Bears and Bees

We've had a tragic twist in the road for our one struggling bee hive. 

We were concerned about our bees after the president of the bee club email about the amount of brood/boxes that should be full already- our first box wasn't full of brood and comb yet and you should expect 2 full boxes by now or nearly so. We were considering her suggestion about re-queening. 

Then last night a bear got into them and scattered everything, eating a lot of brood/honey.

 We have only a few frames unmolested, but the best ones are licked clean. I think  there is still one frame full and some partial ones. That is 1/10 of one box... we should be at 17 to 20 frames nearly full (2 boxes). We got the hive back together, but the hive is really going to be behind now, and we didn't see the queen, although the bees do seem to be sticking around. Very anxious...what is best to do at this point for them (find the queen and hope that starting from scratch is good enough, or just plan to replace the queen? Feed them with the bear issue going on?)We're looking up electric fencing now, but meantime what to plan doing?
Her advice:

" Whether or not they can make it by fall is a tough call without

being able to see how many bees are left, whether or not there is a
queen, how much honey they have now, etc.  I think that if there areat least 3 frames of bees left, and they have a queen, and you feedthem, they might make it.  So, I'd wait a week, then check for neweggs.  If the queen is there, great.  If not, and there are at least 3frames of bees, I'd risk buying a queen (though others I know wouldnot, but I just never give up).  The key here is feeding them to getthem back up to speed.  Of course if there is no queen and you don'treplace her, they won't survive the winter anyway.  They may try toraise a new queen if they have eggs to do it with, but they reallydon't have the time to wait. "

So today we'll see what we've got to work with... what THEY'VE got. The little bees are so hard-working, and lord knows we NEED bees. I don't want to see them die over winter. 

Culling in Flock Management. It's a part of the whole.

I tried to re-home 5 of the six..... 

I tried to mitigate the situation with separate housing and fencing. What a lot of extra steps to manage things, for the survival, but lack of quality of life for all!!

I had tried to attend to the end of a bad situation – by culling the extra 5 roosters the night before, using a technique I'd seen which seemed most humane. It was quite intimate with the bird- first stroking it's head to make it relax and then fingind the jawbone to slice the carotid artery (not the airway), so that it simply expired without a struggle - but I could not do it.

The bird kept looking me in the eye, and he was one who since last month, slept in the trees at night- quite a game bird personality, and not trusting, so making him trust me so I could kill him just seemed twisted.

My dad (who is weeks away from 85), and I, killed the 5 roosters in the morning. Before 1st light.
It went smoothly, but was really, really, hard to do - and I hated myself for needing to do it.

I really wanted my special ‘roo chick’ to be a good rooster so I could keep him- his feathers were so artful... 

...but he would not tame, and he was tearing up the hens' backs, and he was way too small to consider improving the flock with.
I considered plucking his beautiful feathers, (afterward) but it seemed wrong to gain something from his loss. I felt I didn't deserve them for being the cause of his ultimate demise, but they were all torn up from other rooster challenges anyway.
We didn't gut them or pluck feathers- we put them on the public lands a mile away - for the coyotes and buzzards. Back to nature is still not 'wasted'.

The rest of the flock will reside with the old gray roo:

(Roo is now 4 y/o) until next spring, and he has little interest in mating and chasing. Though he does have SOME interest, I can’t say he’s especially good at it, lol.
He responds to me and I can pick him up (though it ruffles his feathers (dignity) to do so, lol.)

I've been letting the 2 chicks out into the coop yard this weekend (with the momma) and first a cochin hen came over to investigate them and offer a peck at them, but I shoo'ed her away a few times before she got the msg.

Then the littlest hen of all, the one who is at the bottom rung of the pecking order, went to peck my red chick. Momma hen squawked at her and the chick got out of the way, but she was relentlessly trying, so I went and pointed a finger at her - a stern warning that she respected. She ran from me and kept her distance thereafter.

Roo also went to investigate and acted like he disapproved of them- making gutteral sounds and strutting... making momma hen ruffle all her feathers to look bigger and more threatening- so I pointed my finger at him and he walked away too.

You see, we have an understanding and agreement of the pecking order - the perfect kind of flock to have.
(The artfully feathered 1 y/o roo which I didn't keep, was running to attack the chicks every second my back was turned!) He refused to take orders of NO, or to let me be the top of the rung - never a good thing with a rooster because they'll constantly challenge you - it's no fun being attacked from behind.

My little chicks are outside their chick enclosure for day 3 and enjoying life in the coop yard, and out of the coop yard too, free-ranging.... So we have a peaceful chicken yard again and will not have to listen to the cacophony chorus of 6 roosters each morning an hour before sunrise and all day too (because of competition).
It was WORTH their demise, but I despise doing it.
My hubby was hoping it was something that I could grow 'used to'. I had to tell him no - it's not something I'll ever get used to, it's simply something I did because I HAD to.
We do what we have to!
And I feel at this time that meat prices will skyrocket eventually pricing us out, unless I am familiar with doing this adn can successfully process our own birds. I will do it for my family, just as has been done for centuries on end.

Next spring I will have to end the old cochin’s life as well as his flock of gray cochin hens (I believe only 2 are still reliable layers of good eggs and one is a layer of eggs good for dogs). They will be 5 years old next spring and too old for their own good -too many age-related maladies to deal with the risk of.
I will hopefully be purchasing a new rooster and 6 hens (sexed chicks) then.
Anyway, that's the plan. But you know how plans can go awry...

To clear up some confusion, I WAS planning to pluck and roast (for stock) those five 1 y/o roosters.
But in the end, decided it wasn't worth it just for broth which I can buy just as easily.
Also, I didn't go to bed until midnight (the first butchering attempt was so dis-settling), and then Mishka (the lab) woke me up at 2:44 with his cavernous howls and then I woke up before 5am thanks to our windows open for the breeze (roosters crow at first light about an hour before sunrise). Since I wanted to do the deed before sunrise....I got up anyway, but the energy wasn't there for the whole process, as well as a lack of will by then.

The entire reason is that I just had to do it. No one could bail me out of the circumstances but myself. Nowhere else to put them, no way could I just 'dump' them somewhere, and I did try to find homes... they are a dime a dozen you know.

We are losing our home, and we can't move with that many roosters- no one would approve it and anyway, it would BE bad coop management.  Imagine cooping up 5 roosters in a separate enclosure all 6-month winter long! More water dishes and feed dishes to clean up around and more hassles all around, plus a loss of money for feed for birds who do nothing productive, and of course more hearing loss... no thanks!

The one thing I want to do well, is manage my own messes, and do right and good by the flock in my charge. Even if it means putting some of them down. Fortunately my dad did the hardest part, I just held onto them, and that was bad enough.

Dad said, "I came here intending to be more help than bother". I think he felt a nostalgic reverence and connection to his own mom. He grew up around many, many, ( if not every), woman, being able to catch and clean their own hens-  for a Sunday dinner. I bless him for his willingness to help with the deed.
We talked a lot about The Waltons' show at lunch the day before. I told them, that was an ideal living situation to me... everyone in the family has their place and helps in some way that others can't.

Anyway, the best part of having done that thing, is that we finished up just as the sun was rising, so that when it became light, it felt like we had already lept into the next day- and a little distance helped my psyche greatly!

1-day update
I went past the coop yard to water the bees & a hen made a sound from the bushes of the coop yard - it momentarily brought the thought that it was the giant sexlink rooster again. Like he lived after all. Or came back to haunt me. I reprimanded my imagination for getting the better of me.   I felt badly for his end all over again. It’s so quiet in the yard w/out all 6 roosters rooster song. But I felt the loss of it profoundly.

2-day update
I'm enjoying the peace of the chicken yard again- the way it should be, but I woke to a bad dream; that I had been butchering rabbits, and one was not deceased afterwards, so I had to watch it suffer, linger. And of course it resembled one of our rabbit pets from before.

I will never hatch random eggs again, only buy pre-sexed chicks or specifically hatch birds FOR meat birds. You don't get attached to them in only a few short months.

The roosters I'd had for over a year....and I knew their distinct personalities; they had individual person-hood.  I think it would be best to trade the butchering job with a neighbor- to  trade meat bird flocks for the processing. No attachments to someone else’s birds. Maybe. But for sure, I'll just have to wait and see if we're priced out of meat first... I won't do it voluntarily.

Anyway, the flock is as it should be and life must go on. It was traumatic because killing just is, but it needed to be done. and as a team we stepped up & did what had to be done. I’m sorry for their loss, but not for mine!

The day is bright blue, and promising to get hot again...and since there are always many other things to do to manage a flock, I’m off to get busy.

Last Minute Easter Egger Chicks

Since my only green egg layer was killed in early spring (after laying a total of 8 eggs...4 of which were last November...), I finally broke down and got 2 EE chicks (about 2 weeks old). I got them for $2. each (because they were $3.99- but I got one for free - it is worth talking up your local vendors.):

They look pretty yummy.....
I think it's pretty late in the year to be starting chicks generally, but without a mother hen for warmth, these are in my office for now, and it stays about 80 degrees in here all day and night! (I have a heat lamp but don't need it). 
My dog stares at them 24/7 unless I pick him up to move him... he's in love with chickens.
They always want to see what he's doing too!

18 female chickens now... (counting the 4 young ones) - and one older roo. That's enough.

Funny how some amounts are too many and some are too few... for instance it's not quite enough to have 2 of something and 6 is just to many, so if you go with 4 you feel 'just right'.

It's too warm in here to write more, lol. 

2 cute chicks -too cute for words!

I have to laugh when I see how cute these little creatures are. If you've never seen a baby chick with it's mother, it's a sight to behold. They know when you're looking at them. The momma hen tries to protect them from scary cameras and big human faces peering down. Then she clucks ever so softly and tucks them in with tiny pecks in the air around them, as they vie for space in her feathers and chirp teeny sounds (not like you imagine like with older chicks). 
Just so stinkin' CUTE!
 (getting all 3 to keep from moving for a whole second might be asking too much)

We did lose one red chick to smash... so sad. Thankfully momma hen never knew it. Thankfully we were blessed with more so that we are not left empty and grieving or having to buy them at the store... 

We also got our bees. After 7 years we took the plunge and got lucky. Wow what a different kind of experience and set of challenges!

All I can say is that no matter what you see or read or hear, I think it's like walking blind in a forest, yet exhilarating too. You become immediately protective of the hive queen - everything depends on her and so much can go badly/wrong.
Oh yeah, after so many years in the weather, the paint is peeling on the hives. Too late to do anything about that- but it works ok for now.

Today I'll just keep things short and sweet... sometimes it's good to stop at what's good and look no further.
But I'll be back...and no promises then.

Moving Along in Phases and MORE UFO pics...

11,000 Bees coming next Saturday! Still working on things to get ready.
Lost the large barred rock egg to an egg-eater last week, but still have 6 eggs to hatch out (IF all viable). Will be candling tonight again (at 14 days).

Here's a photo for a quick view:

Below is the video from day 7, in which the embryo is moving. You'll hear the setting hen making some clucking noises, and the flock behind me, settling in for the night, as well as my little buff orpington who HONKS, like a goose. It makes me laugh that I could find her in the dark!
NOTE, as of March 2016......though I have uploaded a video here, and it shows up in my draft, it isn't being displayed.
 I've made the usual complaint, but I can't seem to do anything about it. 
Sorry... please forgive this white space.

OK, before we get too far along, let me share some things I observed in the last week- 
a windy day full of fast-moving clouds that created curly-cues... 
I am always watching the skies, taking photos of clouds. 

I found a few interesting things in some of those photos, but nothing absolutely positively UFO-like. So I went ahead and did some zooming in on some of my other photos. (What the heck, listening to music and fighting bedtime...)

This one was the most obvious. This is a mesa, butte, or hill near the middle of Durango, Colorado:

This is the ridge to the right of that big mesa butte the photo above.  I know I really should learn the correct name of that mesa and ridge! 
Notice the lone tree nearly CENTER of the photo.. remember that tree.
Notice this photo has NO black spot on it. 

It was taken one minute before.... 
This photo (same ridge, which I have  Zoomed in a bit more on): 

 Closer still - getting a little pixelated (I hate that):

Now that makes 3 UFO pictures I've found in the past 3 years... of course, I haven't zoomed into all my photos yet, lol. 
The other two - one is a bubble-topped disk and one is a cigar-shaped one (HUGE) under sun rays... somewhere else on this blog, but I can't remember where so you'll have to look!

I can't really advocate zooming in on your photos...
It's kinda creepy, like a LOT - but also kinda fun. Kinda. In a kinda throw-up way.

Now back to life as it is lived here on solid ground! 
More news from the coop coming...

Seasons of Give and Take, Letting Go, Receiving...

I gave away 2 hens last week. Good ones, but for a good reason- to help someone (my sis-in-law) to begin their journey into keeping chickens. 
Off to southern California they went, happily in a box with wood shavings and each other for company...

This buff Orpington:
A very quiet bird, and sweet.
and this Barred Rock:
She is just now getting her feathers back after being severely pecked (at an overcrowded ranch)

Recently I put 4 of the 6 roosters into a rabbit hutch so they wouldn't escape their enclosure in the coop and chase my hens. (Last month I lost one of my 2 Easter Eggers - no known cause, but one of the 4 that were cordoned off during winter, rooster had gotten loose and that made THREE of them running around the coop chasing each other and hens.) 

And here's what is happening now...

In case you havent' read my blog before, I run the appointment desk for our PC repair biz. Last Friday we got a call from someone about another client who's house was on fire. (The client was 100 miles away and was also the accountant for this other someone) so he ran over to save her PC's -with everyone's taxes and other financial data stuff.... and brought them over to try to save the data.

After all the wildfires around us last year, it was a little creepy to see a burned PC and laptop, (burned by heat not actual fire), all black and warped and stinking of fire. 
Anyway, we were able to save the most important data from the worst hard drive - totally warped. She cried when she heard it was all safe. 

She came to pick it up with a friend, who said she couldn't come inside because she had muck boots on from having been working in her coop. I asked if she wanted a rooster, lol, but she had one.  Then she said she had 50 birds of all kinds, including a few Marans - which lay chocolate brown eggs, and asked if I had a hen setting, which I do (at that time, for 3 days), and that if I wanted to I could come see her chickens and pick up some fertile eggs from whatever I wanted.

So I called her yesterday! Never going to pass up an offer like that, right? 
I had a great time visiting that lady. She showed me an iphone app called "iHatch" that shows you the development of eggs in incubation - and lots of too cool stuff! You would like it!

She has 5 horses, all quarter horses with the widest chests I've ever seen. I declined the invitation to ride bareback, not simply because I hadn't the time, though I was there about 3 hours (I didn't mean to be there that long but she had so much to share & was hard to get away from!) Mainly cuz I was actually afraid to ride a horse I don’t know. (My last horse taught me fear, unfortunately).

She has a stallion there that does tricks for his grain and we petted him a long while as well as the others. I put my nose right up in the hair of one of their necks, just to smell him. I miss that. But I didn't cry.

Her special mare was attacked by a mountain lion 5 years ago, ruining her for breeding because she's now scarred and that discounts her, and means wasted the money on the stud. 
She's got 6 ragdoll cats, all rescues from California, 3 rescue dogs – two from Cali, and then all the hens, too. Oh, including some called something 'Buttercups". They are small! Oh and a rescued llama too, that was so abused that she hasn't been able to touch or pet it for 2 years. Oh, the one banty hen she had was so cute! I was amazed that she could pick up any hen she wanted to. I guess she handled them a lot as chicks?

Apparently a coyote had walked right past her while in her farm yard - scoping out the fresh chicken dinners. The men there doing some work there told her to get a llama- they STOMP on coyotes- and are known as the best farmyard/pasture protection there is!
She got it from a lady so old and browned that she "literally looked like a California raisin" who kept many llamas (rescues), and just gave this one away. 
Next month she'll take it to another friend to get clipped. That friend does fiber work (carding, and spinning it, dying the wool, knitting, etc.)
People around here really do things and it was just really neat to see so much activity between people that didn't include 'sales', but just sharing.

I think one of the lessons we get from this place is that karma happens - it always comes back to you in some form.... so when you are generous of spirit and not afraid of letting go, it simply creates the space for something else to come to you. Letting go of things can be a very good thing, for the doors of opportunity it can open!

We had hot chocolate (BETTER than Godiva), and looked at the one tornado that touched down there in 2001 (an F1), and looked at chicken catalogs. Surprisingly none of them had the Light Sussex I just love... but main thing: I came home with eggs to slip under my hen, which I did.

So, I got a dozen various breed eggs  –from the basket she’d gathered that day, which I marked with an “X” on one side to check if they are being turned - including 2 near-chocolate brown maran eggs (one was refrigerated for a day or two - which shouldn't ruin it's chances if it's fertile). Their fertility is unknown at this point since she has only one Rhode Island rooster and about 50 hens for him to ‘cover’.  So we'll find out!

With all of the eggs now under the hen (12, or 13? Ha! I'm not even sure because I had to start dinner and eat first and by the time I got out there it was after 10pm), and that hen will freak out if I move her. (I do slip my hand underneath and turn the eggs once a day, just in case).

I will check fertility (candling them) on day 7 (on the 14th of April). I’ll try to take photos or video to share.

At that point is it usually very clear if the egg is fertile and growing.  If the egg was not fertile, it would look blank, like a day 1 egg. 
 (My 7-day old egg embryo was bouncing like it was jumping with joy, lol).

 To see what I saw-LIFE! – check out this very short video:

My  setting hen had been sitting on those 3 eggs, starting on the 1st (I think), including one that looks to me to be one of the Barred Rock eggs. So I am keeping it! I candled them and that was the only one developing. It was 7 days old when candled. I marked it with an “X” and an “O” to differentiate it from the new eggs (just in case I lost track among the others).

My plan at this point is to try another hen on another nest to see if I can convince her to start setting and move the large egg to her nest.
If that doesn’t work, then I’ll let it hatch and remove the chick asap into a 'hatchling environment' (brooder box) here in the house with a heat lamp until the other eggs hatch and then return it to the hen when she’s asleep.
If I don’t remove the chick then it’s likely the hen will give up on the rest of the eggs since they are a whole week longer to hatch and she’ll be wanting to mother the chick.
Sorry, was that more info than you wanted to know? ... technicalities can be so boring unless you're the one doing it!

 I lifted the canvas curtains so you could see. 
She barely fits in that 12"x12" space, so I'll be moving her next weekend to a better set up.
I don't think she lays any longer, but she still wants to be a momma.

I noticed that the little half-bald buff hen (the other orpington) got pecked just above her tail and was bleeding just a bit so I had to put her in the bird cage and bring her inside a few days to heal. (Chickens will peck at blood). 
Thankfully she finally (since I got her in October) has some feathers beginning to grow back! (I'd have to put sunscreen on her or get a saddle for the summer otherwise...) 

Now when she goes back she’ll be pecked on just to reestablish the proper pecking order, but it can’t be helped. I don’t want another dead one.
I may reestablish her with the flock by letting her share the 'quarnatine' space I'll set up for the new chicks. [At least one chick, lol.] 
Using a dog run fence, I'll cordon off an area for the hen to raise her chicks, so the others can see them sometimes, but they'll be protected.

The little gold hen makes the funniest honking sounds -like a goose. And maybe i’ll find out if she’s laying while she's here in my office. Sometimes hens quit if they experience something different that they consider to be ‘traumatic’ like anything at all from getting chased, to a strange dog barking to a hawk flying overhead. Really!

Then I got (what I consider to be) an interesting email newsletter from the bee club this morning. This is the kind of email I get all day every day from various sources- I am positive that my life would bore you to insanity!!

-from Tina from The Buzz Club (Four Corners Bee Club):
“Watch your bees!  I went out last week to check my bees, and not a bee
was in sight.  I tapped on the landing board, and one bee came out to
see what I was doing.  I came back to the house to check the
temp...50.  About an hour later I went back to have another look, and
there were a hundred bees hovering in front of the hive!  Robbing! (I
thought).  I sat down 6 inches to one side of the entrance just to
watch a minute.  Guard bees were there doing their little pat downs,
and allowing entrance.  No fighting.  Incoming bees were loaded with
pollen (must be lots of babies in there!)  10 minutes later the bees
all disappeared and then the wind came up (how do they know?).  Moral
of the story, just sit down and watch and you'll probably be able to
figure out a lot about what is going on in there.”

We're getting around 11,000 bees this month!
And since I have no grand-babies to entertain me... that will have to do!

What's new with you this spring?

When things don't start out as planned -it doesn't mean it's all bad...

An unlikely chance came up out of the blue - I can't say why this year after trying for the past five without luck of timing with the funding but I'm not fighting it. It is what it is!

The bee club said there were extras and you had 1 day to get in on the excess order, but with only 5 extra boxes (each box containing 11,000 bees, and a queen). 20 people raised their 'virtual' hands, so it was still not a sure thing at first. Some of them already had bees- and they kindly said they would defer their request to new people wanting to get started, but in the end everyone on the list gets their order. 

There is usually a choice of breeds to get, but this time was only "Carniolans". (Other options might be "Italian" bees or "Hygienic Italian Hybrids"...)

 You can see the bee breeds HERE and each pro and con. 
They are picked up in Lehi, Utah so some of the money goes to defer gas for the delivery driver. Then on April 27th, you go to one of the bee club member houses to pick your prize up and get all scared about releasing your bees by yourself... lol. (Actually I've watched 3 videos on this process and am not scared). The internet is such a great resource - a great big thanks to those who provide their experiences!
And that's why I'm spending $20 to join the Four Corner's bee club- informative meetings monthly and newsletter emails all the time, and people to ask & see their setups, or get excess bees from, etc. (plus the university extension office is a resource too)
I have no experience, but some idea. That's not the same thing as hand's on, but of course compared to goats or chickens, little maintenance is required. I won't like to move them (when we move) once established, because strange things cause them to swarm (leave to find a new home).

If there is too little room in a hive, then the hive splits and some of them will 'swarm' - leave, with a new queen. You can easily catch swarms in a box because without a hive to protect, they don't sting!

I've heard the only way to mitigate bears is not to keep bees at 
Some folks will put up electric wires (2 strings) at 4' away from their hives. But once a bear has gotten to your honey even that won't stop them, so it has to be up all the time to catch the first-timers. I tell people that you have to use a train car to keep anything away from a bear. Dogs are probably the best bet, since they can warn you in time to get pans to bang, or a gun, and distract them a bit while you do so. 

In winter you have to feed bees if they don't have a store of their own honey- that's why you don't harvest honey the first year or two and always leave some. They don't hibernate. Most people use sugar sheet stuff like fondant cake icing. It doesn't freeze like sugar water would. Lots of experimentation going on with that stuff. 

Some people also stack bales of straw around the hives for sheltering in winter (I probably will too). Mine are off the ground on pallets on the north side of some ugly pines, but enough for some shade in hot summer - they should be moved since one of the trees died.
I will move them to my MOST FAVORITE PLACE on the property- a perfect 20'x60' rectangle that's cleared in the middle and surrounded on all sides by perfect pine trees! It was too small for Cherihuka's corral. I imagined a small pond there, or putting up a tee-pee for grandsons there.

I also had to take my hives all apart when chipmunks moved into them and made nests. 

I have to look at pictures to figure out again how they go together again, lol (there are several kinds of dividers, some have entry holes for the bees, one has one round hole for the queen?)
Anyway, I know next to nothing by heart, though I have things copied over the years to disk and in files... you know, in case we ever got them. Club meetings were too early in the day to attend, but they are going to be later now, so I can go and learn!

The bad part of this story is that I had pretty much given up on this goal that I could never get the funding for. 
My hives have peeling paint now, after 6 years of winters & droughty summers, exposed. 
They are going to be rickety after the weight of combs plus honey, so I need to reinforce all the corners. The wood is soft and full of cracks (aged), and may need wood paste to fill them. They also should be 'torched' inside with fire to kill any germs/bacteria, especially after the chipmunks. 
AND I need to get a few sheets installed in the frames... without having to drive 4 hours to get them (I HOPE!) 
And I have less than a month to do all of that- but now I will have my Dad to help me with it! My mom probably won't get out to the hives, but maybe we will try out some honey recipes together.

2013 Didn't Start Out as Planned...

2013 did not start out as we had planned, so everything is now on edge in an unpredictable way and is impossible to plan around. We have given up on this dream (the old American Dream). 

Fair warning, this is a very lonnnnng post, and has a LOT of relevant links.
 I hope you have a nice hot/cold cup/glass of something and a place to put your feet up!

Plan A didn't work out (living here forever), Plan B isn't working out (saving our house thru structured repayments via Ch. 13 bankruptcy), so on to plan C...moving. This means renting to survive, but working toward a re-start. 
The bottom line is that after too many years of struggle and throwing everything we had at it, we will be losing our home (some unknown timeline) and moving. At this point we'll be happy to give it up. This story has been somewhat covered here before so I won't bore you (again).

Working with what I do know, or can guess at and hope for, this is the new plan...short term (for our longer term plans see previous post!)

-this year’s motto: 
Find ways to embrace the future and the hard times coming, and be flexible!
As Dorothy's said to her little Dog, "We're not in Kansas anymore". It's really, really, hard to embrace an unknown like this.

Meantime, there are practical things to do in both preparation for that, and in continuing to live life building up resilience to future shocks and hard times....
Resilience = Problem-Solving + Tenacity + Diversity

What am I preparing for? Only 5 of the 50 risks out there... In no particular order:

---wildfire (evacuation preps - we were surrounded by 5 fires at one time last summer)
---possible longer term drought (will our next home will include water collection to cisterns?)
---downed electric grids (from EMP  (nukes in the atmosphere) or CME (solar flare)

They are all possible. Some are probable.

We can start by adjusting our eating habits.
Less meat, that’s a given. Prices will continue to go up over time, and sourcing locally means it costs double what you can get at a box store like Walmart (their meat makes me feel ill just to look at, since I know how the animals are treated). It will take a while to learn how to raise our own, and do the butchering, and processing and canning or smoking or freezing or drying….
Meantime, how to stretch it to go farther among more people in the household. (Adding more beans to the menu, more dishes that require only 'pieces of meat', rather than it being 1/3 of the plate.
We have to figure out how to eat food in its own seasons, both for what we can grow ourselves and buy at a lower cost when in season. 
We have to learn how to store (some say 50%) of what we grow, once we get up and going on that. This will take practice and learning skills on several levels! First we have to see how much we can grow ourselves.

All of these things need to be done and refined asap to account for all the learning curves.
We intend to design a system of growing produce using the least amount of personal energy, (that is self-sustaining in a circular fashion –with little to no ongoing cost)
We need to build a solar dehydrator for garden produce.

+ I intend to build a rabbitry in the chicken coop that is placed over a vermi-compost bin (this is one way to help with the rabbit droppings, while  raising supplemental chicken feed –red wrigglers or some such, and creating high nutrient soil for plants at the same time).

I’ll be learning hands-on how to ‘process’ a chicken this spring. I have  5 roosters to process (or give away, one or the other).
I need to raise supplemental chicken & rabbit feed to offset the high price of store-bought, which will only continue to go up in price. Now that we're moving, who knows if this will happen. 

If you haven't given thought to making preps, here are several good sources: 
---The Resolve To Be Ready campaign (from FEMA)
---The Nat'l. Preparedness Coalition
---13 in 13 Challenge a website challenging anyone daring enough to accept, to learn 13 new life skills in 2013. Kind of like a Boy Scout challenge....

From the "13 in 13" site:
The 13 in 13 Challenge is a call to develop or drastically improve your personal skills in the coming year. These skills can be any hands on practical skill from ancient skills like flint napping to traditional skills like trapping and hunting or even technical skills like graphic arts or computer programming.

At the time this article was written there were 157 skills available and an ability to request others be added.  
You select your 13 skills and then define what it would mean for you to develop or drastically improve.  
You can set up a profile and add a picture of yourself if you like; you can add your social media information as well.  I think this could be a good way to not only encourage each other, but to hold each other/yourself accountable too."

This is awesome... makes it in manageable pieces (if we had a wildfire for instance and needed to evacuate):
8 Months to Emergency Preparedness (Challenge) + “Emergency Survival Station”

Things to look for at yard sales and thrift stores:
Canning jars, a magnetic lid lifter, funnel, large jars with lids, large cooking pots, gardening containers, manual kitchen tools like egg beater, can openers, grain and meat grinders, cast iron cookware, backpacks, etc...

#1 I will start a monthly journal sometime after we move (a sheet a month to add into my 12-Folders system) to track myself in attempting "The Independence Day Challenge" - an ongoing sharing project that makes us count our little accomplishments and see that we are moving forward. 

Each week, you keep tabs on what you have done in the following categories by sharing it on your blog diary (keeps you accountable and helps to motivate others too):

People have to choose what they are going to struggle for.  Life is always a struggle, whether or not you’re struggling for anything worthwhile, so it might as well be for something worthwhile…

I challenge myself and all of you to work on creating food Independence Days this year – that all of us try to do one thing every day  to create Food Independence.  
hat means in each day or week, we would try to…….. 
(see list in red, below, that I've tweaked to fit me...)

           *for the updates she posts see Independence Days
One of her commenters said to add: “Learn/Teach/Practice a New/Old Skill”... great idea~ but I will be starting eldercare tasks so I’m not really ‘there’ right now.
I have tweaked some of the ideas to apply in my current circumstances:

Plant something: A lot of us were trained to think of planting as done once a year, but if you start seeds, do season extension and succession plant, you’ll get much, much more out of your garden, so try and plant something every day from February into September.

Harvest something: Everything counts – from milk and eggs you get from your animals to the first dandelions from your yard to wild rose hips you pick – it all counts.

Preserve something: Again, preserving is most productive if you do a little every day, from dehydrating vegetables (buy the large package of carrots and dry ½ of it, filling jars or baggies), to picking the first dried raspberry leaves (for tea), to canning the last squashes at the end of the season.

The Pantry: Adding to your food storage or stash of goods for emergencies, build up items that will be useful in the long term.

Frugal Ways: What are you doing frugally this week? it is prudent to learn to make the most of what we have and stretch our resources as far as they can go. 
Making full and good use of what you have, trying new recipe, using a clothesline, etc.

Build Community: (she focuses on food systems): What have you done to help other people have better food access or to make your local food system more resilient?

Skill up:  What did you learn that will help you in the future – could be as simple as fixing the faucet or as hard as building a shed, as simple as learning to knit or as complicated as making shoes.  

(I added these):
Build up your Network: (bartering & sharing): from blogging to making friends (can you use your Christmas cookie sharing this year to consolidate relationships with those in the neighborhood who "get it" -and expand that circle?

Management & Organizing: keeping records, maintenance lists, animal schedules and production, (what routine tasks keep our garden/farm in good shape/going, how can costs be reduced, how can production be maximized or improved…), seed saving strategies, etc.

Emergency Preps & Designing a Plan B, more than just storing water and food – systems for storing, ideas & examples, learning best practices, knowing how much of what is needed, having an evac plan & BOB (bug-out bags or boxes), setting up other emergency measures, etc.

Bootycamp: getting more physically fit and mentally resilient

Improve something: whatever makes life easier: ask yourself questions like- What can be done to improve the existing site or structures? Can you develop alternative animal feeds reducing need of dependence on stores?

Create something that you can use and share (like the following):
Make a Vision Board/Collage (for motivation and direction)
Before & After pics (projects)
A Year in Pics (progression)
12 Folders (scheduling- the steps to each goal topic on monthly calendar)

Cottage Industry discovery: how you might accomplish diversify and add alternate sources of income (or even how to sustain personally needed items): entrepreneurial endeavors (sell fish bait or wood, etc.) and/or creating home-raised, home-spun and hand-made products (eggs, knitwear, etc.). Expand the possibilities by trying new things

Add Joy: make life easier to swallow with little things. (It’s always the little things). When you bake, bake more than you need so you can give some to an elderly couple or struggling  young couple, use a silver pencil to create your grocery lists just because it makes you smile, use a gold one to leave someone a sweet hello note, put a bow or ribbon in your hair (it makes everyone smile).

**This list may apply to both improvement and emergency related topics, each is one aspect to deal with under those headings:

House (add or change the elements of it)
Household (plans for extended family members?)
Personal (what are your weak spots? what are your strong suits?)
Garden (how to expand it, start it, change it?)
Frugal/Financial (how to do more with less?)
Animals (what kinds and for what purposes? have more, less -why?)
Property (attributes of and challenges to overcome?)
Other (maybe find out the HOA rules regarding a clothesline, keeping chickens or..?)

Some examples:

-- create livable space for parents
--clear out storage spaces for repurpose (vermiculture, emergency storage, etc)

Re: Family
parents move in 

--make jerky, pasta, granola, laundry soap, apple cider vinegar
--try “Meals in Jars” using freeze-dried dehydrated foods (will take planning and $$, so is on hold as a ‘wish list’ until possible)

--create a circle gardening (aligns to sprinkler ---taller plants on the outside (like corn)
--build 1 raised garden
--set up pallet fence for in-ground gardening area
--know how much I need to grow of what, to provide for a family of 8, double the number In-house. (with practice this will give extra food to store and sell).

--booty camp – get fit, and start low-carb diet
--practice archery

--revamp 12-folders covers (collage of that month’s theme topic for motivation and direction)
--per sewing agenda- bargain shop for furniture to up-purpose and materials for sewing projects

--finish binder to track parent care needs & to keep pertinent info in one place

--continue to pay down debt: (i.e.: continual taxes, student loans, and/or BK pmts.)

(so far: all garden topics and pantry goals)
--created egg-count sheet for the year

Emergency Preps
--get 4 mil. thick plastic sheeting and duct tape for sheltering in place (per
--consider measuring and cutting the sheeting in advance to save time.
--create storage areas for emergency supplies (BOB evac packs, and emergency stash storage areas)
--create 3-day emergency evac packs (BOBs)
--2 weeks’ worth of Stay-in-Place supplies (TP, water, adequate food, pet food) for 8 adults.

Make resolutions that matter  -and staying with the theme of prepping on a dime….

For 2013, we need to get on the ball of finishing preparations for possible further financial crisis and fine-tuning for specific  disasters – in our case WILDFIRE:

12 things to accomplish this year (at a rate of adding 1 per month to my ‘routine’)
My 12 Folders help me to schedule the prioritized projects and then attack them in a logical or seasonal order.
To them, I will add these challenges:

goal #1: 2 weeks for 8 people (build up to 3 mos) of ready-to-make meals (we will have 4 people in-home)
goal #2: Jars of dehydrated veggies. Like jars of jewels lining the shelves.
 Here are 5 sources of how to!
goal #3: organize needs’-based scheduling of chores related to eldercare, and move parents in
goal #4: stock up on medical & personal hygiene supplies  –when on sale
goal #5: gardens – obtain seeds, erect greenhouse, create pasture area, start orchard trees (pit fruits) 
goal #6: designate, increase, and improve: storage areas
goal #7: start vermiculture w/rabbit hutch built over a worm bin in the chicken coop, get 2 hair rabbits
goal #8: hands-on practice of ‘dispatching’ chickens,
goal #9: Raise a small flock of meat birds (start with 12) *update after processing the 5 roosters in May - I do not want to process any more.
goal #10: Purchase Goods for Trade and Barter (this may be much of #4 (just buy more than you ‘need’)
goal #11: begin bartering with what I have and make! So far, this is a fun thing to do and has worked out well for us! I encourage you to try it! 
goal #12:  emergency evac packs (BOB’s per the 8 week challenge). So far I have one backpack that I'm dedicating to my parents if we should need to evacuate. 

Mother Earth News magazine says: “The convergence of the seemingly unstoppable forces of climate change, the savagery of global corporate capitalism, and the downward spiral of our predatory economy all lead to an inevitable conclusion: We are coming undone. We are unraveling.”

I say put your best foot forward, and get prepared for the fight of your life –

For us right now, it’s a more urgent journey to a more sustainable lifestyle to shore up our resistance….
There is no knight in shining armor. There is only a troupe of riders on apocalyptic horses approaching.

The director for the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, said: "If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack."
Unfortunately the Government isn’t going to tell us that a lack of CHEAP oil will bring shortages and lack to us… right now everyone in public is pretending that we're going to become energy independent. 
What a nice dream.

A middle class white guy comes to grips with Peak Oil, Climate Change, Mass Extinction, Population Overshoot and the demise of the American Empire.
Made before the world reached 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere, but relevant all the same. 
I have watched this 4 times in a years’ time (because it's hard to soak it all in just watching it once. It’s disturbing, but I can see the ring of truth for myself...

The Crash Course by Chris Martenson, seeks to provide you with a baseline understanding of the economy so that you can better appreciate the risks that we all face on that level. This is video- but you can read the transcripts instead.
I have been thru it twice (because it was updated) – it is a practical guide and full of pertinent info in chunks you can absorb. It's HELPFUL on several levels. 

Collapse movie now on youtube, and somehow disappeared from Netflix: explains what peak oil is and means for us (starting in 2015 or so, from what I've gathered from other sources). I have watched this one 10 times. 

If you are interested in more insights and info...
I would suggest to get familiar with Dimitri Orlov’s website- there are some really good things he’s doing to open eyes to the financial collapse that is coming. 
He does an excellent job comparing us to old USSR (now Russia). You will come to understand that we are in much worse shape facing a financial shock like currency collapse, than Russia was.
Then this explanation of what’s happening behind the scenes right in front of us, showing how it all relates to Peak (cheap) Oil:

“…we had a stock market crash, a housing crash, an oil price spike and crash, and an employment crash.  Because we don't have a real economy any more we have papered over these problems by creating more debt.  The taxpayers bailed out the criminal fraudsters on Wall St., taking on more government debt, and the fed bailed out many bankrupt banks internationally ($12 Trillion), indenturing the taxpayers for future debt.
Since debt represents ultimately a claim on real assets, debt cannot continue forever if growth of the real resource based economy has stopped. This is Hubbert's Third Prophecy:  When economic growth cannot continue due to the lack of affordable oil, then we will have a cultural crisis.  Well we are here folks...” 

As for predicting the timing of collapse, no one can, but Dimitri has some keen insights having lived thru it in Russia and spending his life in the study and observation of it. You might want to read this article too: Peak Empire

A short succinct slideshow solely related to the decline and collapse of empire.

James Howard Kunstler wrote The Long Emergency, published by the Atlantic Monthly Press in 2005, about the challenges posed by the coming permanent global oil crisis, climate change, and other “converging catastrophes of the 21st Century.” 
Here is a podcast on James Howard Kunstler on “The Long Emergency”.

§  While on that webpage, check out the links on the right-hand bar related to other informative blogs like:
Self-Sufficient Homestead
and under the tag cloud: “Homesteading”!

We are facing the collapse of industrial civilization,( if not extinction), but lets deal with one thing at a time, since we can actually DO something to become more resilient against financial strife.

To guard against being a little under-ambitious with the number of goals… I shoot for one goal a month to concentrate on, but include steps toward other goals as possible or necessary.
Maybe I’ll call new goal experiments “Challenges”.
Maybe I’ll keep tabs of goal progress for each month, or each quarter,  using goal and task lists and taking before/after pics for each project

This stage of my life is going to be divided amongst different things:
prepping & learning skills related to self-sufficiency measures (how to raise and kill chickens, how to tan hides, etc.), and gradually taking on more and more eldercare tasks.

I already use a system called 12 Folders... 
You might like to track yourself & progress w/ monthly reviews using a template like this (I like it!) The monthly goals… are easy to add to a 12 Folders (Farmgirl version) agenda/tracking system, and keep focused and not overwhelmed!

-From the sustainable life blog monthly review, here’s how that it might work (for me):

January—starting the new year out with things I can control….
--Bootycamp  (introducing new goals for getting fit and healthy )
--Planning the garden(s)

February--Food-related ideas to combine healthy eating goals with frugality (need to create more cash flow):

March—creative pursuits
organizing everything related to getting ready for my parents moving in (first part of April).

April – time to start raising things
-- clean the coop, decide on raising chicks to have 2 dozen layers (buy them or hatch them) *Update as of June 2013 *20 laying hens of which 15 lay, and 1 rooster.
--get some seeds in the ground

I know I've put out a lot here, lots to look over and consider. 
I know you know that life is hard- but it may get even harder...but lets look to the light.
I thought it might encourage you for me to share my current challenges and how I'm aiming to meet them, deal with them, mitigate them, overcome them, and live a more resilient lifestyle. 

Anything that's hard is easier just by sharing the burden, load, journey. So there you have it!

(Feedback welcome!)