Saturday, November 27, 2021

Low visibility agriculture (livestock)

Peter over at Bayou Renaissance Man points out that bad people will demand your preps and any food you have grown if things go pear-shaped. It is not enough to be able to grow your food. You have to be able to protect it as well.

That triggered a few thoughts on my part. Successful organisms rely on multiple, overlapping (like shingles on a roof) defensive strategies. The benefit of overlapping shingles is that the roof still sheds water even if one shingle is breached.

I also place a very high value passive measures. They work even when you are otherwise occupied. Active defenses are needed, but they will eventually fail if challenged enough times. That is the way luck works. Given enough chances, even the blind marksman hits the lucky spot. 

The best passive measures are the art of silence and invisibility.


Livestock will be a magnet for raiders. Few forms of wealth provide its own transportation when stolen by pirates, brigands and looters to steal it.

Meat is nutritionally dense and a luxury item, just the thing to "pay" your henchmen if money loses its value.

If you haven't given it any thought, livestock is impossible to hide.

If you have given it some thought, you have a nucleus you can build on even if they find some of them.

God (or Mother Nature) gives us a template

The Rouen duck is a breed of mallard that is virtually identical in coloration to the wild mallard but twice its size. They are almost invisible in cattails or tall grass and you can maintain plausible deniability regarding not "declaring" your wealth. Rouen ducks are the ultimate stealth livestock

Hungarian Partridge

Female Ringneck Pheasant

Ruffed Grouse

Note the muted colors and the coarse, speckled pattern.

There are many chicken breeds that approximate the patterns seen on upland birds. In most cases these birds were bred for the show-ring and the colors are more vivid than those seen on female, wild birds. A few of them are:

Speckled Sussex


Gold-laced Wyandotte
Barred Rock

The cloak of invisibility will not do you much good if you have a rooster crowing. And if you don't have a rooster you will be out of the egg business as your hens age out.

The No Crow collar muffles the roosters crow because he cannot swell up the resonance chambers at the base of his neck (think Bag-pipes)

Cattle and goats

Whitetail deer are notorious for being able to disappear into small patches of cover.
You would be hard pressed to find an animal with coloration more like a Whitetail deer than a Jersey heifer.

Supplying neighbors with milk is a calculated risk. Dead cows don't give milk so your neighbors might be more motivated to keep their mouths shut. And while they might like beef, there just isn't very much meat on a pure-dairy cow.

Animals that forage are often quieter than animals that are fed. Cows make a terrible racket when they see somebody carrying that bucket that brings them their corn.

Rabbits were probably the Number-One source of meat in much of NAZI occupied Europe.

They were quiet. They reproduced quickly. The could be raised as semi-feral animals and snared as needed. They did not require exotic feed.

Meat and communication. Plus, they can forage for food long distances from their home roosts. The downside is that there is not much meat on a squab.

There is nothing wrong with a pond with a few catfish or a mess of panfish in it.

Ponds also attract muskrats and migrating waterfowl. Clams, frogs, turtles and crayfish can also be harvested.

Intensive aquaculture will be a struggle as fish-food will either be non-existent or you will be announcing your wealth (food) when you go to buy it.


  1. The "No Crow" gadget was worth the price of admission today. That's a very useful bit of information when you live in a subdivision that doesn't allow chickens.

    Of course, as with milk, come high water you neighbors might not care as long as you share the eggs and an occasional leg.

  2. Used to raise Rouen ducks. The hens were fantastic mothers. One hen layed 15 eggs and hatched 12. Good eating too.

  3. The heading said goats, but then failed to say anything about them. Goats milk is excellent, IF you do not have a billy goat anywhere close. The scent of the billy causes hormonal changes in the nannies that change the taste of the milk. If you want to use goats for milk, you need to work out an arrangement with a sufficiently distant neighbor for them to keep the males for use in breeding services. You can then provide them with young males as needed and milk in exchange for their services. My wife had a herd of dairy goats for many years back before we met. Young males can be castrated and used for meat when the are sufficiently grown.

    Plus goat milk is much more nutritious and digestible than cow milk.

    1. I must plead ignorance of goats. I know they are very smart, active and can be hard to keep fenced in. That implies they can be trained to only come to one person (maybe with a musical instrument like pipes or a harmonica) for milking and feeding. Similarly, they could be trained to flee and hide from everybody else.

      Willard Fox once advised me that farmers should never raise livestock that is smarter than they are. I took that advice to heart and was never tempted to raise goats, horses or hogs.

    2. If your fence won't hold water it won't hold goats. When I had Angoras and dairy goats I quit trying to garden. They will always find a way. If the electric fence goes off they know it. Although I never had Fainting Goats so I don't know about them.---ken

  4. Any thoughts on swine? They can very easily live on their own, have multiple live born, taking app 115 days to gestate.
    Heritage breeds would blend in well.
    Growing up, my uncle fenced in about 3 or 4 acres of a former field that was over grown. Fresh water and some corn on the ground was what was provided. We rounded them up in the fall.
    They grew slower than pen raised but very low production costs.
    I would they could be treated as free range.

    1. In fiction, hogs are the go-to for disposing of embarrassing numbers of bodies. They grow very rapidly on the high protein diet. ;-)

    2. Yes, they will do that!! Unintended consequences!

  5. Interesting idea at SurvivalBlog. Parallel Economy and Parallel Economy Group

  6. The Fainting goat is the red-headed stepchild of goats very much worth investing . Unlike other goats they are very respectful of anything that even resembles a fence . They tend to be very gentle and the meat is very beef like ." In fact Slow Food USA ", a group dedicated to a "fringe" bunch of naturalists like myself has picked the best tasting "heritage/heirloom" non-gmo/non-hybrid fruit , vegetable , meat/milk animal in each group in what they call " The Ark of Taste " . The goat pick is of course the Fainting Goat . Beef is the Scottish Highland cow . Non-hybrid and open pollinated are what many in my group consider to be the future of agriculture in the upcoming war on food by Monsanto/Cargill and a few other big-time players in the age of genetic manipulation of food sources . For those interested in the Biblical admonition to keep food pure it is found in Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:9 .

  7. If you make your lane the one the packs of Feral Urban Youts DO NOT want to go down, that is a deterrent, also.

    Heads on pikes send a message, as well as bodies hanging from trees.

    Marking your territory is risky, but it may be useful, depending on who is raiding.

    1. My plan was to gutter spike the bodies to phone poles with appropriate signage-"Looter", "Rapist", Cannibal" and so on. I have admit that I'm a bit lazy.

  8. On an almost related note, many years ago the Thanksgiving tables I ate at had a product called John Copes Corn.I've only had it reconstituted never as the pudding. Being a child at the time I often wondered why this sweet yummy corn wasn't on the menu much more often. As an adult, I learned that it was a time and money thing. You couldn't just dump it in a bowl and give it a 90 sec nuke and put it on the table. Also, it sure isn't cheap. Being the cheap so and so that I am, I found myself wondering if I couldn't make it myself. Online research told me only that the corn was "processed" soon after picking. I was able to reason that unless they added some kind of sweetener,the corn had to be picked early and either blanched immediately or cooked for several minuets. I also knew that this company was around long before the super sweet varieties of corn were developed. The old saying went"if you want good sweet corn, go into the field and pick however many ears you needed. Then walk quickly back to your kitchen and pop them into the already boiling water. If you dropped any ears on your way to cook them you did NOT go back to pick them up as the corns sugar started changing to starch the second you picked them". I have to believe that if you buy or grow a super sweet corn, get it home shuck it,toss it in boiling water, cut the kernels off and immediately start dehydrating them that you just might get a similar end product. It will take longer to re-hydrate and heat than a can of corn but the space saving is pretty impressive. If I've missed anything in this process please feel free to inform me. Note to ERJ you might not have to buy fish food for your aquaponics as I remember seeing a tube vid of someone raising (I think it was) meal worms in large quantity as food for birds or fish (and themselves yuck) the result, not as much compost but more immediate protein for fish

  9. Would one or several bug zappers hung over the pond help with feeding of your fish ? Not sure if they come in battery power version for offgrid use. Ponds attract insects - may as well use them too.

  10. You didn't mention Quail. Quiet, needs little space and will eat pretty much any food scraps. Produces eggs and meat. Because of their small size and space requirements (and quietness) they can easily be raised in the city without anyone being the wiser.

  11. Don't forget that how and what food you raise will depend on your local environment - especially rainfall, cover, and nearby population.


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