The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Fare Well, from Frank & Fern

We have reached a major milestone on the blog. Since we began writing here on May 30, 2013, we have had 1,000,000 pageviews. Yes, one million, because an unbelievable number of folks have dropped by, and for that, we wish to thank you. These words hardly seem adequate. We are humbled by the number of folks that stop by to read and comment.

 


The time has also come for us to say farewell. The condition of our world is such that, if you've been reading here long, you know our efforts are focused on completing projects that will hopefully make our lives a little easier when the collapse occurs. Time is precious and there aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish the things we see as imperative to our survival. Thus, this will be our last article for the foreseeable future.

We have long been fans of Jeremiah Johnson and wanted to share this clip with you.


It does seem like far, the distance we've come and the amazing amount we have learned since starting this blog. The knowledge and experience shared by readers has enriched our lives in innumerable ways. As you watch Jeremiah and see the facial expressions caused by the difficulty of survival, know too, this is coming to all of us. The challenges that await us are unknown, but the sure knowledge of their arrival is clear. 


We encourage you to apply the final touches to your preparations. The events unfolding in the world appear to be creating the perfect storm. How that storm will come crashing down around us, we do not know, but it is no longer way out there on the horizon, it is at the door. The wind is blowing in our faces, bringing with it the still small voice of warning which gets louder everyday. Time is short, get everything accomplished that is in your power.

What thoughts can we leave you with in parting?
  • Pay attention and be vigilant.
  • Don't be distracted by things that are not important.
  • Sift through all the fakery of the world and focus on what is important, not what others tell you is important.
  • Hold your family close and prepare them for what is coming.
  • Mental preparation is the most important part of your preps.
  • The will to survive can overcome many seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Always remember, humor is the essence of survival. 
  • Don't get on the bus, or the truck.
  • Ask God for direction and inspiration.



We pray that God will bless and keep each one of you in the coming days, that He will give you strength and guidance. We pray that you will Fare Well.

From the humble hearts of,

Frank & Fern

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Monday, January 11, 2016

What Seeds Have Taught Me

Seeds. I love seeds and the potential nourishment they represent. If the truth were to be told, I have too many seeds, so some of them age past their prime and lose viability before they have the opportunity to grow. A waste? Yes, could be, but like our preparations, I would rather have too many, than wish I had something grow because we were hungry. Frank has heard me say many times that seeds are worth more than gold. The food that seeds provide can keep us alive. If there are no seeds to be had, all the gold in the world is worthless.


I am grateful that we have had the last seven years here to learn the climate, soil conditions, pests and temperature variations. No two years have had the same weather conditions, which has offered even more to learn. Our first two gardens were grown under extreme drought conditions. This past year we lost some of our hard earned topsoil to flooding, and it was so wet that seeds rotted in the ground.

During the first few years we tried growing the same varieties of vegetables we had grown else where, some did well and some did not. We experimented one year with about six or eight types of peppers, tomatoes and winter squashes. That gave us a very good idea of which ones would produce well here. Some of our favorites made the cut and some did not, fortunately we found better producing varieties that have now become our new favorites.

It took me three years to figure out how to grow lima beans only to discover we really didn't like them. Until two years ago, I didn't like fresh tomatoes. We started growing two old heirloom varieties, and surprisingly, I liked them. Frank has always liked tomatoes and he describes them as more acidic than many of the newer varieties. I have also discovered that my back cannot pick a row of bush beans. I just can't do it. This has led to experiments with several types of pole beans until we found one that we really enjoy, that produces well into the fall.

I wish I could figure out how to grow a head of cabbage. I even wrote an article about it. And onions. Those are things I will continue to work on because we eat a lot of both. I also need to be more diligent at saving our seeds. It has always been easier for me to order seeds instead of planning ahead for seed saving. There will come a time when the only seeds we have will be the ones we save, so this is not a skill for me to continue avoiding or neglecting. 


The greenhouse has given us a whole new learning experience in growing food. As would be expected, the cool weather crops are happier than those that like the heat of summer. We have picked one yellow squash and the tomatoes are blooming, but with 38* lows at night, I don't expect much from them. I will soon be planting seedlings in the greenhouse. The window I've used for the past few years has now been replaced by the greenhouse entrance and I find that to be very comforting. I'm excited about the greatly expanded room to grow many more seedlings that won't be leggy and leaning over sideways in an attempt to reach the sunlight. I'll be learning much more about the timing for growing, hardening off and planting these seedlings.


There are many beautiful seed catalogs arriving in the mail now days. They all have something to offer that is new, different or interesting, but I have found a company that has a very wide variety of quality products for a fraction of the cost. With few exceptions, we order our seeds from R.H. Shumway's, which I have no affiliation with, except as a very satisfied customer. Their catalog is not shiny and showy, but it is packed full of seeds and information.  I would highly recommend them.



So, what have the seeds taught me? Patience, diligence, responsibility, the power of observation and learning, conditions for success, hard work usually pays off, and that hope springs eternal in the miracle of germination and growth. In a recent article I said, "Our future will be one of incredibly hard work, grubbing in the dirt for our survival." That's what seeds mean to me. Life. Survival. I am continually fascinated that one tiny little seed can produce so much food. In the coming days if you have a few seeds and a shovel to spare, a man could help feed his family. Do you have enough seeds for this year, and the next, and the next?


If you are new to your area, or plan to go somewhere else when the SHTF, do you know someone that can help you with invaluable information about local growing conditions and varieties that produce? When is the average first and last frost date? What insect pests cause the most destruction? Do you know how to deal with them without running down to the local garden center for a fix? Has the soil been turned and worked? Is it fertile enough to support the production you need? There are so many things to learn and know before those seeds will turn into food. I have read many places that people feel prepared to replenish their food supply because they have a can of survival seeds. Unless these people have figured out, and made accommodations for many of the things I have mentioned, they will starve. Not that these cans of seeds are a bad idea or contain inferior products, but the conditions necessary for adequate food production are dependent upon so many factors that the odds are stacked against them. 
 
Grace's garden

We have a friend, Grace, that gardens just a few miles down the road. She can grow things we cannot. We have pests she doesn't, and she has some we don't. Conditions can change quickly, from location to location, as well as year to year..


What have you learned from your seeds? Please share with us because we are all in this together. Any knowledge we can glean now, before it is a vital means of survival will be of great benefit. As soon as I get back the use of these two hands I will be rolling up a new batch of pot makers and planting them in the greenhouse. I can't wait.

Until next time - Fern
 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

On the Brink

The world has been forced to the edge of a cliff. Little by little the advance has been orchestrated and manipulated, whether by design, greed or avoidance it matters not, the outcome is the same. When people take
notice of the direction they are traveling and voice concern, distractions immediately appear, to the left, to the right, filled with mind numbing, wanton pleasure. Thus, the advance continues, one step at a time, until all of mankind stands on the brink of the abyss. The chasm is too deep and wide to see what is at the bottom, or if there is any way across. The view is murky and dim, limiting discernment of the coming fall. The only sure knowledge shared by those standing at the precipice is that their turn for the plunge will arrive all too soon. Ready or not, here it comes.

Folks, the preparations we are making for this future are deadly serious. They are not a game, a novel or a movie. The events that are unfolding before us are truly unbelievable at times, but are real, nonetheless.
There are people that 'play' at being prepared, with the latest, greatest, coolest 'things'. They have learned all of the buzz words and know how to use them. They really believe that their ramming vehicle won't get flat tires, fatally stopping them in their tracks. They believe that they will be the one to beat the odds, and bug out of the city in just the nick of time, with or without a destination. Sadly, these are the things dreams and movies are made of, not reality.

When the day comes that we are forced over that cliff, when TEOTWAWKI truly does arrive, the devastation will be unimaginable. For over the cliff we all will go. Some people will have parachutes to soften their landing, most
will not. Even if the fall is not fatal, the mental devastation may be. Several of our friends have recently voiced how the stress of current events are affecting them. Times are difficult now and pondering the unknown catastrophe that approaches is affecting all of us. I think one of the most difficult aspects is not knowing how the collapse will occur. We can only speculate, given the constantly changing conditions before us. We received an interesting quote recently, "and if the New Year isn't a good one, let's hope for the strength to survive a bad one." Good sentiment.

I don't say these things to make fun of or belittle people. I say them to try to bring as much serious reality to our situation as possible. You see, we aren't preppers, we are hard core survivalist. Not in the manner that
survivalist were viewed before the prepper movement began, but in the sense that we are trying to prepare to survive the long term devastation of the world as we know it. Our future will be one of incredibly hard work, grubbing in the dirt for our survival. By the sweat of our brow, and the knowledge in our heads will we eat, drink and try to be safe. There will be no cavalry riding in to the rescue. If your good neighbor down the road runs out of food for their children, they will be at your door with a different attitude than you've ever seen before.

The very basics of life will rise in importance like no riches, gadgets or 'things' ever could. Food, water and shelter will be the things people die for. Literally. The ability to maintain these basics, is and will be paramount, for without them we die. A good supply on the shelf is a good start, but what about the ability to replenish dwindling supplies before it becomes critical.

We have said this before, and it is well worth repeating. It is time to get your houses in order with your final plans in place. Whatever you need to do to get your family prepared and ready, whatever they need to know or do, get it done. The regret of postponing a vital preparation until the day it is too late may be your undoing, physically and mentally. If we are wrong, then Hallelujah! We would still rather be considered a prepared fool, than an unprepared one. Folks, we are on the brink. One more step, and life as we know it will be over. Period.

Until next time - Fern

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Life Cycles & Learning

The cycle of life continues, and so does the learning. The first baby goats of 2016 arrived right on time, 3:30 am, January 5th. It was a little chilly that night, and interrupted our sleep, but they arrived healthy and strong, well cared for by their mother, our 'old lady' goat, One Stripe.

One Stripe

One Stripe is seven years old this year. She arrived here in January, 2009, at the age of five months, with our first herd of goats at this homestead. Our first baby goats arrived in March, 2010. Since that time we have birthed, sold and butchered quite a number of goats. No two years are quite the same, they each bring their own learning experiences, some successes and some failures.

Copper with 2015 babies

In the past we followed the standard practice of selling our does as they got older. One Stripe has been the exception to that practice, and now we are rethinking the practice entirely. Keeping an older, highly productive doe has taught us that there is something to be said for proven performance compared to new, unknown performance. We now also have one of One Stripe's daughters, Copper, that is a three year old, and expecting her third set of kids in a few days. She is also a proven performer and will be with us for the foreseeable future.



 




We had the barn built when we moved here. It has been a slow process of getting everything set up in a functional arrangement. We've had the birthing and weaning pens set up since we stated having babies, but just this year we now have electricity, lights instead of lanterns, and soon will have pressurized rural water and a rain catchment system, instead of running 400' of hose from the house or using the hand pump on the well.


Many things on a homestead take long term planning, not to mention money. But even more than that, it takes knowledge, experience and time. Just this year, due to a very, very wet year, which still hasn't let up, i.e. the recent 12" rainfall we received, we have had a number of animal health issues we had never encountered before. The goats had a serious issue with barberpole worms and lice, so we learned about copper boluses and using diatomaceous earth. The young chickens have come down with coccidiosis, and aren't growing well. We usually don't have chicks growing out for meat this time of year, but we wanted more jars on the shelf, so we thought we'd try it.


Over the past seven years we've learned a lot about giving shots, banning young bucks and burning horns. There have been times we waited a little long too burn horns and ended up with scurs. We used to vaccinate all of our goats, but now only newcomers to the farm get vaccinated. We've learned about abscesses, and how to deal with them. At first they were pretty scary and worrisome, but since they haven't proven to be contagious in nature, we just let them run their course until they break open on their own, just like this.


We have had a number of bucks over the years, some good, some too spotted, too hairy, too cantankerous, or too small. We find that if we keep or sale animals based on the attributes we desire, we are much happier with our animals. Since we tend to keep a young doe or two each year, our buck is the animal that turns over. If we had a group of does we planned on keeping for a number of years, we could also keep the buck. It is a common practice to breed father to daughter with goats, it's called line breeding. Some people don't mind it, while others wouldn't hear of it. It's a personal preference and decision.

There are many goals on a homestead that take long term planning. Some plans you can develop for a couple of days down the road. Some plans take weeks, months, years or decades to develop. It takes the same amount of time to develop competence, experience and knowledge. There are some things you just can't wait for. Start now. After four years, I have finally figured out how to make a good wheel of cheddar cheese. Most things take time, effort, experience, failure and determination. Take gardening, for instance. I have read many blogs and comments recently indicating that folks are increasing the size of their gardens, most substantially, including us. This comes after a number of years of experience, with it's trials, experiments, successes and failures. But like the challenges we have had with our animals this year, even the dog had an unusual infestation of worms, most gardeners will tell you that no two years are the same.


The time is fast approaching when failure may be devastating, and our opportunities may be greatly diminished. It is a time to learn as intensely and thoroughly as possible. For the cycle of life to continue to sustain us, whether with animals or plants, we must be able to use the knowledge and experience we have gained to our distinct advantage. I remember stories I've seen of crop failures and starvation, and can only pray those times will not come to pass again, but I fear they will, and all too soon. Be ready.

Until next time - Fern