Along with others who see the writing on the wall – and the prices at the store – I’ve been taking steps to make sure I have renewable food on hand.
An excellent form of this being chickens – and ducks, which I just got five more of. Including two male Muscovy and three female Muscovy ducks, which renew themselves without any work needed on my part. The ducks not only renew themselves, they renew my supply of duck eggs – which are superlative for baking and highly desired by others for that purpose.
If you have them, you not only have a renewable source of food, you have fungible food. Duck eggs can be sold – or traded – and are often sold for more than chicken eggs because they are harder to get.
Free-range chicken eggs are also desirable, fungible and renewable. My small flock of seven girls provide that many eggs per day and sometimes more. Which is more than enough to feed two people heartily (scrambled/over-easy/hard-boiled eggs as such plus eggs added to rice or beans to make a protein-rich feast) and leave enough to sell or barter to others for needful things in addition to food.
Or other kinds of food, such as beef or pork – which is harder and more expensive to raise and not feasible to raise unless you have at least a few acres of land. If you have a back yard, you can raise chickens – or ducks.
Ducks and chickens freely associate in a mutually beneficial way. If you get both as chicks and raise them together, they will bond together as one flock and the ducks – at least, my Pekin ducks – grow up to be protective of the chickens, a valuable thing if you free range the birds. Chickens are food for hawks but hawks seem to be reluctant to mess with ducks. Possibly because ducks are bigger than chickens, especially if you get a big breed like the Pekin.
Ducks are astute birds; they scan the sky for hawks and if they see something that unsettles them, they not only let the chickens know, they herd the chickens to a safe place, such as the cover of a bush. My main duck – a Pekin male named Flip – even guard-dogs the entrance to the coop, waiting beside it until I show up to close it and tuck everyone in for the night.
The ducks bed down with the chickens and it’s a nice arrangement because there’s no conflict. The chickens roost and the ducks don’t. They bed down on the straw. The main issue is to design your coop so as to avoid the issue of the chickens raining poop on the ducks.
I am in the process of building a larger coop for the girls, which will allow me to get a few more girls. Which will mean more fungible food. A dozen hens in their prime will give you a dozen eggs per day. That’s seven dozen eggs per week. Enough to keep a large family well-stocked with renewable, high-quality protein that does not have to be refrigerated.
Many people do not know that eggs – as they come from the bird – are perfectly safe to leave out. When laid, they are covered with a thin, translucent coating called the bloom – which government-regulated eggs do not have because government-regulated eggs (which is all store-bought eggs) are required by law to be washed, which removes the bloom – and makes it necessary to refrigerate them, because they are perishable.
But fresh eggs with the bloom can be kept on the counter without worry – or electricity. That makes them storable in addition to renewable and fungible. If things get really bad and the power goes out, your eggs will not go bad.
Unlike store-bought eggs.
And you’ll not have to worry about going to the store. There are no Face Diaper “mandates” in your own backyard and the price of eggs remains your favorite price – free.
Yes, there’s the cost of the hens and the cost of building the coop, plus the cost of peripherals such as waterers and feeders (all cheap and easy to build from commonly available things, such as plastic buckets).
But it’ll cost you a lot less than going hungry – and how do you put a price tag on that?
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