*CRITTER CARE*
By: AFarmer
4 April 2004

If you haven't already done so, now is a the time to spay or neuter your best friend. There won't be a market for fur balls and lap-sitters in hard times. There wasn't a market during the Great Depression and you can bet there won't be one in any future SHTF scene. The sooner this is done and out of the way, the better. There will be plenty of sheeple who will think puppies will be their source of income during hard times. They will have a rude awakening.

Among the things I stockpile for my dogs is Frontline Plus. It is about the best darned flea protection I have found. It keeps fleas off the dog as well as out of it's sleeping quarters - for a full month. The stuff is expensive, but if it keeps my highly skilled bed-warmers comfortable, it's worth it. There is nothing worse than crawling into bed only to be eaten by fleas. Fleas are not just a dog's enemy - keeping the dogs free of fleas keep ME free of fleas.

When cleaning the kennels, wait for the floors to dry, then sprinkle the outer edges lightly with 7-dust. Keep your kennels clean and add fresh bedding of straw or sawdust as needed. There may come a time when the kennel may have to double as MY bed in the event something goes very wrong with the house - such as fire. Hopefully, the barn and/or detached garage will remain.

Horses in the deep south need to be wormed VERY regularly. Quest gel is really good as it tends to last 3 months as opposed to 1 month - and the cost is about the same. Not for use in foals or animals under 6 months old. Regular use of any one product tends to build up an immunity by worms - so I alternate Quest gel, wait 3 months and then treat with any other tube worming paste, wait 1 month and retreat with Quest. There are pellets you can stockpile which you place on top of their feed on a daily basis, but these can be ruined in the event of flooding and do not store well for extended periods in humid regions. Best bet is to keep several options open for worming. Quest and paste wormers come in a large syringe-like tube which is simply squirted into the horse's mouth. Very easy to store a year's supply in a very small space.

Fly control is easily taken care of with any commercial product - such as seven dust or Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus IR3535. Horses do not only use their tails to swish flies from themselves, but from the face of a horse partner as they stand side by side, facing opposite directions. A Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus IR3535 treated tail is much more effective than an untreated one.

You will all think I've lost my marbles, but I found a unique fly trap, quite by accident. I have ceiling fans in my barn and attached baling twine to the pull strings so I could reach them comfortably or tie them out of the way. Flies are attracted to the baling twine and seem to get stuck in it. No treatment, nothing added - just plain old baling twine attracts and traps flies. I once had hanging planters in the barn and hung the plants with baling twine. Same result. Oddly enough, it seems to only work INSIDE the barn. It doesn't seem to work if the twine is leaning on something or left dangling against a wall. But it DOES work if the twine is tied horizontally and has free air flow all around it. I have twine hanging outside the barn and it doesn't seem to do anything. Flies don't get stuck in it.

And in tough times, there is nothing quieter than being on horseback - unless a gravel or paved road is on the route. Fortunately, out here, road travel can be avoided completely on a horse.

In a SHTF scene, the cats will have to use their hunting skills if they want something other than what is on the menu. Otherwise, they will have to settle for what the dogs and I eat. There won't be any room for even one finicky eater - regardless of it's size.

Rabbits are the easiest meat animals - IMHO - to keep. Although commercial rabbit foods are available, my preference is a mix of corn and oats - same thing the horses eat. They don't seem too interested in rice, but any kind of seed grain will do, without losing quality or taste in the meat they produce. Supplementing their diet with a few strands of quality hay or grasses gives them a well rounded diet. No matter what you feed them, droppings from your rabbits are excellent in the garden and do not require the aging process as most other manures. Rabbits are by far, the meat animal of choice for me. They are quiet, clean, easy to care for, ready breeders and inexpensive to house and feed - with an excellent rate of meat production.

Using just one horse stall, a dozen or more rabbits can be individually caged and kept for a fraction of the cost just one cow in that same space. Four goats, sheep or pigs would fit nicely in that same stall, but with a much larger need for your resources. And rabbit pelts are easy to preserve for later use either in sewing for yourself or bartering. How many city folks do you know who would know how to skin any animal and prepare the pelt for sewing?

Chickens are nowhere nearly as quiet as rabbits and require more space. Being dual purpose for meat and eggs, hens are a treasure to the small homesteader or survivalist. But if you have the space, are in the country and can let them roam, by all means, let them roam. They will produce eggs for next to nothing with minimal feedings in the evening to ensure they come to the coop to roost. Like feathered garbage disposals, your hens will eat just about anything you would normally toss out such as the scales, heads, fins and tails of fish. In the poultry line, guineas are a great choice. Guinea hens add to the security of your place as sentries and are an excellent meat bird. They, too, can live easily with minimal feed and foraging. Feathers are an excellent choice when making fishing lures and stuffing blankets and pillows. Very little is wasted when keeping a chickens and other poultry. Unless you intend to increase the size of your flock, and only keeps hens for the eggs, a rooster is not necessary. And their waste is also excellent in the garden, but must be allowed to age at least 6 months prior to application to plants or in beds.

And if your plan for keeping and feeding the livestock goes completely off-track, you should have a good sized garden and plenty of stored foods (and seeds for subsequent planting) in your caches.

Buckshot can get you started in pelt preparation and wild foods for yourself. His books and videos are a must-have in survival preparation and making the best of your resources.
AFarmer



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