Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January 2012 in Review and February Preps

January was a quiet month for me on the blog, but not so much at home. I have been so busy. Between my kids' homeschooling, extra-curriculars, and the normal insanity of having two toddlers (including one who is doing her best to give up her afternoon nap), life has been pretty nutty. Hubby Dear and I have also been going full-throttle with diet and and exercise, which has eaten up time I normally spent on the computer. My derriere is thankful for the change, however, and I've managed to lose 10 pounds in the last month!

Even though I didn't get time to blog, I most certainly worked on preps during the month of January.

1. Sales!

I hope many of you were able to take advantage of the sales at and Honeyville Grains. I am very happy that I was able to stock up on both Tattler canning lids and freeze dried foods.

2. Reading, reading, and more reading

I read quickly through The Small-Scale Poultry Flock and have been mulling over all the interesting ideas it gave me for the role poultry can play on our homestead. Next, I bought a copy of The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way. Talk about wow. If you are interested in growing fruit organically, you've got to get your hands on this book! The focus of the book is building plant health, starting at the soil level and working up. It has me re-imagining the layout of our orchard and has piqued my interest in permaculture. I really can't recommend this book enough.

3. Miscellany

I socked away items like work gloves, bandannas, and safety pins.  These are all cheap, readily-available preps that could be important to have on hand in an emergency. Bandannas alone have countless uses.

4. Chicken business

Our chicks are due to arrive in early March. I spent a good portion of my prepping budget this month on various chicken paraphernalia.

Feed storage

I bought a couple of galvanized steel trash cans to store feed in and a couple of bales of pine shavings. Since I intend to use the deep litter method of manure management, I need mucho mas pine shavings.

Random chick stuff 

I also picked up the supplies I'll need for our chick brooder. Hubby Dear and I weighed out a variety of options (including crafting our own brooder out of a plastic storage bin), but for reasons of ease, the number of chicks we'll be brooding, and because I'm a total sucker for a so-called complete kit, we bought the Deluxe Brooder Starter Package from Randall Burkey.

The Deluxe Brooder Package from 

You're supposed to have at least 1/2 a square foot per chick in your brooder. This set up will give me just about the right amount of space for the 17 chicks I'm expecting.

I also bought chick-sized grit, a bag of starter feed, and forage cakes. I'm glad that February always flies by so quickly because I am more than ready for my chicks to arrive!

Oh, and there's this little something that arrived via tractor trailer.

After some trial and error (including a dead lawn mower battery and creative use of a tire iron),
Hubby  Dear got the coop hitched up and moved it around to the back yard

This is an 8x8' chicken coop built by Horizon Structures. The delivery driver arrived after sunset one evening and decided that he couldn't make the turn into our driveway with his 75' long trailer. That meant he had to put the wheels on our coop and unload it directly on the country road we live on. Then he and I wrestled this nearly 1700 lb coop off the road and up enough of our hilly, rutted driveway to finally make it onto our yard. Hubby Dear, of course, was at work and missed all the fun. ;) The next day, he hitched up the coop to the lawn mower and moved it around back to take its place of honor in the chicken moat.

It was tricky business to get the coop positioned in the moat. It took many tries to get it right.

Horizon Structures is located in Pennsylvania and I... am not. Take a look at the amount of road dust that collected on the outside of the coop during the long journey to our home! It would have been better to buy locally, but I didn't have any luck finding something with the size and features I wanted.

In place and ready for action! Now we just need to finish the chicken moat.

This coop has a lot of upgrades, including an easy-clean glassboard floor, electrical package, and automatic chicken door. I'm pleased with the overall quality of construction, but was disappointed that the roof and paint got damaged during transport. Thankfully, Horizon Structures is not only sending me touch-up paint and extra shingles but also hiring a handyman to make it right. That's a business that knows how to treat its customers.

What's up for next month?

February Preps:

1. Books - You know I had to have more books on my list! Continuing the theme of permaculture, I plan to get (the unfortunately named, but useful) Gaia's Garden. I also find the concept behind Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day to be very intriguing. I make all of our bread, but the recipe I use for homemade pizza recipe takes long enough that I don't make it very often.

2. Chickens - I still need to get a few odds and ends for the chickens, namely a long, high-quality extension cord so that my coop can have power. We need to finish constructing the north wall of the chicken moat as well.

3. Orchard planning - Our apple trees and blueberry bushes will arrive in March. Ahead of that, I need to work on our plan and get some of the supplies that I can't find locally.

4. Garden - We are expanding our square foot garden next year and so we need to build a few more boxes and make more Mel's Mix.  

5. First aid preps - I have a huge list of items that I have yet to buy. I hope to make inroads on this.

6. Feminine products - After my ill-fated cloth pad experiment, I kind of abandoned this area of preparedness. Time to get back to it.

So that's me. Any big plans for February or accomplishments from January you'd like to share? 


  1. It sounds like you are getting off to a great start this year. I like the idea of setting a particular monthly goal.

    My goals for February are to 1) add to first aid supplies, 2) can something simple for my first attempt--probably a jam, 3) expand my sewing skills with a project that makes me learn a new technique.

    Can hardly wait to watch your chicken adventure unfold. Take lots of photos, please.

  2. Anonymous - Thanks! I'm ridiculously excited to be getting chickens. I'll probably run off all my readers with all the chicken content, LOL! Your February goals sound great.

  3. Fantastic Post! We are reorganizing our thoughts on prepping. I have been going through my food storage and am working on a master list with menus and the ingredients needed for a three month supply. This year I am also going to get serious about moving into a long term supply and adding some freeze dried foods and more grains to the mix.

    BTW, I make our bread too for the most part and I love the Artisan Breads in Five Minutes A Day concept. I have yet to buy the book but have used many of the recipes that I have found online.

    You are so organized in your approach to prepping. I love reading your blog. My February goal is to make a clear budget for prepping, create a master list for food storage and then break it down into monthly chunks like you.

    We don't have a large plot of land as we live in a neighborhood. I am so envious of your new chicken coop. You all will be having so much fun this summer. Have you thought about how you will handle taking family vacations with the chickens?

  4. Thanks, Just Me. Sounds like you will be busy this month! Depending on the laws where you live and how your yard is set up, you could have chickens. It really doesn't take much space to have two or three chickens. I just like to over do things a bit! ;) The plan for vacations is to hire our neighbor boy to take care of the chickens. Our next door neighbors are very nice and have taken care of our garden for us while we were on vacation before. I think they are also planning on getting chickens this spring, so we would be happy to return the favor.

  5. Our county does not allow chickens unless you live on at least 3 acres of land. We have a measly 1/3 acre. There is a $1000 per head fine if you have chickens on your property illegally. That is a big fine!! Ironically, the city we live closest to does not allow chickens but they do allow you to have a cow, as long as it doesn't have a bell on. Ha ha. Gotta love some of these old laws. There is a growing grass roots group lobbying to change the laws and allow chickens in urban areas but our Board of Supervisors are very slow to come around.

  6. Just Me - Those are some crazy laws! I hope things for the better soon. Or just move to the country! ;)

  7. The most surprising fact since getting our backyard chickens is how much I LOVE having them. Yes, it is wonderful to have fresh brown eggs, but even more endearing is the sight of them running to me when I go out back. The children are responsible to check for eggs before school and to close the coop at night. The cons of chickens - what to do with them when we need to travel and be away longer than a day.(helpful neighbor children) and WOW, those chickens sure do poop a lot.(a faucet and long garden hose to spray out the coop from time to time).

  8. 10 pounds lost in 1 month is great! I am working on improving my health as well. I have lost 12 pounds but that has been nearly 2 months. In order to be prepared, we have to be in good enough shape to handle physical work every day. I also have blueberry and raspberry bushes which are doing fine, but my fruit tress have not done well since I bought them 2 years ago. I need to work on learning more about those. We really have a lot in common!