Jen Fan

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since Nov 05, 2016
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Recent posts by Jen Fan

I'll add that it's been my experience that most dogs kill, or start killing, out of BOREDOM.  Before working with any dog around livestock initially I make sure they're had a good, exhausting run.  Bored dogs chase small fluffy things that make noise and flop around, it's just fun!  For eight years it's been my policy that my dogs never go more than 3 days without a good run, I strive for daily, but hey, sometimes a week does pass by.  They start acting out; barking in excess, digging, wandering, and they remind me that they have a NEED.  They need exercise and exploration.  When I keep their needs satisfied they maintain strict respect for the rules and boundaries I lay down.  Every situation is unique, this is just my experience.
1 week ago
I'm not sure breed has a whole lot to do with it beyond the need for the human to understand what that breed may be predisposed to and to nip all unwanted behaviors in the bud from day 1.

I've successfully integrated several breeds into my farm with total (or nearly total) trust.  Heeler/shepherd cross, aussie/border collie cross, anatolian shepherd, pit/pointer cross, lab/pit cross, doberman, black lab, cane corso, and coon hound.   The Anatolian was by far the best, she was so sweet and docile, even wildlife trusted her.  Pheasants weren't afraid of her for heaven's sake! But woe betide any man walking the fenceline ;)  The doberman would get bullied by the chickens, who would take her meat away from her, it was quite comical.  My two shepherd crosses do great herding and catching birds and rabbits for me when they get loose or need to be caught or moved.  The pit/lab got attacked by one of my rabbits and became afraid of rabbits xD  The pit/pointer cross was a near-chicken-killer but I cured him by bringing him into the chicken run, having him lay down on his side and relax.  We stayed in there for close to an hour.  Once he started sighing and relaxing and snoozing I spread chicken feed on his body and he let the hens pluck it right off his body.  He never batted an eye at them after that.  The coonhound never bothered much with livestock, one good shout and she minded very well.  She preferred wild game.  The stories go on!

The worst experiences I've had have been with dogs under 30lbs. None of them were mine though, and they had absolutely no boundaries with anything.   I don't blame the dog for that.
The only dog I've tried working with that I can't seem to get through to is a current issue, the neighbor's massive mutt that (in my strong opinion) is part wolf.  He's a fabulous dog but a hardened killer.  He was found living wild and half starved at 6 months old and will eat anything.  No doubt he's killed many deer in his life so far.  I've been trying to teach him my goats aren't food but I definitely do not trust him at all...  I'm not sure he's a dog that would learn, he's so strong headed and has an extremely intense prey drive.
1 week ago

Oh, but life DID get insane last year. My husband was hospitalized and unable to walk, so I had him and an infant and a three year old to care for, as well as a garden and ducks.  My daughter's was hospitalized for an infected cyst and was on antibiotics for over a month, which made her reflux so bad that she barely slept at night. My son was tantrum or almost tantruming almost every second of the day, and his behavior was continually getting worse due to the all the craziness in our life. There was no way he'd plant seeds or help out--I was happy if he played by himself so I could get work done, but usually instead of playing he'd scream for me to help him or break things. It was horrible.

And, the fact of the matter is, I was not able to survive like it was the end of the world. I tried to just keep the garden going and the ducks from being eaten. But, really, we didn't eat that much from the garden last year--maybe 10% of our diet. And, I only held the homestead together because my parents--who are in their 60s--are still in good health and both are retired, and so were able to come and help. They cut up the trees and chopped up the firewood. They mowed the pasture and fixed the broken things in my house. If it had been "the end of the world," and/or we didn't have my husband's income (thankfully his Crohn's didn't get bad enough that he was unable to work), we would have starved. Because, in the end of the world, you can probably be assured there will be sick and disabled people--even more than there are now. The stress from everything tends to set off chronic illness, like it did for my husband.

So, yes, I adapted, and we technically survived. But the whole time I was putting out "fires." No one in my family was getting the care they needed. Everyone was getting worse. And, if we'd had no income to buy food that we couldn't grow (and to get the hospital care we needed), we wouldn't have made it. I was already doing all I could, and I couldn't grow all our food.

The time I'm on here is the time I have my daughter in my lap nursing to sleep, because that's the only way I can get her to sleep with her reflux. I wouldn't be able to spend time in other ways other than researching and learning...which is what I'm already doing here on permies!

I apologize, I hadn't read this when I posted my reply a moment ago.

Edited to fix my awful grammar and to add;
It sounds like you're in a difficult position right now.  I don't know what I could add, personally.  I haven't walked in your shoes.  I hope some folks on here who have had similar experiences will pop up and provide some wonderful advice and input for you :)

Nicole Alderman wrote:So often, I tend to think/fantasize about what I'd do if society collapsed, there was some horrible disaster, I got suddenly broke, etc. I think things like,

  • I would make sure to maintain my tools so they last a long time
  • I'll have lots of sunchokes, kale and daikon radishes to eat
  • I'll eat those random dried noodles I've kept in the back of the cupboard for umpteen years--better keep saving them
  • I'll make sure to oil and paint and protect everything so it doesn't rot/erode
  • I'l chop up plants as fodder for my ducks so their feed costs are lower
  • I'd form a community with my neighbors and we would all work together

  • But, our budget is already tight. Life is already kind of hard. In many ways, it's already half-way to an "end of the world" scenario in my life right now. And, well, I don't do any of those things. I would be able to save money and get by better if I did. But, I don't. Some of that is because, well, no one really likes kale or daikons. And, a large part of it is because I just don't have the time while wrangling two kids.

    Why in the world, then, do I think I'd have time in "the end of the world"?!?

    Seriously, things would be harder and there would be less time. If I really wanted to be prepared for those times, I would be doing the things now to make my life more secure and to build the skills. The habits and skills and mindsets we have now are the ones we'd be bringing into a crises situation.

    I think, far too often, preparing for disaster turns into kind of an escapism fantasy, and, well, escapism is probably not the coping strategy you want in a crisis situation.

    (And, I think I'm probably preaching mostly to the "choir" here, as most permies are actually living their lives largely in a sustainable, prepared way, even if they're not "preppers." And, I'm probably not the only one getting my escapism fantasy bubble popped frequently. One of my mottos recently is to "Live like it's the end of the world, because in many ways it kind of is almost there!" Sometimes this mentality makes things like filing my shovel head fun. I just pretend I'm a character in a dystopian novel, and it's suddenly more epic to be maintaining my tools, LOL!)

    I've come up with the motto "You can dump yourself off on a mountain top with $1,000,000 worth of supplies and still die.  You can dump yourself off on a mountain top with nothing but the clothes on your back, but armed with knowledge, and you'll likely survive."

    Maybe take a step back.  It's overwhelming to think of EVERYTHING that has to happen to become totally self sufficient.  Don't even so-much take it down to "what can I do today?".  I'd take it simpler; what can I LEARN today.  Maybe pick something easy; taking the family on a foraging trip.  Learn to identify basics, like morels!  Have a fun outing, the whole family is participating and learning, and you're literally exercising basic skills needed to survive on your own.  $50 in used herb, plant, and mushroom guides can spark an AMAZING amount of curiosity and lead to learning thing you hadn't ever fathomed!  Igniting a passion for this kind of living is really the key to the engine, in my opinion.  It can be super intimidating, but everyone starts somewhere, and sometimes that place is very far away.  That's okay!

    Things I've done that have been invaluable;
    - hunting large and small game alike - you learn so many skills and become aware of so much you never thought of before
    - joining a random animal tracking group on facebook - i didn't even know I had a passion for it, but I can't turn off "tracker vision" anymore.  I've become so aware of environments!
    - plant some plants - food or flower, doesn't matter.  Make a garden or just stick seeds in a pot.  The result can be addicting!  Don't try to plan the perfect garden or devise what you need to grow to feed the whole family.  Grow what you ENJOY growing and nourish a love for it.
    - make some crafts - engage the kids in picking pinecones and sticks and tree moss, make some fun projects, get hands-on with nature, get out on a scavenge hunt, put your hands on the environment you desire to thrive in and feel it!
    - fishing - I don't know what to say about fishing, it's a passionate love of mine
    - raise some small, simple livestock - rabbits are easy, chickens are great starter critters...  pigeons, quail, turkeys, guinea, peafowl, goats, whatever you want!  But start small.  don't overwhelm yourself, and don't go into it trying to be self sufficient from the start.  You need to build experience with the animals, memorize their needs, and start devising ways of providing those things efficiently.
    - experiment.  Do some crazy stuff.  Some dumb stuff.  Some fun stuff.  camp under the stars, hike to nowhere without a trail, dig a hole, swim across the river, skip some rocks.  have fun!
    - get online and research random permie stuff.  It's amazing what you pick up in passing that you remember later when applicable!

    I'm not assuming you haven't done these things, I'm just saying these are things I've done and do do, and it's always a learning experience- no exceptions!
    Hunting and roadkill salvage can be great too.  My 70lb dog can be fed for 1 week off of a fawn sized deer, or perhaps 3 weeks off a large adult.  Right now the two dogs we have can polish off an adult deer in 7-10 days.  Think 4-5lbs a day between the two, and add a pound for the cats.  Currently we chop them up with a demo saw (frozen) and pack and freeze daily portions into the chest freezer.  Due to predators and other dogs, where we're at it's not possible to leave a deer sitting out.  I've had two living situations where I could just lay the whole deer out and let the dogs go to town.  I learned a lot about eating and pack habits around a large kill, it was an invaluable experience.  At one time I had 4 dogs working on 3 deer on the property (all roadkill).  It was so cool!

    They took turns, a dog was always out on guard duty.  The first thing they go for are the perishables; organs and guts.  Usually the stomach is removed and the partially digested grass and the tripe are eaten slowly and supplementally.  When I say I vote that dogs are carnivores, that's not to say they don't eat vegetation!  Eating whole prey results in a good amount of foliage ingestion on the dog's part!  (plus lots of dirt too, eating off the ground, good minerals and roughage!)  Same with cats; eating birds and rodents results in ingesting a lot of grains and greens.  I theorize that the partially digested vegetation is easier for the carnivores to assimilate, but it's a shot in the dark.
    Either way, back to the dog feast; the stomach is removed but kept close by, the lower intestines eaten on slowly, the vital organs eaten first. (and fetus if applicable).  Then I observe that they wait.  They age the meat.  As the meat ripens it becomes easier to digest, even in humans (thus aging meat), but also the skin decomposes and makes the body much easier to break into.  Having fed off large organs for a day or many, nibbling off ear cartilage and crunchy nose bits, plus a few bites from the haunches, they eventually start on consuming the meat itself.  The carcass is eventually reduced to a tough rail of spine and pelvis and only the toughest part of the skull, plus a mess of skin and fur.  But even then the dogs have come back after the skin has dried to a crisp and enjoyed the jerky.  All of the animals have to take turns opening the carcass, even the cats contribute!  It's really quite the community affair!  Obviously these observations have been with dogs who are patient and far from starving.  I'm sure hunger level affects wait time ;)

    Sorry if that was TMI, but my experiences have shaped my feeding philosophies.  There's much to be learned by observing!   There are infinite possibilities for feeding your dogs and cats, they can survive on a wide variety of foodstuffs.  I enjoy nature at it's more unadulterated, and getting to see my dog indulge in her natural behaviors is satisfying to me.  And that's just me!

    (also wanna point out that my wanna-be mini wolf is also a fabulous farm dog, completely trustworthy with all livestock, down to a newborn bunny.  feeding raw does not make a dog aggressive or a killer!  any dog has that potential.  in my personal opinion, a dog on a poor nutrition diet may be just as likely, if not more likely, to start killing due to dietary deficiency. at the end of the day training, exercise, and conditioning are the absolute biggest factor influencing behavior.  again, just my opinions, we all have plenty of them :))
    1 week ago
    I'm just gonna throw in my $.02...

    This is the ONLY forum I don't cringe at when I log in, dreading what kind of horrible trolling I'm about to endure while I simply try to share my thoughts and experiences.  For me, particularly in the realm of animal husbandry.  The shear amount of awful trolling on those forums is shocking.  I avoid them like the plague unless I really need advice, or I feel like sharing experiences with someone seeking help or advice.

    I- WE- can actually talk about how we raise our animals, how we treat them, how we feed them, how we house them, WITHOUT 27 different trolling screaming;
    "you're abusing your animals"
    "take it to a vet you ninny, before you kill it!"
    "no, you can't do that, you literally CAN'T do that"(even though we literally are and it's fine)
    "your setup looks dreadful, shame on you"
    "stop owning animals if you can't do it right"
    "that's what you get for being a bad owner"
    "stop trying, hire a professional"

    The bullcrap never ends, everyone thinks they know the perfect and ONLY way to raise a critter and are not shy about voicing their sentiments, sometimes cruelly, especially to a hapless newbie just trying to figure it all out.  And woe betide you if you think you can doctor an animal yourself!  They'll just about call PETA on you for not seeking veterinary care!
    I, like many, have had to take it to moderators because these trolls will follow you off the post and start harassing you in private messages.  It's a dreadful cesspit of drama where these people come to find and excuse to vent their tempers on one another.

    The point is, so many forums about lifestyle and living are so... clique-ish.  If you don't swim with the current norm and buy into the mainstream, you will be harassed and bullied until you convert or leave.

    Permies is not like that.  We are open to discussing our very different views of farming and building and growing and living, sharing our experiences- the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Without the trolling, without the temper tantrums, without the drama.

    And I for one very much appreciate that.  Thank you!
    Hm...  Well, now my furnace has stopped working!  Of course it happens 2 days after my space heater stopped working.  I haven't torn it apart yet, but when it attempts to ignite there's a "mini propane explosion" sound- you know, like if you let the stovetop prime too long before sparking and the flames pop and roar through the air for a brief moment.  But then the pilot goes out.  It does it over and over; ignite, WHOOOSSSHHHH, then die.  The fan will kick on and it will run like it's working but it will produce no heat, as there is no flame. 

    It was having no troubles or unreliability leading up to this.  Any ideas are welcome!  I might not tear into it until spring but I will post here when I do.  It's warming up and my back-up space heater keeps the trailer plenty toasty.

    edited to stress that there's no actual explosion and I'm not implying that I leave the stovetop on until flames fill the air xD  I worded that badly.  But you know what I mean, right?
    1 week ago
    I realize it's been awhile since reply, and I hope things are progressing.

    I recently purchased a copy of the Native American Ethnobotany.  As I was referencing it I remembered this post from awhile back.  Would arming the tribe with recorded knowledge of how many of the native peoples lived and flourished on the natural landscape be well received?  Would it be a way to spark inspiration and pride and cultural education?  Perhaps a determination to revive and replicate old traditions and almost-lost knowledge?  I don't know of any other books quite like this Ethnobotany book, but they may be out there!  Perhaps that could be a worthwhile donation to the tribe?  And perhaps it could spark specific requests for aid; seeds and saplings of native plant species, tools for cultivating and propagating natural, wild, traditional foods?  I believe this book details some 44,000 uses of plants across the nation, citing which tribes used them for what, from food to fiber to medicine to dye to ceremonial use.
    1 week ago

    john mcginnis wrote:

    Jen Rose wrote:

    Good fodder crops include yellow dock, sunflowers, sunchokes, radishes and turnips (fast and easy to grow), and mustard.  They,l eat just about every inch of every plant, including rootstock.  dock root has been a bunny delicacy here, and it’s packed with minerals and nutrition!  It can be dried and saved as well.  The dock is chronically prolific and rabbits do good justice to thinning its ranks.

    Spring seed pods on trees and fall leaf drop provide abundance.

    Having a clean dry place to poop allows rabbits to do what their wild counterparts do; chew their pellets.  They will eat s portion of their own poop for extra nutrition.  Usually during the new moon phase.  They store more pellets in a full moon when it’s bright and safe enough to forage at night.  New moon is time to stay by the burrow and lay low in the poor visibility.

    What is the trick? My rabbits won't touch sunchokes at all.

    That's very... odd!  The flower, the stalk, the root, the whole thing?  Maybe you need less picky rabbits   I honestly don't know what to tell ya!
    1 week ago
    Okay, so it looks like the peltier modules don't produce electricity?  Or at least anything worth trying to utilize.  They simply heat and cool?  And the actual TEG chips do produce electricity?   Or if that is not correct, what is the difference?  I'm having a difficult time finding info on the different models. 

    For lack of finding an informative site, I'm mostly relying on web reviews and specs for available products.  It's a bit tedious!

    And if they ARE truly different, how does one weed out a true TEG from a peltier model?  Just about every product I find online looks identical with little or no info about the differences/specs, even when one is 3-5x the price.
    3 weeks ago