Prepping: With Bird Houses?

Once you settle in to your personal version of Superman’s “Fortress of Solitude,” one of your priorities as a prepper ought to be sizing up how to improve the local environment to make it “friendlier.”  For wildlife now and for dinner in a pinch.

Birds eat bugs – the more birds the merrier —except snakes like birds and other small critters so you need to keep the birds away from the home a bit.  Except guinea fowl because they eat bugs like crazy.

The birding process begins with a four-seasons view of your property.  When do the birds arrive?  Leave? What are the winter predators? Summer?  Are there animals around that will keep down real dangerous critters?  Important questions, these.

Here at our little slice in the woods, there are several projects in place that will help the local ecological balance and tilt it more “human-helping birds friendly” next year.  Think Zika and mosquitoes and now you’re tracking.

     Ure’s version of “Airmail”

Airmail:  While back I told you about the old mailbox that I’d taken the plasma torch to…and welded (however poorly!) a couple of small pieces of rebar for birds can alight to enter.  There’s baffle in the middle to two “families” can roost in it.

The main thing about birds is they like altitude and they don’t like animals that make house calls.

Other than revealing my predisposition to being a “slumlord,” notice that 5/8ths rebar keeps this thing a good 10-12 feet off the ground.  Whether this is enough to keep down predatory snakes remains to be seen.

Elaine’s been researching this and has found that if we put a sheath of 1″ PVC around it and then slather on a good coating of tractor grease, that will stop most everything.  Even raccoons don’t like  greasy paws – and they are the worst.

One other thing, notice there are not a lot of big branches where this birdplex is sited?  The birds are fairly safe as long as predators can’t jump down from an overhead branch.

The next thing is planting more “bird friendly” plants.  This is simply done.  The cheapest,  by far are the sunflower seeds.  You can get these just about anywhere – even Walmart has ’em.  Make sure when shopping you look for sunflower seeds for sprouting, though.  Otherwise you’ll be sick of eating ’em pretty quickly.  No, C-slicker, salted seeds don’t sprout so good!

These are cheap enough you can just toss out handfuls into a rough-mowed field and you’ll be bound to get something next spring. I’m looking at September or October…

Let’s look at the other flowers.  As you know they come in two types:  Annuals (replanted yearly) are a waste of energy and money.  What you want are perennials.  Plant them and mow the area once in the winter to keep other stuff down (trees will seed into the area if you don’t watch ’em). Yee-hog!  (*a farmerly bush hogging yell, please)

This part of summer (and yes, it’s on my list ) is ideal for “ground mapping.”  What you want to do with natural seeding is to find places in your yard of property where things will take off.  To find out what works?

The “magic quad thing” is a new project of mine.  It involves living a couple of years on your property and taking a few pictures each year.

Year 1: 

You take pictures of the property as things begin to brown up in the summertime. About now or as the month burns on…

Notice especially which areas stay green the longest.  These will be the areas that have the most moisture.  Usually, it will be at the bottom of a “wash” or what we farmer types would call :”bottom” (as in creek bottom) land.

When you are property shopping you can’t get enough “bottom” land.  Garden magic. This is where generations of nutrient run-off from hills and all that fertilizer “liquid tea” has steeped and seeped into.  Not that you want a house on “bottom land.”  Local folks will give you some idea of how much vertical elevation your home site would need to get off the 500-1000 year flood plain if it’s possible.

Our “bottom land” is thoroughly overgrown (30 feet in elevation down from us) and I won’t do anything about it until/unless the crap hits the fan.  Because it’s full of everything (including the deer and odd wild hog that comes through) I don’t have much inclination to mess with that natural food supply!

OK, we get the pictures.  Yellowest land gets the most sun, probably has the weaker soil, and it’s holding less water.  Next to it, though, you can often find a place where the terrain concentrates water and maybe has some shade.  This is your quad site.

A quad site is a 50-50 piece of land that you’re going to naturally modify a bit.  The four 25×25 quadrants are sunny/dry, sunnier/moister, partly shaded dry, and partly shaded moister. (2,500 SF) would be partly full sun, partly shade.

Then the idea is to plant a mix:  25 X 25 patches with maybe two kinds of perennial seed mixes.  First the first year spending $40 a pound, or so.  Shop  Amazon because there are all kinds of wildflower mixes.

The application rate runs from 1 pound per 5,000 SF to 2 pounds per 5,000 SF. My plan is put about $100 into mixed seeds which ought to be two to four pounds worth.  I’m figuring a pound and a half per quad.

At the end of the experimental planting of the quads, we will put in 25-foot wide borders of sunflowers.

Year 2 of this plan:

Assuming we get a bunch of seeds that come up next year, then it’s a simple matter to go back to your “old farmer’s notebook.” Which is digital which has the pictures of the quads and where you marked them.  Now you just extend where the favored growing mix is.

See which seeds are doing well and then extend along whatever the quad information tells you.  I’m figuring to plant the second year more lightly  and if the perennials are doing their thing, year three should be free, or nearly so.  Just annual once-over rough cutting so everyone gets a view of the sky for sun and rain…

Obviously, if things are working “according to plan” at the end of Year 1, then it’s time to look at a small apiary project and bring in a few honey bees…

Winter Deer Feed Planting, too.

Oh my, do deer love two things:  Corn and rye grass.  We will likely put in a patch of rye – a couple of acres?  Again, rough mow and overplant.  Rye is pretty harder but we will put it fairly close to the house.

Lately, the local deer are bedding down very close to the house at night.  Going out in the morning on the front deck and having half a dozen animals look up from the lawn with the “Who invited you?” look – is amusing.

That tells us something:  Predators are looking for the fawns.  Last week Elaine saw one that was no higher than 14- inches tall.  Said for a minute she thought it was a cat…it was that small.

The other reason to feed the animals (give them grazing) near the house is so crazy people on the county road won’t shoot them.  We’ll be adding more 4-barb this year – hunters aren’t even slowed by the 2-barb variety wire.  Thinking through razor/concertina wire, too.

Speaking of which, don’t know if you have checked out the Wanxiang Concertina Wire Company, but they have some dandy products that will provide the ultimate in perimeter protection.  Not sure how our tree farm property liability insurance treats razor wire.  I will have to go through the fine print. Normally, we’re “easier to ask forgiveness than permission people, but when lawyers are involved, that’s a foolhardy policy.

The planting of wildflowers for the birds (and rye for the fawns) should reveal, we’re not anti-social.  But, given how crazy the world is becoming due to online mental disease, we’re just trying to keep ahead of the game.

Why, next thing you know, I’ll be thinking about digging up our land mines….decisions, decisions.   Seismic intrusion alarms, anyone?

Write when you get rich,

21 thoughts on “Prepping: With Bird Houses?”

  1. Oh, George . . . definitely Texas . . . the western part of Oregon – ‘bottom land’ is soggy. So your deer are not pests? And wild hogs – don’t want to hear of you having a tussle with a sow! Not many ‘bad’ snakes here to attack birds, but their food attracts squirrels like crazy!

    • I’ve had real problems with squirrels all over the country. I want to feed feral cats a little to encourage them and keep down the mice, but the squirrels will eat the food first. They will get into attics and the ground squirrels will burrow repeatedly under the house. Skunks will too.

      I have no idea how to remove these critters. I can’t sit there day and night waiting with a firearm, and they don’t trap easily. I can eventually seal them out of an attic(with mesh and stucco, but keeping them from burrowing is a nightmare. If you seal up their holes and even use mothballs, they’ll just make another hole.

      I don’t have a problem attracting birds. They love to sit on the trusses over the tractor and do their duty. And there’s the bat that visited in the attic…

      Be careful what you wish for!

      • How to remove a skunk from your premises:

        I had a skunk living under a small building with no foundation. It was not a little one by any means.

        The tail was wearing paint from the siding above the entry point. I could see the skunk in the distance not too far away.

        One day just pondering what to do, couldn’t quite figure out what besides trapping or shooting, which was not the first choice, don’t want handle a dead skunk, most are rabid, or probably are.

        What I did was walk over to the spot where the skunk was entering each day and exiting each night, I thought to myself, “I am going to pee right where that skunk comes in and out.”

        Never saw the skunk again.

      • Get a pest control company to do a persistent termite treatment. That is the only way the EPA will allow the use of chlordane in the U.S. (Or buy some from overseas, or get some chloral hydrate and make your own…) Chlordane is dangerous if used improperly (many say it was not its environmental persistence, but its misuse, that got it banned. We used to crop-dust cities with it, for cryin’ out loud!), so choose your poison carefully. Once treated, you’ll not see a ground squirrel (or ant, roach, termite, or any other pest which crawls), for years. ‘Won’t kill the squirrels and skunks, though. I’d suggest a trip (perhaps online) to a REAL Western farm and ag store, to buy a container of coyote or fox urine…

  2. Two other things that deer like are apples and kumquats. I needed an 8 foot fence to keep them out. The dog was useless. Pit bulls are not sight or scent hounds, but I did get him to chase squirrels.

  3. “Most illegals are coming at the behest of the American agricultural companies like Dole, Del Monte and others…Even with wage increases, American workers, just don’t want that job.”

    Everything is a business model…
    I have always had bottom feeder positions. stood in lines waiting on day labor, working up to six jobs at a time to make enough to survive. a day of vacation was an eight hour day.. well over thirty years of never having a holiday off..
    I have done some pretty crappy jobs some absolutely disgusting of the saddest and one I will never do again is being a dog catcher. the look in a child’s eye when you caught fido because he got away while they were out playing.. . I have rubbed noses with some pretty interesting people on both sides and most of my friends are from a variety of fields in almost every aspect of life and community stature.. one of my favorite memories is one of the wealthiest stopping by my shack to visit rolling up his sleeves and helping me install garage doors while having a few glasses of home made grog..
    I have had conversations with employers over lunch at the country club come right out and say if they could send a bus down to the border and pick up workers they would.. the reason..
    roughly thirty percent plus.. America’s citizens will work doing the jobs they say they won’t.. that is all MSM hype.
    If they hire an american citizen they have to pay minimum wage.. taxes and social security and fill out forms.. with an illegal immigrant they don’t have to.. they can just give them a fraction of the hourly wage and not pay the taxes.
    The wall won’t work.. if you want to really affect everyone you affect the pocketbook.. don’t start at the bottom but at the top..
    I know I have mentioned my story of the one where they bought him a house, a van, gave them a guaranteed forty hours work and paid his medical bills and college tuition.( I have actually met a few people that have come to america that way. One that thought my friend and I should be killed because we let women( the boss) tell us what to do form one of the six countries that travel bans are on for..I would have paid ten dollars to watch him tell the boss hey you old cow if you were in my country you would be beaten to within an inch of your life for talking to me that way..( she told him not to forget taking out the trash)…) If you really want to change it.. let anyone come that wants to come.. but.. they have to pay all the taxes without any benefit of receiving the benefits until they have become citizens. plus and non resident tax they have to fill out paperwork and back ground checks the companies that hire them also have to pay matching tax’s on their behalf. If they are illegal and have a job in the USA.. then implement the same laws that are set for drug traffickers or stores that sell alcohol to someone under age. the checker pays a hefty fine and looses their job if it happens more than once.. seize..if they find more than one then the employer should have all his companies assets seized. he in turn has to pay a hefty fine in the form of his assets being seized and jail time… Not the person doing the hiring but the man that tells them to do the hiring. if they rent a house or an apartment.. the same thing..if they are illegal immigrants then the landlords ( slumlords because they can’t pass a credit check so they can openly charge three times the going rent).
    if this was implemented I think it would end immigrants right away in no time at all.. no guaranteed forty hours no new homes no groceries being paid, free college tuition etc. and the employer can still hire some bright young man or woman from another country.. but they have to fill in the blanks. No executive or board of executives are going to put their money in jeopardy of being seized along with their companies being seized and assets seized over some illegal immigrants.No slumlord will take the chance to have his run down houses seized either and do jail time or pay hefty fines. You cannot rent in the usa if you have bad credit unless you go to a slum lord that takes advantage of the poor.. they will want the papers all filled out correctly with all the t’s crossed and all the periods in place. and john and sarah can still bring little mike and jane over to live and work.
    Prepping.. I love the fact that you should consider the creatures of the land.. I always plant a garden just for the critters.. I also have never had any problems with critters eating my garden either. the same thing with area’s without housing.. do like japan does.. I could go into that and some employers that I have known of.. but that is another story and this is another book..

    • hahah, don’t know where you live, but in our neck of the woods, all the apartment complexes do NOT check rental history, credit, etc., they have open apartments for MIGRANTS, and they get reduced rent and set aside apartments for them, easy peasy, as we are a sanctuary city. Those illegals get AHEAD of anyone in line. Oh, they don’t really have to be a PROVEABLE migrant, they just have to tell em so. And as for slum landlords, don’t exist, they couldn’t WAIT to rent to the 10 – 15 shacking up illegals in one house, ruining the SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSES in all of our neighborhoods, parking all over the yards, and creating havoc. All was good, city looked the other way. My partner just parked in front of our gate, off of the paved driveway, and our illegal immigrant loving neighbor called the city on us and got us ticketed! Yeah, I just can’t cry a bucket of tears for the illegals who have gotten a FREE ride on all of ours’ dime for the last 35 plus years (heavily). Didn’t you hear, $34,000 a year is spent (minimally) on each one as soon as they set a foot on the good earth USA. The average salary for a lot of Americans isn’t even $34,000 a year. When our veterans are completely taken care of and our homeless problem is no more, then I’ll be considering what more chunks can be carved out of us for them. So, the chunk carving, as you can see now, comes first, every one else in the USA, gets the crumbs.

      • Oh here he immigrants get plenty of housing. No taxes free healthcare free dental …
        I gave a young woman down on luck with a broken tooth a ride to the cities free dental clinic..the clinic let’s twelve people in. I made sure we were over an our early. The only one there. They opened the door and a group of refugees actually pushed her down making derogatory remarks about the fact she was a woman and women have to follow men etc.. The receptionist was fully aware when she got to the window she complained and the lady basically told her that she should be understanding of their culture and their way of living then told her to leave. They had their twelve..she a me out to the car in tears..I went in to talk to them..they told me basically the same thing..I went out called my dentist and paid to get her broken tooth fixed.

        But if your an American the landlords want references a credit history. There are those that will rent but they charge three times what it’s worth. While there are those that do get free college tuition free housing food utilities while there are citizens that wouldn’t qualify to get the time of day.
        To fix it is simple. They an come but they don’t receive any benefits till they get citizen ship they pay all taxes that every citizen does. Along with a non resident tax

  4. My brother in law who lives in Buffalo NY built a large feeding area for birds & squirrels so he could watch them feed as he sat on the porch. He now has a rat problem & the neighbors are mad & the exterminators are into him for $300 so far & they are just getting started.

  5. I’ve been growing Russian giant sunflowers since childhood, so about sixty years now. My grandfather had a poultry farm, free range too, and the sunflowers were grown to give shade to the growing pullets and then knocked down so they could eat the seeds in the Fall. We raised guinea fowl with the pullets as their droppings manure was so dry it helped keep the chicken coop cleaner.

    • There is as much protein in a handful of sunflower seeds as a steak. No need to eat meat in a collapse, eat sunflower seeds. I’d be growing them by the acre.

  6. I don’t want to sound like a Negative Nancy but thinking about eating wildlife during the revolution/collapse, I hear a lot of people say, “I’ll hunt for food.”

    It’s only do to modern factory farming methods that all Earth’s staff are fed. If we all had to go out and hunt daily for food, America would run out of wild game within a week.

    I googled and found:

    “Texas is home to an estimated 3.6 million white-tailed deer…”

    with a population of “28.3 million (2017)”.

    That’s about 1/8th deer per person. Factor in an EMP meaning no refrigeration and people are eating tree bark soup by Sunday and deer are extinct.

    Michigan – these folks live large with about a 3/16 portion of deer.

    “An estimated population of 1.75 million deer in 2016 and 2017, up from an estimated 1.5 million deer in 2015.”


    A population of 9.962 million (2017).

    Cannibalism on the other hand, there’s always a one to one ratio until the bitter end.

    • you can always have refrigeration even in an instance where there is an emp..

      its really pretty simple to.. bury an insulated box.. hose and an old thermos with a wart cooling coil and water in it.. pretty simple and easy to build with C reative R eadily A vailable P arts.. laying around
      air conditioning.. nothing more than a bunch of funnels on a board and a fan.. or you can go elaborate and make a solar freezer.. if you want to cool then make sure you have it full of ice other wise everything inside will freeze solid..

      • speaking of that.. I have to show the grandkids how to make fuel from an old soap jug and how to make an injection mold for plastics.. yet this summer.. my dirt storm shelter is on hold till the rain stops..

    • I should probably take this opportunity to explain that not one “hunter” in 1000, maybe even 10,000, actually knows how to hunt. The prospective meal isn’t going to come to some guy with a rifle and an opinion, and let itself be shot. Shootin’ cows is much easier.

      See the remainder of my reply, above.

  7. George, agree that the web has been corrupted and co-opted and will disappeared as now configured, with newspapers and am radio suffering the same fate earlier, will there be a source of news available?

  8. Ure, when you cut down those large trees, don’t always.

    Cut them off at about 30′ and leave two or three of the largest high branches cut 5- 10′ from the trunk.

    You’re making houses for birds and other critters.

    Glad to see you are bird friendly.

  9. My son likes yard work. Last fall he bought a new finishing mower — a top shelf Honda-powered Jonserd. He mowed, probably long enough to break it in, then parked it in mid-November for the winter. When he dragged it out around the first of April, it wouldn’t start. He was PO’d! I asked him if he’d drained the fuel. “No… didn’t have much in it. I just filled it up from my can.” I dumped the fuel, pulled the carb (nifty little bit of kit, BTW, and nothing like the Tillotsons and their knock-offs that I’m used to seeing), which was clean, so I reassembled. Then I sniffed his gas can, poured a little of this “gas” from his can onto the driveway and lit it (Don’t try this at home, folks, gasoline fumes are extremely explosive! The fumes from a cap full of fresh petrol can physically relocate you, minus bodily hair, several feet from where you were standing when you lit them.) Oh, except I didn’t, because it wouldn’t burn!


    Granted, he didn’t put Sta-Bil or Pri-G in it, but do you, in a half-gallon of gas? Me either…

  10. Now, to continue my response to Steve F:

    Also, in a grid hard-down (GHD), like an EMP attack or HEMP event, there’s going to be no food, period. There’s also going to be no fuel. The average family has 3-4 days between their cabinets and the ‘frig, and the markets have 1-3 days on their shelves — much less for meat, dairy, and leafy produce. After 8-9 days, it’ll start to sink in that people are stuck, starving in their surroundings, which is when their neighbors’ dogs and cats will start disappearing. This is also when people will start dying, after being shot for rustling farm and domestic animals (or trying to prevent same), and when absolute hell will break out, everywhere population density per square mile is measured in hundreds, or greater.

    It is impossible to be a prepper against GHD in a metropolitan area, unless one can hide for three months. It is absolutely impossible to be a farmer or rancher within easy walking distance of a metro area (Rawls says 50 miles, I personally think 35 would work), because the farm or ranch will be found and taken. After 3-6 months, the massive anarchistic kill-offs and starvation die-offs will have occurred, and those who’ve stockpiled, hidden, and are left in a city will be reasonably safe, except from pestilence and disease, which will be rampant, fed by the corpses and decay.

    After six months, the majority of Michigan’s (and Texas’, Pennsylvania’s, Wisconsin’s, Minnesota’s, and southern Canada’s, ’cause a North American GHD will take the Canucks’ grid out, too) deer and elk populations will still be alive. Not so much, their human populations. This might make it, then possible, for subsistence living to be a reasonable survival plan, provided one has a sufficient heirloom seed stock to plant-and-wait, possibly as long as 14 months.

    I’d be willing to bet none of the people you hear talking about hunting, have the tiniest shred of a clue what either a GHD, or subsistence hunting actually entails…

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