Category Archives: Survival

A Night in the Igloo

Tent camping in cold weather never seemed very appealing to me, but for a long time I’ve wanted to spend a night in an Igloo.  Thanks to winter storm Jonas, I finally got that opportunity this year.

The 2010 Igloo

The 2010 Igloo

The first time I built an igloo was after the blizzard of 2010.  The snow was powdery and it took several hours of spraying down snow with water and packing it before I got it constructed.  That structure was too small for camping, but Landry and I were able to have a picnic inside.

When the forecast called for a blizzard this year, my boys started talking about building an igloo.  I told them I wouldn’t be doing it unless the snow was wet and packed easily.  But after Jonas dumped two feet of light, powdery snow, I changed my mind and built it anyway.  Igloo 4Like before, it took a lot of water and a lot of work.  This time I made it large enough for three people to spend the night. The end result was a bit odd-shaped; it wasn’t perfectly round like the igloos you see in a story book.

At first the igloo was not very sturdy, but as the week went on we got a few days of warmer weather that caused the snow to soften and then harden again at night.  I also took some opportunities to pack more wet snow onto the structure.  But the end of the week, the igloo was very sturdy.

Igloo 1On Friday night we decided it was time to put it to use.  The nighttime temperature was forecasted to get down to about 15 degrees, so the challenge was going to be staying warm.  Our sleeping bags were cheap ones, not rated for winter weather, so I wasn’t sure they’d keep us warm with each of us in separate bag and not benefiting from each other’s body heat.  So we used blankets instead. I covered the floor of the igloo with a piece of plastic, and then put a piece of egg-crate foam and a blanket on top of that.  Landry, Camden, and I laid on that and used three more heavy blankets on top.  I also draped a folded blanket over the doorway tunnel to help keep the cold air from coming in.  Cullen, our youngest son, wanted to join us, but there wasn’t enough room, and I wasn’t sure if he’d stay still enough to stay under the blankets.

It turned out to be a reasonably comfortable night.  Our body heat warmed up the interior to the point that a few drops of water fell from the ceiling. Igloo 3 A more perfectly shaped ceiling would have caused the water to run down the walls instead of dripping, but it wasn’t enough to cause a problem.  But by the middle of the night the dripping stopped, meaning that the interior temperature had fallen some, but as morning came it started again as it began to warm up.

Igloo 5I’m not sure I’m ready to strike out into the wilderness to go igloo camping, but as long as I’m a short distance from a warm house, I’ll be ready to do it again the next time winter sends us a bunch of snow to work with.

 

Raising Meat Rabbits: One Year Later

Even though I have produced several videos on the topic of raising meat rabbits, somehow I’ve managed to wait an entire year before finally writing my first blog post about them.

Somewhere around the beginning of May 2014, I purchased two meat rabbits, a buck and a doe, from a friend of ours.   We received them just after they had been weaned from their mother at about six weeks of age.   I started them out in a small wooden hutch I got at my local Agway.  A few weeks later when it was time to separate them I built a wooden hutch for the buck and left the doe in the hutch I purchased.  Later on, I built a larger hutch for the doe to give her more space to move around.

The first problem I had was that I didn’t know what breed the rabbits were.  Even after a visit to the rabbit barn of the local fair and doing search on-line, I couldn’t find a rabbit that completely matched.  A few weeks after posting a video on YouTube asking for help identifying the breed, somebody suggested that they were Broken Black New Zealands.   A quick Google search confirmed that this was correct – the photos matched perfectly.

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Our doe had her first little of kits (baby rabbits) near the end of November.  I was a little pessimistic that everything would go well.  For one thing, I had talked to others who had problems with mothers cannibalizing or rejecting their offspring.  I had also read that a person wanting rabbits for reproduction should purchase quality breeding stock, not just some rabbits destined for the auction as mine were.   Yet the doe did remarkably well.   On day 27 after she had been bred, I placed a nest box into the cage, and she immediately went to work preparing it for her kits.  On day 31, five healthy baby rabbits were born.

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Out of that first litter, I kept a doe to increase my production and butchered the other four at 10 weeks.    On January 30th she had a second litter of 13 kits.  One of the kits didn’t thrive and died after about two weeks, but the others did well.  This is in spite of the fact that we had a cold February with many days below freezing and many nights below O degrees Fahrenheit. During the winter the rabbits were kept in 30×30 metal cages located in a non-insulated shed.  I recorded a video showing my set-up.

I’ll be sharing more about my rabbits in the future.  In the meantime, check out the videos and ask any questions you have.