In part 1, I provided the foundation of our move to Northern Arizona, where we have lived for five years. I defined the seven most important elements I would like to see in the property, and these seven items form the building blocks for a sustainable life that we are trying to live. I’ve already covered our water plan, which is the first, and began discussing our food plan. Now, let’s continue with the food plan as we wrap this article up today.
When we first arrived here, we were befriended by many people, one of which was really insistent that we must have some chickens. I kept telling him I wasn’t ready for animals. He persisted and one day told me of someone he knew who was selling six-month old pullets for $5 each. We bought 20, built a coop and a 50 x 50 foot yard, and as of today we have 40 or so laying hens. The wife has a couple of local restaurants that buy as many eggs from us as we can provide. I have learned how to butcher chickens, and although I am by no means very good at it I get better every time I do this.
Rabbits and Other Meat
We also ended up raising and harvesting rabbits. This is something I plan to expand next year. Also, our goal next year is to do either perma culture fish farming or to get a few sheep. That will probably be the extent of the meat we raise here, as we don’t really have the space for cows. I have, however, left the back part of our place undeveloped. It borders a swamp and a neighbor’s mature orchard. It is also an ansectoral home for a dozen or so deer that spend most of the year at or within a short distance of our property. I am by no means a deer hunter and I have never killed anything larger than a wild turkey. I have, however, come into possession of a recurve bow and am becoming proficient in its use, so there is always that.
The last and most important part of the food plan is the garden. A wise person once told me, “You take care of a garden and it takes care of you. You feed it, it feeds you. Few things in the universe operate like that fair and square. All it needs is love and a place to grow.” As of now, we have three distinct garden areas all close by the house, which is mightily important as the season goes on and your love might begin to wane. Proximity along with perseverance are IMHO the two most important elements in gardening.
We initially built large Huglekulter raised beds. We also used timbers that were three courses high with chicken wire in the bottom to foil the gophers. Also old rusty horse troughs can be used the same way. The horse troughs can be picked up inexpensively on Craig’s list. Raised beds of any kind are magnificently efficient food producing machines. In the fall, we take the pine shavings from the chicken house along with the leavings from the bunny hutch and spread 6-12 inches in each raised bed. By springtime it is no longer too hot to use. We then add oyster shell for calcium and top off with a nice thick layer of rich, dark compost that has aged between two and three years. This provides most of the nutrients our plants require to reach a nutrient dense maturity.
This is an area we need to work on. We are still connected to grid power, although we heat the house in winter with firewood and always have at least two cords on hand. We average about 1-2 cords a year over the last four years. Our well runs on its own separate electric meter. So that will be the first thing to go off grid. A combination of solar panels with deep cycle batteries augmented with a wind turbine is what I envision. Unfortunately, this is still in the distant future because of financial considerations. The upside is this will give me some time to learn what I need to know so as not to make expensive mistakes.
The house we bought, although rather decrepit, had good bones as they say. It is block with concrete filled re-bar reinforced, so the chances of anything other than a 50 cal or 338 lampua going through our walls is negligible. The wife and I are both proficient with a variety of firearms. I have markers all through the property at 50, 100, 150 meter intervals. I have many other surprises for unwelcome guests. But if I told you of them, I would have to kill you.
Hygiene and Medical Plan
As part of our purchase, we convinced the seller to replace the leach field. The earthquake we experienced in Northern Arizona a few years back caused the leach pipe to fail. At this point I rented a backhoe and replaced the whole field with an Infiltrator leach pipe. I was able to do all the work myself, and the cost was about $700 with the weekend backhoe rental. If you have need of replacing your leach field, you should look into The Infiltrator System. It is head and shoulders above old fashioned leach fields. After field testing it before final burial, I can confidently say that this leach field will probably out live the wife and I.
As for the rest of the plan, we have began to add extra TP and other critical sanitary items that people on this blog have been discussing for years. We still need to find a doctor or combat medic that lives close by– one who knows how to doctor up in a post-SHTF environment. This year we have planted ginger in the horse troughs, along with echinacea purpurea. I am looking into adding golden seal root and ginseng. We may possibly devote one entire area to medicinal herbs and plants.
This item may be higher on the list depending on how determined one is to move up the food chain. We have worked hard on the ins and outs of making our little “doom stead” able to provide for us, a handful of loved ones, and some in our community. This coming spring we will launch an online seed business with seeds that we have developed over at least three seasons. All will be open pollinated heirloom type varieties. We plan on starting small with between 10-20 selections the first year and expanding from there.
Next year we will be able to offer a self pick orchard from June through September. We are also looking into building and renting out some small houses, as we are in a summer mecca. Maybe we’ll even look at renting wedding or party space, which at this time seems rather lucrative. Also, we plan to plant the next orchard/grove all in black walnut. It is a long-term investment but one that might pay out just right in 20-25 years. So we continue to look at many options, and I still have faith that if this is where the Creator of the universe wants us, He will provide.
Tools and Equipment
When we first moved here, the property had been neglected for years. Over 90% of the ground was covered in an invasive weed called kosha. Growing 6-7 feet high and having a thick stalk, this plant has proven difficult to eradicate. We have been able to control it and keep it confined to a few hedgerow areas that we have not yet developed. This requires two riding lawnmowers, a self-propelled brush hog with a blade that cuts tree saplings up to two inches, a high wheel string trimmer, gas push mower, weed eater, rototiller, and chain saws.
We find that by keeping most areas clean and neat most of the time, we have no need for roundup or other poisons that could end up in our little circle of life. Besides, most of these chemicals don’t work all the time. This requires more work 1860s style, but I know that it is, as they say, “Deus Vult”, or as God wills.
We also use a large assortment of hand tools, from pitchforks to trenching shovels and all the backbreaking items between. In addition to our own tools, we keep some extra sets of shovels, rakes, and picks that we gathered up inexpensively a few years ago. One never knows when some poor feral relations might show up and demand to be taken care of because of a happenstance of birth. If that be the case, then I want to know that the elements exist where they can earn their keep.
Many Things Learned
We have learned so many things that it would be hard to put them all on paper. Homesteading/prepping seems to be an ugly and bad thing to many of our former friends and family. Despite this, you must be willing to continue on down the rabbit hole to find where it goes. I feel as if I have taken the red pill and the effects have not fully kicked in. Although you can do some of these things in the city, one never really is able to comprehend the beauty that nature and nature’s God provide until one tries to live life as God intends.
The Chance Exists To Find True Purpose
If one can learn to live one’s life in harmony with nature and one’s environment, learning to master one’s emotions, frivolities, and desires, the chance exists for one to find true purpose in this life while helping others do the same. I have thought long and hard about my own experience and what it takes to become part of a community.
The Main Few Points
The main few points that I believe are necessary are as follows:
- Be friendly and of good cheer.
- Grow your own food
- Buy local
- Volunteer to help with local projects whenever the opportunity arises
- Learn to take criticism, and be self critical in a manner that fortifies your soul against the coming darkness.
- Lastly and most important of all, be persistent. Don’t give up. Once you reach a certain point you will have no desire to return to a life of servitude among the sleeping mass of humanity.
For Those Thinking Of A More Sustainable Life
In closing for anyone who has ever thought about taking the plunge into a more sustainable life, it is long past time to begin. The hour has grown late, and the dying light of our former republic is growing dim. Better to be a year early than an hour late. To some in a small community, you will always be a new-bee. Remember and live by the words of the venerable Mr. Franklin, however, and you will be accepted. “To be esteemed be useful.”
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 73 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value), and
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 73 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.