When the chaos dies down and you're sick of canned food, what will your long term plan be?

Category: Becoming a Farmer

Quick! Plant Something! Classes!!

Posted on August 6th, by Leah in Becoming a Farmer. 3 comments

We invite anyone who is in tune with our mission (growing your own food no matter what size of space you have AND preparing for the zombie apocalypse) to join the Zombie Apocalypse Farmer Corps… some people take us more seriously than others. Karen Cox with the West Virginia University Extension in Marshall County has taken our cause to level we only dreamed about! She has created a set of classes to help get people involved in gardening using some of our materials as inspiration and putting lots of work and personal creativity into it. Read more about what they’re doing in a local article written by Betsy Bethel at The Intelligencer.

We’re looking forward to continuing to work with Karen and hope to write more graphic novels to help supplement her classes in the future. We’re beyond thrilled about this course! Even if you can’t attend, please feel free to comment here about your thoughts!


The Last Slaughter Day

Posted on July 17th, by Kathy in Becoming a Farmer. 2 comments

As we’ve mentioned in other posts, the chickens we’ve raised and butchered have been tastier than anything we’ll ever be able to get at the store. And what’s tastier than chickens? Ducks! So this year we bought and raised 6 ducks for meat. We’d had 2 egg ducks in previous years and had been warned that “ducks are messy”… and yes, they are… but when you have 6 big ones, they’re infinitely worse. And they make the drinking water brown and muddy and they stink… a lot… like the elephant pen at the zoo but worse! Just a warning in case you’re thinking this is a great idea…

When we had our first chicken killing day, the ducks didn’t seem fat enough (and they’re cute, so we weren’t sure we could kill them). But as they got bigger over the last couple weeks, they got stinkier and more disgusting and we decided the deed had to be done.

We’d never killed a duck before, but we figured we’d just do something similar to how we’d done the chickens and it would all work out. We hadn’t anticipated how much longer a duck’s neck is than a chicken’s though.  When we put ducks … Read More »


How many chickens will you need?

Posted on July 17th, by Kathy in Becoming a Farmer. Comments Off on How many chickens will you need?

In preparation for the apocalypse, you’d like to raise your own meat… however, you’re not ready to start with something as large as a cow or a pig.  Chickens may be the answer for you (IF you live in an area without bears… see our posts about raising chickens in Colorado).  Mob grazing with cows is a really big deal for farmers and ranchers right now because it uses cattle to improve the soil and forage. This is a very good thing if you’re putting up a zombie proof fortress and don’t want to move frequently. Turns out you can do it with chickens too… and not only can they be your meat source, but they lay eggs!!

Forrest Prichard, a Virginia farmer, uses electric netting to create long narrow stretches of pasture that chickens can graze and trample as effectively as other livestock graze and trample their larger pastures.  The electric fences protect the chickens from foxes, coyotes, opossums, skunks and raccoons and the long, narrow shape of the pastures makes it difficult for raptor predators to nab prey as well (notice bears are not on that list).

Forrest shares tips on how to teach even so-called lazy birds, like the fast-growing … Read More »


The True Cost of Raising Chickens for Meat – Year 3

Posted on June 26th, by Kathy in Becoming a Farmer. Comments Off on The True Cost of Raising Chickens for Meat – Year 3

For the last three years we’ve been raising meat chickens.  We’ve learned a lot.  The biggest lesson we’ve learned is how important the industrial food complex is to all of us.  This is the story of our three years as chicken farmers to serve as a warning to all our readers, and to help us all be more thankful for the people who grow our food for us.

Year Three (Read Year One  and Year Two)

By now it was clear that the bears had us beat when it came to providing chicken security.  So we decided that for year three, we would raise multiple, smaller batches in the pen with our egg-laying hens.  Our chicken enclosure is built of chain link fence cemented into the ground with a wooden frame and  a chicken wire roof.  They also have a hen house with a chicken-sized dog door where they can get out of the weather, and hide.  The bears had never tried to get in there, and the only invader we’d ever had was a giant, levitating bull snake that was after our eggs.  (Did you know that if you trap a snake in a feed tub, it will actually levitate up and … Read More »


The True Cost of Raising Chickens for Meat – Year Two

Posted on June 26th, by Kathy in Becoming a Farmer. 2 comments

For the last three years we’ve been raising meat chickens.  We’ve learned a lot.  The biggest lesson we’ve learned is how important the industrial food complex is to all of us.  This is the story of our three years as chicken farmers to serve as a warning to all our readers, and to help us all be more thankful for the people who grow our food for us.

Year Two (read Year One)

NEW HOUSING

We like to learn from our mistakes and make improvements as we go.  After reviewing what we disliked most about Year One, we decided the chicken tractor had to go.  There was something about bending over into a 2 foot high poop-filled enclosure that just didn’t work for us.  A hoop house would be just the ticket.  It would be tall enough that we could keep our noses as far as possible from the chicken poop, and light enough to easily drag around the pasture.  That way our chickens would have something fresh to eat or poop on, and the grass in the pasture wouldn’t die from too much poop in one spot.

We built a wooden frame out of 2x4s for the bottom, used the thick 6x6x6 wire … Read More »


The True Cost of Raising Chickens for Meat- Year 1

Posted on June 5th, by Kathy in Becoming a Farmer. 3 comments

For the last three years we’ve been raising meat chickens.  We’ve learned a lot.  The biggest lesson we’ve learned is how important the industrial food complex is to all of us.  This is the story of our three years as chicken farmers to serve as a warning to all our readers, and to help us all be more thankful for the people who grow our food for us.

Year One

March 2011

X@&K! PULLETS!
We buy 20 fast grow meat chicks.  Seven weeks later, when they should have been almost full-grown and ready for harvest, we discover, we were given the wrong birds.  They’re pullets.  (Your garden variety egg-laying chicken.) We load them in the cat carrier, take them back and start again.

How do we know our second batch is really fast growers?  A friend picks one up to cuddle it and it shoots a long stream of golden poop down her lace shirt.  At first we thought the golden coating of something smelly all over the bottom of their pen was a result of them spilling their water.  No, we learned that it was their poop and it only got worse by the day.

STENCH
About the time they are the size of softballs they … Read More »


Why Do We Farm?

Posted on April 17th, by Kathy in Becoming a Farmer. Comments Off on Why Do We Farm?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot ever since our flock of egg-layers was decimated last week by a rampaging raccoon.  That very day I went to the feed store and bought new chicks.  But now, with over a foot of snow on the ground – in April!, and having hauled all the chicks, both egg-layers and meat, to safety in the garage, I’ve smacked myself in the head and asked, “What am I doing this for?  Why can’t I just buy eggs like everybody else I know?  Is the money I make and the food I grow really worth it?!”

The reality is that we don’t make money at all from my chickens.  We just cover costs plus a little of what all our grandmothers called “Egg Money” –  that small fund they spent on little things to delight themselves or friends and family.  I sell eggs to friends, and give plenty away just for the joy it brings me.  Friends who help with the meat chicken harvest take home several birds as thanks for their participation, and the rest we freeze and eat over the course of the winter.  The whole roast chickens I take to potlucks in town … Read More »


Growing Your Own Food Is Like Printing Money

Posted on April 3rd, by Kathy in Becoming a Farmer. Comments Off on Growing Your Own Food Is Like Printing Money

Ron Finley is a guerilla gardener in South Central Los Angeles, California.  In his recent TED talk he talks about how he realized that food was both the problem and the solution for what he saw happening in his neighborhood.  Because they live in a “Food Desert” (a place where there are no grocery stores or sales of fresh produce) he saw that more people were dying from the effects of drive through eating than from drive by shootings.

Watch his video to see how the smallest patches of soil can grow corn, kale and more.  Hear great things like:

“Planting a garden is like printing your own money.”

“Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do.  Plus you get strawberries.”

“Let the shovel be your weapon of choice.”

Go, Ron!  You’re amazing!


Adjust Your Expectations to Make Your Garden A Success

Posted on March 11th, by Kathy in Becoming a Farmer. 1 Comment

It’s the Zombie Apocalypse, so failure is NOT an option!  The best way to make sure your garden doesn’t fail this year is to adjust your expectations, AND what you choose to grow.

We know you, because we are you, and the first thing we all do is decide that we’re going to grow every vegetable we can find seeds for.  In addition to the typical green beans, peas, lettuce and corn, some of us will choose veggies just based on the fact that Hopi Indians grew them, or that they were first available in the 1800s, or because they’re purple instead of the normal color for that particular plant.  We’ll imagine the harvest meal we’ll have, where, just like the pilgrims, everyone will come and be amazed at our green thumbs, and they’ll vow to plant their own gardens next year because we are so inspiring.

And then, reality will hit.  Reality is that maybe you don’t have enough sun to grow tomatoes, or that it gets too hot mid-summer to keep a constant lettuce crop, or you don’t really know when a Hopi squash is ripe or what to do with it if it is, or maybe you can’t grow … Read More »


Meet Oz

Posted on March 11th, by Kathy in Becoming a Farmer. Comments Off on Meet Oz

Oz the dog is the newest character in our Quick! Plant Something! Series. He is also my real life dog. Not only does he make a great model and dependable sidekick for our zombie apocalypse survivors, but he and I practice a lot of what we preach on this site. Oz helps with the gardening, eats things from the garden like lettuce, celery, and parsley (he does however turn his nose up at spinach), and we try to practice running (prep for zombies) at least a couple times a week… he’s much better at it than I am.

While I’m a huge advocate of having any pet help you prepare for disaster (and as a day to day companion), I’m particularly fond of Oz’s characteristics for the following reasons:

While he looks like a big dog, he’s really medium sized at 55 lbs. This means he’s big enough to defend us from zombies, but small enough to be portable in small spaces or if I need to carry him.
He’s a bit hesitant about strangers, a trait which we don’t LOVE right now, but when the undead rise, we’re going to be really happy about his guarding nature.
He’s super smart- he knows how … Read More »