Adventures, Chickens

The Coop Building Has Begun (Oops I forgot to publish this) from 2018

So, my whole body hurts and I am sunburned in weird places like the tops of my hands and the backs of my legs, but the chicken coop is starting to take shape. (Yes, I was nicely coated in sunblock and reapplied it several times, but I still burned.) Last weekend, we set the support posts into 3 foot holes, which I dug rather crookedly and we didn’t notice until after the posts were set.

I hate Oklahoma clay when digging is involved. Those holes may not look like much, but it was similar to digging through rock with a shovel. Hubby kindly explained, after I finished digging, that it’s easier to dig if you dump water in the holes. I worked really hard on those holes. It killed me when he told me just how crooked they were.

I mean, seriously, that’s a LOT of dirt. The wheelbarrow is bigger than I am when it leans against the garage. I am 5 ft. 1 in. In height. This was a huge accomplishment for me.

Hubby also decided I needed shade after taking one look at me. I became a lobster rather quickly. Those posts are shockingly level. The ground is not level, but the support posts are level.

Once the posts had a chance to settle for a few days, we started building the coop to line up with my crooked posts. None of us wanted to dig new holes. So, the walls went up first.

Remember how I said I was going to frame it with pallets, well Hubby decided that he was taking over my project and went out and bought a ton of plywood. Also, remember how crooked that cut on the compost tumbler door was, you will know exactly which parts I cut as you continue through the pictures. I was fully supervised with the power tools and saws freak me out. I wore my gloves and safety glasses because I don’t want splinters in my eyeballs.

As the walls went up, Hubby was walking around the coop slowly asking me how I planned on roofing it. I explained I wanted a slant roof with a slight overhang and a gap between the walls and roof, which I would close off from predators with construction fabric or this roll of fencing that has 1 inch square holes. This roll of fencing is extremely thick and he’s guessing it is meant for goats. He was thrilled I didn’t want a normal roof. I don’t think he wanted to try to frame out my crooked little square building.

See how uneven the ground is? He made the coop door for the chickens rather large. His reasoning was, what if two chickens want to leave at the same time? I couldn’t argue with that reasoning. Please, don’t panic about those gaps. The floor has not been built yet and this coop will be safe from predators. We are burying fencing almost 2 ft. out from the building walls and the floor will start with concrete pavers and then, plywood on top of the pavers secured to the walls with those L-shaped brackets used for industrial shelving. There are a few reasons behind this flooring design, but the main reason is to keep the inside of the coop dry. Because of the slope, rainwater would run right through the coop. With the concrete pavers, there will be space for water to flow through, but the coop floor will not get wet. The pavers we are using are almost 6 inches thick. They will also deter predators who manage to get past the fencing while digging. We will also be digging out the floor a bit to make it level prior to installing pavers.

I wanted a rounded top door, but once I tried cutting it with the jigsaw, I got maybe an inch cut and told hubby to make it a triangle. (I draw crooked too ūüėā He was not happy when he realized I drew a crooked triangle for him to cut out) I’m not sure if you can see it, but each wall is two pieces of plywood, stacked on top of each other. This was necessary because the coop itself is about 5 1/2 feet tall. I can comfortably walk through the door, but everyone else has to duck.

The triangular topped door has some 2×4 boards as support because a plywood door is kind of flimsy. There are also 2×4 boards on the inside around the doorway because he wanted to make sure an animal couldn’t pull the door off easily. Also, the door will have to withstand Oklahoma winds, which can be 70 mph and higher. My neighbors were outside while we were building. (You can see their house, which is an acre away, in the 7th picture.) Her hubby will be over next weekend to assist and learn (He has never built anything either) because his wife decided she wants chickens over on her property. So, he’s going to help and then, when he starts building, we will help them because they are fabulous neighbors. We don’t have any other neighbors aside from a concrete prefabrication place (which is a little bit south of us, past her property and across the street from her and I have the School’s Agricultural Farm north of me.) So, we always help each other out whenever help is needed.

Hubby lined up the t-posts for the run just to see how big he wanted it. He wants it to go to the first tree right next to the nose of the truck. I know what you are thinking, that’s way too short of a fence for chickens and they will jump or fly over it. Not to worry, the run will be fully enclosed. I am taking pvc piping and arching it over the run area then, I have two dump truck covers (they are heavy duty mesh material) and they will go over top of the pvc arches. The run will be fully enclosed and the cover will provide shade because it is black. If you have no idea what I am talking about, think of a dump truck hauling sand, rock, or gravel, they have a tarp like cover over their load. That’s what I am using. Hubby brings me home the coolest things. He works on diesel engines so, he has access to some weird stuff, like dump truck covers that have minor fraying at the edges and are no longer deemed safe by the company. They throw them away or let mechanics take them for projects such as my chicken coop and run. He also brings me blue plastic 55 gallon drums, pallets, and I have a dump truck liner as well. (I am using that for another project.)

In between the coop and the shed that needs a new floor and some other minor repairs, I am building a greenhouse. Eventually, the shed will also be a chicken coop with both coops sharing a run. One coop for meat birds and the other for laying hens. I have all sorts of projects planned. They just take time and money so, I am building them slowly. I am extremely grateful I have a husband who can weld, has tools, and while he laughs at me because of how bad I am at building things, he is always willing to help me so, my projects end up being useful instead of junk. I couldn’t have done any of this without him. I couldn’t even lift a sheet of plywood on my own. The kiddos (two adults and a 17 yr old) are also willing to sacrifice their weekends to help their Momma. Their reasoning is, “Momma, you never ask for anything so, when you ask for help, we are all going to help you.”

Our 21 yr old daughter’s boyfriend was extremely helpful because he can lift plywood sheets and he was happy to help. He’s looking forward to helping with the fencing because he does fencing as a side job. So, it will definitely be done right since he knows how to build fences.

An unrelated update, the horses we were boarding have moved to their new home. Their dad bought 20 acres after falling in love with the quiet on our property. He was so excited about owning his own land, but promised to bring them by for visits when he takes them to the park, where the rodeos are held (it’s a beautiful set of arenas) because it’s free to use. He also promised to give them their favorite treat once in a while. (Brown sugar and cinnamon poptarts) Yes, they are junk food as far as horses are concerned, but they were skittish and would run from him every time he came to feed and groom them. Then, I gave them each half of my poptarts and he would pull in and they would be at the gate by the time he got out of his vehicle. They got excited to see anyone. They mostly got apples, carrots, pears from the pear tree, and other fruits and veggies, but on rare occassions, I would either hand him the poptarts if he was trimming hooves, or bring them out myself. They have turned into extremely social horses and never run from him anymore. They were lovingly spoiled while here. All animals are spoiled here because I can’t help it, I have to spoil all of the animals.

I will continue to post updates on the chicken coop and run until it is completed. Then, the greenhouse build, and the updates to the shed. I will be ordering chicks from the hatchery once the last freeze date passes. (Mid to late May) I will be posting oodles of pictures. I have to find a way to tell them apart because the hens and single rooster will have names. Any suggestions for identifying chicks and being able to tell them apart prior to feathering out? I thought about coloring a wing with food coloring, but I would need multiple colors and I would feel bad because that may be a shock to their little systems seeing their wing blue or purple or whatever. What do you name a chicken anyway? I thought about the seven dwarves, snow white, the queen, and the rooster as the huntsman, but my daughter wants to make one or two of them. We may name them after Harry Potter characters. I have still not decided on a breed either. Any suggestions for both extreme high temps and low temps? I want hardy chickens that can survive in snow. I will insulate the coop once it’s fully built.

Until next time….

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Journal Style Posts

I Knew It Was Too Good To Be True

Upstairs ac is definitely NOT fixed. Woke up to the upstairs being sweltering HOT. The unit is still freezing up. I have no idea why either. I talked to the company and they will be back out next week to get this thing fixed properly. We thought it was just low on freon. He added 3 pounds of freon so it was definitely low, but it is still freezing up and that’s NOT good especially since it will be 105¬į and possibly higher this weekend. We will be letting it thaw every couple of hours and turning it back on in order to keep it cool enough upstairs to be comfortable.

The downstairs unit is working perfectly. No complaints there. We are going to inspect a riding mower tomorrow to use while waiting for the new deck to arrive. It’s an older model mower, but not ancient. As long as it runs and cuts the grass, I don’t care. It’s cheap enough to lay out the funds without having it hurt our budget. Also, having two mowers means two people can now at the same time, making 10 acres worth of mowing happen MUCH faster.

I honestly don’t mind mowing. I put in my earbuds and play music while mowing. I zone out and the only negative is the possibility of sunburn I wear pants and long sleeves because mowing makes the bugs angry and I don’t enjoy mosquito bites. Plus, the long pants and sleeves protect me from projectiles like pebbles or small sticks that were missed. I have been hit by pebbles wearing shorts and it’s not fun.

I am trying really hard to not stress myself completely over this whole air conditioning issue. It’s not easy since I thought it was fixed and it was no longer an issue. I seriously hope this is the end of the breaking spree. I will probably start smashing things myself if anything else breaks.

Another lovely thing happened today. We set up an appointment with a company that sells and installs water softeners and whole home filtration systems. We have well water, which means we have hard water and even with a really good carbon filter, we still get sand when filling the tub sometimes. (usually after heavy rains)

Well, the appointment was for 5:00 pm because this company would only make the appointment if my husband was home, even though I handle the finances and I am the final say for all expensive purchases. (Only because I make the budget and know whether something will cause us to struggle financially if purchased at that time.) Well, Hubby was home, he was a bit irritated by the sexism exhibited by this company, but he agreed that it was worth looking into a different option for filtration and softening our water. 5:00 rolls around and the technician is now late. 5:15 and the technician is now a no call-no show. So, I call the company and they had canceled the appointment yesterday without informing us. Um…. okay….

The representative starts to ask me about rescheduling, but another technician won’t be in my area until December. Then, this was the kicker, they wanted me to mail a copy of the deed for our property to prove we owned our home. I started laughing at the representative. I went ahead and told her to remove ALL of my information from their system to include my name, phone number, email address, and my address. I told her we would DEFINITELY NOT be rescheduling this appointment and that this was both unprofessional and highly discourteous of their company to cancel an appointment without contacting the customer to inform them. I also told her that there was no way in hell I was sending a copy of the deed for our home, especially when that information is a matter of public record and can be pulled up on the internet in less than 5 minutes. Proving ownership by providing a copy of the deed to our home is absolutely ridiculous and I sincerely hope people don’t actually do that.

We found out about this company from one of those scratch off game mailers. I didn’t care about the mailer, we actually wanted to see what we could do to improve our water quality. I drink the water from our well daily. It tastes amazing and I filter it a second time through the fridge. (I don’t want to have sand in my cup.) This company offered to test our water at no charge, which was a major bonus considering that test costs anywhere from $150.00 to $350.00 depending upon the number of contaminants they actually test for and if you test both before and after filtration. Our well was tested last year and aside from minerals and sand, it is safe to drink, it’s just hard water.

In case you live in Oklahoma, I don’t recommend this company at all. I started reading reviews online after the technician never showed and apparently this is common practice for this company. It’s just shady and unprofessional in my opinion. So, we will purchase the kit to test our water, then, we will find a water softener and maybe another option for a whole house filtration system at Home Depot or Lowe’s, the small hardware store in town, or even the Co-Op. We have a whole home filtration system in place and I just purchased a new type of filter for it, which is supposed to filter all solids, bacteria, and contaminants. We will test the tap water and the water from the well prior to filtration. I want to know if the well is contaminated in any manner because it isn’t difficult to decontaminate a well. I have to pour chlorine or bleach into the well every time we have an extended power outage or when the well has broken in the past to decontaminate it so, I know exactly what decontamination consists of. The bleach or chlorine is flushed through the lines and the well pump by opening all of the faucets after allowing the chosen form of chemical to sit for a specific amount of time, which is based off of well diameter and depth, and then letting the water run for like 10 minutes. So, not only is the well sanitized, the plumbing for the entire house is sanitized at the same time. We test the well every year just to be safe. Our neighbors have a well that is not as deep as ours and they have dealt with contamination multiple times since moving in. Ours is over 100 feet deeper than theirs. So, flooding does not affect our well as much as it affects theirs. That is definitely a bonus. We also do not have a well house, everything is in the basement. We have not had any issues with pipes freezing up or anything of that nature because the basement isn’t as cold as it is outside in a well house. I did teach my awesome neighbor my pool noodle trick (they work rather well for quick pipe insulation and are much cheaper than the black ones at the hardware stores) she also knows how to avoid a burst pipe in case it does freeze. They are new homeowners too and have never dealt with these issues either. We learned these tricks from the guy who has fixed our well when it broke in the past and from simply talking to people about having a well.

In case I never specified, this is the first home I have ever owned. For hubby, this is home number two. However, even his first home did not have a well, a propane hot water heater and an electric one, multiple ac units, and acreage. So, this is all new to him as well. We are learning as we go. When I registered our basement as our storm shelter with the city, they handed me an entire packet with well decontamination instructions (including a chart for determining how much chemical to dump in and how long it needs to sit and be flushed through the lines.) numbers to call after a tornado for assistance in removing fallen trees or other debris, radio stations to tune to during tornado weather for regular weather updates, television channels, web pages to visit if you still have internet, resources for clothing and food if your home is destroyed or damaged during a storm, and all sorts of useful information. They had an option to donate to continue producing this packet, I donated. I was amazed at how much information was included. One of the best things was a map that shows the topography of the surrounding areas (it is a county map) it shows low lying areas, higher ground, water sources, etc. As someone who is constantly trying to be better prepared for every possible scenario, this map is amazing. I have several maps of Oklahoma and one is a topographical map, but having just our county, enlarged, is really nice.

I registered our basement because I want to make certain that emergency services knows that we may be in our basement after a tornado. They keep a list in ambulances, firetrucks, and police vehicles. All emergency response vehicles have a copy of the registry. Because there is an old storm shelter just behind our home, which floods, and is NOT safe to use as a shelter, I registered our basement because I don’t want to be trapped and they are assuming that we were not home because the other dilapidated shelter is empty. That would suck.

As it is tornado season, hurricane season, and monsoon season in different areas of the United States, I would like to remind anyone who is reading, that having a storm kit, 72 hour kit, or a grab and go bag, can save your life. I highly recommend having all three, with 72 hours of supplies for everyone who lives in your home, including your pets, as well as an extra kit or two for anyone visiting your home when an emergency happens. Even if you don’t have visitors, these extra supplies will come in handy during an emergency situation.

If you don’t know where to begin, I have written three posts on emergency preparedness and they can be found at the links below:

Emergency Preparedness Part 1

Emergency Preparedness Part 2

Emergency Preparedness Part 3

It is always a good idea to be prepared for every emergency situation that happens in the area where you live. Those emergencies may be different than they would be here in Oklahoma, but a majority of the supplies are the same. Seventy-two hours worth of food, water, and clothing, sources of light, warmth, ways to cook, things to beat boredom and to ease anxiety, a source for news and weather reports, and first aid. Specific items for different emergencies such as ways to stay warm during a blizzard or severe ice storm are definitely necessary. Pay attention to the seasons and make sure that you swap out children’s clothing often as they grow quickly. I recommend using clothing that fits loosely for children just in case you forget to change out the sizes. For example sweat pants for winter, two pairs can be layered for extra warmth with a pair of tights/long John’s for girls or long John’s/baseball compression pants for boys. Do your best and starting somewhere puts you one step ahead. I began with my storm kit. Then, I made 72 hour kits for everyone, including our animals, then, I made those 72 hour kitsch into grab and go bags, which have everything already to go in case of emergency evacuation. Don’t forget the sunscreen year round and bug spray in summer.

I realize I tend to start my posts talking about one subject and tend to end up on a completely different subject by the end of my post. There is a reason why this happens. I write a blog post the way I would speak to someone. I write in a conversational manner. Some posts will stay completely on subject, but others will fall under journal style posts and they will go from subject to subject because I am writing them in a specific manner. I do hope this doesn’t deter you from reading my blog. Until next time…

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead, Homemaking on the Homestead

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead Part 3

It’s 2:30 in the morning and insomnia is keeping me from sleeping, yet again, so, I am writing the third part of my Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead series. This post will focus on the Household Binder. I realize this may not seem like an emergency preparedness item, but it really is and I will explain how to create one as well as why it should be a part of your¬†emergency preparedness plan. This will explain everything and you will know how to create your own by the time you reach the end of this post.

First, I am going to give you a list of supplies, some of which are necessary, while others just make the whole process more enjoyable. I will differentiate between necessary and optional with an asterisk next to the necessary items. Almost all of the necessary supplies can be found at Dollar Tree stores and are generally inexpensive no matter where you purchase them.

Supplies for your Household Binder

  • *One 3-ring binder (I used a 1 inch binder)
  • *Clear plastic page protectors (these are plastic sleeves for sheets of paper)
  • * Tabbed Dividers (you can go with the inexpensive paper ones or the more costly plastic ones. It doesn’t matter which ones you use.)
  • *Paper (either notebook paper or printer paper or both.)
  • * a pen or pencil
  • Dry erase markers
  • Colored pens
  • Pocket folders with 3-ring holes pre-punched
  • A 3-ring hole punch
  • Washi tape
  • Stickers
  • Highlighters
  • Printer
  • Printed pages (this will make more sense as I continue)
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils

Now that you know what supplies you need, we will get started on what a Household Binder is and what goes inside.

A Household Binder is an organizational tool for your home. It helps you to keep track of everyone’s schedule, favorite recipes, important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries, and so much more. I am sure you are still wondering how this related to emergency preparedness and I promise I will get to that, but first, I am going to give you a list of sections and pages for your Household Binder.

Sections

  • Finances
  • Calendar and Important Dates
  • Pantry
  • Housework
  • School/Work
  • To Do
  • Babysitter
  • Pets
  • Medical
  • Shopping
  • Holidays
  • Emergency Preparedness

Pages

  • Babysitter checklist/Letter
  • Seasonal Task List
  • Holiday Gift List
  • Holiday Budget
  • Household Budget
  • Monthly Bills (due dates, amounts, and who to pay)
  • Monthly Calendar
  • Weekly Calendar
  • Yearly Calendar
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Internet Account Passwords (for paying bills, children’s online gradebooks, etc.)
  • Master Grocery List
  • Master Pantry List
  • Master Freezer Inventory
  • Master Fridge Inventory
  • Master Pantry Inventory
  • Household Member Clothing Sizes
  • Emergency Kit Inventory Checklist
  • 72-Hour Kit Inventory Checklist
  • First Aid Inventory Checklist
  • Housework Schedule
  • Laundry Schedule
  • Spring Cleaning Schedule
  • Holiday Menu
  • Birthday and Anniversary Budget
  • Address Book
  • Phone Book
  • Pet Medication Dose Tracker
  • Map of Child’s School (in a sleeve)
  • Child’s Class Schedule (in a sleeve)
  • Emergency Escape Routes
  • Household Fire Drill Schedule
  • Household maintenance¬†Records and Schedule
  • Copy of immunization Record and Immunization Schedule for Children
  • Pediatric Over the Counter Medication Dosage Charts (for Babysitter or Parent who doesn’t normally do this)
  • How to for Spouse or Significant other for running things while you are away.
  • Current Shopping list (workable)
  • Current To-do list (workable)
  • Bills to pay (in a sleeve)
  • Daily Schedule (workable)
  • Weekly Schedule (workable)
  • Weekly Menu
  • Monthly Menu
  • Daily Menu

Now, you have a pretty good idea of what a Household Binder is and what it includes. If you noticed, there are pages for sitters and pages for your spouse or significant other, which will give them the information they need to do things they don’t normally do. For example, if you are at work, in a meeting and unable to answer your phone, the dosing chart for fever reducer is in the household binder. So, if your little one suddenly starts running a fever, the person caring for him or her can now accurately dose your child. Say you are unexpectedly hospitalized and unable to pay your bills, your spouse or anyone you trust can open that binder and successfully pay your bills for you while you are unable. If you have to suddenly leave town, your most used recipes are in this binder as well as a daily schedule, a weekly schedule, and if necessary, a monthly and yearly calendar and Schedule can be included as well.

If you have started building a stockpile because you became obsessed with couponing, you can keep a running list of what is in your pantry, when those items expire, and you can even chart put where everything is located in your pantry. A master pantry list allows you to go through the pantry and ensure you have your most used pantry items stocked up in the pantry, but it will also tell you what is missing when you can’t figure it out by looking in the pantry.

A maintenance schedule reminds you to change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, have the chimney cleaned, air filters changed on schedule and the central heat and air units serviced, which keeps your family safe and helps save money on electric or gas bills.

Those optional supplies like dry erase markers allow you to write on the plastic sleeves and then just wipe them off when you are finished. Washi tape and stickers are simply for decoration. Colored markers, pens, pencils, and highlighters allow you to designate a specific color for each member of your household, making appointments much easier to distinguish with a simple glance. (You can color code your entire house to make life even easier. One color per person and that color is applied to drinking cups, tooth brushes, bed linens, underwear if you have multiple boys or girls, etc. Just let each one pick their favorite color and color code everything possible.)

I do hope this post was helpful to you. A Household Binder really is a wonderful tool and it falls right in line with being prepared. I strongly recommend including the emergency kit checklists. Check your kits twice a year. The best way to remember this is to schedule those checks on the dates for Daylight Savings. This doesn’t work if you live somewhere that does not participate in daylight savings such as Arizona. If you live somewhere that does not participate in daylight savings, check your kits on your birthday and your significant other’s birthday, or on your children’s birthdays. If you are single, use your birthday and Valentine’s Day. This way, if anyone asks what you are doing (and you don’t actually have plans) you can easily say, “I have a date, it has been planned for a year.” You will be telling the nosy person asking the truth and if they ask with who, just say, “someone important, but I am not at liberty to say” again you will be telling the truth because this date is with your emergency preparations and the important person is yourself. Keep the nosey buggers guessing. ūüėā

Until next time…

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead, Journal Style Posts

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead Part 2

My first post about preparedness on the homestead was well received so, here is the second installment on the subject of being prepared.

Let me begin by first making it very clear that I am not expecting a zombie apocalypse or aliens attacking, although I do believe there is more life in the universe, but that is a completely different subject all together. I am simply prepared for the situations, which actually happen all across the globe every year. I am prepared for natural disasters, power outages, wildfires, and situations such as these.

Today, I am going to explain the grab and go folder that I keep close to the basement door. I strongly believe everyone should have one of these no matter where you live. My particular folder is an accordion file folder, which has 3-prong pocket folders and manilla folders in the plastic pockets. I used to use a 3-ring binder with pocket folders and plastic page protector sleeves and I will explain why I stopped using it for a grab and go folder, but still use it as a household binder.

My accordion file has a section for each vehicle, which includes:

  • Title
  • Current insurance cards/ the insurance policy paperwork
  • A photocopy of the license plate
  • A photocopy of the registration
  • A copy of the keys

A section for each member of the household which includes:

  • Birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Photocopy of all identification cards (driver’s license, student id, etc.)
  • Social security cards
  • Immunization records
  • Fingerprints, a lock of hair, and a current photo
  • A condensed medical record (list of allergies, medications, medical issues, etc.)
  • School and College transcripts
  • Life insurance, Health Insurance, Dental Insurance paperwork and cards
  • Any other paperwork, which is difficult to replace (ex: living will, power of attorney, last will and testament, marriage license, etc.)
  • Paperwork specific to each household member (ex: CPR training & first aid training cards, retirement paperwork, financial paperwork, a photocopy of cancelled checks and any debit/credit cards, bank information and contact numbers, etc.)

A folder for the animals, which includes:

  • Immunization records and treatment records (flea and tick, heartworm, etc.)
  • Tags and registration
  • Each animal’s license and any other required paperwork
  • Veterinary records
  • Chip information (our cats and dog are micro-chipped)
  • A¬† current photo of each animal

A Homestead folder, which includes:

  • The deed to the house and property
  • Insurance policy and paperwork
  • Copy of house keys
  • A survey of the property, which shows detailed information about the property lines and the location of the well, septic, storm shelter, all water lines, and the lines for the fiber internet and phone
  • A thumb drive with photos of all of our belongings, which cost over $25.00 as well as receipts for anything that cost over $100.00
  • Warranty information for home warranty and all electronics, appliances, etc.
  • Photos of each room in the house and photos of the outside of the house on all sides, all outbuildings, and photos of the property from Google Earth showing placement of house and outbuildings.
  • A rough drawing of the layout of the house as no blueprints exist since it is 100 years old.
  • The registration paperwork for the basement, which I registered with the town as our storm shelter because the actual storm shelter floods.
  • Paperwork for all firearms

Finally, I have one other folder which is not absolutely necessary, but it is very important to myself and my husband. This folder is plastic has a special bag inside, which is waterproof. This folder includes:

  • Every single piece of paperwork above scanned and copied onto a thumb drive
  • Every physical photograph we have scanned and copied onto a thumb drive
  • A copy of the other thumb drive mentioned above
  • MRI, X-ray, and Dental X-ray disks
  • Photos of my tattoos and Hubby’s tattoos (just in case)
  • ¬†Additional copies of each of our last will and testament
  • A set of keys to my in-law’s home and vehicles
  • A copy of my in-law’s last will and testament
  • A copy of the deed to their home and property and copies of the¬† titles to their vehicles
  • Emergency Cash (when a major natural disaster occurs, atm machines often do not work due to power outages and cash is king)

I realize this is an extensive list, but if our home is wiped out by a tornado, I won’t have to figure out how to replace birth certificates, social security cards, or any of the paperwork listed. I won’t be mourning the loss of baby pictures, wedding pictures, and all of those little pieces of information, which is often lost when disaster hits. I have spent a lot of time organizing and downsizing this folder because I know just how quickly things can happen. When I was 14 years old, our house caught on fire, it was an electrical fire and all of this paperwork was kept in my mother’s bedroom. Her bedroom was where the fire started so, much of these things listed were either severely damaged or completely destroyed. I have multiple copies of those thumb drives in every bag and emergency kit. They are all password protected and the entire family knows the password.

I am prepared because I have experienced disaster. It is terrifying and picking up the pieces afterwards is nothing short of a living nightmare. We created a plan as a family and everyone knows exactly what to do in case of emergency. The first thing they do is grab that folder. Then, the animals. The dog follows whoever is home around the house so she will automatically follow. The cats love the basement so, the sound of the door opening means they immediately run down the basement stairs. If it’s not a storm, there is a travel crate close to both doors we use as well as a leash for the dog. The cats go in the crate, the dog goes on her leash. If there is time, they all know to grab a backpack, or all of them, which hold 72 hour kits. There is one for each member of the household. Each of these bags contains supplies for 72 hours, copies of those thumb drives, and food and water for the animals. I may go more in-depth on those kits in another post.

I did say that I would explain why I stopped using the binder as a grab and go binder. I love my household binder. It contains everything I need to manage the household. However, it was not working as a grab and go binder because it contains some of my most used recipes, my master pantry list, my master grocery list, etc. It was constantly being used and moved around because it just happens to also house my bullet journal and our family calendar. This became a major issue because it was constantly moving around the house, which meant no one could find it if an emergency situation arose. That was unacceptable so, I put a copy of those thumb drives inside the household binder and transferred every bit of important paperwork to the new grab and go folder. The household binder still moves around the house and I often have to hunt it down when it gets misplaced. The grab and go folder stays in its permanent home on a kitchen shelf next to the cookbooks. Everyone knows where it is and I don’t have to worry about it getting lost because someone needed to add something to the calendar or needed a recipe or birthdate. I may create a copy of my printed sheets and dividers I created for my household binder and gift this to email subscribers and followers in the future, but I will have to figure out how to do that first. I will definitely create a post explaining the household binder and ALL of the contents. It really is a wonderful tool, which has helped my husband run the household while I was hospitalized. I deal with all of the finances, schedules, and pretty much everything in the home.¬† So, he was completely lost when I was unable to take care of everything like I normally do. He had a written guide with everything he needed in a consolidated binder. Every question he would have asked me,¬† was answered within the pages of the household binder.

Being prepared does not mean you are paranoid or fearful of something, which will never happen. It means you are making sure that you and your family are going to be okay no matter what life throws at you. It means you will all be safe, fed, and warm if a nasty winter storm knocks out power for two weeks. It means you won’t be struggling to replace all of your important paperwork if a fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, or earthquake destroys your home. It means you won’t be panicking about how to locate contact information for renter’s or homeowner’s insurance if something happens. Being prepared reduces those fears and the stress that comes with the fears, which we all have about the what ifs in our lives.

I have given you a detailed inventory of what you need to gather from the random places around your home. All you have to do is collect these items, place them in a folder, binder, or even a plastic tote or shoebox. As long as these items are all in one place and easy to grab and go, you have taken a HUGE step towards being prepared. If you already have a grab and go folder, do you have any suggestions, that I did not list? If so, please, share this information and help myself and others to become even more prepared. I sincerely hope this post helps you to become more prepared for any event, which would cause you to have to suddenly leave your home without knowing if you would¬†have a home to return to because of natural disasters, house fires, or wildfires. I hope it gives you peace of mind. Until next time….

 

 

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead, Journal Style Posts

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead

The past week has been absolutely crazy. We have been under a severe thunderstorm watch since Wednesday morning. We were under a tornado watch for most of the evening and it was upgraded to a warning on several occasions. One touched down about 30 miles from our homestead. We are of course safe and sound, as well as fully prepared for tornadoes, ice storms, winds in excess of 70 mph, earthquakes, extreme temperatures <both hot and cold>, and blizzards. I grew up being prepared for hurricanes so being prepared is second nature.

I am a huge supporter of being prepared. I give basic preparedness kits as housewarming gifts. I keep a grab and go folder filled with all emergency paperwork. In this post, I am going to do something different and explain step by step how to make a basic emergency kit. This kit is for any emergency involving sheltering in place, in a storm shelter or basement, a reinforced safe room, or an interior room with no windows on the lowest floor in your home. Everyone should be prepared for emergency situations and preparedness does NOT need to be expensive.

For the basic kit, the very first thing you will need is a container to house all of your supplies. I use a plastic storage tote. (Sterlite and Rubbermaid make these and they are very inexpensive) However, a sturdy box, a laundry basket, or even a rolling suitcase will suffice. I keep my tote in the basement, which is where we take shelter for tornadoes.

The following is a list of supplies kept inside the tote:

A hand-crank, solar-powered, and battery-powered weather radio (This radio also charges our cell phones with the hand-crank)

A second weather radio, which runs on batteries (because I get tired of winding the other one)

A basic first aid kit (This is a hard plastic pencil-case with things like bandaids in all sizes, butterfly bandages, super glue in single use tubes for closing wounds that cannot be closed with a butterfly bandage because of location such as finger webbing) antibiotic ointment, burn cream, tweezers, small scissors, gauze pads, medical tape, over the counter pain relievers, over the counter allergy medicine, over the counter sleeping medicine (It’s difficult to sleep during storms whether they involve ice or tornadoes) an ace bandage, latex-free gloves, a spray bottle of sterile water for cleaning wounds, and some benzocaine¬†spray.) Remember this is a basic first aid kit and every home should have a larger kit that has far more supplies than this one.

A change of clothing for everyone in the house as well as a pair of closed toe shoes and socks. I check the fit of this clothing for children once a month as they grow so quickly. The clothing includes a pair of jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, a change of underwear, and socks. The reasoning behind the change of clothing is simple, storms often happen in the middle of the night when everyone is in pajamas and barefoot. This is not how you want to be dressed during a tornado or during the aftermath of a tornado.

Snacks, hard candy, and some ready to eat foods such as Vienna sausages, tuna salad kits, and cans of soup. (This is NOT our 72 hour kit, this is a storm kit)

Work gloves for everyone in the house and one extra pair

Dust masks for everyone in the house and extras (I have a pack of 20 in the tote)

Flashlights (I keep about 5 small ones in the tote and another at the top of the basement stairs) a phone charger usb cable for everyone’s phone and one for an iPhone just in case (sometimes the kids have a friend over when the sirens go off) . I keep a few power bricks charged and these are grabbed as we head to the basement as well.

I have a key chain that is supposed to be for defense as it makes a high-pitched screech and is meant to ward off attackers, this is kept in case we are hit by a tornado. The sound will alert emergency workers and is much louder than us screaming. I have also registered our basement with the town as an emergency shelter so they will know where to look after a tornado.

I keep two waterproof picnic/beach blankets in the tote. This provides something so cover up with if anyone gets cold or a place to sit.

I keep a small towel in the tote for multiple reasons. I have been in the shower when the sirens started going off. I was able to grab a towel, but I was soaking wet and had nothing to dry my hair (I normally wrap my hair in a towel) Another reason is for injuries, another reason is in case of a visiting baby, a cloth diaper can be made from the towel if necessary.

A deck of cards, travel board games, and other amusements to pass the time. (I have a stash of chocolate in the basic kit as well)

Finally, I keep food for the dog and cats as well as leashes, harnesses, treats, and a favorite toy. (Their paperwork is in the grab and go folder I mentioned earlier and we keep travel crates in the basement and in the mud room)

On top of the tote, because it won’t fit inside, I keep a case or two of bottled water.

This is a basic kit and the United States government has a wonderful website, which has further instructions on building a preparedness kit. Their kits are more along the lines of 72 hour kits and I strongly recommend building a 72 hour kit as well and keeping it with your small storm kit. A 72 hour kit is meant to get you and your family through 72 hours in case of an emergency. I have a basic kit and a 72 hour kit because I would rather the kids take snacks and whatever else they need from the basic kit instead of opening an MRE because they want something to munch on. Tornado shelters are often only used for an hour or so until the threat passes, which is when a basic kit is needed. If a tornado hits, you want to be ready to be stuck in your shelter for 72 hours or even longer. This is where a 72 hour kit is needed. Information for emergency preparedness kits can be found here https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit

Please remember, you can add any additional items you think your family may need as every family is different. If you have prescription medications, keep them in a container near your shelter and keep your grab and go folder next to your medications so they can be grabbed together.

Another tip I have is for much smaller children than my own who are teenagers. If your child has a toy, stuffed animal, or blanket, that they are attached to and panic without, this is for you. Go find a duplicate of this toy. When you wash the original, wash the duplicate at the same time, hand the duplicate to your child, when it’s time to wash the toy again, hand the duplicate and wash the one that needs washing. Both toys will wear out together. Keep one of these toys inside of your kit. This way, when you Have to grab your child at 3am and run to your shelter, their security object is NOT missing. It’s right there in your shelter. If the security object is ever truly lost, you have a backup so, this is a win-win situation for any parent. I have also found it easier to keep a backpack by the basement door, on a wall hook for any child under the age of 5. They grow when you blink so, this bag can double as a diaper bag or day bag for little ones. You know everything in the bag fits and you have diapers/pull-ups, wipes, formula, children’s Tylenol, etc already packed and nothing will be too small or outgrown.

Hint: Have a 3rd duplicate for when the toy is destroyed and hide that one somewhere. When they have a child of their own, give them the 3rd duplicate for their own child.

Being prepared brings peace of mind so, please, take a few moments to pack up a basic kit and then, work on a 72 hour kit because sheltering for storms is always unnerving and it’s much nicer to be prepared for an emergency situation than rushing around wasting precious time trying to quickly grab what you think you may need. Tornadoes move quickly and the more time it takes to get yourself and your family sheltered, the higher the risk to your safety becomes. I will delve further into this subject in future posts as it is currently tornado season and hurricane season is creeping up on those of you in hurricane prone areas.

Always prepare for emergency situations before the emergency occurs.

Everyday Activities, Journal Style Posts

Just a bit about me and an overview of my adventures so far on our homestead

To begin, this is my very first blog and I am looking forward to the amusement that blogging about my adventures brings. I am a wife, a mother to seven kiddos, most are grown, and a single grandbaby. We are a mixed family and I have loved every minute of the adventure we began 11 years ago. It has definitely been an adventure as we have moved cross country, and watched as all, but one of the seven graduated from high school and began their own lives. Our youngest is homeschooled and we began homeschooling for his junior year at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. This is our family and now, this is our homestead.

As long as I can remember, I always wanted to live on a huge farm with cows, chickens, ducks, goats, pigs, horses, and any other animals that I could find. I grew up in the city so, farms just had this image of wonder and excitement as far as I was concerned.¬† I managed to make that dream from childhood into a similar reality. While we don’t have a farm, we do have a ten acre homestead in rural Oklahoma. I fell in love with the house and property the minute I saw it. That was three years ago and I have finally settled in enough to plant my roots and make this a functional homestead. Hubby and I purchased the homestead a little over 3 years ago and we haven’t done much in the way of animals or a huge garden, but we have done far more projects inside of the house to make it our own. I still have a purple kitchen, which I absolutely hate, but I will eventually change that.

Our homestead is currently occupied with myself, hubby, our adult daughter and her fiance, our son who starts his senior year of high school in the fall, 2 cats, a husky/wolf mix, 2 horses we board for a friend, and an unknown number of barn kitties. (I believe there are four, but my son has seen random kitties all over the property and Little Momma is currently pregnant with a litter of kittens.) If I could catch her, I would gladly get her fixed, but she has yet to fall for any of my attempts at tricking her into a cage. I feed the barn kitties and they have free access to the old dairy building, which is used for storage of racecar parts by hubby and as a tackroom for the boarding horses.

Now that you know a bit about me and the critters I do have, I will give you some background on the honestead, projects that have been completed and the to-do list for spring.

Since purchasing the house and property, the projects have been nonstop. The house was built in 1918 and was originally a dairy on a massive amount of land. Eventually, the land was sectioned off and sold bit by bit leaving the original homestead and ten acres remaining. The house has been updated so, we don’t have a coal furnace or anything weird like that, though I want to eventually have a wood stove installed for power outages during ice storms and snowstorms. Plus, a wood stove would heat the house saving on electric bills, which are always expensive no matter where you live.

The projects that have been completed are as follows:

Compost bin with 3 fenced sections built

New roll pipe installed on the well so the pump no longer has to be pulled up by hand (I can’t even begin to tell you how worth it this investment has been.)

Sections of fencing replaced so livestock cannot escape (We don’t have any livestock yet, but we will eventually and we board two horses for a friend)

Flower beds and two raised beds completed

Fire pit was built

And finally we have trash service with a dumpster so no more driving to the dump twice a week. (Also worth every single penny.)

The current project list, which I will be documenting as best I can are as follows:

Build a chicken coop with a run and get chicks

Build a compost unit with 2 plastic 55 gallon barrels, some 4×8’s and metal piping plus some hardware¬† because using a pitchfork to turn piles is killing my back.

Plant vegetable garden and an herb garden

Find a donkey for the property (we have a two stall 3 sided shelter already in place)

Cattle are a possibility, but probably won’t happen this spring. I am still researching care, feeding, and vaccinations/vetting for cattle so, I am not ready for cows just yet.

Porch swings and a tree swing

Clean up the random piles of rocks/pavers, wood, branches, and an entire barn that’s in pieces (I plan to reuse anything and everything possoble)

Plant some fruit trees

These may seem like minor projects, but I have never build anything bigger than a birdhouse so, this is all new to me. I researched chickens for several years because I wanted to make sure I knew everything possible before getting a single solitary chick. We had chickens when I was growing up, but I was far too little to remember much about their care. I can’t wait until May when I go to the feed store to get my chicks. I will be the crazy lady naming every single one of them. We are focused on eggs only for the moment so these chicks won’t be meat chickens, just layers. We have also decided to get a rooster so I can have chicks hatching on the homestead.

I do hope you will join me on my adventures in homesteading. I am probably going to make a lot of mistakes along the way, but I will make certain I learn from those mistakes instead of repeating them. We are also trying to decide on a name for our homestead. I just can’t seem to come up with anything that feels right. The Homestead on the Plains is simply a description of what we are and where. Kind of generic, but it will suffice for now.

Until next time….