In the late 1930s, the Great Depression was in full swing. Many families raised rabbits in pens in their backyards to supplement the backyard garden or meager grocery budget. They would gather grass or spent vegetables to feed their rabbits. As we can learn from our parents and Grandparents, rabbits can be a good source of protein for your family during tough times. They multiply quickly, don’t need much space, don’t eat much food, produce excellent manure, and are easy to handle and butcher.
Rabbits are one animal that most anyone can start raising right now, and keeping them with worms adds a double punch to your preps. A rabbit-worm combo cage give you several advantages. Not only does it mean less cage cleaning, but it makes a complete ecosystem. The rabbits feed the worms, the worms feed the garden, and the garden feeds the rabbits. You can be built a rabbit-worm cage out of inexpensive wood or even pvp pipe.
Building The Cages & Care
A generously sized rabbit pen is two feet square. The rabbit hutch should be positioned at least 3 foot above the ground and use ½ inch wire mesh floor so rabbit droppings can fall through easily but their legs cannot get stuck. You will need at least two pens. One for the male rabbit (buck) and one for the female (doe) and her babies as adult rabbits are extremely territorial and will kill each other in defense of their territory. If you live in the south make sure you place your cages in a shady spot in the back yard. They can stand cold temperatures fairly well, but will die quikly trapped in a cage in the hot sun on a summer day.
Underneath your small rabbit hutchs build an inexpensive wood frame worm bed about 12 inches deep. Add bedding material to the bed: Good bedding can be any combination of carbon: shredded paper products, decomposing leaves, hay, straw, peat moss etc. Start with a 3 to 4 inch layer on the bottom for your worm bed. Moisten the bedding with water and let your rabbits do their thing until the surface is covered with 1 to 2 inches layer of rabbit manure.
Mix the rabbit manure and bedding material together and wet it down thoroughly. Also note that the worms cannot eat dry, piled-up rabbit manure. Maintain moisture levels so that you can squeeze one to two drops of water out of a handful of bedding. Be sure to keep your rabbits dry when wetting down the beds or they could get sick.
Breedin’, Feedin’, And Eatin’
Rabbits are very fast and heavy breeders. A doe can produce five to six (five being more common) litters a year. An average litter is seven to eight bunnies. Expect 35-40 rabbits per doe per year. Butcher the bunnies at eight weeks old, after that the food-to-meat ratio drops and the meat gets tougher.
Most people feed rabbits commercial pellets as they are convenient and fairly inexpensive to feed. But in tough times you will have to raise your rabbits on forage alone. Remember the rabbit-worm-garden ecosystem I was talking about eariler? The problem is, today’s rabbits have been bred to thrive on a pellet diet. You’ll have to grow or forage a few extras for your rabbits to make up for this - weeds, green twigs cut from safe trees, garden refuse, grains and hay are all good for your herd.
Remember that a diet of rabbit meat alone will cause diarrhea, due to its leanness. Be sure to balance your diet with fresh vegetables, chickens, or other sources of fats and nutrients to avoid “rabbit starvation” (also known as protein poisoning), which can cause death in less than a week. Also eating excessive protein forces your body to use more water than usual, which can lead to dehydration. Make sure you have plenty of water and fats avaliable if you choose to make rabbit one of your survival meats.
Related Post: Butchering Homegrown Rabbits For Meat
What are you going to do when your pmedicinal preps run out, or you come upon a sickness you have not though of? I included the below guide to help you better understand herbs and how to use them. There’s no feeling like knowing how to find and grow your own medicine. This article is only a basic primer, there’s sooo much more that needs to be said but it just cannot be explained online because of size limitations. You need at least two good books on herbal medicines (to compare the two together before proceding). By far the two books I go to most ofen in my medicinal hobby/preparations are Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs and The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook.
Wild Herbs You Can Find
These herbs occur naturally in the wild and are readily avaliable if you know what you’re looking for.
Honeysuckle Honeysuckle makes a great substitute for Elderberry (see below). Honeysuckle can be used as an external wash for boils, infected wounds, swelling, scabies, tumors, and rheumatism. The flowers are traditionally used for bacterial dysentery, urinary disorders, eliminating toxins from the body, colds, fevers, flu, asthma, coughs, chest congestion, and laryngitis. The flowers have components that help to lower blood cholesterol, as well as being anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-tuberculostatic.
How to use it: You can make a tea from the flowers. The berries, however, are toxic. So stay away from those. The leaves are fine as well, however the flowers are much more potent.
Tincture: Fill a mason jar with flowers, cover with brandy. Shake once a day, keeping in a cool, dark place, for around 5-6 weeks. Strain though a cheesecloth or a T-shirt.
Syrup: The same way as the elderberry syrup, only fill the entire jar with flowers.
Red Clover Red Clover relaxes the nerves, and the entire nervous system. Can be used as a sedative. It has also been used quite successfully to fight cancer. It is a marvelous preventative for health problems, and a great wash for sores. It is especially good for whooping cough, and it can be consumed freely. It is also wonderful externally for burns, sore, athlete’s foot, and ulcers. An anti-spasmodic and expectorant, also good for asthma.
How to use it: Tea: made from the blossoms. Place 4-5 blossoms in a cup of hot water. Steep for 20 minutes. Sweeten if desired.
Tincture: Fill a mason jar with only the blossoms (the other parts are not harmful, however, it is the blossoms that are the most potent), cover with vodka. Let sit in cool, dark spot for 4-6 weeks, shaking daily. Strain through cheesecloth or old T-shirt.
Preserve the flowers by drying.
Mullein Mullein grows throughout the Northern tier and Eastern half of the United States. It is a strong, self-sowing biennial. Dr. Christopher states that it is the “only herb known to man that has remarkable narcotic properties without being poisonous or harmful. Great painkiller and nervous soporific, calming and quieting all inflamed and irritated tissues.”
Like most herbs, each part of the Mullein plant has different uses.
- The leaves are used for asthma, allergies, bronchitis, coughs, croup, pulmonary diseases, mild sedative, antihistamine, swelling, pain, and the list goes on.
- The seeds rapidly pass through the intestines and have been used successfully in intestinal obstructions. However, some say that with repeated use they can be toxic. They have a pretty strong narcotic effect as well. They are also used in asthma and infantile convulsions.
- The Flowers are excellent for earaches and ear infections.
How to use it: Poultice from the leaves. Tear a few leaves pretty finely, pour just enough hot water to barely wet. When it cools enough to touch, apply to affected area.
Tea: Put one or two leaves in hot water and allow to steep for around 20 minutes. Remove the leaves, and sweeten if you need to.
Infusion: For the flowers – gather the flowers every day (there will be new buds each day) and place in olive oil. Place in a warm spot, but not to where the sunlight is hitting it directly. What I do is place it either in the sun under a cardboard box, or in my car under a blanket or cardboard box. Shake daily and allow to infuse for about 3-4 weeks. Strain though a cheesecloth or old T-shirt. This is what you use for ear infections. Works like a charm!
Preserve the leaves by allowing to dry. Just KEEP THEM OUT OF SUNLIGHT. I cannot emphasize this enough. It applies to all herbs, but mullein especially. It is very important because the sun creates oxidation, which eventually leeches out all the minerals and nutrients in the herb.
Blackberry Blackberry is well known for stopping gastric bleeding and is known to prevent fluid loss during dysentery. Regular consumption of the berries (can make a tincture) can aid in killing off the free radicals that are linked with the development or heart disease and cancer. Blackberry is an astringent, tonic, alterative, anti-emetic, hemostatic, anti-abortive, parturient (leaves). However, the leaves and roots are useful too. They are great for colds and flu. It is also used for fever, arthritis, gout, pain, and infections.
How to use it: Tea from the leaves and woody part of the bramble is wonderful for diarrhea. Tea from the berries is wonderful for colds and flus.
Leaf Tincture: Fill jar with leaves and roots, cover with either cider vinegar or vodka. Process goes as all other tinctures. Used for fever, arthritis, gout, and diarrhea. Used topically for pain. 1 tsp./hour until fever drops.
Berry Tincture: Same as above, only with berries instead of leaves and roots. Used for colds, flu, and infections.
Plantain can be found virtually anywhere in the United States and every continent except Antarctica. Long-leaf is the most common in the U.S. and is a powerful astringent. Used to heal the bites of mad dogs, staph infection, snake bites and venomous creatures, bee stings, abscesses, boils, congestion in the lungs, the list goes on forever! A mixture of only plantain (external and internal), tea tree oil (external), and clove (internal) has been shown to treat MRSA (antibiotic resistant staph infection) . Can also be used for earaches, and has been said to restore quite decayed hearing when it’s infusion is placed into the ears. It’s also been used as a expectorant, astringent, demulcent, anti-inflammatory, anodyne, styptic, diuretic, the list goes on.
How to use it: Direct Poultice: Chew a few leaves and then rub them on bee stings , spider bites, snake bites, and it can help to draw the poison out. You will be amazed at how quickly this helps with pain! Even those highly allergic to bees have said that if they apply plantain asap, usually there is very minimal swelling, and very little pain.
Infusion: For chest colds and lung congestion, gather a large handful of leaves and pour boiling water them. Let sit at least 30 minutes…the longer the better. Strain the leaves out and drink up. Sweeten if you need to (honey is best). It also helps with lung congestion to make a poultice from the leaves and place on your chest for as long as you can bear to leave it on.
Tincture: Fill an entire mason jar full of the leaves, seeds, roots, and pour vodka until they are completely covered. Let macerate for 5 weeks, shaking the jar once a day. Keeping it out of sunlight in a cool place. Drain liquid out. For just external uses you can do the same thing with olive oil. If you don’t want to use alcohol, you can substitute it for apple cider vinegar.
Elderberry Elderberry is absolutely wonderful for the respiratory system! A powerful immune-booster, if you feel a cold coming on drink elderberry tea and it will knock it out quickly, typically within a few hours. It can be found throughout North America. An infusion made from the berries is an excellent remedy for cold and flu season. An infusion made from the flowers is a wonderful eyewash for conjunctivitis.
- Leaves: emollient, vulnerary (topically), strong purgative, expectorant, diuretic, diaphoretic.
- Flowers: diaphoretic, anti-catarrhal, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory.
- Berries: Diaphoretic, immune-building, laxative, anti-rheumatic.
NOTE: Elderberry can be particularly dangerous to small children. It also contains an alkaloid that is toxic in fruit that is not ripe, so beware of that as well. As with any herbal remedy, reserach it well before use!
How to use it: Syrup: Place around 5 oz. Fresh berries, or 3-4 oz. dried berries in a mason jar, cover with boiling water. Allow to sit over-night. Drain out the liquid, and reheat slightly. Add about ½ c honey. Now you have your infusion. If you have it I add about 15 drops of grapefruit seed extract (GSE). It adds many benefits in aiding your immune system as well as preserving your infusion longer. Adults take 1-2 tablespoons every few hours, children around 2 tsp. Store in your refrigerator. Will last at least a month.
Herbs For Your Garden
Now don’t get me wrong, you can and should grow nearly all the plants on this list, but you will have to grow the ones below as they don’t naturally occur in the wild.
Lobelia is one of those plants that can save your life. Especially if you or your child, or someone you know, has asthma. Many people who have asthma plan to rely on lobelia during TEOTWAWKI. Lobelia can also be balanced by taking it with cayenne. It’s also a great Anti-asthmatic, anti-spasmodic, expectorant, emetic, bronchodilator, nervine (a Stimulant, in small doses, but a Relaxant, in large doses), diaphoretic, diuretic, cathartic, and astringent. The tincture can be rubbed on the body or placed in the mouth to relieve convulsions. Rubbing the tincture on the shoulders of a restless child is wonderful for helping him calm down and go to sleep. It also helps to rub on the gums of a teething baby. Especially good for croup and respiratory ailments such as asthma, croup, infections, boils, sedative, lockjaw, ringworm, hepatitis, and convulsions. It is excellent for convulsions.
How to use it: Tincture: Fill jar with herb, and cover with apple cider vinegar. Lobelia’s components work the absolute best with apple cider vinegar. It is important that you don’t allow it to get too warm, either. The structure of lobelia is lost when it is heated even slightly, so take care. It only needs to macerate for two weeks. Preserve through drying.
NOTE: Be adviswed that Lobelia is poisonous in high doses.
Oregano is used for food preperation, coughs and colds, degenerative arthritis, rheumatism, upset stomach, urinary tract infections, sore throats, infections, fever, vomiting, jaundice, and asthma attacks. It is an antiseptic, antiviral, and anti-microbial. Strong anti-oxidant.
How to use it: Tincture made from the leaves for coughs, rheumatism, bronchitis, asthma, infections, and sore throat.
Tea 3 cups of boiling water over 1 cup fresh leaves (or half cup dried leaves), steep 20 minutes. Take ½ cup three times a day.
Infusion Made with olive oil from the leaves is a powerful antiseptic externally.
Comfrey A powerful allantoin and traditional healer. Comfrey has been shwn to heal bone injuries and is a mucilaginous, vulnerary, demulcent, anti-inflammatory, anti-psoriatic, astringent, expectorant, anti-tumor, cell proliferant, nutritive, and hemostatic. A really amazing healing herb.
How to use it: Poultice made from the leaves applied to cleaned wound. Will heal extremely quickly. Even better if combined with plantain. The plantain removes the toxins, while comfrey heals.
Disclaimer: This list is by no means exhaustive. There are so many herbs that do so many things that I cannot even begin to explain them in full. Remember, when dealing with herbs, you are being your own doctor. I don’t have enough room to tell you everything you need to know about these herbs, so be sure to:
Do the requisite research. Identify the plants with absolute certainty. Label tinctures clearly with ingredients and dates prepared. Use at your own risk!