The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wakey! Wakey! The Wolf Is At The Door - A Re-Post

Hello, Frank here.

A while back we started experimenting with re-posting some articles that are over a year old. The response has been fairly positive. We try to do one every couple of weeks, and since my wife is having surgery today, this would qualify as the premier day for a re-post. On another note, our blog is less than two years old, and the readership has steadily increased. For that we are truly thankful. So, every now and then we would like to reintroduce some of our older work that you may not have had the opportunity to read. I really hope you enjoy this one.

We'll talk more later. Frank

Originally posted October 23, 2013

Wakey! Wakey! The Wolf Is At The Door

Hello, Frank here.

Let's talk. Since my name is not Fern, then this article is going to have a slightly different slant to it. This is going to sound like a rant, because that's what it is. Rants are not always organized and structured or in a pleasant flow. So, please bear with me.

I read lots of stories, articles or other rants that believe that the collapse that's coming will be similar in nature to the collapse that occurred during the late 1920's. Okay, some of my numbers here are not going to be precise, they are going to be rounded off. Maybe up, or maybe down, but you will get the general idea, if you have the ability to think. So, if I say 70% and it was actually 60% or maybe 80%, then please bear with me. Remember, this is a rant.

Back to the late 1920's. The population of the United States was much smaller than it is today. The majority of the people still lived on a farm, let's say 80%. Therefore, 20% of the people lived in
larger cities. Now remember, people in rural areas did not have electricity in the 1920's or 30's. Most of the people in rural areas raised most of their own food. Summer, winter, spring, fall they ate what came out of the earth. Many, many rural people were what we would call today, dirt poor. My information source here, was my father. He and his brother did not wear shoes for most of the winter and never wore shoes during the summer. So, he is my source of data, along with census data. 

So. Most people lived in the country. Most people raised their own food. Most people didn't have electricity and everything that is associated with electricity. There were significantly fewer people in the United States. And many current authors tell us that we will get through this next depression or collapse or tyrannical government or whatever you want to call it, just like we got through the 1920's collapse.

Now let's look at today. We have a much larger population. That means more mouths to feed. The vast majority of people live in cities or suburbs, which conversely means, that very few people live in rural America, or on  
the farm. Almost everybody has electricity. So, what does this mean? Since the majority of people live in cities, that means that few, if any, raise their own food. Few or none, know how to preserve their own food,and all buy their food at the grocery store. Now those few that live in the country, are not living on a farm. For the benefit of discussion, yes, there are a handful that still live on a farm. But how many of that handful continue to raise all of their own food? Of that small handful, how many know how to preserve their own food? Get the picture here? 

It doesn't matter what type of shutdown, collapse or apocalyptic event is GOING to occur, there is not going to be enough food to feed the
massive numbers of people, not even remotely close. Even in rural areas, extremely rural areas, most people have no idea how to raise, process and store food. And now, throw into the equation, there won't be any electricity. So, all that meat you have stored in the freezer on the top of your refrigerator, sitting beside the popsicles and burritos will turn into stinking mush in about three days. 

Ladies and gentlemen. We are in significant trouble. Let me say that again. We are in a situation that we cannot recover from. I know folks that say
that they are going to go live in the forest and live off the land. Wake-y, Wake-y here fool! I know veteran, hard core, experienced hunters that laugh when they hear people say, and pardon me, unbelievably stupid things like that. There are many, many stories about mostly men, that have gone out into bush Alaska and had something to prove. Somebody normally finds them later. Going and living in the woods and hunting and feeding your family is not going to happen. 

Remember those people in the cities? They're just going to go out and live with somebody in the country. A farmer, right? I hope they like 10,000 acres of soybeans or corn or milo or even wheat. They don't need a farmer, what they need is a gardener and most farmers don't raise gardens because they go to the grocery store and buy it. 

Before the shortages of guns and bullets lots of people thought that the idea of survival was who had the most guns and the most bullets. Some of these people watch way too much television. I know people that have never shot a gun that were buying guns and bullets. Like others write, buying a surf board, does not make you a surfer. Buying a gun does not make you a hunter, or give you the ability to pull the trigger when you need to. These are false delusions of illusions. 

Look at some of the facts presented above about population densities, and food production or preservation. Don't get me wrong. I like guns and I like bullets, but I like shovels, hoes and seeds a whole lot better. I have even known people to buy these cans and five gallon buckets that have these survival seeds packed inside and they
wouldn't no more know how to raise a garden than they would to fly a space shuttle. Can they learn to garden? Yes. Can they learn to fly a space shuttle? I guess so. I know 80 year old women that still wonder why their tomatoes make one year and the next year they don't and they've been gardening for 65 years. I'm not saying that a bucket full of seeds is a bad thing. That reminds me. Where is my seed catalog? But gardening is an art, a skill, not something to be mastered in one year. The person that thinks they are going to raise a garden and produce food for their family in one year, got off the same bus as the guy that is going to go live in the forest and feed his family.

I hurt for those that can't see or feel what is coming. There are signs everywhere, just look around. Our economy is in dismal, dismal shape and I live in a part of the world that is in pretty good shape. Look at society. Look at the stuff you do see on television or read in the news. Society is collapsing. The EBT cards shut down for a few hours. Can you imagine
what society will be like when the EBT cards shut down permanently? Our government leaders. Look at what's happening in state capitals around our country. Look at some of the things that are happening that our parents and grandparents would have never thought possible.  There is a term called 'normalcy bias'. Basically, this means what we learn to accept over time as normal. Our society is in serious, serious trouble. There are things that I cannot say in this blog that when I was a child, people went to jail for, what today is normal. We have perversion crammed down our throats everyday. This is normal. 

Okay. Let's see. Our economy cannot be saved. Okay. Next. Society
can't be saved. Our political arena is unbelievably corrupt and is a massive cesspool. This next statement is only going to be said once, listen carefully. Christianity is under attack worldwide. That means here, in the United Sates, Christianity is under attack also. The future does not look good for it's survival. Pay attention. We are under attack.

Now, let me go back to the first part of this rant. Many writers will tell you that we survived the Great Depression and we will survive the next one too. And these are the people giving you the bad news. Not to mention those that are telling us that everything is okay and that "things are getting better". I borrowed that last line from the Postman. Folks, we are in serious, serious trouble and I really don't know if we are going to survive this. The world is not going to be the same world when this thing happens. Hold your family close. Prepare yourself mentally, physically, spiritually and temporally and with the help of God we will do the best we can.

That's it for now. Maybe we'll talk more later. It's time to wake-y wake-y.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Liberators, by JWR

James Wesley, Rawles, of SurvivalBlog, has out a new novel, Liberators: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse. Today, October 21st, is his book bomb day. It's available at all the usual bookstores. We have read all of Jim's novels in this series and expect this one to be just as exciting and well done. This novel should be as thought provoking, educational and entertaining as his previous books were. Jim Rawles has been instrumental in our preparedness development. If you have the opportunity, please support his site, SurvivalBlog, you will not be let down.

Frank and Fern

P.S. There is an interesting article at Confessions of a Crazed Cattlewoman. It's a good read. Check it out. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

We Interrupt This Blog for my Gallbladder

You have probably noticed that Frank has been writing a few more articles and responding to more of the comments lately. For the past six weeks, I have been suffering with a dead gallbladder which I will finally get rid of on Wednesday. It has been a difficult month and a half.

I know there must be a lot of gallbladder sufferers out there. I have talked to a number of folks that have had theirs removed and one common thread appears to have happened. It took a while for it to be diagnosed if they didn't have obvious stones that could be seen by an ultra sound.

My problems started with an attack of sorts in the middle of the night that was painful enough to start packing a bag for the emergency room. Luckily the pain subsided somewhat and we stayed home. The next week I had an ultra sound that showed no stones. The next week I had an endoscopy where they looked over the upper part of my digestive tract all the way to the duodenum, or beginning of my small intestines, where the bile from the liver is added to aid in the digestion of fats. The only thing that showed up there was gastritis which I think was brought on by the attack.

Yet another week later I had a HIDA scan. This is a two hour long CT scan of sorts that tests the functioning of the gallbladder. The results were that my gallbladder is only functioning at 18% capacity, which means it is basically non-functional, so I'm calling it dead. They also did a CT scan of the rest of my guts which came back negative for other problems. That was good news. After all the scanning and checking I finally made it to the surgeon's office. I couldn't talk him into doing the surgery today, so Wednesday is the day. After suffering with pain, which is sometimes rather intense, and nausea which has greatly affected my appetite, I cannot wait to have this outpatient surgery.

And yet.....hospitals are not where we want to be right now. Between Enterovirus D68 and Ebola, hospitals are not where we want to be at all. It was interesting to note that the facility where I went to do my pre-surgery lab work was strangely deserted today. The last time we were there a few years ago the place was packed. Today there were few people. We also called another doctor's office to schedule a routine check up. The normal wait time to see this doctor is a couple of months. This time our appointment is in a few weeks. Both of these odd occurrences make us wonder. Is it ObamaCare, Ebola or the economy? Why are there so many fewer patients?

I am truly grateful that I am still able to receive medical attention and have my gallbladder removed. I have gotten sicker and weaker with each passing week since that attack. If a collapse had occurred and I just had to live with this, I don't think I would last very long. I guess that's the way it used to be in the old days. I'm just glad it isn't that way now. We hope to be back up to speed next week. In the meantime, pay attention. There are many indicators that the fragile stability of our society is wobbling ever greater. And like a big, old fashioned, wooden top, one day it will fall over and gradually spin to a halt. Be ready.

Until next time - Fern

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Simple Apple Cake

We don't make or eat a lot of sweets. Frank the carnivore, is more of a enchilada or potato chip kind of guy. When I need something sweet to take somewhere, Apple Cake is an easy recipe that is always a hit. One of the things that makes it quick and easy for me is the dehydrated apples I use. It will take a little longer if you choose to peel and chop fresh apples. One day, I hope to be able to use some of our own canned apples in this recipe. That would be really good also. This recipe is one of those keepers that has resided in my recipe box for years.

Since I am using dehydrated apples, the first thing I do is soak them in hot water, and start the oven preheating to 350 degrees.

While that is in the works, I mix up the remaining ingredients. When making sweets I always start with the eggs, sugar and whatever fat the recipe calls for, whether it is butter, oil or shortening. In this case, the recipe calls for:
2 eggs
3/4 c. oil (I use olive oil)
2 c. sugar (The original recipe recommends putting the sugar over the chopped apples and letting them sit while mixing up the rest of the batter. Since I have the dehydrated apples soaking at this point, I just add the sugar to the batter.)

I like to let these three ingredients mix for a few minutes until the mixture of eggs and sugar start to fluff up a bit. Then I start adding the rest of the ingredients, with the apples and nuts being the last things I add.
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans.)
2 cups flour
4 cups thin sliced or chopped apples (if using dehydrated, drain before adding)

When you add the flour the batter will be very thick. Add the apples last. Mix long enough to get them coated well. The first time I did this I didn't think there was enough batter. It seems to barely coat the apples, but it comes out scrumptious, so don't worry about that.

That's it for the cake. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. The time frame is a rough estimate. Adjust it for your climate, altitude and
oven. A toothpick should come out clean when it is finished. A few things I have learned about this cake. Similar to banana bread, it is a very heavy cake. I tried to bake one of these in a bundt pan one time to take over to someone's house. I ran out of time and the middle never did get quite done. It works better in a standard 9 x 13 pan where the batter is not very thick, about 1 1/2" when you pour it in before baking. Otherwise, you will need to adjust your cooking times and make sure a toothpick comes out clean, so the center won't still be gooey. 

When the cake is almost done, cook your icing. This is the only icing I make like this. It calls for coconut, which is one of the few items I buy that doesn't fall into the basic foodstuffs category. And this is the only recipe I use it in. The original icing recipe calls for smaller amounts of each ingredient. I like a little more icing so it will soak down into the cake. That is part of the yum factor for me.

Start off by melting 6 tbsp. butter with 1/2 c. milk. To that add 3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar.

Let this cook for a bit until it starts to thicken up a little, then add 1 c. coconut and 1 cup of nuts, I use pecans for this also. Cook this for a few minutes until the nuts and coconut are coated, with some liquid left in the bottom of the pan when you stir it.


All of my measurements for the icing are approximate. If there isn't enough liquid (butter, sugar and milk) left in the bottom of the pan after coating the nuts and coconut, I add a little more milk. This is what soaks into the cake. I have this hot and ready when the cake comes out of the oven.

As soon as the cake is done, pour the hot icing on top making sure to distribute the liquid around on the cake to soak in. Spread out the coconut and nuts evenly across the surface. There you have it.

This cake is okay warm, but we prefer it at room temperature after a few hours or over night. Anywhere you take this cake, it will be a hit. I don't remember where I ran across the original recipe. I know I have adjusted the cinnamon and nutmeg ratio to make it a little stronger to suit our tastes, so feel free to play with some of the ingredients until you get it just right for you and yours.

Today I made two cakes and put them in disposable foil pans to take to a local benefit. I have also made them in small 8 x 8 foil pans and frozen them to have on hand, just in case. It's that time of year when we start to think of the holidays and making good memories for our families and friends. In this time of changes in our world and society, it's good to be able to take some simple ingredients and make something that is comforting to those around us. Be careful, safe and healthy out there. 

Until next time - Fern

Friday, October 17, 2014

Grid Down Laundry

Hello Everyone, Frank here.

We were recently visited by some old friends, and yes, we've known them for a long time, and they are getting older. So, I guess that truly does make them old friends. We were looking at some pictures of their new piece of property, and noticed that they had an interesting set up for doing laundry.

They were using the old rectangular galvanized washtubs. Two of them, with a hand crank wringer in between the two. When I asked about how it performed, they told us it works great. We've thought about and talked about many ways to do laundry over the years, and we have a pretty good stash of round galvanized washtubs. We plan on using regular household toilet plungers to facilitate the agitating. But, again, we've known these people for a long time, so we started doing a little research. 

We found numerous websites with hand crank wringers, but they were all the exact same wringer. The prices varied by $30.00 to $40.00, and guess the average was about $155.00. I was hoping for a little bit more selection. When looking for hand clothes wringers, we also ran across some sites that had complete kits, which included the rectangular washtubs, wringers, stands to set the washtubs on, and in one case even a stand for the wringer to attach to. All this is great, and it's doable. Then I got the idea, how about a double sink utility basin? Lowe's has a couple of them that they show. Most of them are a plastic type product, and one they show as a rigid composite. But, remember, these are online, and I'm not sure if attaching a wringer to the vertical partition between the two sinks would be strong enough.

Then I got this shebam idea! How about stainless steel restaurant type sinks? Better get ready for a price shock. Then I thought, you know, besides doing laundry, we could use this for butchering chickens, not the butchering part, but the clean up part; cleaning up garden vegetables; on the rare occasion, processing fish. So, it could be used for other things besides just laundry. Stainless steel is expensive. I didn't mention above, but all of these ideas about doing laundry will be outside and on the porch. I would feel comfortable attaching a hand wringer to the stainless steel sinks. 

 But then I could just get two single plastic utility sinks and put a homemade stand with the wringer on top of it, between the two sinks. That's not a bad idea.

So, here is where I need your help. I recently did a post about a propane cookstove that the ignitor uses a 9volt battery. After I did the post, a couple of folks sent comments about other brands that also have battery ignitors. By looking at the websites, they have more features than what my cookstove has, and appears to be a higher quality. But at the time, I didn't know they existed. Same thing happened with washing machines. I couldn't find one without all of the monitoring sensors. Well, after that post, I received comments from folks about Speed Queen washing machines, which are manufactured without all of the sensors. 

So, I'm going to try something different this time. For those of you out there that are either doing laundry by hand, or know someone that is doing laundry by hand, could you provide me with some information about what type of system they use? This is one of those times that I don't want to reinvent the wheel again. Now, I'm not interested in using a paddle to beat my clothes on the side of the stream on a rock. I used to watch the ladies overseas do that. All the women would meet at the same time everyday, some of them with babies strapped on their back or their front. They would bring their laundry down to the stream. That was an interesting trip.

If you can help me, share some information about how folks in real world America wash their clothes in an off grid situation. Your help would be deeply appreciated.

We'll talk more later. Frank

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why Did We Sell That Goat?

Ivory has now been renamed Abby by her new owners.
We sold a goat today. A goat in milk that is a trained, experienced milker. Two years old, good mom, has had two sets of healthy twins, good udder, easy to milk, responds well to our routine. So why did we sell her? It wasn't because we have too many goats. It was because her lungs and vocal cords get a good workout everyday any time she sees us. This goat yells. Some goats talk normal goat talk and that is good. Not this one. I don't think she has any volume besides an irritating, yelling, screaming, demanding bellow. I'm not sure of any other way to describe it.

But, the good news is we sold her to some old friends of ours that we haven't seen in years that are both deaf. Just kidding. Just wanted to see if you're paying attention. They're not deaf, but they did buy the goat. They had a tragic accident at their farm a while back. Their barn burned down, and all of their goats perished. So, they needed a milk goat, we had planned on selling her anyway, they knew the circumstances as to why we were selling her, they were okay with these conditions, so it was a good fit for both of us. And we had a great visit to boot.

Copper is still in milk, barely.
One Stripe

Now we have two adult does, both pregnant. One is in milk, but she is drying up, and the other one is not in milk. What this boils down to, is in a couple of weeks our source of fresh milk will dry up, literally. Somewhere around February 10th we will be back in fresh milk again.

Where will we get milk? For years we drank powdered milk, and it's okay, you can live on it. Other times we had neighbors that were milking a cow and had an abundance. But that source has since dried up also. We have tried freezing milk, which we still do, but it's only for emergency purposes, we just don't care much for the taste of thawed milk. We did try something this year with our frozen milk. This time we skimmed the cream off before we froze it, so we will give it a try again. But, if I were a betting man, I would bet our milk is going to be coming from the grocery store.

It's really nice to live in a country where I can go to the grocery store and have a choice of skim milk, 1%, 2% or what they call whole milk, that, of course, has been homoginized and pasturized. Seriously, it is nice to be able to buy just about any food item we want or need. As most of you are aware, this situation will someday change. Let's take advantage of the good times we have. We often write about the failures of our garden, because now we can afford to fail. But that may not be the case tomorrow, six months from now or six years from now.

Cricket & Lady Bug will miss their mom that left today.

Back to the goats and the milk. We have two adult does that will be giving us babies, which means we will start having fresh milk again. We have three young does that we will breed November 1st which will give us babies around April. Then we will be flowing in milk. We will have to train the three young ones to milk, and then make the decision who stays and who goes. If things go according to schedule, we will have about 8 to 10 babies. We will evaluate how the new mothers are doing, but will only keep four milkers at the most. This means we will sell one new trained milker, and we will probably have three to four young females to sell. All of the boys, except for the billy, will become next year's meat supply.

Penny is our third young doe.

So that is where we are on the goats right now. We are going to have a dry period with no fresh milk. Now that it is cooled down we need to butcher last year's wethers. And the cycle continues. The goats we keep fit into our scheme of things. The goats we sell, hopefully can benefit some family needing milk. This is what we do. I hope you find this interesting, and I hope you're preparing for what's coming.

We'll talk more later. Frank

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Nutrition of Okra & Other Lore

Okra is truly a southern vegetable. Not many people we have met from the north or in Alaska, have eaten okra. Some had not heard of it, and most didn't even know what it looks like. There are a variety of ways to fix okra. Some like it in gumbo, which we have not had, some like it fried and some like it pickled. Then there is okra and tomatoes, which Frank has eaten back in one of his last lives. Okra is a heat loving plant. It doesn't do well in cool, cloudy weather. Until it gets hot and sunny, okra doesn't grow well here in Zone 7. Historically speaking, more food is fried in the south than in the north, and fresh fried okra is one of our favorite summertime meals. We fry our okra in olive oil, which is the only type of oil we use.

One of the easiest ways to preserve okra is to freeze it. We like to wash, slice and coat it with cornmeal, fill up a quart size freezer bag and it's good to go. We have also canned okra for frying before. There are a lot of different opinions out there about the safest way to can okra so it is still good to fry. You will have to decide about that for yourself. But, as always, follow tested, recommended procedures.

By the way, our experiment with cutting back the okra plants when they get too tall to reach is going very well. The plants have bushed out at the bottom with numerous side branches. These lower branches are really starting to produce quite well, so I feel like we are getting a second harvest in the fall. It's very interesting, especially since it has been so successful. I put another three quarts of sliced okra in the freezer today.

The nutritional information I am going to provide is for raw okra. If you go to the website, you can search for okra and find the nutritional values for boiled but not fried. The nutrients included in 1 cup of raw okra are:

  • calories 31
  • carbohydrates 7.0g
  • protein 2.9g
  • vitamin A, C, K
  • niacin
  • folate
  • choline
  • calcium 
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • phosphorus
  • phytosterols
  • omega-6 fatty acids

I find it interesting to see how many vegetables contain vitamins A, C, & K; along with a fair amount of calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. When I finish this nutritional series, it will be interesting to see what combination of vegetables provide a fairly balanced daily vitamin and/or mineral source.

We have all grown up knowing that our vegetables are 'good for us'. How many times did we hear that as kids? Now that we are growing some of our own food, it means more to us to know what we are getting out of what we grow. Add that to growing open pollinated or heirloom varieties, without chemical additives and the nutritional content of each plant increases. How much, I don't know, but I know the dirt our vegetables grow in are full of worms, organic matter, wood ashes and barnyard. That in itself doesn't sound very appetizing, but the food it produces sure is. There was a very good casserole at our Sunday luncheon at church last month that had okra, squash, potatoes and onions in it. I'm not sure exactly how they cooked it or seasoned it, but I will find out and let you know, because it was very good. What is your favorite okra story? Please share with us in the comments below.

Until next time - Fern