The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Friday, November 21, 2014

These Dark, Somber Days

Hi Folks. There are so many things happening in our country and the world, that we are not finding anything inspiring to write about today. 

It seems that the country is holding it's breath to see how the outcome of the Ferguson grand jury will turn out. There are many, many people that don't feel the outcome will be good, regardless of the jury's decision. My heart really goes out to the people that live in that area. We can't imagine how difficult it is to wait and see if chaos will break out in their neighborhoods.



Then there is the new round of executive orders our Tyrant in Chief signed. I don't know what kind of shape we will be in by the time he leaves office.


Next, comes the lack of reporting on Ebola and the suspicion that any real information concerning this disease is being suppressed. I really don't feel we have any real idea about the spread, or lack thereof, of this highly contagious illness.

So, the next distraction to be splattered on the headlines while we wait to see if protests and rioting will occur, is how fragile our electrical grid is. It can be taken down anytime by hackers from anywhere in the world, which will bring on TEOTWAWKI.....at least here in our country. Then what? How will our not so friendly neighbors around the world react if that happens? Especially if they are the ones that cause the grid to go down.

Fear. It appears that everywhere we turn, we are supposed to be afraid. Fear is a very good control mechanism. If Group A can cause enough fear in Group B, then offer a solution or protection
from the reason for the fear, then Group B will accept whatever conditions come with the protection. Sound familiar? Can we say Patriot Act and NDAA? Don't worry about the new, latest and greatest crisis Group B, we'll save you! But, there is a cost, you know. You will have to pay the piper. You can't afford it? Well, that's okay, we'll let you work it off by paying for all of the other schmucks that won't, and have never worked, and didn't have to, because they've always played the game right. Unlike you. But, don't worry, be happy. We are here to save the day.

Why is it that a relatively small group of people with loud voices and demanding, aggressive personalities can control the rest? Why is it that small groups of demanding people can force others to accept their ways of life? Why is it that regular, old folks cannot speak their minds and have everyday conversations expressing their views? Why is it that the masses allow themselves to be manipulated and controlled by such a small group? It brings to mind the Holocaust.

Are we the only ones that feels this way? Do you feel this way? Do you feel that we're heading down the path to light, or to darkness? A good while back Frank felt that something had been loosed in our world.
It just feels like something is not right, and it appears to be getting stronger. Frank and I are both religious, spiritual people, but we don't like to blame every negative that occurs on a lack of Christ type of scenario. But, it sure does appear that is what is happening. Everywhere we turn, there is bad or evil. Lying at the highest levels has become common, even when it's so easy to prove that they are lying. When we were children, we were taught that lying was one of the Big 10, that you don't break. The Ten Commandments, that is. And now days, it seems to mean nothing. Billy Graham even recently said we are educating our children in a culture of evil (paraphrased).

We feel sorry for the poor folks in and around Ferguson, Missouri. We hope this turns out relatively peaceful. But there seem to be bad folks at all levels, that are doing everything they can, to insure there is some form
of crisis. Remember, never let a good crisis go to waste. This one just doesn't feel right. We're sure we'll find out soon enough. But, remember, there are a lot of good folks out there, too. We don't think we'll be seeing or hearing much from them in the next few days, because what we see and what we hear is not impartial any longer. It's just a prettified version of eloquent lies coming from talking heads. We're scared, and we don't think we're the only people that are. We're going down a deep, dark path into a forest where sunlight seldom reaches the ground. Whatever has been loosed is about to devour it's prey. Slowly at first, but it's here.

So, Folks, we don't have any inspiring words today. We're frustrated and angry. We're afraid. We know that there are many good things in this world, and it will continue to be so. It's just that today, these dark, somber days are heavy and foreboding. Be vigilant. Please pray for the folks in Ferguson.

May God bless us all.

Frank & Fern
 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Making Graham Crackers & Pie

After I figured out how to make Chevre - soft goat cheese - I made a cheesecake out of it. I knew that Frank likes a graham cracker crust, and we don't buy graham crackers or pre-made pie crusts. So, I made some.

How do you make graham crackers so you can crush them up and make pie crust? I didn't find any recipes in any of my cookbooks, so off to the internet I went. Isn't it wonderful to have so much information right at your finger tips? I found a recipe that had ingredients that I was willing to use and had on hand. There are many recipes that I just won't use because I don't buy special items that aren't part of my staples. If I can't make it with some pretty basic ingredients, it either doesn't get made or gets revamped to fit my tastes.

The crackers are pretty simple to make. Mix:
1 cup white flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
5 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
(I used 2 tbsp. sugar)

Cut in: 3 tbsp. butter and 1/4 cup shortening until it is fine and crumbly.
Mix in: 2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. molasses
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
(We have great local honey that is very dark and strong, so I used 3 tbsp. of it and no molasses.)
Form dough into a ball, cover and chill for 2 to 3 hours.

 

Take the dough out of the frig, divide it in half and let it sit for 15 minutes. Well, about this time, I had to do a few other things so the dough sat out longer than this. I think in the long run, it would have worked better if I had stuck to the 15 minute time frame.

 

Coat wax paper with flour to prevent sticking. Roll out the dough to a 7 by 15 rectangle. This dough is fairly moist. A good coating of flour is needed to keep it from sticking to the waxed paper. The first few kind of wrinkled up instead of letting me slide the spatula underneath them. I ended up turning the spatula over to release each cracker instead of sliding them off of it. Next time, I will add a little more flour so the dough won't be so sticky.

 






Poke holes with a fork in 1/2 to 1 inch intervals, then cut into 2 1/2 inch squares. The directions say it doesn't matter if the cracker edges are touching because the edges will brown up first anyway. Use a spatula to move the crackers to an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. That's it. They are very simple.




 





 


Just as I was rolling out the second half of the dough, Frank had an idea. You see, I made these crackers just so I could make a graham cracker crust for a Winter Squash Pie, per Frank's request. To fill that request I needed to make graham crackers and cook our small harvest of Cushaw winter squash for the filling. But, instead of cutting up the second half of the dough and making crackers, we just used it as a pie crust. Since there is more liquid/moisture in the cracker dough than a standard pie crust, I baked the crust for 10 minutes before I put in the filling. Since the cracker recipe has baking powder, it did puff up a bit while it was baking, but for the most part, it did fine.

 


 
While the crust was baking, I started peeling, seeding and cutting up the squash. Frank got out our small stock pot, I added water and started adding squash. After I peeled most of one squash, I had another idea. Since I had the oven going, I thought I could bake the squash and spoon it out of the shell, instead of peeling, cutting and boiling. So, I changed the process in mid stream, and was glad I did. Baking the squash and scooping out the meat with a spoon is much easier than peeling it beforehand. The thing I would do different next year, is cover the squash with foil while it bakes. It dried out a little more than I liked this time. After I had enough squash baked and scooped, I mixed up the pie and got it in the oven.
 

I realized when the pie was just about done that the crackers take 15 minutes to bake and the pie takes 60 minutes. The crust around the edge of the pie plate was a little browner than I would like for it to be, so I could have covered with a little strip of foil. I just didn't think of it during the baking time.


I ended up with enough squash for four pies this year, so we will have to ration them out over the year until the next crop is producing. I saved the seeds out of the largest squash, it will be interesting to see if they are viable.

 
 

The crust turned out fine, it tasted good, but it really wasn't very noticeable since the flavors of the pie and crust were very similar. It didn't have the contrasting flavors a cheesecake and graham cracker crust do. Good, but not noteworthy. So, next time, I'll go back to a standard pie crust for this pie.
 
One of the reasons I really like cooking from scratch is that I can control the content of our food so much more than if I let someone else make it for us. Don't get me wrong, there are so many conveniences that I truly enjoy and would hate to be without. Take air conditioning for instance. It is not unusual in the summer for Frank to hear, "I really love air conditioning!" when we come in from a chore that leaves us hot and soaked with sweat. But knowing how to find information, about anything you are trying to do for yourself, is such an important skill. If you have the gumption to try, and the ability to find the information you need and put it to use, you can do just about anything. And if at first you don't succeed.......(what is the old saying?).......try, try again. Just ask Frank how many loaves of heavy, flat bread he had to endure before I finally started making some pretty good bread. Well, on the other hand, maybe you shouldn't ask him.......

Until next time, Fern

Monday, November 17, 2014

Frank the Chimney Sweep

As the cold winter weather approached last week, it was time to prepare the house for using the wood stove. One of the things we do each season is clean the ceiling fans and reverse the direction of airflow, we do this twice a year. They blow down in the summer, helping to keep us cool, and up in the winter, circulating the warmer air down from the ceiling. That was a quick, easy chore.

 
Next, checking out the stove pipe to make sure it was clear of debris. Upon inspection, we found it needed to be cleaned. A few weeks back, Patrice Lewis from Rural Revolution, did a post about how they clean their chimney. Instead of climbing up on the roof, they did the cleaning from inside the house, and kept it clean at the same time. For me, this was one of those light bulb moments. Great idea!

To clean our chimney, we first removed the two pieces of stove pipe between the stove and ceiling section. We took these outside and used the chimney brush to clean them there. In the process of cleaning this stove pipe and the place they connect to the stove, we discovered a coupling piece that needed to be replaced. In fact, Frank found some of it still stuck in the stove and the rest of it stuck in the stove pipe. 


The replacement piece would have to wait a day for a trip into town, 25 miles away. In the meantime we finished cleaning the stove pipe using the same technique Patrice and Don Lewis used.
 
 

We made a small hole in the side of a heavy duty trash bag, placed the bristle in the stove pipe and the handle through the hole in the bag. I held the trash bag up against the ceiling stove pipe, to catch the soot while Frank did the scrub-a-dub-dub routine.

The next day we replaced the needed coupling piece. But there was no coupling piece, so a similar piece was bought, and with the trusty battery powered grinder, Frank made the needed modifications. Then we fired up the stove. It is a beautiful, comforting addition to our home. 

Using a wood stove for heat teaches us a lot about how much effort and attention it takes to provide safe, adequate heating for our home. Sure, it is pretty to look at, but it is also a chore that needs to be tended on a regular basis. Is it easier to push a button on the wall and have the electric heat come on? Absolutely! But what if it didn't? This is another chore that we choose to perform in the interest of self-education. There are days that we choose not to burn a fire because of other demands on our time, or we might be leaving the house for the day, or because of our aches and pains, or because we just don't want to mess with it. But the time will come when it will be a daily chore in the winter, like it or not. At least that is what we expect, we just don't see any way around it. And until that time, we choose to learn. Everyday.

Until next time - Fern
 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

So You're Prepared....Really?? A Re-Post

Here is another older post that was written about a year ago. Frank and I have been re-posting some of these older pieces that were originally published when our readership was much smaller. It's odd sometimes to go back and read what you have written. There are times it seems like the words were written by someone else, someone familiar, but not quite me. This is one of those pieces. I am grateful for the inspiration we are given, to guide us what we are to share. I hope this article will give you something to think about.

Until next time - Fern


Originally published January 1, 2014

So You're Prepared.....Really??

It's one thing to buy a couple of extra cans or cases of green beans or bullets. It's another thing to prepare for a crisis or disaster. It's another thing to know that something bad this way comes and try to get a mind set to deal with it. It's another thing to have a garden and learn how to grow and preserve your own food. It's a whole different situation to live in a manner that will allow you to survive and hopefully thrive regardless of the machinations of the world about you.


So, you're a prepper. You have your bandaids, green beans and bullets. You have your ramming vehicle. You have the camo paint to put on your face so you can be invisible to incoming bad guys. You read all the right things, know the lingo and can comment with the best of them. You can talk the talk.




My question is: Do you walk the walk? If you truly believe that major changes are coming into the lives of each and everyone of us, what are you doing on an every day basis to be able to live with that change? Happy New Year! Time is wasting and the changes that are coming may be here sooner than you think.




We recently had an ice storm. We didn't leave the house for five days. When I went back to work the vast majority of the people I work with talked
about how hard it was to be 'trapped' at home. They couldn't stand it. They just HAD TO GO SOMEWHERE! Anywhere. And see somebody, anybody, even if it was a stranger. Some of them went to the big box store just to have somewhere to go. We don't understand. Why does everyone have to go just to be going even if there is really no where to go to or nothing to do when you get there? What are all of these people going to do when they cannot ever go again? Will they go crazy? Are you one of these people?

If you think you have read enough and stocked up enough to be fine when the SHTF that's great. But do you have enough experience and hands on knowledge to put it to effective use when the time comes? Because the time is coming, and if you aren't truly prepared with proven skills you will need, then it will be too late. 

There is no way we can learn, master and do everything. It is humanly impossible. That is why man was not intended to live alone. But, guess what? If you are not able to survive, and you don't have any necessary
skills and/or knowledge, you will be of no use to anyone. In fact, you will be a burden to be discarded or run off, because you will be just another useless mouth to feed. Sound harsh? How will you feel if there are people that expect you to take care of them? Not only provide for their necessities, but for their wants as well in a collapse scenario? How would it feel to listen to them whine about being hungry, dirty, tired or bored when it is all you can do to hold it together mentally and physically? How long would you allow that person to remain in your presence eating up precious food that could be used to feed someone that was productive, instead of destructive, in a life and death situation? Not long, I think. Are you ready for that?

So. Are you really prepared? Do some serious soul searching. It's one thing to join a 'fad' that sounds really cool and gets attention from your
friends. It's a whole different life style to really live in such a manner that you are as self-reliant as possible. For example. We have yet to have our cheddar cheese turn out the same way twice. Most of them still have a little of that strong after taste. Edible, but not totally delicious. We have made about 25 wheels over two years. Experience makes the difference and we are still working at it.

Another example. Gardening. Some years things make and some years they don't. This year we had a lot of aphids. Last year we didn't. There is always something to deal with that takes knowledge and experience. This past summer as we evaluated our garden, there seemed to be a lot of food out there. But as we really looked at it and tried to picture surviving on it alone, we knew we would be starving. That is a real reality check. It's one thing to think we know and can do what is necessary, but do we really know enough? I seriously doubt it. This evaluation comes after 25 years of the same survival mindset. There are so many things that take time and trial and error to really learn and understand. 

One more example. One of our top producing does just had her kids early and they all died. I never would have thought she would have any difficulty. She has been here since she was five months old, and has had five sets of strong healthy kids. Why? We only have a few theories, nothing conclusive. What if that was the meat we were depending on for the coming year? Would we be able to make it? Would we be able to find an alternate source of meat? Maybe. Maybe not.

There are always going to be things thrown in your path that you did not expect and may not have the knowledge or skills to deal with effectively.
Waiting to really learn and do many of the things that will be necessary in a survival situation, when the time comes, will be way too late. It is not enough to 'play' at being a prepper. It is not enough to say, "I have my food storage." Do you eat it? Do you rotate it? Is it food that your body is accustomed to, or when the time comes that you have to eat it because it is all you have, will it make you sick because you're not used to it? And if it does, do you know how to treat and counter that sickness without outside medical attention or running down to the store for some anti-diarrhea medicine?

In our day and age of movies, television, video games and a plethora of electronic fictional media, we come to accept and expect the outlandish, fantasy games, stories, and situational excerpts as 'normal'. This is where the good guy always wins, or the 20 people you shoot and kill in the
game get up and show up in the next game. All that blood wasn't real. The problem of the day in the 30 minute sitcom gets solved in under 15 minutes, subtracting time for all of those realistic morphed commercials. Then you can always go to the store to get out of the house and be with all of those strangers you love and buy more chemicalized dead food to eat that is killing you and yours. How in the world will people that live these lives be able to deal with, let alone survive in a collapse situation? I fear for them. Greatly. Man has become too distracted by the world. People fill their lives with meaningless activities; going here, going there, always busy doing something. The person that is always busy is the modern way to be. Staying home is something to be loathed and looked down upon. You mean you didn't go....see....do.....get.....show off......???? How could you? The distractions of the world are there for a reason, to hypnotize and trap you into doing things that don't and will never matter. We all have them; those distractions we waste our time on.

The self-reliant life is not a thing you do, it is who you are. It is your life. That doesn't mean the comforts and amazing luxuries of the world are not utilized and appreciated. I love air conditioning in the summer here when
it is 100 degrees and the humidity is 90%. I have long prayed if we were to lose electricity forever that it would happen in the winter so our bodies will have a chance to adjust to the heat gradually instead of suddenly. But I doubt I will get to choose when that moment arrives. And arrive it will, either from a continued long, slow decline or with a bang. One way or another, we all know there are major, life-altering changes headed our way. Even if you only know it on a gut level, if you are here, reading this, you know it's coming. So, what are you doing about it?


We have entered a New Year, 2014. There are many times that we didn't think we would still be sitting here, fat and happy, enjoying the internet and talking with you by now. We are truly grateful we are. I challenge you to sit down and pray about your situation. Seek the guidance of the Lord on what your real priorities should be. Then listen. Really take the time to listen and ponder. We have no doubt the only reason we have started and continue this blog is because, for some strange reason, God wants us to. There is someone, somewhere, that He wants to read or see something that will help them be more prepared in some form or fashion. So here we are. God is calling you and giving you this precious time. We pray you take full advantage of it. The time is short.

Until next time - Fern