The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

What You Know Might Save You

We received a very interesting and informative comment yesterday that we feel is worth posting for all to read. I have said something similar to this opening statement, that I was born in the wrong century. Frank and I have long known that our varied life experiences have brought us to this place and time with a plethora  of skills and perspectives that may help us as the current crises of the world unfold. It really doesn't make any difference when we were born or where we live, this is where we are and what we have to deal with. The events of the world will continue to unfold, whether we are ready or not. Please share your thoughts. Enjoy.

I feel as though I am a person born out of my time period. I am not yet sixty but my childhood experiences include using an outhouse, drawing water from a well, and taking baths in a tin bathtub after heating water on a wood cook stove. My parents grew corn, peanuts, and other vegetables in a five acre field. I grew up helping to harvest and can what we grew. We milked cows and my mom made butter from the cream. I was the last born of my siblings, and born late in my parents' lives. They grew up in the Depression and married at the beginning of WW2, so I am a tail end of the Baby Boomers. 

My experiences were embarrassing as a child but came back to help me cope many years later in the aftermath of a hurricane that plowed through our area. We lost power for about four weeks. I tried to do what my momma did and found that I was not the woman she was. But I did learn some very important lessons. I relied too heavily upon electricity and on my freezer for food storage. I had a pressure canner and had canned some vegetables, but I still had a lot of vegetables and meat in the freezer. Now I try to keep plenty of jars empty for emergency canning of meat and most of my vegetables go in jars. 

 I was given a dehydrator several years ago and found that drying vegetables and sealing them with a food sealing system in jars takes up less space that fresh. 

Since I did and do most of my cooking on an electric stove, the lack of that power has stirred me into looking into other ways of cooking without power. I have since discovered an interest and love for cast iron, especially Dutch ovens. My first experiment with one was in the coals of a burned brush pile from a tree blown down by a hurricane wind. Food burned on the bottom and was raw in the middle. But my daughters have taken up my pursuit and they cooked much of our Thanksgiving dinner last year in Dutch ovens outside over a wood fire. 

I liked your article because it fits my lifestyle of gardening, canning and enjoying the fruits of my labor. I live in a climate that allows me to grow food almost all year round, but for the past several years, I have had an urge to save seeds from the vegetables we grow and to try to save extra possibly for neighbors in the future since I can't feed them all and they may need to have something to plant. Most of us "country folk" live like city folk now because we buy fresh seed from the feed and seed stores each year and there are fewer and fewer of us gardening and growing our own food, because it is quicker and easier to run by the grocery store and get what we need or want. It is a lot of work to grow and process your own food. I have heard comments to that effect. 

After reading the Woodpile Report, I found someone giving voice to some concerns that have been in my heart for a couple of years...namely, what would happen if we could not grow food for a year or so because of outside circumstances. And what would happen if the stores that sell seeds are no longer open or stocked? About three years ago, I saw a clearance sale of end of summer goods at a dollar store. Included in those goods, were packets of flower and vegetable seeds. I bought quite a few for pennies a packet and so I have been collecting these seed packets and storing them in my freezer for my own use and for future giveaway seed. To my surprise I even found a few heirloom seeds among them. I have other seed that I have saved in glass jars using the food sealer system and jar attachment. I opened a few jars of seeds this spring and was amazed that most of the seeds were viable. Only one of the jars of seeds failed to germinate. 

Anyway, my next canning experiments are going to include oranges, lemons, and butternut squash. By the way, have you heard of okra seed being roasted and ground to be used to stretch coffee grounds? I have heard that such a thing was done in the Great Depression, but I would like to know if anyone else has knowledge of this. 

Thanks for sharing your experiences with others.

[Name removed]

Please share what you know and have experienced. We're all in this race to survive together. The finish line is simple. It's your life.

Until next time - Fern
 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Without Food, You Are Dead

Everyone needs to read the opening dialogue from Ol' Remus at the Woodpile Report this week. He's right. Food is a Weapon that can, has been and will be used against you. There is a reason Bison Prepper is always writing about food first, wheat, calories, wheat, wheat, wheat. Without food, you are dead. End of story. Not to mention the disease and debilitation that comes from malnutrition and starvation. 


I've been thinking about sharing our fall/winter growing plans for a while and the thoughts from Ol' Remus decided for me that today, I had better get with it. We are working on putting most of the garden to bed for the winter. We're in the process of taking down the tomato/pepper/green bean trellises. After they are out of the way Frank will brush hog all of
the plants, including the okra forest, into a type of organic mulch.
Then we'll clean out the chicken house and barn and add that to the garden and till everything in for the winter. If the weather isn't too cold by that time, it usually isn't in our latitude, we will broadcast some winter peas for an edible cover crop. It's good for man and beast.


 
This is the plan for most of the garden anyway. The two ends, east and west are planted with a few more food crops. Not to mention these volunteer squash plants that came up in the yard close to the compost pile. We're enjoying a few last meals of squash. The first frost we had, we covered these plants with a frost cloth which prevented death, but did not keep the plants damage free. We'll be covering them again this weekend to see if we can get a few more meals before winter takes it's toll.

We have a small patch of turnips planted for greens. These are seeds we saved this spring from the turnips we planted last fall. It seems to be a good cycle to get into. We were also able eat fresh greens well into winter, again in the spring and even canned a few jars in June. Our permanent turnip bed idea didn't work out, so maybe this cycle is a better alternative.




On the other end of the garden we have planted some beets for canning, if they make it that far. 












Some carrots for winter eating.  
 


And some cabbage. We still have some frozen, shredded cabbage we grew in the spring of 2018 that we are using in soup. It's a great addition. If these cabbages make, I'm hoping we won't have insect problems this time of year, we'll eat some fresh and freeze the rest to continue our soup making routine.

 

This small bed on the east side of the house is the only place I have successfully grown spinach. We have had our first salad with miniature spinach and lettuce leaves. I was too impatient to let them grow any bigger before we had our first taste.


In the greenhouse we have started our winter salad collection.





We have two kinds of lettuce. Romaine








Black Seeded Simpson










Russian Kale








Pak Choy from seeds we saved this spring.








Cress









I have also planted a tub of amaranth since it is supposed to be good in salads and we know it's packed with nutrition.


Even though I don't expect success, I planted some of the tomato seeds we saved this summer. I wanted to make sure they were viable and wanted to try one more time for winter greenhouse tomatoes.


On a whim back in the spring I bought a six pack of sweet potato plants, put them in some rather rocky ground under a trellis, and pretty much ignored them. They made a few potatoes, more than I expected. We'll try one for supper tonight with some of those turnip greens we canned in June.


I tried keeping the vines when we dug the potatoes and planted them in a pot in the greenhouse to see if we can use this for our plants in the spring. I don't know if they will make it when the weather gets cold. We'll find out.


This is the first year we have had anything close to an apple harvest from the two trees we planted about eight years ago. The apples are good, not too sweet, but homegrown which means a lot to us. We have one with lunch almost everyday. 

 












So, food. What do you have? Is it enough for everyone you need to feed? For a while? Days? Weeks? Months? Years? Can you replenish the supply on your own without any outside assistance? 


Food has always been used to control people. Always. Think of Joseph in Egypt. His father and brothers had to come and beg for food. They had the money to pay for it, but that didn't mean they would receive any. It's no different today. Look around the world. Look at how interdependent everyone is. Some countries have oil. Some have water. Some have the type of land and soil that will grow food, some don't. If any one thing goes wrong, one spoke of the wheel breaks, all systems fail. No water, no food. No oil, no fertilizer, no commercial farming apparatus, no food. No transportation, food rots in the field. No workers, no food. 


Food can and will be used against you as a means of enforcing your compliance to any and all demands. Moral, immoral, just and unjust. Be ready. Provide for yourself and those you love. Otherwise....... 


Without food, you, and everyone you love, are dead.

Until next time - Fern
 

Friday, October 18, 2019

You Can't Go Back

Things are changing in the world. Quickly, with a complexity that cannot be fathomed. There are too many variables, too many players, too many possible outcomes to be considered, combined and deciphered. We have many daily conversations about a myriad of topics all of which leave us wondering what in the world will happen next.

Here are some topics we have been thinking about. We would really like to know what you think. There is much afoot in the world and it's difficult to see through the haze, and listen through the cacophony of blaring noise that surrounds the world of information everyday.

The Queen's speech indicates the UK will have Brexit and leave the European Union on October 31st. Now Boris Johnson has made a deal with the EU. It still has to go through a vote of the Parliament. I don't know how the governmental system of the UK works, I have not studied it. But we see similar disagreements and attacks on Boris Johnson that we see here with President Trump. The UK voted years ago to split from the EU and become their own country again. From what I can gather they were tired of unelected bureaucrats in Brussels deciding things for them. They want their country back. There are other countries across the globe that seem to be on the same path.

Turkey, Syria, the Kurds and the USA. Very interesting situation. Almost the entire Congress disagreed with President Trump. What happened? A cease fire. The events of the 120 hours or five day "pause" may usher in a new era of peace in a region that has known war for decades. The resultant relationship between the USA and Russia may be an added benefit from the events taking place in the region. I read recently that President Putin said the relationships between our countries could be much better if it weren't for the political upheaval in our country. He understands why President Trump can't meet and work with him at this time.

Then there is this underlying hum of information from groups across the globe. Groups supporting their own countries instead of globalism. Imagine that. I applaud any country/culture/peoples that have a national, patriotic pride for their own country. We are not all the same. We are not. And we shouldn't be. There is nothing wrong with being different. Unless, of course, you don't like anyone that's not like you. Please read this tweet.

I think President Trump put it quite well. They are coming after us. Just like the EU is going after the UK. I have no problem with a country running their own affairs the way they see fit. I am forever grateful for being born in the United States of America. I don't want to wear a burka or be banned from driving a car. But you know what? If other countries have different laws and customs than we do, that's okay. We don't have any more right to impose our customs and beliefs on another country than they have the right to impose upon ours. We have enough trouble within our own borders, we don't need more coming in to muddy the waters even further. We don't have to abide by Sharia law, we have to abide by US and local laws. If you want to come here, learn to speak English and abide by our laws. Otherwise, go back where you came from.

There are many issues that aren't being addressed here. The border wall. ILLEGAL aliens, they aren't immigrants. The constant attempts to impeach President Trump. Endless wars all over the world. The unbelievable fake news stories coming from the mainstream media. Attacks on religion. Always attacks on the 2nd Amendment. These are just a few.

The header for our last article said, "I miss the America I grew up in." And we do. The civility of yesteryear is not to be seen except in the rearview mirror of time. But you know what? We can't go back. Why would we want to? That would be like the movie Ground Hog Day, reliving these same mistakes over and over and over. Why would we want to return to a system that could lead us right back to the same problems we face today? We may return here even faster the next time since we already know the way. Besides, why would we keep trying the same thing again expecting different results? Some say that is the definition of insanity.


What we need is a new system. There are a number of groups that support a variety of changes to the current system. John Mark and Curt Doolittle support a system they have devised called Propertarianism. There are a number of people that see a financial reset to a sound money system that does away with fiat currency and the debt cycle we have created with the world wide central bank systems. There are others that see no way out of the cycle of hatred and division in our country outside of an all out civil war. Regardless of how this all plays out, it is abundantly clear that things will continue to change. There is no way our country, and therefore the world since we are all so intimately interconnected in this day and time, can continue on the current course without massive, destabilizing change occurring. The question is where do we go from here? What will it look like?

Add one more dimension to the mix. The food supply. The climate of our planet has gone through many changes over many centuries of time. Sometimes warmer, sometimes colder, but always changing. Until the last hundred years or so, there wasn't enough man made activity to impact any of these climactic changes and they happened anyway. The problem is not man, the problem is man's ability and willingness to observe the changes and take steps accordingly. Running around crying the sky is falling, the world will end in 12 years, we have to become cannibals and start eating babies (which was an actress sent to disrupt a presentation), does not address the issue of the food supply.

There are those that insist we have too many people on the planet to feed. There are those that think the growth in population is due to the overproduction, through chemical means, of franken-foods. Either way, the current solar output from the sun is affecting the weather which in turn affects the food supply. Over the last few years, weather has impacted food production across the globe, some areas are flooded, some are too cold, some are too hot and some have droughts. Is this normal? Maybe a little more extreme than at other times? I tend to believe the solar minimum we are experiencing is bringing on one of the times of climactic change that may have a drastic impact upon mankind. Others see it as a challenging time that will pass just like it always has in the past.

When you add these things all together, what do you see? Are countries pulling back, trying to increase their independence from the interconnectedness of the world because the food supply is going to be impacted in such a way that there will be shortages? Will there be starvation? Just from the impact of weather, diseases like the swine fever that is decimating the hog population in China? Crop failures like corn, hay and soybeans in the US this year? How does that impact the meat and milk supply when farmers can't feed their animals? 

Are we going to stop participating in the endless wars as President Trump calls them because we need to draw inward? Bring our troops home to deal with whatever problems are going to arise here from food shortages, to hatred, and division? Peace where there has been war for generations is a good thing. I am all for it. I think there is more going on behind the curtain than the good will of some of the leaders of the nations of the world. If we could really see behind the curtain would it cause panic in the streets all across the globe?

The events unfolding all across the globe will take us to a new point in time. A different way of life. We can't go back, it's impossible. I'm not sure where we are going or how bumpy the ride will be before we arrive at our new 'home'. What I do know is that things are changing. As for Frank and I, we will continue to prepare. Some things can't be fixed. Some cancers can't be cured. Sometimes things die. 


Your thoughts, wishes, desires and insight would be appreciated. If need be, we'll see you on the other side. Until that time, keep your powder dry and watch your back. And never, ever get on the bus.

Until next time - Fern

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Reality or Delusion?

We have to ask ourselves, is all of this prepping, survivalist, collapse mantra just another hoax? Is it just another relatively new economic opportunity for a section of entrepreneurs? Have we drank the "prepper" Koolaid?

There is no doubt the world is in a state of change, and in some instances conflict. Just to name a few.
  • Global warming vs. Grand Solar Minimum
  • Open borders vs. limited to no immigration
  • Socialism/communism vs. Nationalism/patriotism
  • New Green Deal vs. traditional ways
  • Democrats vs. Republicans
  • Congress vs. the President
And the list goes on and on and on, ad nauseam. The question is: What is really going on? What is true? What is hyperbole? What is a con game? What is really behind the curtain?

There is one thing that is obvious. Our government is at war with itself. Or is it? Is it all just a great show to distract us from something far more sinister? Are we truly to the point where we can no longer tolerate each other? There are more and more people saying the unmentionable words - Civil War.

It appears that the curtain has been pulled back to reveal the "business as usual" activities of many factions of our government. Some are shocked, some deny the 
many allegations that continue to pop up like summer thunderstorms on a daily basis, and some obviously don't care, because what has been revealed is business as usual and has been going on for a very long time. So, what's the big deal? Just because we, the public, didn't realize how our government has been, and is being run, does that all of a sudden make it wrong? Why? Because some label it corrupt? Because I label it corrupt and have lost my last vestige of faith in the integrity, honesty and good will of our government? Because I now think I see the day to day machinations of our government for what they really are? What difference does that make?

Our lights are still on. Water still comes out of the tap when I turn it on. The shelves in the store are still filled with items that are available day or night. This internet is still up and running providing me instant resources from any research I care to conduct, all at the tap of a key or the touch of a button. What's not to like about this life of ease and luxury that we live? This is reality. These things do exist and I take advantage of them everyday. So what difference does it matter how corrupt they are or much money they print to cover our bills?

Many have said for years, this is just another shift, a downturn, a momentary glitch in the system. Things have worked out before, they will this time also. We've all heard this many, many times. And you know what? So far, they are right and we are wrong. What does that tell us? 


In my bones, I have no doubt that one day our civilization will change - drastically. How? I cannot tell. I do know that more and more people are voicing their resentment against those that are intolerant. Now both 'sides' are indicating that the 'other side' is intolerant. There are now comments of irreconcilable differences between various factions in the country. Does that mean civil war? Does that mean secession of some states or portions of states or cities or what? Does that mean all out anarchy, every man for himself, violence and death in the streets all across our country? I do not know the answers to these questions, and I don't think anyone else does either. We all have our opinions and theories, but that leads me back to reality or delusion.

We can state that our opinions, actions, statements are based on facts, but are they? Look at the current whistleblower fiasco. First the facts indicated this, then they indicated that, then one side said no, it's this, and the other side said no, it's that. What are the facts? From my chair, there is no way to tell what the actual facts are. You can word things in such a way that two sides are saying the same thing, the exact same words, but the context gives each statement entirely different meanings. 

If the corruption in our government, in our country has been going on for decades, just business as usual, what is the problem? If you have been cutting the tail off a turkey before you cook it, just like grandma did, is that wrong? Even if you find out later that the only reason she cut it off was to get it to fit into the pan she had? Is change required? Is it necessary? Yes, I know everything changes, seasons, physical abilities, opinions. Just because our government is corrupt, does it have to change? No. Now that I see, hear and read information detailing what appears to be massive corruption, do I want it to change? Yes. But wanting doesn't make it so and hope is a very poor strategy.

It is difficult to lose all faith in my government. I have come to the point that I realize that I now love my country as my homeland, the place of my birth and life, but I loathe my government for the bloated, behemoth, oozing corruption and sucking the life blood from the fabric of our society. 

Do I think we have massive unrest possibly leading to anarchy, mayhem and a break up of our country? Yes. I actually can't see anyway around it. Look at Washington, D.C. Look at the war currently taking place in the halls of Congress, in the White House and in many state and local houses of government. What do you see? People coming together as communities to take care of those they have been elected to serve and protect? Look at the homeless crisis that grows everyday. 

There are still good people. People that stop and help each other. You just don't hear about them because they are not the ones out there in front of the camera, and some of those people are even in Washington D.C. They are the quiet, hard working folks that make the country tick. But the sound of that ticking has been dimmed by the rancorous anger and hatred being spewed across the airwaves and internet. One day, I pray that quiet majority doesn't reach the end of the line and that ticking counts down to an explosion. An explosion that has built up over many, many years and has a massive amount of energy behind it. I heard someone say recently that a human being can only take so much. I hope this part of my vision is the delusion and not the reality of our future.

Until next time - Fern

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Homestead News, Volume 22

I keep going back to the quote on the last article.

"Consider what you would do if you knew [we inserted if you actually BELIEVED] your country had already moved beyond the point of no return."

When Frank and I discussed this quote, my response was we would keep doing what we are doing, because we do know that we are beyond the point of no return. So, with that, here is the next homestead update and some of the things we are doing to prepare.

We are watering the garden with the water well and a 12volt pump. Why now? It's time. We have had this well and pump since late 2008. It's been waiting in the wings. This spring Frank looked on the shelf at the box with the pump in it again, took it down and figured out what we needed to install it. Nothing. We had everything we needed, it was just putting in the time and effort to install it. Since then we have treated the well, pumped out the old stagnant water, treated it again and had it tested twice. The first time there was still one type of coliform bacteria in it, so we treated it again. The second time it came out clean. We've been watering the garden in two hour intervals about three times a week. When we started using the pump, we measured the production which is about three gallons a minute. This was one of the first things that came to my mind when we read that quote.
Frank's next step will to be to install solar panels on top of the greenhouse which he has already configured, installed onto a framework and wired together. These panels will connect with a battery bank which is already installed in the greenhouse with a charge controller, and will be used to run the well pump. He is just waiting for cooler temperatures and some help. It won't be long. We have some ideas running around in our heads about pressure tanks and plumbing the well into the house, but that is down the list quite a ways and may or may not materialize.
 
Next. Food. We have been canning more tomatoes and tomato sauce to replenish the stock. We canned instead of froze our winter squash. Today we finished grinding the remaining beef in the freezer. A few days ago some of it went to making and canning 14 quarts of chili.

We have plenty of cowpeas on the shelf, so this patch will be picked, left whole in the pod, and dried in the greenhouse. This will be some of our winter animal feed. It will be interesting to see how well it keeps and how well the animals like them. The goats love fresh pods, with or without the peas. The chickens like the fresh or dried peas, but not the pods.

Several of you have asked about the amaranth experiment. The spring planted crop is still producing even after four cuttings. I have learned to let the heads turn an almost rusty, golden, brown to make sure they are ripe to pick. The heads dry in the greenhouse, then I remove the seeds, winnow the chaff and save the stems and chaff for the goats, which they are eating quite well. They like it.
 

The summer planted amaranth crop has not done well at all. They grew very slowly, then started falling over. Turns out the pigweed weevil loves amaranth stems. Amaranth and pigweed are in the same family and wild amaranth, which is called pigweed, grows here quite well. All over the garden, in
fact. It's just that I didn't know what it was until this year when I grew amaranth and right beside it was this weed that had leaves exactly the same. Interesting, the learning opportunities that come along. Well, after the weevils came the cabbage moths, or I think that's what they were.
Many of the plant's growing heads became covered with sticky webs, small worms and black clots of eggs. I picked these heads off and fed them to the chickens. This batch of amaranth is just now starting to show seed heads even though some of them are much taller and thicker stemmed than the spring crop. They won't have time to mature before frost. We plan to pull these plants and hang them whole to dry for winter animal feed. We'll see how that goes.
 
Amaranth seed heads drying in the greenhouse
Wheat on the left, amaranth on the right

The amaranth seed we have been able to harvest is going into our bread. We tried the seed whole a few times, then started grinding it with the KitchenAid grinder on the finest setting, otherwise the grains are so small they fall right through the grinder. I like the additional nutrition this adds to our bread. We have not tried eating any of the greens even though we have read that they are edible in both salads and cooked as greens. Maybe next year. 

Our focus has been on increasing the food supply for our animals and ourselves. We consider our goats and chickens to be an important part of our food supply. Our garden has now become not only our food supply, but some of theirs as well. Since writing this article and running across the Ice Age Farmer, we feel it is wise to grow or store as much food as is practicable. The Ice Age Farmer had a couple of interesting videos out yesterday about cooler temperatures affecting crops this year due to the solar minimum and about some scientists saying we will have to rely on cannibalism for protein in our diet to help with global warming. Folks there are some very strange things going on with food and food control. Some people have some very perverted, dangerous ideas they are actually presenting to the public, not in some dark, back room. The more we can rely on ourselves and what is on our shelves, the better off we will be.

Wouldn't it be great to be wrong? Wouldn't it be fun to sit back and watch trash stuff on television and eat ice cream out of the carton (as long as someone
hadn't licked all over it and put it back on the shelf in the store)? Wouldn't it be grand to be clueless, hopeless and caught totally unaware when there are no more cell phone signals, television signals, talking boxes that can answer every question you ever had, a myriad of devices that can watch, track and record your every sound and move, in every room in your house, even in your bedroom? Wouldn't it be great to know that there will always be food on the store shelves, gasoline for your car, Amazon delivery right to your front door and free stuff from the government? Wouldn't it be great to have friends to count on in the event of a collapse that wouldn't come and kill you for your stuff because they were the grasshoppers while you were the ant? 

Wouldn't it?

What would we do if we knew that our country had already moved beyond the point of no return? We have been doing it most of our adult lives. Preparing. Learning. Practicing. It's why we became reserve police officers before Y2K, became EMTs in remote Alaska, lived on a homestead where financial resources were focused on creating a sustainable life, learning what grows here, and how to care for animals that will help feed us. And now we've been drawn to this place, this world of the internet to share with those that might listen and that will teach us in return. Every last thing we can learn, practice and practice some more, will help us in this journey as we all fall off the cliff of civility and normality. Stay safe.

Until next time - Fern