SF in Hawaii had some good ideas in his post on Imminent SHTF shopping. However, I strongly disagree with his plan to pick up chicks and rabbits at the last minute — “Items that require maintenance that you don’t want to deal with pre-SHTF (i.e. guard dog, male and female rabbits and chicks (for raising meat) and the food and housing that they will require.” It requires skill and experience to successfully raise rabbits and chickens, skill and experience that don’t come in a few minutes time. (It also requires skill and experience to train and handle a guard dog, not to mention that good guard dogs aren’t just sitting around waiting to be snatched up in any emergency.) It also requires skill and experience to raise the food for all of these animals. I would add, in case anyone is thinking of it, that larger livestock, such as goats, sheep, cattle, and horses, require even more skill and experience. IMO, these are not last minute items to acquire. (Ditto for gardens, as has been mentioned before on SurvivalBlog.) If you think that you may want, or need, livestock of any kind in the event of TSHTF, then make the sacrifice of time now, and learn how to raise and care for them successfully , before the emergency hits! I was raised on a farm, and have been keeping poultry and dairy goats for most of the last 24 years, and I still make mistakes at times, or find myself lacking a critical piece of information. It helps to be part of a network of other people raising the same kind of livestock (although you can get a lot of MISinformation that way, too, if you aren’t careful — sometimes even from veterinarians who ought to know better).
I’ll tell you about one error I made just a few days ago. I was planning to worm a doe who had just kidded (did you know that goats need to be wormed the day after they kid? See, a critical piece of information that the last-minute guy wouldn’t have had any clue about!). I set the tube of Ivermectin wormer on the shelf above the milking stand while I did chores, and at some point it got knocked off the shelf. I didn’t notice that it had fallen down until I saw my ten-month-old farmcollie pup chewing on it. Other than being a little upset that she’d damaged the tube of wormer, so I couldn’t worm the doe, I didn’t think anything of it. I completely forgot that many collie-breed dogs, including some English Shepherds (she’s mostly English Shepherd), are sensitive to ivermectin. About three am I woke to the sound of claws scrabbling in Bonnie’s crate at the foot of my bed. She was having ‘seizures’ (technically severe muscle spasms, as she was conscious and knew me). She managed to stand long enough to stagger out of her crate when I opened the door, but then collapsed and got steadily worse until I was able to get her to the vet’s office as soon as they opened. (I have a large-animal vet, and she was out on a farm call, or we’d have been in there sooner.) For the last four days, my poor little pup has been nearly comatose. Yesterday when I visited her, she opened one eye (she’s lying on her side and can’t move) and looked at me, and raised her eyebrow. That’s all she was able to do. I’m hopeful that she will recover — internet research indicates that with support, dogs usually do recover fully from ivermectin ‘intoxication’, as they call it. But it is going to take several weeks for full recovery, and in the meantime, I’m without my dog. (That’s not even mentioning the expense of all this!) In a SHTF situation, that could be extremely dangerous.
I could give all kinds of examples of things people need to know before they jump into keeping livestock, common mistakes (many of which will kill your animals), and some things to think about in case of SHTF that might not apply during ‘normal’ times. Maybe I’d better just write an article! But I hope people get the point that if they expect to rely on livestock for their food, they need to start now! Never mind the inconvenience! – Freeholder, in Oregon
I found SF’s comments on putting off your shopping until apocalypse eve to be interesting and thought provoking. It also reminded me of the time I popped into the local Sam’s Club [warehouse store] as Hurricane Isabella headed up the coast towards Baltimore. While this wasn’t predicted to be a major storm for us, and we were expecting a glancing blow at best, I found the place to be pretty well picked over of anything immediately useful. All of the AA and D sized batteries were gone, as were all of the Maglite flashlights. I also noticed that the usual stack of small propane canisters for Coleman stoves and the like were gone as well. They did have plenty of food though, and a lot of bottled water, although the water aisle had obviously taken a good hit. I don’t usually buy bottles of water, but I bought a couple of cases that day just to throw into the freezer as a hedge against a power outage.
The lesson I learned that day was that, if there’s something you think you’re really going to need in a time of emergency, buy it now. Wait until the last minute and it will probably be gone. People in general may not be very well prepared, but they will pick a “big box” retailer clean the moment any perceived threat appears on the horizon. I guess this is something we all know, but it is probably worth repeating.- Tim in Baltimore, Maryland