Remember the Livestock
By Gypsy Trailblazer
As I transitioned from city girl, to suburbanite, and finally to a little-bit-of-rural-mixed-into-suburbia I adopted many furry family members along the way, including chickens. When I work on my preparedness list, I have to consider cats, dogs, chickens, and whatever other animal might be visiting at the time. Today we will discuss a preparedness plan for our feathered family members.
As I write this, I am a happy chicken keeper, enjoying the antics of a few hens and my security guard, Mr. Rooster. If anyone would have told me I would live in the suburbs and keep chickens, I would have laughed myself to tears…and here I sit designing a new coop for my girls…not to mention I am researching if ducks or a goose might be a viable addition to my little backyard flock…
Backyard chickens, ducks, and geese are becoming more popular and prevalent, even in major cities. In the past, immigrant neighborhoods were known for chickens and fowl in the bathrooms of their apartments, or in cages on the window ledges. Today, with the interest in preparedness and homesteading, chickens and fowl are returning to the family garage or backyard. If an event occurs, do you have a plan for your feathered family? I admit my current plan will work in a pinch, but as I discuss this with you, I see plenty of room for improvement.
For the most part, all the items I need for my feathered family are stored in weather-tight containers, keeping the supplies, clean, dry, safe from rodents, and portable if needed. The benefit of our feathered family is that they are already used to living on their supplies for several days. However, I am still a “mom” to them and while I may not necessarily need a bug out bag for my hens, I still need a preparedness plan to get through a short-term event.
If a disaster destroys the location where I store their food and supplies, how will I be able to provide food for them? Unfortunately, a disaster that destroys their food storage location would likely destroy their living quarters. Fowl will always maintain basic survival skills, exploring for food sources on their own and seeking puddles to drink water. Their independent, basic survival skills will keep them in food and water for a few days, allowing me to focus on their shelter needs.
Training is the first part of the plan and it has to occur before any disaster. Fowl may or may not be intelligent, but they can be trained with food and treats. Food is a motivator and it connects you and your fowl with a plan. Start with using a phrase every time you give them treats. They will associate your voice and the phrase with treats and come running. I yell “Pretty girls” every time I give them treats, and it instantly brings them into one spot. This is a great way to take attendance and check health. I try to do this daily, at different times and from different locations.
The second part of my plan is shelter. If the shelter is destroyed, our feathered family members need an alternative warm, dry, safe space to sleep. Ideally, I would like to keep a large pet carrier or store a rabbit cage for my feathered family members to live in temporarily. However, at the moment I do not have either of these, so I need to draw from my experience and creativity to find a temporary alternative until I can provide a new, secure shelter.
I have a large storage tote I can empty and use for them. Cutting an access hole into one side of the tote is easy, and I can always replace the tote. The tricky part is securing the tote-make-shift shelter from predators at night. Luckily, I have some old bricks I keep in the garden that I can use to weigh the tote-make-shift shelter down. Feathered family members always need some kind of chicken wire or hard cloth for various reasons; I can secure the chicken wire around the tote-make-shift shelter to attempt to keep the access hole secure from predators and pray a predator leaves my feathered family members alone for the night.
Logically, we can see this is not ideal, but the point is sometimes we do not realize what we really need until we start a discussion as we are today. In considering preparedness for ourselves and those that rely on us, everyone remembers the furry family members right away, which we should of course. However, some of us have other furry or feathered family members that rely on us as well. While these animals may be more independent and “tougher’ because they live in a different environment than inside our house, we still need us to consider them in our plans.
See you next time! - Gypsy Trailblazer
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