At one time or another, every prepper will ask him or herself: could I become 100% self-reliant in terms of proving food for myself and my family? And most of us will say, no, that is not possible. Today I would like you to re-think that proposition because, with time, planning and a bit of luck, that is possible if not always practical. But let me start at the beginning. Food Production Systems for A Backyard or Small Farm A few weeks ago I invited some like-minded friends over for a survival meal made from my items in my food storage and a viewing of the DVD: Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm . The four of us watched the DVD from start to finish with many pauses for discussion points and to take notes. So what did we think? Well first of all, let me say that this is a pretty amazing DVD in that it covers so much in just a couple of hours. And while the DVD itself does not go in to extensive detail about the various topics, the included resource DVD does. Perhaps it is best to start with an outline of the DVD itself plus a 3 minute trailer.
Section 1: Overview Why we began this journey Soil types and climate of the site Section 2: Water Water sources and qualities of water How much water do you need? Rain water collection systems Wells Ponds Section 3: Garden Garden location Size – how much area do you need? Bio-Intensive gardening overview Fertility Watering the garden Wind Sun and shade Bugs and insects Vegetable varieties and seed saving Getting started Section 4: Rabbits Housing and protection Watering systems Feeding Breeds Reproduction Other resources Section 5: Home Butchering Tools Butchering a rabbit Tanning hides Butchering poultry Other animals Section 6: Poultry Chicken breeds Feeding Watering Housing and egg collecting Predator protection Getting started Section 7: Dogs Why dogs? Dog training Feeding Housing Size and breeds Final thoughts Section 8: Perennials: Orchards, Food Forests, and Edible Landscaping Locations and micro climates Watering Fertility Using geese for fertility Tree varieties Planting and care of trees Getting started
Section 9: Other Essentials Calorie crops Solar food dehydration Home made herbicide test Fire ants Injuries Hog panels and tee posts Water levels and mapping contours Rocket stove and hay box cooker In The Wake; a manual for outliving civilization Propagating leuceana
As you look through these topics, you will see that almost every aspect of food production is covered. From figuring our your water needs to selecting chickens and your coop to determining the correct type of fruit trees for your orchard, there are practical tips that every one can embrace. (Personally, though, I did fast forward through the butchering section.) So what is my takeaway? The author, Marjory Wildcraft is a down to earth, practical lady that has learned what works and what does not work through trial and error on her own homestead. She is not a Hollywood actor hired to make the DVD sparkle visually. Instead, she walks us through her own hand on efforts to attain sustainability, dirty fingernails and all. Something of Value for Newbies The most valuable part of the DVD for myself and my dinner companions were her tips for beginners:
Plan your garden. What is your climate? What grows well in your area? Ask other gardeners in your community for advice while you are in the planning stage.
Start small or you will be overwhelmed and will give up. Even starting with a few pots on a deck is better than nothing.
Determine your water needs in advance and install water systems (she shows you how).
Beginners should start with nursery starts and not seeds (now that was surprising!)
Do not be afraid of failure. It takes trial and error to figure out the nuances of what will work in your geographical area and your circumstances. Plus, it takes time to develop the proper technique
Grow for calories. If you are looking for 100% self-reliance, calories are important
Chickens are for egg-laying and not for meat. Unless you can handle 90 chickens at a time, that is.
And for the more advanced gardener? Watch the DVD again and pick up information that was over your head when you watched it the first time. The material is timeless and the resource DVD invaluable in provided references to the more esoteric how-to’s and why-for’s. If I can site any negatives it would have to do with the fact that a lot of emphasis was given on dealing with the very hot climate in the south – in this case it was Texas. I feel the DVD could have used a section of gardening and producing food when the growing season is short such as here in Washington state. The DVD also assumes that you have a decent sized area for a garden, say 10 x 20 or larger. Those limited to a smaller plot or containers would be better off sticking to books, such as the Square Foot Gardening book that I love so much. That said, after watching this DVD I am going to rethink my seed-starting process and do a better job of composting. The Final Word If you have never done any gardening, do not shy away from this DVD. There are so many practical, no BS tips that this DVD can take you from beginner to expert over a period of time. As a matter of fact, Marjory indicates that failure is part of the process and even she is still learning. Wise words from a smart lady. Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!GayePS: After writing this review, I was informed by Marjory and Jon of the following: “The DVD set is being re-packaged under the name Grow Your Own Groceries. In addition, it will be bundled with the John Jeavons’ book, How to Grow More Vegetables, which is essentially a must have for it’s information on soil fertility and efficient plant spacing. The bio-intensive method is used by Marjory in the DVD, which she mentions and features. “ They assure me that this is exactly the same DVD as Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm which is still available. From the Bargain Bin: Survival is all about learning to fend for yourself. Growing your own food, cooking and building stuff are all essential. Here are some the more popular items purchased by Backdoor Survival readers. Keypad Deadbolt: Need a good strong lock? With this, you will never have to worry about locking yourself out plus, you can secure the deadbolt from inside the house. Uniden Bearcat 200-Channel Portable Scanner: A hand scanner with ham band that is very portable. Security Decals – 4 Pack: Security surveillance camera system warning decals/stickers. Increase security whether you have a system or not -no one will know but you. Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: Not a bad deal. Runs for a year on 3 D size batteries. Cyalume SnapLight Chemical Light Sticks: Read all about light sticks at Lighting Your Way With Chemical Lighting. Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets (Pack of 10): You will be surprised at how warm these will keep you. Be sure to test one out in advance so that you have the confidence to trust the blanket in an emergency. Camouflage Nylon Military Paracord 100 Feet: I need to write an article on the many uses of paracord. Pick your favorite color but be aware that different colors are priced differently. Me? I get the color that is the least expensive although I must admit the camouflage is my favorite. Streamlight 73001 Nano Light Miniature Keychain LED Flashlight: This small and super-bright light, features a high-intensity, 100,000-hour LED that will last up to eight hours on four alkaline button cell batteries which are included.