We complained about the water for months and nature took our complaints to heart. We went from trudging through the marsh to saddling up a camel for a quick jaunt to the grocery store. Meanwhile, you spent the spring stocking up on adorable baby birds that grew up so fast and are up to your ankles in hot, dry manure and not so sure what to do with yourself.
We’re here to help!
Your Windows 98 desktop from college or your front lawn, it's anyone's guess!
BEAT THE HEAT
If this is your first summer trying this homesteading stuff out, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Just when you felt like things were getting easy, the sun decided to crank things up to 11 and give you more work. Fear not! Your library has tips for the amateur chicken collector and the full-blown homesteader alike.
Deeper into this article, I’ll throw some Dewey Decimal numbers your way so you can find everything you’re looking for in our Nonfiction collection.
Just remember that if you’re looking for anything specific, don’t be afraid to ask us at the info desk. We don’t bite!
POTENTIAL SUMMER PROBLEMS
Here, I’m going to go over some problems you’re likely to face over the summer, along with solutions and some DIY fixes for any budget.
If the heat has you feeling parched, just imagine how your livestock must feel! Make sure they have access to cool clean water throughout the day. Here are some tips:
- Five gallons on a flat, level surface should get fifteen chickens through a hot summer day. You can modify a simple bucket with a basin or nipple-waterers, or buy the poultry water jugs from any farm and feed store.
- A run of the mill wading pool can keep ducks cool, entertained and hydrated for a day or two, and works well for pigs if you’re only keeping a few.
- If you plan on keeping alpacas, goats or cattle, you may want to upgrade to a larger trough, or rig a hose to the trough on a timer.
- Don’t forget about your plants! Soaker hoses and drip irrigation can save you from a lot of mosquito bites down the line.
Whenever you’re outside, do your best to keep cool. Wear a hat, work in the shade whenever you can, splash yourself with some water. Unfortunately, your animals and plants can’t do that. Here are some tips to help them out:
- Make sure your animals have plenty of places to seek shelter, find some shade and escape the heat. If you’re looking for some great foliage to make shade for yourself or your critters, the Idaho Native Plant Society maintains a great list of plants native to North Idaho!
- Be sure that your housing is well-ventilated or your animals may not use their shelter. It’s much harder for birds to recover from high heat than excessive cold.
- Frozen peas are a great and inexpensive way to keep your animals cool during the hottest part of the day. They’re like popsicles and cool your animal from the inside out when they need it most.
- Some of your more delicate plants may benefit from draping shade cloth above their plots.
Fire is one of the biggest dangers in our area. Despite the unpredictability of wildfire, a little preparation can go a long way.
- Create a defensible space. Trim dry grass and stray foliage to create at least 5 feet between your home and any major foliage.
- Use low-growing plants that hold moisture well closest to your home, and keep larger foliage further away. That way, if there is fire, it will have a harder time burning close to your home.
- Clear dead and dry foliage at least once a week during the summer. Do this more often if there are fires within several miles of you. Ponderosa Pine needles are a big one to watch out for.
- If your animal housing has electricity, inspect your wires for damage from pests or your own animals. A stray spark could start a fire at any time, day or night.
The Idaho Department of Lands has a trove of wonderful information for preventing fires!
PESTS AND PREDATORS
Your animals aren’t the only ones trying to escape the heat.
- Mice and rats. Your chicken coop is like the Four Seasons at Maui to mice, and trust me: they don’t pay their tab. A little preparation can go a very long way. Seal any gaps wider than an inch and clean out the animal facilities regularly. Keep food, especially corn and grain, sealed up tight.
- Raptors. They don’t play fair. They can attack your chickens from the sky and they’re federally protected. You can’t intervene if they decide to eat a bird or your whole flock. Your only tools here are preparation. If your birds are enclosed, make sure they have protection from the air. If you free range, hang old CDs up in your chickens’ favorite tree. The sun will catch on the reflective surface and can make raptors abort a dive without harming them. Do this responsibly.
- Skunks, weasels and raccoons. They will pillage your garden and your egg boxes, and they’ll even kill a hen if it’s in their way to the buffet. Raccoons and skunks can harm adult dogs. Skunks also stink! Prevention is the best medicine. Don’t leave open food about if you can help it, keep your small animal housing secure and bring your dogs inside or keep them kennelled at night. If you already have a problem and prevention isn’t working, contact Fish & Game or a professional contractor for consultation.
- Coyotes and wolves. This is one of those rare cases where prevention may not always be the answer. Canids are smart and opportunistic. If you have a coyote or a wolf problem, you should never engage them. A $30 animal isn’t worth a $30,000 hospital visit. Call Fish & Game.
- Bears. They’re big and scary, but they’ll generally leave you alone unless you’ve given them cause to come around. Don’t leave stray food or garbage outside, and never feed them. If a bear has killed one or several of your animals, you have every right to call Fish & Game, but if one is just passing through and not causing any harm, leave it be. It’s not worth the fight.
It’s not all doom and gloom! Summer has a lot of perks, too!
From the Farmer’s Market to the bounty of eggs that will fill your house from floor to ceiling, to our awesome Seed Library!
With some hard work and preparation, you won’t have anything to worry about!
Do you have questions, concerns, or donations and you don’t know where to start? Drop by the Information Desk. If we can’t help you, we will find someone who can. Trust me.
DIAMOND-ENCRUSTED GOLD; AKA INFO
At the start of this article, I promised some Dewey Decimal numbers to help you find everything you’re looking for here in the library. So now, I deliver!
- 635: Everything that has anything to do with the garden from dirt and compost to vegetables to rare and exotic flowers can be found in this range.
- 636: Livestock starts here. Anything you need to know can be found here. Looking for poultry? It’s all together. Want something as specific as how to care for your new potbellied pig? Yep, we’ve got that, too.
- 640-645: You might be wondering, “Brenden, why are you adding cookbooks?”. That’s a very good question. Not all of us bought chickens because they were cute and fluffy. Some of us even ended up with a really mean rooster...Briefly. Most of your garden harvest will benefit from this section.
- 690 - 699: This is the section for building human-related structures. Sheds, patios, decks, outbuildings, full-on houses, you name it. If you need to build it, you will come… To the 690s in Nonfiction!
We all have specific needs. A book on building tiny houses won’t do you a whole lot of good if you are trying to build a manor house with a grotto and a carport that can fit a boat. Whatever your specific need, give us an inquiry at the Information desk. We will find something that will help you one way or another.
So come give your library a visit! Take the guesswork out and spend less time breaking your back and more time floating in the lake!
Brenden Bobby, Library Technician