Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Virtue of a Metal Swimming Pool

By Forest Puha

Enjoying your blistering hot summer day working on your homestead? Need to cool off--- but much too busy to drive to the nearest lake, river or ocean for a dip?

What you need is your own Backyard Homestead Swimming Pool, otherwise known as a big metal stock tank. Big enough to cool off, but small enough for adults to sit and relax in.

First you need to find the right size, big enough that you can sit down and have the water come to your chest, or lie on your back and float, or whatever works for you. My family chose a model about 8 feet round and two feet deep, big enough to kick, float and pretend to swim in. I can cool off whenever I'm home in the heat.

The temps in rural Nevada have reached and surpassed 100 degrees Fahrenheit this week, and that stock tank full of water has been --AWESOME-- to have. We have had our metal stock tank for 15 years now, and it's held up great.


Nothing beats desert heat like this beautiful steel pool. Years of use and keeps on ticking.






Here is how we did ours: just go to the local hardware or feed store, pick a size, pay for it, and either haul it home on your truck, or have the store deliver it. They delivered ours for free.


In today's prices, our particular model costs roughly $300 to $500 brand new. I admit it's a pretty big chunk of change, but consider this: it's your very own swimming pool without going through the hassle of digging out a spot to put it. Try looking for used ones in newspaper and online classifieds, or just ask your neighbors if they know someone willing to part with theirs.

Once you have a pool, find a good spot to place it and level that spot. Our soil is sandy so we just raked it even. You can also line the ground with bricks for a firm bottom surface. Then clean the pool out with a garden hose and fill it up with water. Make sure the plastic stopper near the bottom of the tank is screwed on good and tight. Put the hose in the pool and fill with water.

Don't add anything to the water if you can help it, or at most just enough chlorine to keep the water clear.

Our Behlen Country-brand stock tank swimming pool. Found at hardware and farm stores worldwide, including Home Depot, Lowe's, Tractor Supply, Ace, True Value and many others. You can even find them online at Amazon.

So after a few days or a week of splashing around in your great new pool, that water is getting pretty dirty, right? What to do? Waste all that water? No way! Attach a common garden hose to the drain hole at the bottom of the tank and place the other end to where your thirsty trees are waiting. You are using the same water you would have used to water your trees: you just swam in it first!

Clean out the pool with a rag or brush and plain old biodegradable soap, rinse, and refill. It'll hold up for years and even decades, unlike regular home swimming pools made from incredibly thin plastic.


Some of the trees at our place that our swimming pool keep hydrated.


Our pool faces our homestead and nourishes a windbreak of trees that tower over our cabin now, which provides needed shade from the hot summer sun and looks beautiful. It's a mix of pines and global willows and a huge mulberry tree that the birds love. All grown from the water drained from our stock tank pool. Just be sure you plant your trees away from underground pipes and any septic tank area. In the wintertime, we flip the tank over and wait for the next year. It helps to put a little weight on top or tie it down with rope and stakes to hold against high winds.

So there you go: how to own and make your economical and environmentally friendly swimming pool. It's just waiting for you to cool off on a summer hot day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018



INCUBATING & BROODING COTURNIX QUAIL


The Internet would have you believe that incubating and brooding Coturnix quail is difficult. I’m here to let you in on a secret… it’s not. Forget fumigation and floating techniques. It’s really no different than incubating a chicken egg. The only difference is that it takes less time and you might as well forget about candling. You simply pop your eggs in the incubator and start the clock (well, if you have an egg turner, otherwise you do have to turn them).
The internet would have you believe that incubating and brooding Coturnix quail is difficult. I'm here to let you in on a secret... it's not.

INCUBATING COTURNIX QUAIL EGGS

Coturnix quail go from being an egg to laying eggs in 8-9 weeks. Crazy, right? The first 17 days are spent incubating and days 18 and sometimes 19 are spent hatching. Much like chickens, there is no calendar in that egg, so quail chicks may begin to arrive as early as day 16 and as late as day 20. If you have chicks hatching before or after that window, you will want to confirm that your humidity and temperatures in the incubator are accurate.

TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY

Humidity levels are one of the first issues with incubating your Coturnix quail eggs. Less is more. In fact, many people have great success doing a dry incubation with their quail eggs. If you choose a humid incubation, aim for 45% humidity for the first 15 days and increase to 65% for the final three days.
For temperatures, quail eggs incubate at a similar temperature to chicken eggs. If you are running a still air model incubator, aim for a temperature of 102ºF and rotate the eggs around the incubator when you turn them. In a forced air model incubator, aim for a temperature of 100ºF.

TURNING YOUR QUAIL EGGS

If you do not have an egg turner (which is a highly recommended investment if you plan to hatch quail eggs with any regularity), eggs need to be manually turned at least three times a day, though five times is better. Marking one side of the egg with an X and the other side with O makes it easier to confirm you’ve turned them all.
The internet would have you believe that incubating and brooding Coturnix quail is difficult. I'm here to let you in on a secret... it's not.

CANDLING QUAIL EGGS

Although you can try to candle as early as day 6, I personally never could see anything and stopped looking. My method is to let them sit in their turner until day 15 and just let them do their thing. On day 15, when I remove them from their turner for hatching, I hold them in my hand for a moment or up to my ear. The shells are very thin and often you can hear or feel them moving inside. I also noticed that infertile eggs weigh noticeably less than fertile eggs. Of course, if you are unsure, just let them stay in for the duration. Quail eggs have less risk of exploding than chicken eggs.

HATCHING DAY FOR QUAIL

I had read that hatch day was like watching popcorn popping in the microwave. Not much happens and then all of a sudden they all get popping out at once. There is some validity to that, but it’s not 100% accurate. There are always a few that are early to the party as well as several that are late to arrive. The ones in the middle do seem to go from unpipped to out at a startling rate. I’ve looked in and seen no action whatsoever and then an hour later looked in to find a dozen running around. Quick little buggers they are.
Once everyone is hatched and fluffy, it’s time to move on to brooding. Remember to have your brooder set up several hours in advance so it has time to warm before the chicks need to be moved.

BROODING COTURNIX QUAIL CHICKS

Much like the incubation process, brooding Coturnix quail is not any more difficult than brooding chicken chicks. I think people get nervous because the chicks are so tiny. I’ll admit that it seems a lot could go wrong with a chick the size of a half dollar coin. The biggest fear I had was making sure none had died and I hadn’t noticed. Quail are usually hatched in large batches and it’s a challenge to count 50 chicks that look exactly the same. Mine are grown now and I still have trouble doing head counts.

BROODER SIZE

You may think that a brooder for such a tiny bird could be small, and you’d be correct for about a day. Coturnix quail do everything quickly and growing is no exception. Although they will look dwarfed in a large brooder for the first day, by the end of the first week, they’ll be wing to wing. Your Coturnix quail will look considerably different at the end of the day than they did when you woke up that morning. 6″ square per bird is adequate, but the larger the better.
The internet would have you believe that incubating and brooding Coturnix quail is difficult. I'm here to let you in on a secret... it's not.

FOOD AND WATER

As with any chick, feed and water need to be made available at all times. Water containers need to have marbles or rocks in them for the first week to prevent drowning. After the first week, any shallow water container will work. Quail need to be fed a high protein feed to keep up with their rapidly growing bodies. I like to use turkey/gamebird starter for the first 4 weeks, which is 28% protein content. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find this starter in mash consistency. It often comes in crumbles, which is too large for quail chicks. I purchased a coffee grinder at a thrift store and use that to grind the crumbles for the first two weeks. After two weeks, the quail seem to be able to handle the size of crumbles.
PROPER BROODING TEMPERATURES
Temperature needs for brooding Coturnix quail seem to vary depending on
the time of year and where you live. The general consensus is that they should
be kept at 95ºF for the first week and lowered by 5º each week. I’ve successfully
gotten away with less. Most texts say that you need to keep lowering the
temperature weekly until the brooder temperature is the same temperature as
where you will be housing them, but I haven’t found that to be true.

MOVING YOUR QUAIL OUTDOORS

I removed the heat at three weeks old (so they were at 65-70ºF) and moved our quail outdoors at four weeks old. I had a heat lamp on in their outdoor housing and none of them used it, even on colder days. In fact, on their 5th day outside it was raining cats and dogs and they were out in the rain scratching for goodies. I think they are hardier than people give them credit for.
Regardless of where you live or what time of year it is, your Coturnix quail will be ready for their new home by 5 weeks. They’ll also be preparing to start laying at that same time. Check back for our post on housing and laying.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tips for Creating a Survival Garden


Survival gardens are becoming more popular these days, especially considering the rising prices of food in the grocery store, the harsh chemicals used to treat those foods and water supplies that grown more tainted each day. If you aren’t familiar with what a survival garden is, it is simply this: a veggie garden designed to produce enough food for you and your family to live on.



Many people argue that no one can know if we are under the threat of needing such a thing. However, in the same way that we don’t put off planning for other disasters until the last minute, you should at least consider the scenario, and have plans, just in case. The fact is, without food, you won’t last long. And in a dire situation, when food becomes hard to find, you won’t be able to expect anyone to be sharing their own stores either.

Considerations in Survival Gardens

In a survival garden, it’s important to think about which plants will offer the most nutrition by way of vitamins, carbs and fat. You won’t need just sustenance, but foods that will keep you healthy and functioning at the best possible level.



You’ll also want to at least get started working a small plot, if for no other reason than to get some hands-on learning. A small plot will allow you to get an idea about how hard the dirt will be to till, how the weeds reproduce in that area and what pests you will encounter. On the other hand, you could also give some consideration to container gardening, or raised beds, if you have the means to do so.

































When you start small, you’ll want to plant crops that are easy to grow and that you enjoy eating, so you won’t be tempted to give up on them if the going gets rough. A few vegetables that you’ll find easy to grow include:

  • Bush beans
  • Potatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Peas

With time, and as your gardening expertise grows, you can add other crops that might take a bit more land, but that are rich in calories, tasty to eat and fun to raise. These can include:

  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Cabbage
  • Tomatoes
  • Assorted Greens
  • Herbs

It’s a great idea to create diversity in your garden, as well as an array of flavors. If you can go out and pick a cabbage, and then also pick a few herbs to flavor the dish, you’ve created something special. This will give you a desire to continue planting more crops that can actually be used together.

Finding Foods That Pack a Punch

If you study survival gardening, you will find that sunflower seeds are a great way to get necessary fat into your vegetarian diet. Peanuts are also great for this. Make sure to search out crops like these that will meet all your nutritional needs but that are easy to grow in your own specific region.


Keep in mind, when your garden produce starts coming on, it’s as important to know what to do with them as it was to grow them in the first place. Storage can be an issue sometimes, especially for crops such as greens, cucumbers, etc. Keeping them throughout the winter months will be the trick. We have found that these vegetables are some of the easiest to store:

  • Onions
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Turnips
  • Beets

Don’t forget that you will also be able to can a great many vegetables. Tomatoes are probably the easiest to can, due to their high acidity content, but you can also can beans, and many other veggies as well, all in a water bath canner that really takes no more than a fire to cook over for several hours and the jars and lids to hold them.

Specific Foods and Why They’re Good

Potatoes are actually pretty high in protein, as far as veggies go, which make them a wonderful addition to the garden. Any variety will work really, depending on your own preferences. They will store very well in a place that is dark and cool, but make sure you don’t store them next to apples, as they will both rot prematurely.

Winter squash is a great source of both calories and vitamins. Some store better than other do, and for longer periods of time. To find out which works best for long-term storage, you can either risk it and try a few different ones, or ask a seasoned survival gardener who has already done it. Another good way to store squash is to cut them into rounds, dry them completely, pound them up and store them in airtight containers. Storage time increases, in this way, to almost indefinitely.

In closing, we suggest that you save and store all seeds from your heirloom vegetables (hybrid variations don’t produce viable seeds). This ensures that if you are unable to get any more seeds, you will still be able to have them for another garden next year. Continued seed saving keeps this going, for years to come.