garden will probably be ideal for you.
One big advantage of using containers is that if you use them outdoors in the summer you can then just move them indoors at the end of the growing season and not miss a beat. No replanting required!
Another great option is a vertical 3 tier stand that does not need any containers, the vegetables grow in the shelves. It has castors so it can be rolled around to keep it in the sun and a handy storage compartment.
What vegetables can you grow in your indoor container garden?
Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant: They are easily raised crops and are favorites for a windowsill or container garden. They can be grown from seed or small plant-lets. Train tomatoes up canes or a string, where they will produce long trusses of tasty, decorative tomatoes for several months.
Carrots and radishes: Most root crops need some depth and can be grown in a deeper container pot. Radishes, especially round or globe varieties that do not root very deep and will grow well in boxes and pots. Seeds can often be producing usable roots 21 to 25 days later.
Beans and peas: Dwarf french beans, broad beans and dwarf runner beans crop well indoors, too. Tall runner beans grown in a pot will grow on a string. Both dwarf and tall mangetout peas do well indoors. Pick the pods while they are young, tender and juicy.
Suppose you don’t have a lot of space, does this mean you cannot grow vegetables indoors? Well you will have fewer options available but there are some products that will have you growing vegetables.
If you don’t have the space for containers you can setup a counter top garden.
Indoor Counter Top Gardens
But if its not, use grow lights to provide the needed light for your garden to flourish.
Several companies such as AeroGarden, have convenient kits of several different sizes and styles. These units come with built-in seed pods, grow lights and easy to follow planting and care instructions.
Traditional gardeners may laugh and shake their head at the creative measures that indoor vegetable gardeners have to take.
However, you will be laughing when they are outside in the heat, humidity, fighting off bugs while being waist high in weeds. You on the other hand will be inside, dry and cool as a cucumber.
This indoor gardening method concentrates the growing of vegetables indoors in an environment that is free of the outdoor vegetable gardening hazards such as bad weather conditions, pests, and various plant diseases
Indoor Herb Gardens
Besides its culinary uses for turning a bland dish into something spectacular, there are many unappreciated health benefits.
As an example, in ancient Indian folklore, turmeric was called the spice of life.
And for good reason, in recent studies, turmeric has been shown to be beneficial in fighting Alzheimer’s.
So you get health benefits along with the additional taste to curry..
See also: Indoor Herb Garden
So you have talked yourself into raising backyard chickens (or your kids/spouse talked you into it). Your first question is probably: How Much Does it Cost to Raise Chickens?
Well the good news is that backyard chickens are really pretty cheap in comparison to what you get. I will give you a rundown on what it will cost you to get started.
This assumes your starting with 2-4 hens.
How Much Does It Cost To Raise Chickens?
Startup Cost to Raise Backyard Chickens
|Total Cost to Start:||$384|
|Rhode Island Red Hen - Pullet x 2||$36|
|Easy To Put Together Chicken Coop||$235|
|20 Pounds of Chicken Feed||$32|
|Hen Nesting Pads - Pack of 10||$23|
So after your initial investment of $384.00, you will be getting more than 20 free-range eggs per week. If you assume a grocery store purchase price for eggs ($6-7 per week, about $4.00 per dozen) then you should recover the cost of your chicken coop and supplies within a year.
How much you save on eggs (and meat) by raising your own backyard chickens will vary of course based on a number of factors. You do get the huge benefit of knowing exactly where the eggs came from, they can be organic eggs if you decide to go the non-GMO, organic feed route.
There are a lot of ways to cut costs and save money. Your biggest upfront cost is the coop, if your willing to do some work, have some basic tools and skills to build a coop you can save some money there.
Chicken feed costs are you main ongoing costs, you can cut down on that by feeding them table scraps and letting forage for bugs etc.
In addition to feed and bedding materials, add roughly $10.00 per month for miscellaneous extras, such as medicine, pest control, egg boxes etc.
Remember while it will take some time to re-coop the costs when you start up, you have the satisfaction of providing fresh eggs to you and your family.
Plus you have the added benefit of knowing you are not supporting the large, inhumane, factory chicken farms.
To me that’s worth a lot!
Urban Chicken Coop
Have you always wanted to have backyard chicken coops but thought you couldn’t since you live in the city? While there are some cities that don’t allow any type of farm animal, many cities do and you’re allowed to have chickens.
However, some of these cities that allow chickens to be kept do not allow roosters due to the crowing and complaints from neighbors. You’ll want to check with your city to make sure you’re not breaking any animal nuisance laws.
The reasons for keeping chickens vary from wanting fresh eggs to wanting a different kind of pet to desiring a bit of the country in the city. Not only can there be a savings on the grocery bill by producing eggs for family use, but many neighbors are joining together to create chicken projects. They’re splitting costs of the materials to build the backyard chicken coops as well as the cost of the feed and incidentals.
If you figure that you want to have a urban chicken coop for hens of your own, they’re not at all difficult to build, plus you can design your own plans to make the coop look like a little house or barn rather than the traditional coop you may remember. All it takes is a little planning before you get started.
You’ll need to make sure you plan enough space for each chicken as over crowded conditions can lead to sickness among the chickens. The general rule of thumb for space is to have approximately four square feet of space for each chicken though it never hurts to have more. As you’re building the chicken coop take into consideration the area where you live.
If you live in a northern state where snow and ice are a regular part of the weather, you’re going to need an urban chicken coop that’s adequately insulated to keep the chickens warm. You don’t want to have to bring them indoors for them to survive. If you happen to live in an area where the winters are not as harsh, but the summers are scorchers, you’ll have to make sure the coop is built to provide maximum cooling.
When building the home for your chickens, you don’t have to spend a lot of money buying brand new materials. You can build it from recycled materials, such as wood left over from a home project – even hinges salvaged from old kitchen or bathroom makeovers can be put to use as hinges for a chicken coop door.
Whatever materials you use to build your backyard chicken coops, make sure you’ve provided good ventilation in the snug home for your chickens otherwise you can get an ammonia build up that’s not good for you or the chickens.
How to Build a Chicken Coop
Chickens need a warm place to live. They need a place where their natural enemies can’t break in and carry them or their young away into the night. They need shelter when the weather takes a nasty turn.
You’ll want to make sure you build a snug coop as drafty ones are harmful for chickens. If you’ve never built a chicken coop before, you can learn how to build the best chicken coop.
Scout out the place where you want to build a chicken coop. Beginners often decide to build a coop without checking out the ground saturation before hand. If the area has a tendency to pool water, it’s a bad location to put up a coop.
Chickens have to have a dry space. You’ll need a level area to build the coop on, but never build a coop directly on the ground. Have you ever had a racoon or rodent get into an outside building or shed?
These same predators will easily get inside chicken coops that are built flat on the ground no matter how much chicken fencing you put up around the coop.
Predators don’t just arrive on the ground either. Hawks and other large birds will snatch smaller chickens and take off with them.
When the chickens are outside of the coop, they need to be protected from these kinds of predators as well.
Humidity inside a coop isn’t healthy for chickens. You’ll want to make sure you have some type of opening for air to stir through. Some chicken owners use a simple vent, while other chicken owners put in a screened window that will open.
Those who take shortcuts carve a small hole in the plywood and nail a screen over that, but this isn’t a good idea.
The ventilation opening needs to be one that can be closed in the event of bad weather or built in such a way that rainwater and heavy drafts can’t get inside the structure.
Since chickens can’t fly as well as other birds, make sure you don’t place the perches too high off the floor where they can get hurt if they have a fall. Perches shouldn’t be built any higher than three to four feet off the floor.
Nesting boxes should be built lower than the perches (to prevent them from becoming the place the chickens prefer to sleep) and should be deep enough to make the chicken feel comfortable.
When constructing nesting boxes, make sure to slant the top of it because chickens love to roost on the flat surface of the boxes. The reason for the slanted top is because if chickens roost on the top, as they do their business, you’ll end up with quite an accumulation of droppings to constantly clean off.
Give the front of the nesting box a ledge so that the chicken can balance there when getting in and out of the nest. Follow these instructions and you now know how to build a chicken coop.
Maybe the recent news headlines have brought you here, or perhaps a friend who cares about you emailed you a link to this article.
Regardless of the reason, the important thing is that you have realized that some degree of preparedness is a good idea.
Keep in mind that you can just take baby steps, but the point is to just get started.
If you do nothing else then just get a full month’s supply of water on hand. The easiest way to do that is to buy refillable 5 gallon water jugs. You can fill them with tap water that can be safely used for pets, for flushing, and for cleaning and hygiene purposes. This is a very small investment to make for your family’s security and well-being in the event of an emergency.
Remember you can live for weeks without food but you won’t last a week without water. Bar none, this is the single most important thing you can do.
Figure that you will need about a gallon of water per person per day.
Build a Pantry
Once you have your water needs met, the second thing you need to for prepping 101, is start building your pantry. Hard core preppers like to keep a years’ worth of food on hand. That may be a bit much but when you’re starting, just work on a extra week or two. Then if you want to, you can build on that.
Most people, myself included don’t have the space to keep that much food around even if we wanted to. Remember were just taking baby steps here and this is about prepping for NORMAL people. We’re not trying to be Doomsday Preppers here!
Remember that when you are building your emergency food supply that there is a very good chance you will not have electricity. So you’ll want to have food that doesn’t require lengthy (or any) cooking times.
Look for just-add-water dehydrated foods, or even better, foods that don’t need to be cooked at all. Find a list of foods that don’t require cooking HERE
One thing to keep in mind is buy nutritious food. You don’t want to stock your pantry with Twinkies and Ring Dings. While they require no cooking and will last forever, you probably are not going to last very long eating them!
Surviving a Power Outage
Being one of the most likely scenarios to prepare for in prepping 101, this is a great starting point. If you can get to the point where you can survive for just 2 weeks you will be in a better position than 99% of the country.
Since were talking about a power outage, lighting is vital to prepare for. If you have kids, even more so. Luckily your lighting needs are very easy to take care of.
Here are some solutions for you:
- Garden stake solar lights
- Long-burning candles
- Kerosene lamp and fuel
- Flashlights (don’t forget batteries)
- Hand crank/solar lantern
- Don’t forget matches or lighters
Learn about prepping for a two week power outage in more detail HERE.
Home Defense Planning
It is a fact of life that bad situations bring out the worst in people. Typically people that are not prepared in the slightest. Remember that you may be prepared with all the food and water you need but if someone is able to take it from you then it’s not of much help.
Here is an interesting and informative article that describes what typically happens after some type of disaster. The Anatomy of a Breakdown explains the predictable patterns of social unrest.
Here are some simple things you can do to make your home less of a target:
Keep all the doors and windows locked. This may be obvious, but this is the simplest and most effective thing you can do.
Keep all the curtains closed. You don’t want people walking past your home to see what and who is there. Don’t make it easy for them to do reconnaissance.
Don’t answer the door. It doesn’t matter who is at the door or what they want. People who want to do you harm may send an innocent looking person to your door to get you open it.
Keep pets indoors. Thieves and criminals can use an animal in distress to get a homeowner to open the door for them.
Don’t count on the police. If the disorder is widespread, you cannot depend on 911 to save you from criminals. You have to be prepared to save yourself.
Being armed may be your only defense. If the door of your home is breached, it’s a good bet they are not there to make pleasant conversation. Have a plan to deter them using whatever your choice of weapon. Remember a weapon you don’t know how to use is more dangerous than having no weapon at all.
Note: I am not saying your weapon of choice has to be firearm. It could be a baseball bat, but have something with which you can defend yourself with.
Have a safe room to fall back on. If your home is breached, having a room that you can fall back to may be our only hope. This room needs to have a solid door instead of a normal hollow core door. You should have some type of weapon that you defend your family with.
Have an escape route planned. If you determine you will not be able to keep intruders out, then you have to have a way out. Your house and possessions are not worth dying over.
Sanitation Preparedness Planning
You know how important have it is to have clean water and food but proper sanitation is very important as well. If you have a septic system you just need to keep some water around for flushing purposes, this water does not need to be potable of course.
If you are in an urban environment, chances are very good your water pressure will not be there for very long if you lose electricity. One solution is to keep a supply of heavy duty garbage bags and use cat litter. After every use, pour in some more cat litter. Just make sure the bag doesn’t get to heavy to dispose of.
Make sure you stock up on paper plates, cups and plastic utensils. You don’t want to waste precious water cleaning them.
Keep some disinfecting cleaning wipes and sprays, use hand sanitizer after using the bathroom and before handing food or beverages.
You should have a basic first aid kit on hand at all times. Particularly in the event of an emergency. Your prepping 101 kit should include basic wound care items like bandages, antibiotic sprays or ointments.
If you use them, keep a supply of basic over-the-counter medications, like pain relief pills, cold medicine, allergy medication and any other specific medications you need
Other Specific Needs
This will be unique to every family. Think about you may need on a daily basis. It might be prescription medications, diapers, baby formula or anything else that you need to survive on a daily basis. If you’re not sure, just write down everything you use on a daily basis for a few weeks.
Don’t forget about your pets if you have them!
With the recent Ebola fear this has suddenly become big news. The good news is you really will not need to do anything different to prepare for this remote possibility. If you are really worried about it, there is protective clothing available.
Supplies to Have on Hand
Here is a general list of supplies to have on hand. Remember that sometimes power supplies are lost during a variety of situations, so keep the potential for a down-grid situation in mind when preparing.
You don’t have to get everything all at once. In Prepping 101 your just getting started. Build your supplies as you can. After a quick inventory and re-organization, you may be pleasantly surprised at how many supplies you actually have on hand.
- Water: 1 gallon per person per day (We use 5 gallon jugs and a gravity water dispenser
- Water filter (We have a Big Berkey)
- Necessary prescription medications
- A well stocked pantry – you need at least a one-month supply of food for the entire family, including pets
- This is a one-month food supply for one person – it’s not the highest quality food in the world, but it is one way to jumpstart your food storage
- An off grid cooking method (We have a Char-Broil Offset Smoker American Gourmet Grill, an outdoor burner, and a woodstove inside)
- Or food that requires no cooking
- A tactical quality first aid kit
- Lighting in the event of a power outage
- Sanitation supplies (in the event that the municipal water system is unusable, this would include cleaning supplies and toilet supplies)
- A way to stay warm in harsh winter weather (This Little Buddy propane heaterwith a supply of propane is a very popular choice)
- Over-the-counter medications and/or herbal remedies to treat illnesses at home
- A diverse survival guide and first aid manual (hard copies in case the internet and power grid are down)
- Alternative communications devices (such as a hand crank radio) so that you can get updates about the outside world
- Off-grid entertainment: arts and craft supplies, puzzles, games, books, crossword or word search puzzles, needlework, journals (Find more ideas HERE and HERE)
Don’t let the thought of how much prep work you need to do get you down. Remember just do a little bit each week/month. It’s a process and will take time. As you get closer to your goal, you should be encouraged by how much better off you will be than 99% of the population.
Fresh herbs and spices can transform a dull, bland meal into a delicious, amazingly great tasting dish. Not only can fresh herbs and spices make your meal taste great but most have some unexpected health benefits. You can easily grow your own in an indoor herb garden on your kitchen countertop.
So besides adding flavor to your daily meals, there are a host of health perks. Among the many benefits are protection from deadly chronic conditions like disease, diabetes and even cancer
Fresh herbs and spices can take the place of excess use of salt. Limiting your sodium intake can help control high blood pressure. So instead of using seasonings with artificial ingredients try using some fresh herbs and spices.
Indoor Herb Garden Favorites
Rosemary has been used in medicinal and culinary applications for thousands of years. Rosemary contains many antioxidants and compounds that can help reduce inflammation. In addition, it provides iron for respiratory health, calcium for bone strength, and fiber for digestive health.
It has also been found that rosemary improved the memory of mice and could possibly be used to help with age-related cognitive declines in humans.
Rosemary is ideal on chicken, fish, in soups and sauces, or even infuse olive oil with it.
Anise is a sweet and aromatic seed that is usually compared to licorice in flavor. It has been used to calm upset stomachs, cough suppression and runny noses. There have been study’s done that suggests that women can use it to increase their milk flow when nursing and treat menstrual discomfort and pain.
Anise has been found as a good source of fiber and calcium too. You’ll find it’s commonly used in alcohols and liqueurs, but also in some dairy products, gelatins, meats, candies, and breath fresheners.
You can use it as an ingredient in sausage, candies, and baked goods.
Basil is a staple herb in many different cultures’ cuisine and especially easy to grow in your indoor herb garden. It has been shown to have strong antioxidant properties, anti-inflammatory properties, and can help with cardiovascular health.
Some other benefits include helping with respiratory infections, asthma, diabetes, and decreasing pain and swelling. Basil has been shown to lower blood glucose, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels
Basil is delicious, and you can use it in many different dishes. Basil also makes for a delicious caprese salad, and a wide range of sauces such as Pesto.
There’s many varieties of mint, including spearmint, peppermint and wild mint. Several uses for spearmint include treating gas, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, bile duct and gall bladder swelling, and gallstones.
Spearmint has similar benefits as rosemary which include helping with memory. Spearmint has also been found to reduce and control excessive hair growth in women.
Peppermint has been found to reduce cold symptoms, throat inflammation, sinus infections, and respiratory infections. Peppermint has fared well in clinical trials and can be used for digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome because the oils in mint reduces spasms in the digestive tract.
Different types of mint are used as common flavoring agents for various foods, drinks, and candies. Mint is also used to make a variety of teas.
Oregano is a favorite for Italian cooking. A USDA study found that oregano had the highest amount of antioxidants out of 27 different herbs, gram for gram. Oregano has also been found to have antibacterial and antifungal properties.
This makes it very effective against food-borne illnesses and infections. There have been studies done that show the oil in Oregano may even help protect against some drug-resistant bacteria. Oregano is ideal for growing in your indoor herb garden.
Oregano is an extremely versatile herb and can be used in soups, stews, pizza, pasta, and goes great with just about anything tomato-based.
Thyme has some impressive health benefits. You can use thyme to treat bronchitis, whooping cough, sore throats, arthritis, upset stomach, diarrhea, gas, acne, high blood pressure, yeast infection, various types of cancer, and parasitic worm infections. Very impressive indeed!
The oil of thyme contains thymol, which is a naturally occurring compound that can kill harmful bacteria and other organisms. Thyme is easy to grow in your indoor herb garden.
Thyme adds great flavor to: pasta sauces, omelettes, its great on fish, in soup, and mixed with beans. If you’re looking to treat some of the above ailments then Thyme tea is a great way to do it.
Ginger is a root that has been traditionally used to relieve colds and settle stomachs. It also has compounds called gingerols. They have been shown to help fight some cancers and reduce arthritis pain. It’s also been proven to help with muscle soreness, menstrual pain, upper respiratory tract infections, and bronchitis.
One of Ginger’s most impressive uses is in treating numerous types of nausea. Some studies suggest it can help with motion sickness, morning sickness, gas, and diarrhea. Some people have been using Ginger more effectively to treat pain than ibuprofen.
Ginger can be used in many different foods. Use some fresh ginger over veggies and noodles. It can be used in stir fry or try putting a little in your tea.
Turmeric is a relative of ginger and is one of the main components of curry powder. Curcumin, is the active compound found in turmeric that can help reduce inflammation and ease symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
In lab tests curcumin has been shown to block the growth of certain kinds of tumors. Some studies have showed signs that curcumin can be used to safely and effectively treat serious states of depression.
Turmeric is a main ingredient in Indian cuisine, however it can be used on lots of different foods. It’s great for sautéing veggies or cooking fish, and put it on rice or in chicken soup.
Sage is another herb that has been used for gastrointestinal health. It has also been used to successfully treat depression, memory loss, and even help with Alzheimer’s disease. Women have used it to treat menstrual pain and reduce hot flashes during menopause. Try applying sage to heal cold sores or to gums to treat gingivitis.
Try adding sage to eggs, sauces, and use it when baking chicken or fish.
So if you’re only cooking with salt and pepper, its time you start adding some of these herbs and spices to your meals. Try finding various recipes so that you can use a wide variety of herbs and spices. For maximum freshness, you should try growing your own herbs.
There is ample evidence supporting the health benefits of many herbs and spices, however there is nothing entirely conclusive. The bottom line is that herbs won’t magically make you a healthy person but it’s a great reason they’re worth trying. Even if they don’t help you medically, they will make your food taste great!
All of the above herbs can be grown in the Miracle-Gro AeroGarden 7-Pod Indoor Garden.
See also: Growing Vegetables Indoors
Proper housing for your flock of chickens is key to having healthy birds.
Building a chicken coop to the proper specifications is not as easy as you may think. To fill the requirements a chicken coop design requires several key characteristics.
Chicken Coop Requirements
- Accommodate a chicken feeder and waterer, which ideally should about hang 6-8″ off the ground.
- Easy to clean so bugs and bacteria don’t grow and make your chickens sick.
- Be secure from rodents, namely rats. They will be attracted to the chicken feed and poop. Rodents can burrow, so you need to block them from getting into the chicken coop from underground. If your coop doesn’t have a floor, you should bury a small-mesh fencing into the ground.
- One of the main chicken coop requirements is protection from predators. Not only from the sides, but from above and below as well. Predators would love to eat your chickens for dinner, not to mention their eggs. Predators include: raccoons, foxes, wolves, coyotes and hawks. Be sure you select the right wire mesh. I would recommend a wire mesh with one-half inch square holes, that will keep all predators out and the chickens safe.
- Chickens are especially to prevent respiratory diseases so your coop must allow air to flow through, but not too drafty in the winter that they freeze to death. Chickens are hardy can handle the cold as long as the coop isn’t too breezy.
- Has roosting poles for your hens to sleep on. Ideally they should be 2″ wide with rounded edges. Allot 5-10″ of space per bird side to side and 10″ between poles if more than one is necessary.
- You can encourage your hens’ egg-laying production by having one nest box for every four or five hens. Nesting boxes should be raised off the ground a few inches, but lower than the lowest roosting pole. They should also be dark and provide some privacy to cater to the hen’s instinct to lay their eggs in a safe place.
- Chicken coop requirements call for providing enough room so each hen has at least 4 square feet, if birds are
able to roam freely during the day. If they are permanently confined, then at least 10 square feet per hen.
- You should have a removable “droppings tray” under the roosting poles to capture the chicken poop and provide easy disposal.
- If you have a chicken run then the sides should provide the same protection as the coop. Again, fencing should be buried 12″ into the ground to keep predators and rodents from digging their way in. I would also strongly recommend that you secure the top of the chicken run with aviary netting or deer netting. This will keep wild birds out and provide further defense against predators.
If you have carpentry skills and you want to build your own, there are lots of plans available on the internet. If you don’t have the right tools, skill set or just don’t want to take the time, you can purchase a chicken coop. Lots of inexpensive, easy to put together kits can be found on Amazon.