Introducing the New Birds on the Block: Raising Chickens 101

Raising chickens is a tradition that was brought to North America by the Europeans during the 1600s. In this blog post, we look at introducing new birds on the block: raising chickens 101!

Introducing the New Birds on the Block: Raising Chickens 101

The introduction of new chickens to an established group can be a tricky process. Introducing the “new” birds requires some attention and care, just like merging two restaurants into one when you have Italian food on one side and Chinese cuisine on the other – it’s bound to cause stress!

Introducing the New Chickens to Your Flock

With new chickens entering the flock, there is often tension between old and young hens. The newcomer to the chicken coop may not be accustomed to its surroundings or have a strong social bond within that group of birds. These tensions can lead to bullying behaviors among both newcomers as well as older members in more established groups which can cause injury for individual animals and damage long-term relations amongst flocks.

Many poultry owners who are ready to expand their chicken farm make preparations by importing birds from outside sources (such as other farms), while others take time waiting for eggs they purchased at auction sites like eBay, Craig’s list, etc., after being hatched by laying hens on one property -or even neighbors’ homes! Adding new breeds into your

I always thought that hens and roosters were only territorial in regards to certain areas of the coop. I never realized they could get so worked up over who was entering their home until now!

I have had many new chickens come into my flock over time, but it wasn’t until one newcomer would not let an old chicken take her water pan for a drink before things got intense. The newcomers are naturally trying to establish themselves by taking control or what they believe is theirs; meanwhile, the older ones will fight back as best as possible with whatever strategy will keep them on top like kicking out another bird from its nest space or splashing any perceived threat off-balance with feathers and water.

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Fret not, for this kind of attitude and feud lasts for only a couple of days. Adaptation can now take place. You can’t avoid this kind of predicament from rising but you can do certain adjustments that can make all of you happy and stress-free.

There are numerous peace-making strategies to help both parties adjust to each other. Isn’t it nice to see your new and old birds in one space without having to stop them from pecking one another?

Keep them close, but separate

One very good strategy is to let them see each other without having any physical contact. How? If you have a run (which is basically attached to the coop), you could put your old chickens there and then put a border (chicken wire) between the run and the coop. Put your new chickens inside the coop. This way, they are able to see each other minus the harm. Be sure that both parties have access to sufficient food and water. You can do this for about a week.

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Another strategy is introducing the new chickens to a separate pen for about two weeks. This will give them time to get used to their surroundings and allow themselves some energy-saving at night without having so many eyes on them 24/hours a day in the coop area.

As transition day comes, that will be a week after the slight introduction, you can now “join” them in one area. You can transfer the newcomers to the resident flock’s territory during the night when all the birds are sleeping. Upon waking up, the old chickens will notice the new ones and they will, at any point, try to start a fight but will not because they are too groggy to initiate it.

One at a time

Introducing new chickens to a flock of old birds involves introducing one at a time. They are introduced by leaving them inside the coop with an older chicken for about two hours, so they get acquainted and comfortable enough that you can leave both together overnight.

The next day, introduce another one in between feeding times and repeat until all your newcomers meet up with each other before introducing them outdoors!

If this sounds like too much work, remember that introducing newly acquired chickens to an established group is very important to prevent any possible pecking order problems or territorial disputes. It’s best if done gradually but it may need some “dealing with” on certain occasions when everyone isn’t getting along as well as it should be.

raising chickens

Try distracting them

There are a number of distraction techniques that can be effective. This includes things like getting the older chickens out of their coop for some free time, or feeding them nearby to give the new birds a chance to settle in without being harassed by the old hens.

Some of the best distracting techniques are:

a. Cabbage heads can do the trick. By hanging a piece of whole cabbage just above their head, chickens will reach it until everything is finished. That is if they don’t get exhausted by jumping to it and reaching it.

b. Make the pursuit an obstacle for the pursuing party. Add large branches inside the run and coop. How does this help? It will make it more difficult for the old birds to get at the new ones.

c. Let them run around at a wider and freer range. The oldies will be so thrilled to dig for grubs and insects they wouldn’t even notice that there are newcomers roaming around.

In conclusion:

There is no 100% foolproof way on how to avoid territorial disputes among your flock but there are strategies that will make it easier for everyone involved in settling down with each other. The best thing would be if all parties transitioned smoothly into their new surroundings without any problems or injuries but this doesn’t always happen (despite our efforts).

raising chickens

If it happened every single time, then we wouldn’t have had anything worth reading about! It’s best if done gradually but it may need some “dealing with” on certain occasions when everyone isn’t getting along as well as it should be.

Introducing newly acquired chickens into an established group of older birds requires patience (especially when introducing one bird at a time) but is worth the wait considering it offers less tension between hens as they adjust themselves to each other’s presence.

Other chicken articles you may find interesting:

How to Prevent Bird Flu in Chickens

Several years ago, the bird flu spread quickly and infected birds all over the world. Every chicken keeper in the world was aware of the deadly effects of avian influenza. 

How to Prevent Bird Flu in Chickens

The bird flu became the number one cause of death for chickens in Asia and around the world.  The bird flu is thought to have originated in China.  It killed millions of chickens and basically halted their chicken industry.  

How to Prevent Bird Flu in Chickens

Although this is a strain of flu that spreads quickly among chickens, it can also infect humans.  The virus can be passed from chicken to chicken, from chicken to human, from human to human, and from human to chicken.  For this reason, health officials all over are taking this disease seriously to stop the spread.

Bird Flu in Chickens Symptoms

The bird flu in chickens is much more serious than a common cold.  If just one bird gets infected, it can kill the entire flock within a week.  If it is passed from a chicken to a human, that person can infect hundreds of people before they even realize that they are sick.  Avian flu affects people of all ages, including children and the elderly.

If a human being gets infected, it can take about three to five days from the time of exposure to experience symptoms.  The first symptoms or signs of bird flu in people are similar to the cold symptoms.  The person may have a fever, sore throat, cough, or muscle aches.  Some people will have conjunctivitis.  

bird flu symptoms

If the person doesn’t get treatment, the disease can quickly progress and get more severe.  The bird flu can lead to viral pneumonia and even acute respiratory distress.  These respiratory problems are the leading cause of death for people who get the bird flu.

How to Prevent Bird Flu

Raising chickens has several benefits, including fresh eggs and meat if you choose to use your birds for meat.  However, raising a flock of backyard chickens also takes a lot of work.  There are several problems that can arise, including avian flu.

One way chicken keepers can prevent the bird flu is by keeping the coop and their chicken area very clean.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has studied diseases around the world, and they have guidelines for keeping you and your flock safe. 

They are also in charge of tracking chickens and people who are afflicted with bird flu and studying how it travels.  They keep records of confirmed cases and deaths from diseases.  If there are a lot of cases in an area, WHO will put that area under quarantine.

How to Prevent Bird Flu

When an area is in quarantine, people who are in that area will not be allowed to leave.  Those outside of that area can not enter the area.  It’s important for agencies, including WHO, to have accurate information otherwise more people and chickens will be affected, which can save lives.

Since avian flu can quickly spread around the world, governments also have strict rules if the virus enters their country.  People in that area are asked to report signs or symptoms of this and other diseases and to be on the watch for potential bird flu cases.  This helps protect both humans and chickens, and it can save many lives if those affected are quarantined quickly.

How Do Birds Get Bird Flu?

Avian Influenza can be caused by dirty conditions and exacerbated by cold weather.  It’s important to determine what causes the bird flu so you can take prevention measures to stop the spread.  As a chicken keeper, it’s less expensive to prevent bird flu than to treat it and to risk losing your flock or being infected yourself.

Although you can’t change the weather, it’s still important to recognize that cold weather can increase the risk of bird flu in your flock.  Like human influenza, the bird flu is passed around quicker in cold weather.  The birds tend to be closer together in their coop, and the virus quickly jumps from bird to bird.  

How Do Birds Get Bird Flu?

To protect your flock, you can keep them healthy by supporting their immune systems.  Feed them healthy food so they get plenty of vitamins and minerals to keep their bodies healthy.  You can also immunize your chickens to protect them from some diseases.

A dirty coop can also help avian flu spread.  Your coop and the area in their pen and around it should be kept very clean.  Whether you use wood shavings or straw, clean it regularly to prevent contamination from fecal matter.  

When you clean the coop, protect yourself by wearing rubber boots, gloves, and a face mask with a respirator so you don’t breathe in the dust particles from the litter.  By keeping your coop and the area around it clean, you can stop the virus from spreading as fast.  

What To Do If Your Birds Have Bird Flu

If you suspect that your chickens have avian flu, the disease can spread through a coop quickly.  You should take precautions immediately to stop the spread.  Wash your hands with soap and water every time you are near your chickens or in the coop.  Even if you don’t handle your chickens or touch anything in the coop, wash your hands when you are done.

In addition to keeping your chickens healthy, it’s important to keep yourself healthy.  Get exercise and eat a healthy diet to support your immune system.

If you suspect that one of your chickens has avian flu, call your vet right away.  Your chicken can be treated with an antiviral medication to reduce the symptoms and the severity of the disease.  However, these medications can not always prevent death.

What To Do If Your Birds Have Bird Flu

Practice good hygiene when handling raw chicken in the house.  Disinfect cutting boards with chlorine bleach to kill germs.  To effectively kill germs, dilute 4 to 6 teaspoons of bleach in a gallon of water.

The bird flu isn’t a common condition for chickens, but it can decimate an entire flock in a matter of days.  It’s important to learn the signs and symptoms of the bird flu so that you can isolate sick chickens and take precautions to protect the rest of your birds and your family.  Keep your coop clean and practice good hygiene when you are around your flock to prevent the spread of this disease.

Check out our other animal articles if you found bird flu in chickens helpful:

Top Chicken Raising Tips: Give Your Chickens Treats!

Give your chickens treats? Like people, chickens like treats.  If you have a backyard flock of chickens, it’s fun to spoil your chickens and offer them treats.  

Chicken Raising Tips: Give Your Chickens Treats!

While humans like chocolate, candy, and sweet things as treats, chicken treats are usually mealworms, vegetables, or fruits.  In addition to being tasty, offering your chickens treats alleviates boredom.  When chickens get bored, they can start pecking each other and some breeds can get aggressive.

Some chicken keepers even train their chickens to come when they hear the treats so they can quickly call in their birds if one wanders too far or there’s a predator or inclement weather.

Chicken Treats

There are special chicken treats and mealworms available in pet stores.  These treats are great options for your birds, but they can get expensive.  Most chicken keepers turn to kitchen scraps for treats.  Your birds will love most kitchen scraps, and they can be a good supplement for their diet and help combat boredom.  

However, it’s important to watch what you give your chickens for treats.  Although they can have several different kinds of foods, there are some foods that they can not eat because they can be harmful.  

Best Treats for Chickens

Even though chickens aren’t the most intelligent animals, they do have their own preferences for treats.  You might notice that some of your flock won’t eat certain things.  Like people, chickens have their own tastes and preferences.

Yogurt 

Chickens like yogurt, and it’s good for their gut health.  Yogurt also has calcium that the chickens use for eggshells.  In the summer, spread yogurt on a pan and freeze it.  Then offer your chickens yogurt bark for a cool treat.

Give your chickens treats: Apples

Most chickens will happily eat apples.  They like both applesauce and raw apples.  Apple seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide, so be sure to core the apples before serving to your chickens.

give your chickens treats

Banana

Chickens love bananas, but they won’t eat the peel.  Bananas are a good source of potassium, so it’s good for their muscles.

Broccoli and Cauliflower

Although your kids won’t think broccoli and cauliflower are treats, your chickens will.  You can toss the whole head in the coop or hang it so they can peck at it.  These are great boredom busters for winter.

Cabbage

Like heads of broccoli, heads of cabbage are great for hanging.  The birds will peck at it and have fun chasing it as it moves around.

Give your chickens treats: Carrots

Chickens love carrots cooked or raw.  They will even eat the leaves off of carrots if you grow them in your garden.

Crickets

Chickens eat small bugs in the wild.  If they get outside in the nice weather, they will often look for bugs in the soil.  In the winter or if you just want to have fun watching them, get some crickets from the pet store and watch your chickens chase them.

Cucumbers

If you give your chickens cucumbers, give them mature cucumbers because the seeds and flesh are softer.

Give your chickens treats: Eggs

I know, this just seems all kinds of wrong. You can also feed your chickens their own eggs.  Avoid feeding them raw eggs because it could encourage them to eat their own eggs after they lay them.  Instead, scramble them and offer them scrambled eggs.

give your chickens treats

Fish or Seafood

Give chickens fish or seafood sparingly because it can alter the taste of their eggs.

Flowers

Chickens like marigolds, pansies, and nasturtiums.  Make sure the flowers haven’t been treated with pesticides.  

Fruit

Chickens like most fruits like cherries, pears, and peaches.  They also like grapes, but cut them into pieces because they can get stuck in their throat.

Give your chickens treats: Herbs

Chickens like fresh herbs.  They will eat lavender, cilantro, mint, basil, parsley, and oregano.

Corn

Chickens love corn on the cob.  You can simply put the cobs in the coop for them to peck at or hang them.  They will get every bit of corn off the cob and leave a clean cob for you to clean up.  

Watermelon

Chickens love watermelon.  Buy it when it’s cheap in the summer and freeze it.  Then give your chickens frozen watermelon to help them cool off.  They also love fresh watermelon, but they won’t eat the rind.

Give your chickens treats: Oatmeal

Chickens really like cooked oatmeal.  Simply prepare it with water or milk and serve warm to your chickens on cold days.  You should feed them steel cut or old fashioned oats because they are less processed.  You can also add fruits for more flavor and nutrition.

give your chickens treats

Pumpkins

Chickens love pumpkins.  Cut one in half and let them peck at it.  They will eat the stringy part, the seeds, and the flesh.  They will leave just the shell for you to pick up later.

Cottage Cheese

If your girls are laying eggs, you can offer them more calcium by giving them cottage cheese.  They will eat it plain, or you can add vegetables or fruit.

Eggshells

Eggshells are high in calcium, and chickens need to replenish their calcium to make more eggs.  When you use eggs, let the eggshells dry.  Then crush them by hand into about ¼ inch pieces.  Then sprinkle in the run or offer with their food.  Only give your chickens their own eggshells because other eggs can have bacteria that can harm your flock.

Leftovers

You can compost your leftover food through your chickens.  Be careful giving chickens people food though.  Don’t give them food that’s high in salt, sugar. or fat.  Also, do not give them anything that is spoiled or moldy. 

–>Chicken Treats to Avoid

There are some treats that you should not give your chickens.  Some of these can change the taste of their eggs, and other foods can be harmful for your chickens.

give your chickens treats

Garlic and Onions

Garlic and onions can change the taste of your eggs, so avoid giving them to your chickens.

Avocado 

Avocado pits and skins contain persin, which is toxic to chickens.  The flesh of the avocado is fine, however.

Beans

Avoid giving your chickens dried beans or undercooked beans.  They have hemagglutinin, which can affect the bird’s digestion and cause it to get sick.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb can act like a laxative.  Rhubarb that has been damaged by cold temperatures can be high in oxalic acid, which can kill a chicken.

Offering your chickens treats is a great way to dispose of food scraps, and your chickens will enjoy a special treat.  Chickens will quickly learn to come running when they see the scrap bucket heading towards the coop.   With this guide, you’ll be able to offer your chickens safe treats to keep them healthy and happy.

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Our Guide to Choosing a Chicken Breed

Before you start raising backyard chickens, the first decision that you’ll have to make is which breed to buy.  There are dozens of chicken breeds to choose from, and each one has its own pros and cons.  There’s no single answer to which breed is best for you because it depends on your needs.  Most backyard chicken keepers will have a few different breeds in their flocks. 

Our Guide to Choosing a Chicken Breed

When choosing a breed of backyard chickens, take into account what your goal is.  Do you want to have a lot of eggs?  Are your kids raising chickens for 4-H?  Do you want meat birds?  

Our Guide to Choosing a Chicken Breed

Some chickens are friendly and become pets, while others aren’t as friendly towards humans.  Some breeds are ornamental and lay fewer eggs but are pretty to look at in the backyard.  

Here are some tips to help you choose the right birds for your new or expanding flock.  

Choosing a Chicken Breed to Raise

Generally, you’ll want to take into account your climate and coop area first and then choose what’s most important to you: eggs, meat, or temperament.  From there, look for the breeds that will be suited to your climate and fit your first criteria. 

Guide to Choosing a Chicken Breed: Climate 

Before we get into egg layers or meat birds, the first thing that you need to look at is your climate and how much room your backyard chickens will have.  Some breeds are more heat tolerant or cold tolerant than others.  If you live in an area that gets cold in the winter and choose a cold hardy breed, then you may not have to heat your coop in the winter.

If you live in a cold climate, look for breeds that are well adapted to cold weather.  They will have smaller combs, more feathers to keep warm, and don’t have feathers on their legs that can freeze and cause frostbite in the winter.

guide to choosing a chicken breed

Good ones to try are:

  • Buckeye
  • Ameraucanas
  • Rhode Island Reds
  • Australorps

If you live in a hot climate, look for breeds that do not have a lot of feathers or heavy plumage.  Smaller birds also tend to do better in warm climates.

Good breeds for hot weather are:

  • Leghorn
  • Golden Buff
  • Barred Plymouth Rock

Our Guide to Choosing a Chicken Breed: Backyard Pens

Another thing to consider is whether your flock will be free-range or in a coop.  Will they have a pen to roam in during the day?

Bantams like to fly around a lot, so they are hard to contain in a pen.  Leghorns also like to fly out of their coops, so you may need to clip their wings.  

Smaller breeds like Silkies are good for small spaces.  However, these birds lay small eggs.  

Best Egg Laying Chickens

If your main goal is to get a steady supply of eggs, some breeds are better egg layers than others.  These breeds will lay nearly every day for about 5 to 6 eggs per week during the spring and summer.  However, winter egg laying always decreases for any breed.

guide to choosing a chicken breed

For the Best Chickens For Eggs, try one of the following breeds:

  • Ancona
  • Plymouth Rock
  • Barnevelder
  • Buff Orpington
  • Leghorn
  • Hamburg

Egg Colors

Chickens can lay different colored eggs based on their breed.  They can lay brown, white, blue, green, pink, or olive eggs.  Although the eggs taste the same, it’s fun to have blue eggs in your fridge or to give to friends and family.

  • Brahmas, Cochins, Delawares, and New Hampshire Reds lay brown eggs.  
  • Light Sussex and Australorps lay pink eggs.

Chickens that lay blue eggs?

  • Ameraucanas, Araucanas, and Cream Legbars lay blue eggs.

You’ll also get some variation between the same breed of chickens.  Some will lay darker or lighter eggs, so you’ll have a nice assortment of colors if you get these breeds.

Our Guide to Choosing a Chicken Breed: Meat Chickens

Some people raise chickens for eggs and then butcher the chicken for meat.  Others raise chickens just for meat.  If you are raising chickens for meat and not for egg production, look for Broilers.  These chickens grow fast: up to 10 pounds in 5 weeks!  

You don’t have to worry about the birds being cold hardy or able to handle the heat because you can simply buy them when the weather is nice and will be nice for the next five weeks.

guide to choosing a chicken breed

The following breeds make good meat birds:

  • Jersey Giant
  • Cornish Cross
  • Freedom Rangers
  • Breese

If you want your chickens to lay eggs and then be used for meat, then you want a dual-purpose breed.  These breeds lay a lot of eggs, and they grow to a decent size for meat.

  • Sussex
  • Marans
  • Wyandotte
  • Turken
  • Chantecler

Our Guide to Choosing a Chicken Breed: Exhibition Breeds

There are several ornamental chicken breeds that are fine birds, but they aren’t exceptional for eggs or meat.  However, they are fun to have in your flock.  Cochins, Marans, and Frizzles are all fun chickens to have.  These birds are fun to watch in your backyard, and they will give you a steady supply of eggs, although they usually lay fewer eggs than other birds.

If your kids are using backyard chickens for 4-H or another club, check with the regulations before placing your order.  Rules and regulations may vary by state or county.

Temperament

If you have children or want your backyard chickens to be pets, then you may want to try breeds that are friendlier.  Buff Orpingtons, Brahmas, and Australorps are all friendly and will become part of the family.  

guide to choosing a chicken breed

Leghorns are good for eggs, but they can be noisy and sometimes aggressive.  Delawares can also get aggressive.  Rhode Island Red roosters also tend to be aggressive.  If you have young children, then you may want to avoid these breeds.  

Choosing the right backyard chicken breed can be difficult.  If you have a large coop, you can get more than one breed to have more variety.  Some backyard chicken keepers get a new kind of breed every few years so they have several different kinds.  

No matter which breed or breeds you end up with, get your eggs or baby chicks from a reputable hatchery.  These chickens will be stronger and healthier, so they are more likely to survive.  If you can only have hens due to zoning restrictions, then a reputable hatchery is less likely to make a mistake during sexing young chicks.

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How to Get Off the Grid and Survive: Finding a New Home

Finding a new home? Off-the-grid living is becoming more and more popular as people are looking for ways to live a simpler life. The off the grid lifestyle is not without its challenges, but many people have found that it provides them with happiness they were unable to find elsewhere.

How to Get Off the Grid and Survive: Finding a New Home

In this article, we will discuss what you need in order to successfully make the transition from modern society into off-grid living.

All off-grid homes have certain things in common, such as solar panels or wind turbines that provide electricity without relying on fossil fuel power plants. Off-Grid Living has many challenges but can also be quite healthy and fulfilling.

Find the right land

To start with, you need land. That property you are looking for shouldn’t be too small. You will need lots of room for building a house if one isn’t present. You will also want space to build a few various workstations as well as saving a plot for farming.

Keep in mind that off-grid living requires some level of self-sufficiency – you will have to be able to grow your own food and produce your own fuel for heating, light, or machinery power in order to survive.

Finding a new home: Location – location – location

Your new home should be away from civilization. (moving too close to a city kind of forces you to be on the grid)

The best spot for electricity is near a stream. The old feed mills harnessed that power, so can you.

Some off-grid homes might not have a water connection, which means that their occupants need to carry all of the drinking and cooking water in buckets from natural sources like springs or creeks. This could be a challenge for those who are disabled or elderly because it requires physical exertion on their behalf.

Living on a beautiful piece of remote wilderness land is a dream for milions of people. But how do you make that happen? How do you find land to build your tiny house on, or your off-grid cabin?

What else do you need?

The big thing about off-grid living is that it requires some level of self-sufficiency. You will have to be able to grow your own food and produce your own fuel for transportation, heating, light, or machinery power in order to survive!

Finding a new home: Let the Sunshine in…

If you’re looking to live off of solar power, then your home should be in an area with lots of sun exposure (i.e., near the equator). North America has some great spots that are perfect for this purpose and not too far from civilization if you need supplies on occasion.

You can’t live off the grid without a plan for food. If you’re going to grow your own vegetables and fruits, then you need a spot where there’s sufficient sun exposure during all seasons of the year so that they’ll have enough light. You could also use this land as an orchard if that’s more up your alley.

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Get all Dirty…

Look for fertile soil. Since there is a good chance you’ll be living off of mostly your farming, good soil that you can grow plants in is a major help. I could tell you a lot more here, but you have to decide what kind of gardening you want to do – check out Try To Garden for lots of tips and ideas.

Finding a new home: Are there trees?

Make sure that your land has plenty of trees and shade so you have a place to cool off from the sun when it gets too hot.

You will also want to harvest a few of them occasionally for firewood…which brings another challenge.

Time consuming tasks such as cutting firewood by hand which can take up to six hours a day and the knowledge to start a fire could be as challenging as you want it to be.

Gather Your Supplies

You want to make sure you have nothing electric. All of your supplies and items brought along shouldn’t use electricity for proper off-the-grid living.

A tent can be your off-the-grid home while you are building. They are inexpensive and portable, perfect for a temporary shelter that you may need to move from time to time.

Quick tip though: If you plan on living in a tent year round then it will require more insulation such as an army blanket or sleeping bag so you won’t have to freeze during the night.

Finding a new home

Quality not Quantity

Bring quality tools. Not to knock Harbor Freight, but they are not exactly built to last. Grandpa’s gems were not all shiny and pretty but worked fantastically and held up incredibly well. You are going to want tools that are going to be able to be used for a long time.

This is especially important when you are going to be living off-grid. The average person will go through a lot of tools in their quest for survival, so don’t skimp on buying cheap ones that end up breaking and needing replacement.

Finding a new home: Roughing it

Hunting and cooking gear are key. You know how to make a fire and possibly work with a solar oven will be extremely valuable.

Buy or find some good cooking gear like pots and pans. You can also fashion them out of clay if needed, but you might want to research that a bit.

Bringing along a rifle with lots of ammo will allow you to take down large game that can feed your family for weeks.

Hunting is a great way to get food, but you have to be careful. If the area where your off-grid home is located has hunting laws that prohibit hunting, then this might not be an option for survival.

If hunting is off the table, and keeping food off of YOUR table, then look at learning how to make snares and traps!

Let’s Get Cooking

Consider Using a Solar Oven to Cook Food. Building your off-grid home in an area that has plenty of sunlight is critical if using a solar cooker! If all else fails, this could be your last resort for cooking large quantities of food over time. A solar oven can cook food fairly well without using any power or fuel source. That lets you save your wood for heat purposes.

A camping stove would work also.

There are many brands to try, but I like Solo Stove. The Solo Stove is a compact, highly efficient wood-burning stove. It can be used to cook food and boil water without the need for open fires or stoves that burn fossil fuels like propane/butane gas. Planning a Camping Trip? Shop Solo Stove’s Camp Cookware Today!

This means less weight, no smoke, and reduced fire danger for your property. And when you’re done cooking, the Solo Stove can be used as a fire-starting source for your wood stove or campfire.

It isn’t going to be easy and we JUST got started on this. If this sounds like life for you, then get off of the grid and go find your new home!

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The Basics of Homesteading in America

The Basics of Homesteading in America? The Homestead Act of 1862 promised 60 acres of land to families who stayed on the property for five years and farmed it for prosperity. Today, cities and towns are once again resurrecting homestead incentives – but for different reasons.

The Basics of Homesteading in America artical cover image with older barn

Instead of populating an area that’s never seen activity before, it’s now because of the need to settle places where homeowners and businesses have gone bankrupt and abandoned the location. 

The Basics of Homesteading in America

In just about every state in America, you can find properties and locations that are being given away for free – as long as a few provisions are met. For example, there might be a requirement that you have a contractor within a certain amount of time to begin building on a lot.

Another incentive is the tax break you get from developing one of these properties. Some cities give a generous 70% tax break for a while. Whether it’s a home or commercial development, you might even get a higher tax break. 

But not all free property is a suitable property for homesteading. As a prepper who wants to be self-reliant, you can’t just go into any area and take land and consider it worthy of raising a family. 

You may want to pay for your property instead – if it has good soil, an ample water supply, and is positioned in a way that enables you to have quick access without being readily found by the masses. 

Homesteading was officially repealed as a law in 1976, but you can still look for opportunities that specific places are offering for future developments. Cheap land is abundant, too – but the price isn’t the only qualifying feature. 

It would be best if you prioritize your needs. If you want to focus on farming, you need to secure land with rich, fertile soil that will yield a high dose of crops to feed your family. If your primary concern is isolation, then you’ll want more land at a cheaper cost. 

Land in the South will typically be less expensive than land up North – and the Southern states will have a longer growing season for those of you who want to farm and grow your crops. 

Make sure you understand the tax issues for the property you’re considering purchasing. Every state has different tax requirements, so while the per-acre price might be attractive, it might end up costing more in taxes than in another area where the initial price is higher, but taxes remain low. 

Homesteading Acreage Options

When you talk about how many acres are needed to get off the grid and become self-sufficient, the battle begins between those who say you only need 1 acre and those who say you need much, much more. 

Both camps are correct. It all depends on how you plan to live and how self-sufficient you truly want to be. You can live on a single acre and raise animals, grow crops, and build a home.

But you have to consider many things – such as raising a dairy cow. If you want to cut costs for hay, it has to graze in a pasture. If that’s the case, then it needs plenty of room, and an acre (that houses your home, garden, and other elements) wouldn’t be quite enough. 

The Basics of Homesteading in America raising with a cow

It’s not impossible, though. If you have the means to buy feed and hay instead of allowing grazing, then you could own a dairy cow on a small property like this – but your costs and inconvenience would increase, as would your reliance on the outside world. 

Raising a Homesteading Dairy Cow

Many homesteading prepper families decide to invest in a dairy cow for their property. This will provide plenty of milk for your family – and possibly extra for your pigs if you’re raising those. 

You can drink the milk or create yogurt, ice cream, and other items from her milk. Each type of cow and size will produce a variable amount of milk, so you may want to find a smaller option (like a goat) if your family doesn’t use much milk.

Or, if you live in a prepper community, you could share the milk with another family – along with the responsibilities of raising it. It would be best if you milked it at the same time every day, so scheduling is essential. 

Some people wonder about the safety of drinking raw milk, but you can also buy a pasteurizer for your family to use. They’re not expensive, and it will provide you with the same safety you get off the grocery shelves. 

It can get expensive to raise a dairy cow if you have to buy all of your hay, but many prepper families grow their own, so that cuts down on the cost of raising your dairy cow enormously. 

You can sometimes go to a dairy farm and ask if they have any lower production cows they want to get rid of. If the volume isn’t enough for a dairy farm, they’ll often sell off the cows to a family that requires a much lower milk volume. 

Most families recommend that you get a Jersey dairy cow, but there are many options. You want a gentle one and won’t be hostile to you or your little ones in a farming situation. 

You have to make sure that your property has room for her to graze and roam around. If you get a Brown Swiss or Dexter cow, you can allow for more grass grazing than hay feed, saving you money in the long run. 

Your dairy cow will provide milk twice a day for almost a year. After about ten months, give her a break for a few months and then let her produce another calf to begin milk production again. 

Keep in mind that your water supply must be significant to provide for a dairy cow’s needs. They can drink anywhere from 25-40 gallons of water each day. Make sure you have enough water for her and your own family’s needs. 

Your dairy cow might produce anywhere from 2-8 gallons of milk per day, so make sure you don’t over-invest in something that’s going to make all of the milk production go to waste. 

It also depends on how large your family is and how many people you have to sustain on your property. It’s going to take more of everything to support a family of five than it would a couple. 

Back to the Property…

Some people want a large piece of property only for the barrier it offers not to have neighbors bumping right up against your property. This could make a difference in civil unrest or crisis when people are fighting for survival supplies. 

You can’t neglect the fact that price will factor into the equation. Unless your pockets have no bottom to them, then you might have to consider how much you’ll be paying per acre – or how much money in taxes the government will require from you each year. 

Some families opt to invest in large plots of land so that when their children are grown, the family can expand and build a second, third or fourth home on the property. This is what families use to do in the old days, but now they’re all spread across the country. 

Some preppers will tell you that your land’s size is nowhere near as important as the quality of it. If it offers more than one entry to the property, rich soil, and a water source – that’s worth more than a larger plot. 

Prepper Homesteading Basics

If you’re going to homestead, you need to know the basics. But the first thing you need to realize about homesteading is that the goal is to become self-reliant. That means you can provide and care for your family entirely with what you can grow or make yourself. 

There are some skills involved with homesteading, but it’s not difficult to learn the skills. You’ll want to be prepared with food. You want to prepare with food supplies that can serve you for repeated cycles. 

Gardening

So you would want to plant a garden that can be replanted again and again. You can do this using heirloom seeds. You’ll want to plant what you’ll consume throughout the year and when the growing season is over, you’ll want to make sure that you preserve some of the garden bounty to use during the months that the garden doesn’t grow. 

You’ll also want to save and store the seeds from the fruits and vegetables for replanting the following gardening season. It’s also smart to learn how to construct chicken coops so that you can have the eggs that are produced. 

RAISING A PIG WHILE HOMESTADING

You can also raise pigs for meat. You’ll want cows for milk (and/or meat) and goats for producing dairy to use for cheese. Some preppers that homestead also prefer to raise honeybees. Not only is the honey usable, but the bees can help pollinate the fruits and vegetables that you grow. 

Water Sourcing

Water needs to be planned for when homesteading. You can’t survive without access to clean water. You need to set up rain barrels for water that your livestock can drink, and the collected rainwater can also be used to irrigate your garden. The fastest way to collect rainwater is to set a barrel up beneath a downspout. 

You should have a way to purify your water and a way that you can store the water. If you bring the water to your homestead site from a creek or pond, then you’ll need a way to transport it. 

Protection

Protection is paramount when you’re homesteading. You’re going to need weapons to protect yourself if someone decides to rob you or commit other crimes against you. You should be armed with both knives as well as guns. Both of these are great for protection and are handy to have around for hunting or food prep. 

If you choose to have firearms, seriously think about storing them safely. I found this $100 off coupon for you though a company I really like:

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Homeschooling

Education for children is a necessity when you’re homesteading. You want to make sure you have educational supplies. You can find educational supplies at homeschool stores if you’re going to stock up in advance. 

You can also order and store homeschooling supplies in advance. But education can also be taught using just the necessary tools like classic pieces of literature. Teaching things like math can be done using real-life concepts such as measuring items in a recipe or measuring wood for cutting when building something.

Studies have shown that children who are educated using real-life ideas often excel in life. 

I know there are a ton of great mini lessons on my kid’s site Sarah Lyn Gay.

Homesteading Must-Haves

When you decide to go off the grid and build a family property that allows you to be self-sufficient and safe in the event of a crisis or disaster, you need to make sure it meets several requirements in addition to food and water. 

A good piece of property is first and foremost on the checklist. It should be away from the city, but not too far that it becomes an inconvenience to access whenever you need to replenish your supplies. 

The Basics of Homesteading in America farm at sunset with horse

It would be best if you had a spot that’s easy to access but is hidden from public view. You want to know where it is but not have it visible from the roadway where others might approach if there’s a disaster and they’re scouting for supplies. 

A good water supply source would be a great addition if you can find one. If it’s a flowing river or stream that would offer you freshwater, you can’t beat that since water is necessary for you to survive. 

Plenty of room for gardening and grazing animals is a perk. You need to figure out what kind of crops and animals you plan to raise since some will require more space than others. 

Good soil goes along with that last perk. If you’re gardening, you don’t want to be reliant on a store to sell you bags of fertilizer to enrich the soil. You want to land that’s already rich in nutrients and will help your plants thrive. How to Make Effective Garden Compost is a good article to read.

A method for generating your own electricity – hydro, solar, or wind would help your family survive. The running water with a drop in elevation would be good for hydroelectricity. Plenty of sun for solar, and winds of at least 9-10 mph for wind-generated electricity. 

Formidable building supplies should be brought onto the property. Concrete is a good building supply for protection from the elements. A safe room built into the property is wise for all kinds of events. You want it to withstand weather and prevent easy entry by unwanted guests.

Ample storage facilities are necessary. You need storage for items that can’t tolerate temperature swings, like your food stores and water supplies. Outdoor storage for tools, equipment, and other items are also needed. 

Protection from harm needs to be on your mind. Gates built around the property will help somewhat. Locks that come with doors and fences are often flimsy, so you may want to shore those up with something stronger. 

Firearms and a security system with rechargeable batteries can help protect you. Fire-resistant roofing material will help prevent your home from burning down if you’re in a wildfire situation. 

Concrete homes built right into the side of a mountain offer the best form of protection for the actual shelter itself. Then the property it overlooks could meet the rest of the requirements. 

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