The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Open Thread

We found an open thread format over on Western Rifle Shooters Association that generates some interesting conversations and thought we would give it a try here.

Topics of discussion are yours to determine. Remember, keep it respectable. Avoid personal data, location, etc. All comments will be moderated before publishing. After all these years, we have only blocked two or three comments.


Disagreements are fine as long as they create a constructive dialogue and free sharing of thoughts. It's something that appears to be repressed more and more these days - free sharing of thoughts. Let's see what we can do to encourage instead of suppress them.





What's on your mind?
What are you working on?
What's sticking in your craw about the doings in our country, locally and nationally? You know, like these people.







Topics might include different garden varieties, cooking techniques, recipes, your favorite radio - any type, guns of all makes, how is your health, surviving the collapse, politics, the economy, employment or unemployment, weather, climate, race relations, being politically correct (maybe I should stop here), or anything else that comes to mind.

 
We look forward to hearing from you and entertaining some lively conversations.

Frank & Fern

Friday, May 10, 2019

Frank's Cinnamon Toast

Frank needed a little something different to eat. Something that just tasted different, but was still part of our low carbohydrate way of living. After some pondering and discussion, we came up with this.

A normal batch of our sourdough bread dough with about twice the honey and two tablespoons of cinnamon. I made the dough extra stiff with a drier consistency than I do for the buns.


After letting the dough ferment all day, I divided it in half and pressed each half into a large cookie sheet, kind of like making pizza. I discovered it needed very little olive oil on the pan, much less that making buns since I am not turning and coating the dough.


Frank likes his toast thin, somewhat well done, and crunchy. We've experimented for a while and this is the finished product.

One baked, one not

I brush on a thin coating of olive oil when it is done.



Recently we discovered that some chevre cheese with strawberries, blueberries, some of the berry juice, non-iodized salt and a little honey, makes a great topping for this toast. Frank will eat it with the cheese on it, he likes it, but he still prefers his toast plain. You see, when we have a snack, it's normally bread. Sometimes regular buns, sliced made into toast in a skillet. Good bread makes a good snack and this cinnamon toast provides us with a different variation.


Gotta have treats in life sometimes, even when storms are on the horizon. Stay alert, vigilant and strong. The winds of change are among us.

Until next time,  Fern


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Plan Three Times, Measure Twice, Cut Once

Hello Everybody, Frank here

I received an interesting email from the Frank & Fern site and I wanted to share it with you. This man is giving thought to relocating and has some good questions. I hope you will enjoy reading his questions and I hope you enjoy reading the response that I gave to his good questions. This is just the way that I saw it and the way that I still see it. You see, I love watching the movies Jeremiah Johnson and Never Cry Wolf. Yes, I have read both of the books associated with them, and they are very good books, which I would also recommend. Both of those stories influenced my wanting to go to Alaska, and explore and live that type of life style.

Well, Fern and I have been lucky. You see, I got to live a dream and I am still living a dream. Now, I'm not what you call a dreamer. These dreams have come from lots of study, research and hard work. I hope you get to live your dreams, too.

I use a saying which I'll share with you now, "Plan three times, measure twice, cut once." So for your dreams, Plan. Then plan again. Have a back up. Do what you need to do to be successful, but always plan for failure. Then live your dream. Someday I will tell you my whole story, but not today. 

If you don't believe in God, that is your choice. But I do and that's my choice. God has been good to me and I thank Him for it everyday.

I hope you enjoy the email I received and I hope you enjoy the response. Please tell me and this gentleman what you think. We're all in this ballgame together. So get off your hands and tell me what you think. Good or bad. Remember, we are ladies and gentlemen. Plan three time, measure twice, cut once.

We'll talk more later, Frank


Email received

Hello, My name is [omitted]. My wife of 40 yrs. and I have lived in Alaska 39 years. I see you also have lived here, so I thought you might have some insight for us.

We are 60 and done raising our children, and are entertaining ideas about moving south. We are Christians for 40 years too. We had a 40 ac. farm [omitted] [between Valdez and Glenn Allen] yrs. ago, and have learned the harsh realities of self-sufficient living here, and feel it is not really possible due to climate. We cannot grow grains for feed, nor fruits for ourselves, vegetables are limited, winters are so long and harsh our goats, pigs, chickens and rabbits all had difficulty. 8 mo. winter is simply too hard with firewood, water hauling, long, dark and cold, etc.

So I have a few questions.

In Okla. are summers too hot? We don’t mind 4 seasons, but 3 months to each would be fine. We have looked in west Montana, mid-Idaho, and east Washington. prices seem higher due to higher demand and scarcity, but 20 ac. is approx. what we’d like, ½ pasture for grazing & hay, ½ woodlot for ongoing firewood harvesting. Must have water of sorts, i.e. pond, creek, lake, etc. Definitely a rural forested area is our goal. A house is not necessary as I do construction, but cost is always a factor, so $50k or less is our price range for land as we need to develop the farm. Does this seem like a reasonable amount?

Also with all the instability in the country, dollar devalue etc. do you feel you are in a ‘safe’ place should civil unrest, depression etc. cause roving gangs from the city to seek nearby rural food sources? Or do you wish you had moved to  “the Redoubt” area? 

Thank you for an time or info you can provide. Also, I thoroughly enjoy your blog as I recognize experiential farming and all the added trials shared realistically.

Thanks again, and God bless.

[omitted]

Frank's response


Hello [omitted],

Congratulations on 40 years of marriage. 

Up front. Our time in Alaska was temporary every place we were, so we never gardened or raised any form of livestock, period. Here is a list of the places we lived, starting at the top and coming around and down. Barrow, the Kotzebue area, Nome, mouth of the Yukon River and Dillingham. We had a condominium in Anchorage for a few years, but it was only used a few days out of the year. So, again, we had no experience in gardening or livestock while in Alaska. We did have a church garden in one location, but it was really not very successful. That was in Dillingham, the lowest latitude that we lived.

Somewhere over the tundra about 500 miles from Anchorage

The reason we left Alaska, which was about 11 years ago, was my fear of the economy collapsing, which I still believe will happen. I did not want to be in remote, bush Alaska when the planes quit flying. We were there during 9/11 when the planes did quit flying, for 3 days I believe. That scared me then. Most people didn't have a clue what it meant, because all supplies there came in either by plane or barge during the warm months.

Nunam Iqua, Alaska 2006

We looked in the Redoubt area, western Montana, Idaho, eastern Washington, just like you mentioned. At the time we left, I was about 57 or 58. At that time I had had several surgeries and after leaving Alaska, I had lower back surgery and open heart surgery. But one day it dawned on us that we were not getting younger, not trying to sound funny here, but I was really tired of shoveling snow. The places where we could have a car, I was tired of shoveling out the car. I was tired of ice, and dark, and cold, and I mean really cold. -50 is chilly. -20 was a good day. When it broke 0*, we celebrated. You should know what I'm talking about. And dark? I never realized how much I missed sunlight until it wasn't there. And light? I never realized how much I missed dark until the sun went in a circle for 24 hours in the sky. I take it you put foil paper or something on your windows in the summer.

Right now, I am 69. Two plus years back I had open heart surgery and about six years ago I had lower back surgery. I am as active now as I was then, if not more, but I don't think I could shovel snow if I really needed to. So, therefore, the Redoubt is out of the question.
 
The non-sunset, Barrow, Alaska, September 2000

Why Oklahoma? Lots of reasons. Fern's mother lived in southeastern Oklahoma. We went to school in Stillwater, Oklahoma which is where we met and were married 36 years ago. Fern is ten years younger than I am. For various reasons we bought a house and piece of property that joined her family's property. About 40 years ago, back in my Mother Earth News days, I researched property all over the country for survivability. Southeast Oklahoma, southwest Arkansas and north a couple hundred miles, and south a couple hundred miles is a survivable area. Lots of hills, some small mountains, creeks, rivers, forested areas, and not many people to speak of. Country folks for the most part, a higher unemployment rate, lots of churches, not many bars, and the issues of positive and negative that come with this type of area. 

A small example. The closest westerly nuclear power plant to us is Glen Rose, Texas. The closest easterly nuclear power plant is just west of Little Rock, Arkansas. Our prevailing winds are from the west. I am not concerned about a melt down at the Little Rock facility. Glen Rose, Texas, a melt down would not reach us here. Tinker Air Force Base, just southeast of Oklahoma City, if something nuclear were to occur there, it would not reach us.

Next topic. Neighbors are neighbors, and Bubba is Bubba. This is the same everywhere. 

The rolling hills of southeastern Oklahoma.

Summer heat. Well, it gets pretty hot in interior Alaska during the summer. I don't know where you live right now. We have mosquitos, but nothing like the ones we had in Alaska. We have no no-see-ums or white socks. Heat is relative. We get the moisture from the Gulf of Mexico that provides us with our thick forests, which allows us to grow just about any plant we want to. Fruit trees can be grown, but they struggle because they just don't have the same conditions they do in the southeastern Washington area. Because of the gulf stream, in the summer time there is high humidity and high heat and sharply fewer bugs than Alaska. Yes, the heat and humidity can be an issue. We never had air conditioning in Alaska. We had a pretty nice condo in Anchorage, but it didn't have air conditioning. In the summer here, we start much earlier in the day and much later in the evening. That's the way we do it, and we do have air conditioning. In the winter, if need be, we can use wood heat. And I truly pray to God, that if the electricity ever goes off, it's during the winter so we will have at least a little time to acclimate.

Land price and costs. It's this way everywhere, you get what you pay for. If you were to look around with various real estate agents, I think you could find what you're looking for, for around $50,000. Now there are places here that are covered with rocks. That's part of being in a mountainous, hilly area. Some places have good well water, some places have poor water. $50,000 depending on the quality of land, could get you a lot more than 20 acres, or a lot less. In Oklahoma, building codes in the rural areas are just about non-existent. I cannot speak for Texas, Arkansas or Missouri. We don't have silly laws taxing rain catchment, but there are laws about damming up creeks and streams and affecting your neighbor down stream. A competent real estate agent should be able to answer most of this type of related questions.

You addressed roving gangs. Civil unrest. The farther away you are from towns, I believe the less this will happen. As far as the instability of our country and the devaluation of the dollar, the dollar has been devalued before. And instability? Just look at Washington, D.C. Look at that circus. As Ol' Remus says, Avoid crowds.

Buckland, Alaska 1990

I'm about to wrap this thing up. You ask, do I wish I had moved to the Redoubt area? Outside of the romance of a few novels and films? No. It's not survivable unless you are very young, in excellent condition and have skills that very few people have. It has a lot of the same features Alaska does. People struggle with gardens there, they have hard water issues. You know, ice. It gets as cold in Montana as it does in most of Alaska. We have ice here for a few hours, or a few days a winter. I am more than happy with where I live. If I were to ever move again it would be 30-40 miles farther east, therefore, I am extremely happy with where I am.

If you would like a recommendation, and I do not live in that immediate area, but I am about 60 miles away from Mena, Arkansas. Or come right across the border into Oklahoma. I do hope this helps.

You know bad times are coming and we are going to have to do the unthinkable. I hope that you and yours have your heads screwed on right. I would gather food storage and a realistic way to protect myself. Some day this thing is going to break. Most people will move to the cities and the vast majority will succumb within a few months. This is a horrible thing to think. You will need to protect yourself. This is the part where it's important to have your head screwed on right. I don't believe that God wants us to put our hands up in the air and just give up. God made us fighters and He expects us to do so.

Peace be with you,

Frank Feral

Friday, May 3, 2019

Goat Tales & the Stench

We have reduced our goat herd quite a bit recently. It's part of our downsizing to reasonable levels in the animal kingdom. We're also downsizing in many other areas, too. This year we had five does give birth resulting in 14 kids, which was way too many. One, we don't like keeping up with that many kids, and two, we don't need to milk five does. That is way too much milk.
 

We always debate whether to keep any young does and if so, how many. This year we went from thinking about keeping one, then two, then three. In the end? We sold them all and are glad we did.

Patch

One tale for this year is that our four year old doe, Patch, had triplets. She is a good mom and everything was going great until her kids were about ten days old. She went off her feed in the morning and by evening wouldn't get up. Turns out she had a retained placenta, which we had never had happen before. We thought she was going to die, called the vet, got antibiotics and anti-inflammatory shots, force fed electrolytes, vitamins and probiotics with a syringe and held the babies up to her teat to nurse as she lay there. She got up very weak after a few days, the babies were nursing, but not enough, so we enlisted the help of Patch's older sister, Copper, who was also raising her own triplets.
 
Copper

At two weeks of age we started penning Copper's babies at night to keep her milk. But instead of us getting the milk, I brought Patch's two little does in on the milk stand and let them nurse from Copper each morning. Their brother was getting most of the milk from Patch because after her time down she ended up with mastitis on one side of her udder, another experience we have never had before. To make this long story shorter, we continued with this routine until all of the kids were either weaned or sold. We also sold Copper this year. She is six years old, born here, and a little hard to let go of, but she went to a couple that really appreciated the milk supply.

Copper had to have her ear fixed when she was born.

Now, I am still milking Patch on both sides of her udder, discarding the mastitis side and keeping the small amount from the good side. I have turned her in with the buck in hopes she would breed and give us winter milk, so far no luck. The vet thinks her udder will recover and be productive on both sides after she births again. We hope so, and will just have to wait and see. 

The boys - buck and wethers

We have one older wether and three younger wethers that need to be butchered and put in the freezer, along with four new young wethers that were born this year. When we were banning the young wethers, on one of them we missed one testicle, which is now up in the body cavity since the scrotum is gone. He will have to be butchered this year since he is still able to breed. Once we get these five animals in the freezer, that will be a good reduction in the male herd, as well as more meat to eat.

We have placed our current buck for sale since we recently bought a new one. That purchase is a tale all by itself. In some ways it seems like a tall tale, but happened this way, none the less.

We had been checking Craigslist every so often looking for a new buck. We didn't keep any of our current buck's daughters, so there was no big hurry getting a new one, we could use him for another year, he is only two years old. But as we checked Craigslist a few weeks ago, we saw a young buck we were interested in, made contact, arranged a day, and drove the two hours to look at him. We liked what we saw, bought him and brought him home.
 
Gerty

As per our usual routine when bringing a new animal onto our land, we isolated him right away, gave him worm medicine, a copper bolus and an antibiotic shot. The next morning we went to the vet and picked up a vaccine shot which we gave and will give another booster in a month. Over the next few days he got two more antibiotic shots and continued in isolation, with the company of one of the young wethers, to finish out his quarantine time.

Well, the day after we brought him home, we got a voice mail from a lady that said we were in possession of her property. That her husband sold us her young buck while she was out of town and that he shouldn't have. She wanted her property back. What??? We were very surprised. I've never heard of such a thing, let alone experienced this. We didn't call her back, and the next morning we received a text message from another phone number insisting return of the animal with the offer of reimbursement of the purchase price and gas money for the return. Our response? I'm sorry. The sale is final.

Not only was the whole situation strange, in some ways I felt like this was some kind of scam. I'm sorry the man sold his wife's goat while she was out of town, but that is between the two of them, if that is actually what happened. I really have my doubts, but that doesn't mean I'm right. This is just another example of you never know what may happen in any situation. Something that appeared to be a normal everyday transaction that occurs all over the country everyday, turned out to be very strange indeed. We're still not quite sure what to make of it.

So, now we have two bucks, eight wethers, three does and one old lady goat, One Stripe. We get enough milk for our needs and to make some cheese every so often, and that is enough.

I think the lesson I have had reinforced from this tale is to beware the unexpected, whether it is a retained placenta and mastitis, or a shady deal from an unexpected source. Always remember, things are not always as they seem, from strangers, from people in positions of power, even from people you think you know. 

The wolves are howling all across the country, from every walk of life, position in society and cultural background. There are people now that will run you down with their car, punch you in the face, throw your food across the restaurant, or stage screaming mobs outside of your front door, not to mention shoot you while you worship. Things are not as they seem. The veneer is cracking and the seething, maggot ridden rot underneath is coming to the surface. It stinks. It's spreading. Spraying foo-foo dust on it and covering it with a pretty shiny veneer will not deter it's festering growth or dissipate the stench. This is now. What comes next?

Until next time - Fern
 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

What's Growin' in the Garden 1

Frank had a good idea earlier in the year. We're going to be showing a time lapse of the garden growth as the season goes along. Harvests and production rates will be noted as well as any difficulties we encounter along the way. In the long run, this will probably be more useful to us, but we hope you find something of interest along the way.

Last year we had a real problem with mosaic virus. Not only did it affect our green beans and Jacob's Cattle beans (a shell variety like pintos), it affected the tomatoes as well. Not in time to affect last year's growth and harvest, but hopefully to have a good impact for this year, we applied nematodes. Lots of them. Aribco Organics is a place I have found for beneficial insects. We applied nematodes from them about four or five years ago for slugs and it worked great, I rarely see a slug
in the garden. Well, last year we also started a strawberry bed that seemed to be doing well until later in the season when some of the plants started having brown leaves and dying. The only thing I could find in any of my books was a type of virus and the recommendation was to kill all the plants and move the bed somewhere else. We didn't want to do that, so they got a healthy dose of nematodes as well. The three pack of various nematodes affects a wide variety of garden pests, so that is what we used. It takes a while for the nematodes to multiply and affect the health of the soil, so we'll see how it goes. Nematodes are a natural part of the soil which will continue reproduce and become part of the soil as long as nothing comes along to affect the population. There are beneficial and 'pest' nematodes that can help or hurt the growth of garden plants.

March 31st

Winter spinach in the back porch bed

Freshly tilled dirt



April 10th

Time to clear some brush from the fence row


Apple blossoms

Turnips blooming and going to seed after spending the winter in the garden

April 12th

Brush removed, tilling complete

Trellises in place for tomatoes, beans and peppers

April 19th

Tomatoes by the trellis, pots of basil, carrots down the middle

Mostly dirt, but lots of potential!

April 22nd

The corn is peaking out.

It's all planted. Whew! The greenhouse is now empty and in need of a good cleaning. We've planted around rain showers and muddy ground. Luckily, we've had some pretty windy weather in between that has allowed us to keep planting. I could keep adding more and more pictures and updates, but I'll take up here with the next garden edition.

Now, we wait. As always we hope to have abundant harvests with lots to eat fresh and even more to put in jars on the shelf. As of today the plantings have included: corn, okra, Thelma Sanders and Cushaw winter squashes, amaranth, beets, tomatoes, carrots, basil, zinnas, nasturtiums, yellow squash, pole green beans, peppers - sweet, bell, banana, jalapeno and our cross pollinated surprise peppers, sunflowers, pinto beans, lettuce, cress, turnips and swiss chard. I think that's everything.

The strawberries are blooming and have lots of green berries. We hope they continue through the season.

Has anyone grown amaranth? If so, any pointers? We hope to be able to harvest leaves and grain. Another new adventure in gardening and nutrition.

How are things growing in your neck of the woods? We hope your harvest is abundant and your shelves are blessed with many jars.

Until next time - Fern

P.S. Frank bought me a surprise bag of red potatoes yesterday to plant. We had planned on picking up some seed potatoes at the feed store a while back but never made it. The potatoes we saved from last year sprouted a long time ago. They look like some extreme, wild hairdo with long straggly sprouts. Frank was at the store yesterday while I was visiting my mom at the nursing home and spied a bag of red potatoes with lots of eyes. Thus, my surprise. 

After the rain showers pass in a few days, we will have one more addition to squeeze in out there. We plan out our garden with annual maps for rotation and companion planting. After the potato surprise yesterday I got out the map and my Tomatoes Love Carrots book to check for companion placement for the new addition. It's already pretty crowded out there, but we have a place to squeeze them in. If you looked at the garden now, you might not consider all of that dirt crowded. Just wait about a month or two and you'll wonder where we walk to harvest and get around.

Some wives want flowers, I wanted potatoes to plant. It's a great life!
 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Raw Fermented Cacao

When we found out about Frank's heart blockage, my research went into high gear. We were given the gift of extended life without the damage of a heart attack and I want it to be the best experience we can produce through the efforts of our own minds and hands. That's why we have them. To work, to use, to do all we can. Everyday.

Therefore, research! 

We changed our breakfast from high protein bacon and eggs with berries to oatmeal, eggs and berries. In time we changed to lacto fermented oatmeal which we feel is even more healthy. We added flax oil, hawthorn berries and low does aspirin to our supplement routine and probably some other things I no longer think of as 'new'.

One of the things we ran across after a relative mentioned it was raw, fermented cacao powder. After reading a number of articles and figuring out the difference between dark chocolate, cocoa and cacao, we have settled on this. As with most things we buy, we shopped around for a good price in bulk. Healthworks sells this by the pound which we appreciate, so we buy it by the 5 lb. bag. It's also available on Amazon and other places.

Here are two articles that discuss some of the data we used in making our decision. Two of the main reasons are for the antioxidant properties and the affect on cardiovascular and blood pressure.

So, how do we partake of our daily cacao? We still do not use any sugars or sweeteners of any kind except for honey in our kefir and sourdough and that applies to our intake of cacao.

By the way, before we changed our diet and cut out all sweets I was a serious chocoholic. Very serious. I missed chocolate very, very much. Adding cacao to our diet is good for us? Hallelujah! Chocolate has returned to my taste buds! Okay, that's a little over board, but I really do like chocolate and enjoy our medicinal dose of cacao every single day.


We put it in our coffee. A cup of coffee, a spoonful of cacao, a splash of goat milk creates a real treat, and it's good for us. Who said living right had to taste bad and be torture? It's not for us, it's the good life and we appreciate the opportunity to live it.

Until next time - Fern