The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Friday, September 19, 2014

I'm Going To ???

Hi Everybody, Frank here.

There are many articles out there that talk about what people are going to do when the collapse comes. Most of them are going to raise a garden, many are going to have livestock, many are going to forage for food, and some of them are going to take food from others. These articles all have the same general theme, what they are going to do. Unless you read very closely, some of these articles make it hard to tell that the wishful folks have not started these endeavors yet. Yes, I know, everybody dreams. Some people plan quite extensively before they make their move. Dreaming and planning are good things to do, but there comes a time when you have to put your boots on the ground. Literally.

Well, let's talk about what it means to do some of those items up above, like gardening, livestock, foraging and taking from others. Let me deal
with taking from others first. If you plan on surviving in a rural setting by taking from others, and this is your plan, then you might want to consider that most rural folks are armed and know how to use their weaponry. It's not uncommon to scare off a dog with a shotgun, send a mangy dog to dog heaven, and you get the drift here. Most rural folks use guns like any other tool. So, if you're planning on taking from others in rural areas, this may be your biggest failure of all times. I know of little old ladies that are very comfortable with a 410 shotgun. We all know talk is cheap, but this type idea, taking from others, will promptly get you killed, even by a granny with a 410.

Okay, let's go on to gardening, for those who plan to garden when things fall apart. I dearly hope you have a years supply of food stored up, and you have an existing garden place to go to. The reason being, if you're going to take a lawn somewhere and just start planting seeds, you're going to get awfully hungry by the time that seed produces fruit, if it does. Things to consider before planting. First, you have to be able to get to your soil. You need to be able to break the soil some how or another. Do you have a
source of water? If you're going to use manure, then you have to have a source for the manure. Now you need to mix it in and let is sit for, hmm, a month maybe. During that month you can continue to weed it, water it, if you have water that is, and just overall tend to your soil. If I remember correctly, this is what you're going to eat and feed your family. So, that piece of soil I'm talking about is probably going to be around 100' by 100'. Better get started early if you're going to do this with a shovel and a hoe. Say you like corn? Now you've got that 100' by 100' turned over and all conditioned, and the big day comes when you put that corn seed in the ground. What are you going to do for the next 90 days? Yep, this will give you time to weed everyday, because, remember this is what you are going to survive off of for the rest of your life.

Okay, while you are waiting for 90 days to get your first bite of corn, you can get a batch of day old chickens. That's right, I forgot, there's been a collapse of society. The guy you brought with you to help you survive decided one night he would expedite the matter and go steal granny's
chickens, but he never came home did he? So, by some miracle, you get a batch of day old chickens and it's in the heat of the summer, so the little guys might live, and you brought 90 days of chicken feed with you, because you're not going to be able to grow it until your corn is ready to harvest. Remember, you're waiting on your corn to get ready, some how or another you got some baby chickens, you've got less help now because your buddy never came back, and in about 12 to 14 weeks, you can butcher friers. What are you going to do with them? Well, if you butcher them at 12 weeks, you can have fried chicken and corn on the cob. Okee-dokee? You're not getting any eggs yet because your birds aren't 6 months old. You didn't by mistake butcher your hens, did you?

Oh well, you're going to eat red meat. Where are you going to get it? When you moved here, you were lucky enough to find a local farmer to sell you some baby goats. They're probably about 8 weeks old. You want milk and meat, right? Right. Those 8 week old
baby goats you bought, you can butcher the males when they are about 6 months old. Now, aren't you glad you brought that years supply of food with you? You've already waited 90 days to get your first ear of corn, 12 weeks to get your first bite of fried chicken, 6 months to butcher your first goat, you do know how to butcher a goat, don't you? But you haven't had that drink of fresh milk yet, because it's going to be 6 more months before you do, right around one year from the start. You do know how to get milk out of that thing, don't you?

Okay, now it's been one year. You've got corn, eggs, chicken and goat meat, and milk. Congratulations on the milk. I'm really surprised you lived this long. Too bad your buddy didn't. That was halted when he was stealing granny's chickens. Lost some weight, haven't you?


Okay, let's talk about foraging. You know those books you brought with you about things to forage? What to eat, what not to eat. Those pretty glossy pictures, they just don't look the same as they do when you are down on the river bank. That thing that you picked up that you're considering eating, it looks just like that other plant there that
will make you deathly ill. Do you take your chances? Well, maybe we'll forage a little deeper. What's that pain in my ankle? Is that snake edible? Am I going to die from that thing that just bit me? Still got that book you were carrying with all those pretty pictures in it? Okay, so foraging didn't work out too well.

Maybe you'll just hunt your food. Did you know that wildlife, let me take the white tailed deer to be specific, during the early
1930's, the Great Depression, there were no white tailed deer left in the state of Arkansas? But, you're right, you watched all of those survival videos. If you think you're going to live off of wildlife, sorry buddy, it ain't gonna happen. Even if you do know how to butcher the animal. I hear opossum is tasty, never have eaten it myself. But, I have long past relatives that did eat opossum, racoon, skunk, snake, crow, deer, squirrel, ducks and they knew which were wild onions and which were not.

Back to that years supply of food you brought with you. Let's say it's a year later, your years supply of food is gone and you weren't quite able to restock it. Things are looking a little gloomy, aren't they?

We all hear stories about people that are going to do something. Everybody looks good at the beginning of the race, but there are few that finish the race. This thing coming our way is no joke. If we are not prepared, and we have not practiced, and if we don't have our head screwed on right, then we're probably not going to make it. You can practice in your apartment. You can buy a case of carrots or peaches
and start learning how to can. You can find chicken on sale and practice your canning skills. You can practice foraging while the times are still good. You can put together a 'get out of Dodge bag'. Doing this will give your mind a lot of good work. Even those of us that do it everyday need more practice, because right now we are all living with the abundance that God has given us in this country. Everyday it gets closer. Nobody knows the exact day, but there are things you can do. 

By the way, our national population has almost tripled since the times of the Great Depression. A significant number of the population at that time were rural, and many did not have
electricity. When this thing does come, we as a population are going to be much worse off than the folks during the early 1930's. Thank you for letting me play with your head, about gardening, livestock, foraging, gardening again and taking someone else's stuff. Take advantage of the opportunities provided us while the stores are still full, travel is still free and the internet still works. There are many, many people that believe someday, in the not too distant future, the stores will be closed, travel will be highly restricted and the internet will be gone. Give thought to it.

We'll talk more later. Frank

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Which Way Is Up?

As the world continues to turn, it becomes a more confusing jumble of misconception everyday. There are many different facets of the 'normal' workings in our day to day lives that appear to be teetering on the brink of an immense abyss from which there is no return. The complexities of the system in which we live are too numerous to comprehend all at once, but the way in which it is all interconnected means that each dimension is able to affect the others in some form or fashion. 

Take the price of oil, for example. With the fields in Libya exporting at a greatly reduced capacity, the struggles and difficulties in the middle east, and the Ukraine upheaval, why is the price of oil falling? Logic would indicate a rise in prices, and if history is an indicator, prices should be up sharply, but they are not. Frank says, as the economy slows down we consume less. But if we consume less, the companies need to make the same profit, so the price goes up. On the other hand, if we consume more, there is more demand, and the price goes up. Either way, the price goes up, so why is it going down?

There is an outbreak of a respiratory virus among children that is spreading through our country at a phenomenal rate. It is not a brand new virus, but is highly unusual in that it is affecting the
respiratory system. There have been questions about where this virus originated. Did it come across the southern border recently? Was it intentional, or just brought by those that are arriving here in ever growing numbers? And speaking of that, why is it that the working people of America have to pay for the facilities and all the services being provided for people entering the country illegally? Why should anything be provided at all except a one way trip back to the border? Why should we spend one dime when there are so many people here who are law abiding American citizens that are out of work or under employed? I know there is a purpose in letting our borders leak like a sieve, and I don't think the intent of that purpose bodes well for We The People.

Speaking of illnesses, have you heard much about Ebola lately? No. You hear more about the new watch you can't live without, professional athletes making poor decisions and the never ending battle of the politicians. But, you know what? Ebola is out of control and spreading at an
alarming rate. There are countries that have exhausted all means of containing the spread of this disease, countries that will be devastated by the loss of life and infrastructure. And now we are sending military troops to these places to 'fight' this disease. Why? So they can bring it here in ever greater numbers? It appears that it will only be a matter of time before it continues to spread. One article I read recently described the spread as exponential. Where will it end? We have yet to see.

The rumors and stories about ISIS are numerous. The destruction they leave in their wake is horrific. The ability of a group of people, that appear to have lost their souls and compassion for mankind, to flourish amongst other civilized countries is unbelievable. How can the governments of the world, and especially those in that region, bear to let them continue to exist and continue their slaughter of the innocent? Why are they waiting around for someone else to do their dirty work? 

Religious persecutions abound. The persecution of Israel and Christians have risen to an almost fever pitch. I still don't understand why it is okay for a satanic mass to occur without protest, but a child cannot say 'bless you'
to a classmate that sneezes. Why is it every form of religion or atheism has the right to display/express their views, but when it comes to Christianity it is a hate crime? I guess I know the answer to that, but it doesn't mean I have to like it. And now we read or hear on the news that we have joined in a coalition to fight ISIS to the very end. But, guess what? Not one country in the coalition is going to put troops on the ground to fight. What am I not getting here? Are they going to beat the monsters back with hot air and wishes? Just how weak and pathetic have our leaders become?

There is an interesting editorial called The Great Unraveling at the New York Times. This is a very thought provoking article that won't take long to read. It puts together some events in the world with a different twist.

When we read the headlines lately, it appears that there are many, many things being emphasized that are just fluff, shocking or ridiculous, things that are just meant to distract, amuse or irritate. I can't help but wonder what is really going on behind the scenes that the powers that be don't want us to notice or be aware of. There is
the Scotland referendum, the erratic fluctuations of the stock market, the never ending bias against this group or that, the militarization of police forces, the frequent purging of military officers, the never ending cacophony of hate from one group to another that drowns out the real life changing events happening right before our very eyes. Sometimes the 'noise' is deafening. It makes it hard to see what is coming. It's kind of like a thick fog, or the proverbial smoke and mirrors, that smudges the edges of reality. With so many events and people vying for the attention of the populace, it can be dizzying trying to discern those things that stealthily bring danger to your door.

Try to sift through the onslaught of worrisome slop that is fed to us everyday. Discard the refuse, evaluate the validity of all else that is presented. Attempt to determine if it is of worth to you and yours. Above all else, don't get bogged down in the slime and filth that is passed off as entertainment, lest it woo you down into complacency. There may not always be tomorrow to prepare. Now is the time to prepare your future. If you don't, you may not have one.

Until next time - Fern

Monday, September 15, 2014

Some Goats Have a Mind of Their Own

Even though it is more work and planning, we have been wanting to get into the routine of breeding at least one goat in July for December babies. This would provide us with fresh milk year round instead of having to buy milk when all of the does dry up for the last two months of gestation. Our plan this year was to breed One Stripe in July and the rest in November. This would bring us one set of babies in December and the rest in April. Good plan, right?

One Stripe's name comes from that little white stripe on her side.
Well, it appears either One Stripe or Bill, our buck, had other plans. Frank's back surgery was the beginning of July, so our breeding plans were postponed for a few weeks. But any time I put the two of them together, Bill just cried and acted clueless. He has been slower to mature than the other young bucks we have bought in the past, but this last week he finally figured things out. This means we will not have milk during the last two months of One Stripe's and Copper's
Copper is in the back looking over everyone.
gestation. They were both in heat, so we bred them both. We can expect kids from these two does around February 10th, which is 150 days from breeding, or the average gestation for a goat. This is not our optimal time since it is the coldest part of the year. It is normally not a problem, but it can be. It is a problem for cold fingers. We thought back in July that One Stripe might be pregnant....but she wasn't.

 
Bill

Our young does are growing nicely. Bill will be turned in with them on November 1st. The girls will be eight months old and ready to breed. Cricket is friendly and the biggest of the three. Penny is just as friendly as her mother, Copper. Lady Bug is a pretty girl, but is still pretty stand-offish. If she doesn't come around and get easier to handle, she will be sold after she has her babies. Training her to milk may gentle her down some, we will see.
Cricket

Penny

Lady Bug

One Stripe with the two wethers on either side
Our two young wethers that were born in March are still alive. For a while we thought we would lose them. After Frank's surgery, a neighbor came over and helped us ban and worm the boys. After a while, they weren't doing well and had some raw skin around the site of the ban. We have used this technique for many years on goats and sheep. Once we took some goats to the vet and had them castrated. Once was enough. We found it to be very gruesome, and returned to banning again. Everyone has their stories and their preferences, and that is great. This is ours. 

An example of the small sheds
Anyway, back to the story. These two wethers were not doing very well and Frank could not help me with them. I managed to catch them while they were eating, and use a double ended brass clip to attach their collars to the fence. That way I wouldn't have to hold them while I tried to work them over. The first time I put some drawing salve around the ban in hopes they would go ahead and heal up. The scrotum sack was just about to fall off at this point. A few days later, one of the boys started staying in their small shed instead of grazing with the herd. I figured at that point I would loose them both. But, that just wouldn't do. I had to try something else. On my own. You see, Frank has always been the needle man. Anytime we have to give shots, he gets to do it. Not that I can't, I just don't want to. I don't like it. But, as I found out, I can do it, and it's no big deal. So, I gave them both a shot of LA200 and applied more salve to the raw area. I figured the one in the shed would still die, but he didn't.
About a week later while I was in the barn milking, Frank called me on the radio. Yes, we use hand held radios every single day around the farm. Anytime I am in the barn and he is not, well anytime we are outside, whether we are together or not, we always take a radio. It has saved many a step when we need to communicate something. So, Frank called me on the radio and said, "You saved those two boys lives." That makes it all worth while. And it makes for more meat on the hoof.

We hope to butcher our three older wethers soon. They are way past the age we would normally do it, but it just hasn't gotten done yet. We are out of red meat in the freezer and it will be nice to have some of our own again. We chose goats because of the smaller carcass size. We don't need as much milk as a cow would provide. The meat you get from butchering a goat will be easier to process and preserve when we no longer have access to refrigeration or freezers.

There are always hooves to be trimmed and chores to do when it comes to having goats. Sometimes when they won't cooperate or bellow all the time, they are a real pain and we don't appreciate them as much. That's a nice way to say they drive us crazy. It's interesting to watch animal behavior. If one runs, they all run, if one starts screaming, another one may join in, kind of like people. And I bet if we gave one of them a TV, they would all want a TV, or a free phone. I don't see the government out here handing out free goat feed. How come some people get things that are 'free', and others have to pay for those things that are 'free' that they don't get? So much for my mini rant.

Sometimes plans with the goats just don't work out the way we would like, but, in the long run, they provide milk, butter, cheese, meat and dog food for our little homestead, and that is part of our long term plan. And it is a good plan. A plan to survive.

Until next time - Fern

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Television? What Television? A Re-Post

This is a re-post of an article we did a while back. We've thought about doing this for a good while, but just haven't worked it into our routine yet. Well, yet is here. Sometimes you just like to say things more than once. We've all told kids more than once to look both ways before they cross the street, or don't touch that, it's hot. So, on occasion, we're going to try some re-posts, maybe something worth saying or hearing more than once. Please comment if you like this approach, or if you don't like this approach. Let us thank you up front, and hope you enjoy the read.....again. From the staff of Frank and Fern (that would be Frank and Fern, of course). 


Originally posted June 10, 2013


Most people will find this hard to believe or may not even believe it at all. We do not own a television. We repeat. We do not own a television and have absolutely no desire to have one in our home.

We have not watched regular television programming for over 20 years. We have only had cable once for a few months in Barrow, Alaska and realized we weren't watching anything on it, so we turned it off. We have watched our fair share of movies off and on. When we lived in Alaska we watched Netflix movies for a few years.

Why did we quit watching TV? We realized a long time ago that most programming by the major networks were being manipulated by Madison Avenue. The goal was to get us to think a certain way, shop a certain way and act a certain way, because if we didn't, we were some how lacking. We began to find that most television programming was offensive, demeaning, sexually suggestive, rude and a waste of time. This still holds true today. 

When we realized how much TV promotes certain political, religious and moral views, it was plain that our conservative, Christian, pro-life values were and are under attack. Everywhere we go we hear, "Did you see.......?" Is this random, by chance or a deliberate constructed means of influence and control? It appears to us to be a very effective means of destroying the family, stimulating moral decay and swaying the political views of most people.

Are there some programs on TV that are good, wholesome, informative programs? Sure there are. We know families that limit the amount and type of viewing allowed in their homes. One of the keys to anything is self-discipline and moderation. We have just chosen a different avenue.

How do we even know what is on TV now days? It is seldom we go to someone's house and the TV is not on. You can't sit in a doctor's waiting room without being subjected to a television.  As educators, we can see a marked change in the way children act, dress and interact with other children and adults. Terms like 'freeken', 'what the....' are only cute little ways to curse and are not allowed around us. When a whole generation of children is raised viewing and speaking in the manner of current TV programming, they do not know any different and for them it is 'normal'. We choose not to participate in this 'new normal'.

We choose the news we read and the images we view by using the internet for our information. The choice is ours to read, think and analyze information - not some talking head on a television. The results are remarkable. We are better informed today than we ever were when we only watched television news. This does not mean the internet cannot supply the same types of information and indoctrination that television does. It has the same lure and addictive possibilities. The key is in the choosing.

Whether the content of TV influences society, or society influences the content of TV, we are in serious trouble. Something to think about. Choose what you fill your mind with. Don't let others choose for you.

Frank and Fern


Friday, September 12, 2014

Gardening When You Can

Our gardening experience this year has been different. Not a total failure, just different. It started out like it usually does in the spring, in bits and spurts around my work schedule at school. Then Frank started having serious trouble with his back. School was almost out, so work continued around his medical needs and the garden was last in place. We still got it planted and many things came up, but then they were pretty much on their own. I did get some squash and squash relish canned but that was about it. After that, I picked and cooked what I could, but haven't canned anything since spring, that in itself is strange. We have frozen many tomatoes and a few peppers for later use, and hopefully canning. For now, here is a tour of the garden, which in spite of me, is still producing.


The green beans are worse for the wear, between the grass, weeds and grasshoppers.

 

The Cushaw squash is growing and starting to put on quite a few squash. There is this one big one and many small ones. I have been checking for, and squishing squash bugs morning and evening on the way to the barn to milk the goats. Powdery mildew has begun to grow on some of the leaves. Most of these I have cut off to try to prevent spreading. One organic remedy I have read about is mixing one part milk to 9 parts water and spraying the stems and leaves. I haven't tried it, but it sounds like an easy solution if we need one.



The turnips are up and doing well. I have thinned a few plants in places and fed them to the chickens. As the plants get bigger we will be enjoying turnip greens as well as continuing to feed them to the chickens and goats. This is one of our experimental livestock feeds. We hope to be able to supplement the animals feed with turnips and cut down on the grain we buy.


The kale is doing okay. It hasn't really taken off yet, but it has a decent start. I don't think it likes the hot weather we have been having, but that should change before long.





The carrots and broccoli are just barely peaking out. The challenge will be to keep track of them among the weeds that are growing faster than they are. Here is where they are growing, and I have to be very careful even walking out here, let alone trying to weed without getting the vegetables. The carrots are another crop we hope to use for supplemental livestock feed. They will be left in the ground until we need to till the garden again. It will be another experiment of how to store some feed sources in the winter.


There are a few Mangel beets coming up here and there, but not in any abundance. The extra patch of beets we planted down by the okra appears to be a tasty snack for someone. Our experiment of making sugar from beets will probably have to wait another year. We'll see how big these get before winter gets them.

 

Our fall potato crop is almost non existent. Out of the two rows we planted, only these two plants have emerged. I dug around in one of the rows and found the potato we planted and it has just begun to grow. I don't know if the hot weather is holding them back, or if growing a fall crop just won't work in this area. The interesting thing is that some of the potatoes we missed when harvesting the spring crop have come up here and there down by the Cushaw squash, so either way, we hope to have enough fall potatoes to use for seed next spring.

 
The purple hull peas are still there, it's just that the crab grass has taken on the roll of camouflaging them. That's a nice way of saying the grass has just about taken over the pea patch. Interestingly enough, more peas are coming up next door in the potato patch and other areas we tilled for the fall garden. I don't know if they will have time to produce before frost, but they might.

 








I have tried something different with my okra harvest this year. As I picked the pods, I trimmed off some of the leaves that stick out into the isle I was working from. This way I can see better to pick and I am not getting itchy from constantly brushing up against the leaves. I got this idea last year from CQ at Hickory Holler. It works great.


Another thing I did a few weeks ago was cut the top off of the plants that were too tall to reach.
 This prompted the plants to sprout out from the bottom forming new 'branches' or suckers. I wasn't sure how long it would take, but now as the branches get big enough, I am cutting off the top part of the plant altogether to concentrate the energy into the new branches. I have already started harvesting okra on these 'new' suckers.


I continue to be surprised at how many tomatoes we are still harvesting. I have lost count of how many gallons we have in the freezer, at least 15, that we plan to can plain and make into salsa later on.



It has been a very wet year compared to most. We have only had to water a handful of times. In years past, we had to water regularly from the beginning of July, so that has been very nice. We have had a cooler summer, like everyone, but still days with the heat index at or a little over the 100 degree range. Overall, the garden has been very happy among the weeds and grass. It's nice to know that during years like this, with surgeries and accidents, there is still food to be had from a forgiving garden. I hope the first frost of winter holds off until October 31st or after, which is our first average frost date. But many are talking about an early, long, very cold winter. Even so, we will manage. Hope your pickings are plentiful and your shelves are full.

Until next time - Fern