This is a follow up to my blog post from July 4th 2013 where I went over a new conduit quail cage I built using EMT. That page gets a lot of traffic and recently I was asked to cut loose with a bit more details., so here goes…

It all began when I was a little boy playing in the…….. haha, just kidding!
I could not resist. Ok so down to it.
I did not have exact plans. I saw this build on youtube and decided to give it a shot.
Parts List
Default 5

This cage can be divided and used as a breeder pair cage, a grow out cage or a mobile unit. Just add doors and access to water. It is light weight, easy to clean and is designed with egg production and collection in mind. The eggs roll out of the cage and into collection trays.

Step 1

Measure and Mark 6 of the 10′ sticks of EMT 6″ from either end.

This will form the top and bottom frame and the floor.

Step 1b

Slide the bender onto your pipe and line up your mark point with the arrow and place the pipe on the ground

Step 1c

Step on the foot pedal and pull the handle back until it reads 90 degrees.

You will do this to both ends making sure to bend them in the same direction wink . Repeat on all 6 marked sticks of EMT


Step 1d

Measure your bends. It should be just over 11″ from the long tube to the tip of the curved end. To make this 11″ bend your “take up” or amount of pipe needed to make the curve is 5″. You can read about it here if it’s not making sense.

Step 2

Use a connector to attach each pair of tubes together. You should have (3)   8’x23″ frames.

Step 3

Cut a length of EMT to reach from end to end of one of the frames you just made. You can drill a hole through both tubes and use stainless bolts to attach. It will be offset from center as the connector is in the way. This frame will be the cage floor.

Default 15
Default 1

Step 4

Roll out the 1/2″x 1″ x 30″ welded wire from end to end centered. It will sit on the cross pipe and then angle down toward the frame. The 1/2″ slope will allow your eggs to roll out and collect outside the cage.   Since your wire is 30″ wide and your frame is approx. 23″ wide, you will have 3 1/2 ” hanging off each side. Bend the last inch or so up as shown to stop the eggs from rolling off.

Step 5

Decide on the height of your cage and cut 4 pieces of EMT to length. You will attach the legs to the two frames you put together earlier. One at the top of the legs and measure down 24″ and place the other one. See the pic for the location I placed them. The floor panel you made in step 4 will go about 1.5 inches below that allowing just enough room for the eggs to roll out. I just took a quail egg and tested the space.

Step 6

I cut a few pieces of EMT and bolted them from about 1/2 way down the legs angled up to the floor frame. (front and back- both sides). Sorry, I must have deleted the pic, but you can kind of see it here
After this I unrolled the 1″x2″ x24″ wleded wire and atteched it to the inside of the top and bottom (not floor) frames with industrial zip ties. Then I made a top from cattle panel and chicken wire and cut out the doors. I will go into detail on this, the gravity watering system and feeder in another post if anyone is interested. You can get the idea from the pics below though. You can also see the doors I cut. The pics below don’t show the feeder in place but you can just add tray feeders like in the pic for now.
Default 5
Default 6
Default 7
Default 8
Floor with 1×1/2″ wire===
1″x2″ welded wire for cage sides
As we head toward self sufficiency we might just stumble through the forest of government entanglement, shadows and obstacles to find ourselves finally reaching the edge, staring into the field that is freedom. Having lived most of our lives in the shelter of the forest, held back, yes, but also hidden from the burden that is total responsibility for self, is there any doubt that we should at the very least be wary of the field?

Sometimes the grip that is holding a struggling person back is temporarily loosed and all of the sudden the struggle that has become the mission is now gone, and in it’s place is freedom and a new mission of progress. Will you know where to go if the opportunity comes to be free of someone else’s care. Are you willing to risk having nothing for the opportunity to have everything by your own accord. Are we really being held back or are we just using the forest as cover because the field seems so risky?

Is life like permaculture where the “edge” between the government corporate  system and self sufficiency is the safest most fertile place to exist? Can we ease ourselves into freedom by building up self reliance using the fertile nature of the edge much the way a forest encroaches into the field? Sometimes such slow movement doesn’t create a new and different forest though, it just expands the same old system. Sometimes it might be warranted to just break free of the restraints of self doubt and the repression of servitude to a way of life that allows you to be a freeman.

God willing we all live long enough to figure it out, and have fun and many adventures on the way!

 ~ Joe Prepper~


Backyard Pics April 2016

Posted: 17th April 2016 by Joe Prepper in On The Homestead, Orchard, Permaculture
Tags: , ,
I took a few pics around the place today.  Every time I take a walk around the property I see new and exciting things. Here are a few of the things going on around here.

The first thing I noticed was my Raja Puri Banana had bloomed and was forming clusters of fruit! I hope not reducing the number of plants does not limit the fruit size. I went ahead and separated a pup and moved it to another location. I’ll cut back the grove when the fruiting stops. We will see! I guess the mild winter had some advantages after all.

Default 1
Looks like we might get some bananas this year!
Default 5
Speaking of first time fruit, I noticed the scuppernongs were forming grape clusters as well. I was excited to see these little guys since the vines were growing pretty slow to get established.

As I was planting a paw paw tree later that day, I looked over at the chicken yard/rabbit fence and noticed the wild muscadines were trellising nicely and were also setting fruit. I broke out the sheers and thinned things out a bit. I wonder how big they will get and how the fruit will taste? If they are good I will propagate some and plant them on my other trellis in the front yard.

These guys ran up  the fence, over the top to the roof of the rabbit hutches which is 10 feet or so off the ground. They went the other direction up an oak tree as far as the eye could see. I hope by pruning these down I get better fruit.

Higgins variety Scuppernong
Default 8
Wild Muscadines running along the chicken yard fence.
Default 11
Transplanted pup
Default 1
I’ve finally broken the bad fig mojo it seems. My Celeste and brown turkey are doing great. Even the small lemon figs are really taking off this spring. I gave them all good mulch and we have no shortage of rain. One of my goals for this year is to add as many cultivars of southern figs as I can find. you can see my two lemon fig starts in the pictures below.
Default 2
Default 3
Spring is a busy time around here. I still have a few trees from the local plant sale that need to find a final location. Lots more to do…….
Join me today as I talk about one of my favorite homesteading activities, keeping backyard quail. I discuss my venture into keep Japanese Coturnix quail, the Texas A&M variety, and why I think anyone who wants to become more self sufficient by producing their own food should consider keeping the ancient birds.

I  give my opinions on everything from incubation to tasty recipes and everything in between. Have you ever wondered how easy it would be to process your own meat? Well I tell you just how easy it is to raise, butcher and cook quail. If you plan on only using the eggs, well, I’m down with that too.

I answer some need-to-know facts about quail keeping such as
  • What type of feed?
  • how much feed and what are the costs per bird?
  • How do you make cages for baby chicks?
  • What age to quail mature and start laying eggs?
  • What are your feed costs per day for quail?
There is a reason these ancient birds still have a place on the modern homestead. There is also a reason why quail eggs are eaten all over the world from “Kwek Kwek” a street food in the Philippines to your good old standard omelet.

I finish off the podcast giving a few simple southern recipes that are sure to light a fire in your drive to start keep these most awesome, tasty birds.

Default 1
Default 2
Default 3
Default 4
Spring is here and not a moment too soon. Even with the mild winter we had, the longer days and green trees are a welcomed sight. We had a really good peach set this year, so my fingers are crossed for a good harvest.
The Rabbiteye blueberry is covered in berries. I need to thin the bananas in the background since they did not freeze all the way this year…we might get some fruit. It’s good to see the scuppernong vines leafing out. Vines look completely dead to me in winter so it’s always relief to see those first buds breaking.
I worked hard this winter to protect my baby lemon fig. We a notorious here for losing small figs to various catastrophes. This little guy may have a future here…if I can keep the crabgrass at bay long enough for it to get established.
Default 8
Here the Jerusalem artichokes are coming up in a concrete planter. This is the second year for these guys. I stuck a tomato plant in there to see if they would grow together. That little fellow in the lower left is a sad looking Okinawan Spinach cutting.
I will definitely be posting more , but I couldn’t resist taking a few pics while I was out planting trees . I love all the seasons, but with the recent seemingly all day every day rain, it was good to get outside and see the sun.
Yes, it’s time for the annual Plantapolooza plant sale. If you listened in to my adventures last year, you know I am passionate about this once a year event. I get mentally and physically prepared for a chance to get my paws on some hard to find trees and shrubs. Listen in as I discuss some of this years finds and talk about how I prepare my soil with seaweed, kelp and mycorrhiza when I relocate them to the homestead.

Many of the trees I picked up were native like the Black cherry, American Persimmon , pawpaw, crabapple, catalpa tree and sassafras. I got a few semi- tropicals as well like:  Kahili Ginger, Henry’s Garnet and banana shrub.

Yes, I did get a citrus , the Kishu Tangerine.
Wish me luck!
Spring is on the way and we have been busy on the homestead. Join me as I discuss the day to day happenings around here the 1st week of March. Repotting heirloom tomato seedlings, and started more pepper plants and support species like moringa. We added a side line from the new muscadine trellis and planted some raspberries, Loganberries and Boysenberries.

With the good weather, we got some highbush blueberry cuttings started and a early spring fertilizer application on the fruit trees. I cleared and added some Arbequina Olive trees. A small project to create container planters from old plastive olive barrels has me exited to start new seeds for these 25 gallon pots. Join me for this beginning of spring chat as we get ready for daylight savings time and gain an extra hour of daylight to get stuff done!

:Today I talk about the Top 10 things to consider when setting up a homestead. There are so many possibilities and personal needs to think about when designing your property layou that it would take a series of books to discuss them all. Here I settle in on what I think should be the first 10 things everyone could benifit by having in place. .

Join me as I go from discussing home libraries and seed storage to equipment and tool sheds. Where does water storage and composting fall into all this? Well, I’m glad you asked. I have my opinion on that and lots more. Like most of what I discuss, this is meant to get your ole think’in cap warmed up and shift into second gear. You may have a different top 10. Leave your comments below if you do, maybe I can add a few to my list.

For now join in and lets talk about:
  • Food, Seed and Info Storage
  • Tool Sheds
  • Compost Bins
  • Water Storage
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Equipment Shed/Workplace
  • Plant Propagation area
  • Animal Grow Out/ Compost Factory
  • Guard dog/Run
  • Outdoor Cooking and Processing Area

Seed Starting : Winter 2016

Posted: 28th February 2016 by Joe Prepper in On The Homestead, Permaculture
Tags: ,
Default 1
Default 2

       Pepper and Tomato Seedlings          

We started the tomato seedlings in soil plugs this time. I was sceptical at first, but they worked fine. I plan on setting up an actual seed starting area at some point this year, but for now I’ve got some 4 foot shop lights sitting on bricks.You can see my original setup here. I added another 4′ dual t8 light.
Default 6
Default 7
Default 1
Default 2

Growing in nicely!

I trasnplanted the seed pods into  repurposed water bottles. If you can find someone who drinks Fiji water, the bottles are thick plastic and square. I will eventually order some actual pots but can’t pass up  a chance to repurpose. I added new soil to the bottom and then covered the seedling with a few inches.
After soaking some moringa oleifera seeds in seaweed/kelp water overnight, I scarified and placed them on a heating pad to aid germination. I didn’t have much luck last year with direct seed planting. I will post later on thier progress.
Muscadine wine and the southeast go together like potatoes and Idaho. Several generations back pretty much everyone around here grew Scuppernongs (bronze) grapes. When I was growing up many “old timers” still kept them religiously and they were known to provide homemade wine to their neighbors.  This tended to be much more acceptable that shinny or “moonshine”, even in dry counties.
Default 1
The new Muscadine trellis
My great uncle had what he called “tamed Bullace” vines, which just meant he cultivated some wild black grapes and over the years he created a healthy, hardy home vinyard.  When the house was sold, the new residence cut them down and put a dog pen there.

I was exposed enough to this tradition that I kinda have it in my head that old southern ladies grow tomatoes and old southern men grow scuppernongs. That and the fact that I like a lil nip now and then made me search out some vines.
Default 2
Default 3
Simple wrap around connection
Wire through post around bolt
I try and use what I have, but these vines get big and heavy. I would recommend 12.5 gauge galvanized high tensile wire or larger.  You can attach it to your post pretty much anyway you like. I had two post with holes drilled in them at around 5′ and some heave duty bolts and washers from old telephone poles so that’s what I used. They sell this really cool locking anchor on amazon that if I had some I would have used.

The tensioner is a must in my opinion since without one it’s really hard to get thick wire tight enough from the start plus the weight will increase over time and the post may give some. I concrete my post using quickcrete instead of using a guy wire.
I got bare root stock so I soaked them for about an hour in a bucket of warmish water with seaweed/kelp juice (about 1 oz in 4 gallons) while I dug the holes. I planted the first one about 10′ away from the end post and the next one 20′ from there and so on. This alows each vine to grow up to the wire and go 10′ in each direction. I planted both polinators and females on this row
The holes don’t need to be that deep, just enough to cover the roots and an inch or so above. The roots grow long and shallow so when I plant, I train mine out toward the line they are growing. Depending on your soil condition, you might add alittle of this or that. I added a bit of compost to my heavy clay for increase draining and some rock dust to increase diversity of minerals. Thats about it. Water and mulch about two feet out from the plant. Some people leave thier vines alone the first year but I prune mine back to one central leader. I train this main vine up to the wire above using a cut sapling or bamboo stick. More on growing and fertilizing these guys later. I just wanted to do a quick post on the second set of vines. My other vines should be producing decent this year.