How To Raise Chicks Without Electricity

How To Raise Chicks Without Electricity - SledDogSlow.com
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I love chickens, I always have ever since raising my first batch of chicks as an FFA project in high school. So when Kyle and I moved off grid chickens were a must on my list, both for meat and eggs. However raising chicks without electricity comes with quite a few challenges, so here is what’s working for me.

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Tips for raising chicks without electricity:

  • Order a lot of chicks, 10 or more. They’ll be able to huddle together when cold and share body heat. Two or three don’t produce enough heat to do this themselves.
  • Keep them in a small enclosed space for the first few days. I’m using a small box with a rag over the top and checking on them frequently.
  • If you can’t order a large number of chicks or they are acting cold, add a rice/corn sock that’s been heated up along the outside of one side of the box. You may need to reheat it frequently, but the heat will seep through the cardboard and give them somewhere warm to lay when cold. Or, add a jar of hot water wrapped in a towel to the box. Personally I used heat safe Tupperware so I could leave it outside the box and placed the glass bottom against the cardboard.

    In a pinch, you can also use hand/foot warmers as well. The 12 hour ones are especially nice, and work well when transporting chicks.

  • Give the chicks lots of food. Digestion helps them heat from the inside out.
  • If there isn’t someone to check on them frequently, don’t leave water in the small box with them unsupervised. No matter how secure it seems, they will manage to tip it over, and wet chicks can’t keep themselves warm.
  • Keep them in a space that has an ambient air temperature of no lower than 65° F, and keep the box up off cold floors when possible, even if you just stack it on another box.

These tips are what I’m using to keep my chicks alive in June in Alaska where our high temperatures have been mid 50’s to low 60’s this week.

If you live somewhere warmer you may even need to pay more attention to keeping them cool rather than warm! Remember, chicks can stand about 5° lower temperatures each week until mostly feathered, starting at about 90°. Once it reaches 70° they won’t need supplemental heat, and when they have their feathers they’ll be able to regulate their body temperature themselves. Just make sure to provide them with a proper shelter when you do move them outside!

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Homestead Update

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We’ve got so much done here around the homestead recently! We’ve (nearly) finished up the studio entirely. It now has a floor, insulation, and wall coverings! We used snap together laminate flooring between us and the insulation for a few reasons, the main one being that it was cheaper than putting up dry wall. It was also prettier than plain drywall, and we didn’t even need to paint it after.

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We also added a window like this for a little natural light, as well as a little bit of a breeze. The studio gets hot enough with the two of us that we won’t be adding in a wood stove until fall. The one we brought with us is just a tad to big for our tiny studio, so we’ll be keeping an eye out for a good deal when we go into town.

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Next on the list was an outhouse, and Kyle built us the biggest one I’ve ever seen. He’s over 6 ft tall and he didn’t want to duck to go to the bathroom, so it ended up being 7 ft tall in front, sloping to 6 1/2 ft in back. It did give lots of room for storage of soap, toilet paper and cleaning supplies though. Eventually he will add a small hand washing station as well.

Outhouse is complete!

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Our greenhouse made it up this week too. It doesn’t have much in there yet as I need to collect some planters or buckets, but I plan on filling the whole thing eventually! Being able to produce food on our homestead is an important goal for us. The greenhouse will also be housing our chicks until our chicken coop is completed, which is next on our list. We marked out some trees for it today and will be splitting our time working on that and on our solar panels as we have been running exclusively off of our generator so far, which by the way has been amazing. We have the Honda EU2000i, and it is so quiet! It also runs all of our electronics for 8 hours on .9 gallons of gas.

Speaking of electronics, we have set up all of ours to Kyle’s satisfaction now. We may be off grid, but that doesn’t mean we have to go without every modern convenience. We have our TV, Kyle’s Xbox One, and as of today our cell phone booster so we can get reliable signal at home now! I think its a little funny, but Kyle always has been and always will be a techie.

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And hooray for shelves so we can keep the kitchen supplies in the studio. No more running back and forth between our storage tent and studio to make a meal. And we moved clothes in as well. It’s tight, but it’s much better than living in a tent!

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10 Life Lessons From Living Off Grid In Alaska

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We’ve learned a lot about living off grid in Alaska so far. Here are some lessons we’ve learned here that can be applied to life anywhere!

  1. Don’t waste food ever. Even if you’re so full you can’t eat another bite, always finish your plate or you’ll regret it in 3 hours when you’re hungry again.
  2. Bears in camp are a real thing! Put up your food, keep a clean camp, and if you need to drain water or grease from a meal add it to your dogs/chickens/pigs dinner. They’ll love you for it, and it can’t attract bears if it’s already in someones stomach.
  3. Wildlife has right of way. Moose are not afraid of you or your loud noises. They will charge when annoyed!
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  4. That plant that you hate because it’s covered in spines and grabs you every time you walk by? It takes years to reproduce and is medicinally beneficial, so work carefully around it. Don’t just chop it down, learn the local flora. Books like these are great for that.
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  5. Even if you moved to the boonies in Alaska to get away from the noise and people of the city, talk to the people already out here. They are here for the same reason, they’ll understand, and they are a wealth of knowledge about the area. Befriend them, appreciate them.
  6. You’re going to need help. Accept it when it is offered. It’ll shave hours off your projects at times. And make sure to return the favor when able.
  7. Be positive about setbacks. Just because the tide book says you can make the beach at 5 doesn’t mean that storm won’t cut it back to 4:30. When you can’t make it home, make it a date night!
  8. Over prepare and over buy. It’s better to have that shotgun/shovel/extra box of nails and not need it, than to need it and not have it. Especially when going into town is an all day affair.
  9. If you’ve learned something, share it! Even if you only learned it yesterday, if someone else could benefit from the knowledge, pass it on.
  10. Pay it forward. There is always time to help a stranger in need, so stop for that person stuck on the side of the road, hold doors and help load groceries in parking lots. You’ll feel good about helping someone out, and hopefully they’ll remember and help someone out in the future (we did!).

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We Have A House!

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We’ve spent the last few days building, building, building our tiny house!

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This will be our official home until we are done with the cabin. It’s a 10 x 10 backyard shed, so we’ll be living in less than 100 sq feet for at least a year. It feels so good to accomplish something!

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Up, Up, Down, Up

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Seems like life out here is just a roller coaster of ups and downs each day.

Ronan got into the porcupine for the third time, so after the dogs treed it we shot it with our .22 and I butchered and cooked it for the dogs (porcupines have no season and no bag limit here). Ronan and Link were very happy to have it for dinner.

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We’ve also been slowly working on our studio. We have one wall up and another nearly complete.

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We met more cabin owners over the weekend and they helped us get a lot of our stuff up the bluff in their awesome 6 wheeler, which was way easier than our carry/trailer/4 wheeler plan. They also invited us to a beach barbecue, and out to see their cabin to get some ideas. It has been nice to meet some of the people who own cabins back in that area and pick their brains about cabin plans and living up there full time. So far we’ve gotten every reaction to our plan from “that’s awesome” to “you guys are crazy”.

And for the down….

A bear tore up our camp!

We think he went after the tent first and tore it all up, then went after the rest of our gear. He didn’t actually get to much food other than an entire giant unopened bag of skittles. We must have scared him off coming into camp because there wasn’t to much damage. We are really good about burning garbage, washing dishes and keeping our food put up but we must have missed something this time around.

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Gotta love the claw marks in our tent screens. We went through and duct-taped all the holes to try and keep the mosquitoes out, then threw a tarp over the whole thing to keep out the rain. The bear did miss the air mattress though, so we didn’t have to sleep on the ground! He also chewed on but didn’t puncture our bear spray (we carry this spray).

We should be able to finish the studio in the next few days, and we’ll be getting our last load of stuff for awhile from town today! Hopefully the bear stays away from our place as long as we are around with the dogs working on stuff. We left the dogs tied up while we went to town today instead of taking them with us like we normally do.

Lots of ups and one very interesting down lately, but we are enjoying all of the challenges that Alaska brings!

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