The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Goats & Seeds & Demolition

It's been a busy week. I'm behind on getting my seeds planted, the baby goats are doing good, and Frank is working on tearing down the old shed. This morning the temperature was 17 degrees, yuck. We would rather be finished with these kinds of temperatures. But it is still winter, after all.

We told you about the shed we are demolishing a few days ago. Frank has been working on that this week.


A few evenings ago, I carved out a little bit of time to finally get the carrots and beets seedlings started. I am about 10 days to 2 weeks behind my planned schedule for starting seedlings, but sometimes life has other things planned. Out of the list of things I had planned to start by February 15th, the carrots and beets are all that are in the pots so far. I finished off the last of the beets by the glow of the porch light, but they are in.


We let Velvet and her kids out of the birthing pen on Tuesday evening. The boys are doing great and jumping around like nuts. They are so fun to watch. Velvet is a very good mom this time around and appears to have calmed down. We are very pleased with her progress. I tried to take more pictures of the babies, but they are not very interested in standing still for very long.


Spring is a very busy time. Baby goats coming, by the way, Ivory is due this Sunday and Copper next Friday. Eggs in the incubator which will start hatching the same day Copper is due. Babies everywhere! Then the time is quickly coming when we will start planting the garden. Once Frank has the building down, we will have the new building brought out and set up. That will allow us to till the garden again and start setting up the trellises we will be using for some of the garden plants. There is much to do after our slower, winter lull. 

Keep your ear to the ground and your senses keen. Hold your family close and thank God every day for your many blessings.

Until next time - Fern

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

People Are Fed Up

I found this interesting quote on Ol' Remus. It sums up what a lot of people are saying now days.

"I'm getting tired of being held accountable for what other people do. Being punished, not because I've caused anyone any harm but merely because I chose not to get on the short bus, grin like an imbecile and accept being treated like an imbecile because some people are imbeciles.
Eric Peters at"

This reminded me of a quote I found years back and kept:
"If you attack stupidity, you attack an entrenched interest with friends in government and every walk of public life, and you will make small progress against it." Samuel Marchbanks 

I hear many people saying that in years past they didn't resent what the crooks in politics did because it didn't seem to affect us as much. We were still able to make a decent living and have most of the luxuries offered to regular, working class folks. Now the intrusion of government into every
facet of our lives has fostered a serious growth of resentment. Resentment that those who work are now supporting an ever growing, almost majority, of those that don't. Resentment of the ridicule we receive for doing so. Resentment for having more and more regulations to meet in education. Resentment for the way our military and veterans are being treated. They're not terrorists or psychopaths, they are heroes!! Resentment for being told what we can eat, and that the food we can eat is full of herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers and man made chemicals that most people can't say, let alone understand the incredibly detrimental affects it has on our bodies. What will happen when this resentment fills the cup to overflowing? What will happen when the pot boils over?

After I read the quote at Ol' Remus, Frank ran across this article on FoxNews. Have Christians lost the culture war? One of the quotes in the article says: "Over the past few years, I’ve documented hundreds of instances of religious persecution in the United States. And the targets have been exclusively Christians." So, now, add
religious and racial persecution to the mix of resentment. How did it become okay to persecute those you disagree with? I thought that was a hate crime. It appears that hate crimes can only go one direction, but not both ways. One of the reasons this is so is because for some unfathomable reason, most media outlets are no longer reporting in a true and honest fashion. Whether this is by choice or by dictate, the outcome is the same. The population of our country is no longer given a true, unbiased look at the events surrounding our everyday lives. Events that are in some instances taking our country by storm, literally, in the form of mobs and violence, most people know nothing about, because it is no longer being reported.

Why is it we can no longer say what we think? Why is it okay for some groups to say what they think, but if you have a differing opinion it is a hate crime? Why is it when some people go to the airport they get groped, but
some groups don't? Then if you complain about the other group, it's a hate crime. When did things get to be so one sided? And how is that possible? Many people are now afraid of and despise what our government has become. How is it that voter fraud and intimidation is not only allowed but never challenged? There is a story on The Hill that covers some comments from Vice President Biden. "Vice President Biden said new voter ID laws in North Carolina, Alabama and Texas were evidence of “hatred” and “zealotry” during a Black History Month event at the Naval Observatory on Tuesday." Since when does having to identify yourself become an act of hatred and zealotry? Does this sound like America or some third world country?

When did it become okay to confiscate money from the masses in the form of ever increasing taxes, debt, penalties, licensing requirements,
more taxes, inflation and out right theft of retirement and bank accounts? And yet, those that work, and take pride in that fact, continue to scrape together what they can to make ends meet and make the ever shrinking dollar stretch to cover basic needs and financial obligations. When did it become okay for the government to steal everyone's money and give it to the 'too big too fail' cronies so they could all get filthy rich while peoples' lives are ruined?

What do we do with this increasing frustration, resentment and fear? How do we channel this energy into a purpose that will possibly increase the
likelihood of our survival and well being? I don't have an answer for that. Many people have chosen to hunker down and minimize their notice-ability. Some have become very outspoken in their complaints about the ever degenerating conditions in which we find ourselves. And yet others choose to look the other way and keep pretending that "Things will get better." After all, the media keeps telling us we are in a recovery, right? If they keep repeating that mantra enough, will that make it true? Will it?

I see an ever increasing sea of angry people, stressed out people, depressed people. People that know that they will not be able to
increase their standard of living the way they once thought. People that may have adult children still living at home because there are no jobs and no hope for any. College graduates that will never get out of debt because there are no jobs, which means there is no hope for a 'normal' future. People that were expecting to be able to enter their 'golden years' in comfort are finding themselves struggling to manage basic necessities. People that feel hopeless, weak and defeated. 

What will come of our once great nation, our One Nation Under God? We are more divided  than ever. There is a strong undercurrent of divisiveness 
that didn't exist a few short years ago. There are those that would ruin lives in a heartbeat to further their cause. There are those that wouldn't give a second thought to the people that have lost their jobs, and would work at just about anything instead of going on the government dole to support their families. There is a growing feeling that 'The People' are expendable. 'The People' are just a means to an end and when that end has been reached 'The People' will no longer be needed, therefore, they are expendable.

I wonder if 'The People' will wake up and see what is happening? Even if half of the people wake up, which is not going to happen, I think it's too late.

Until next time - Fern

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Aagghhh! A Skunk!!

One morning about a month ago, Frank was helping me carry my things to the car so I could be on my way to work. This is something he does everyday, including cleaning or scraping my windshield. Ladies, I am spoiled, that's for sure. It was still dark out, just barely getting light when I left. Frank had forgotten his flashlight, so I gave him one of the extra ones out of the car. 

As I leave each morning, Frank walks up and down the lane for exercise and to stretch his back. We keep in touch by radio until I am too far to reach him on his handheld.

Well, this particular morning, we said our goodbyes, then I was on my way driving and he was on his way walking. He didn't get very far, maybe one hundred feet, when he heard a rustling off to the side of the lane. He stopped and shined his light around and out of the grass and brush walks a skunk......right at it wasn't slowing down or turning aside. 
Google Images

I hadn't made it very far down the road, when I hear this out-of-breath voice saying, "[Censored]!! There was a skunk coming at me in the lane!!" Right after thinking that was very funny, I asked Frank if it sprayed him. He told me no, he didn't stick around long enough. He ran back to the house, something he hasn't done in years. He then announced his walk was over for the morning. His heart had gotten enough of a work out in just those few short feet. 

You know, it's still funny when I think about it, but that's probably because it wasn't me! 

Until next time - Fern

Monday, February 24, 2014

Radio - Wanna Be a General, Part 1 - Re-posted

Hello, Frank here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to apologize for not doing a radio post for over a month. I have been sick, down and out with what is commonly called shingles. This is not something I would wish on my worst enemy, well, in most cases anyway. So, for those of you that are still with me, and interested in getting your General license, then let's get started. The last post I sent out was the beginning of the General license program. I'm going to re-post it, primarily because it is filled with information and if you will take a day or so and go through this information, then we will have a restart. By the way, the shingles. I had a very mild variation of it, which we attribute to catching it very early. I am happy for this, but the medication I was taking had some nasty side effects, which is the primary reason I have not been able to post about radios. So, if you're interested, please read the last post, which is re-posted below. Thank you for your understanding. 

Originally posted January 20, 2014

Time to put our thinking hats back on, tin foil inserted or not, is entirely up to you. But, I kind of like tin foil in my hat. The General test is going to be more complicated than the Technician. This is just the nature of things and it is nothing to be afraid of. The formulas are going to be a little bit more sophisticated, but as before, there are only so many formulas on a test, and if you can't figure them out, then memorize the answer. 

This first post over the General test is going to re-familiarize you with some former sites that you used during your Technician test. But before we start, let me remind you of safety. Not only can you electrocute yourself, or your cousin Billy, you can also do internal damage with RF signals. This is not a joke. You heard me talk earlier about frying your little girl's brain. Studying your General test, you're going to step into more power, a lot more power sometimes, and if you don't know what you're doing, DON'T DO IT. Pay attention to safety. 

Again, throughout this series of blogs, I'm going to reference Universal Radio, because I find their website easy to use, and they provide data and information about the equipment they carry. I will also be referencing many other radio websites.

Whatever style or mode you choose to use, whether it be the Romanchik, General Class No Nonsense Study Guide, the ARRL manuals, online tutorials, or a combination of the above, use what works for you. I have a friend that studied only, which is a free online service, for his Technician and General, and it worked for him. So, if your goal is to just pass the test, then this is one way. I needed more information, so I used the Romanchik manual for my Technician and the QRZ website. For the General, I did not use the Romanchik manual, but instead chose to use the paid version of Ham Test Online. This worked well for me. Ham Test Online provides tutorial information about subject material. This is what I used, it works for me. By the way, the Romanchik manual, online version has links at the end of the units for additional information that the Technician manual did not. Just more food for thought.

Practice test resources:


A resource that I found very valuable was ARRL. Their website has so much information, it's just hard to discuss. But if you need to locate a local club, which I would recommend, and find yourself an Elmer, that you
can easily communicate with. Most of these guys are good, down to earth people. There are some things that you just can't figure out from a book or a manual, so I highly recommend that you get in touch with ARRL and find yourself an Elmer. ARRL also has a catalog section where they sell manuals for the Technican, General and Extra, as well as other manuals for these tests also. This catalog also contains a plethora of books on ham radio and SWL. Use ARRL, they're a handy, handy website.

FCC. The FCC is the group that controls the rules, regulations and licensing. I'm going to include a section for ham radio rules and regulations. I'm also going to provide you with a link to their licensing webpage. Amateur radio is pretty open to making your own modifications and adaptations, but you don't want to get out of the rules. An example, if you're broadcasting and you're interfering with Gramma's TV down the road, whether you're legal or not, doesn't make any difference. You need to stop and fix the problem. Another example, if you live close to an airport, again, whether legal or not, you don't want to be messing or interfering with aircraft communications. So, there are some rules you do need to know and you do need to follow. But if you want to build your own antenna that looks like Sputnik, go ahead. Try not to burn your house down in the process. So, follow the rules. Did I mention safety? The General will cover significantly more information about RF emissions and proper grounding.

So, we've talked about manuals and ways to get there, ARRL contacts, FCC, safety. The need for communications. During your Technician studies we covered mostly VHF and UHF and, of course, we learned about bouncing a signal off of an asteroid, which was on the test, wasn't it?
 And we covered a teeny, weeny portion of the 10 meter band. Getting your General license will open up the HF frequencies, plus the 160 meter band. The HF bands are what most people consider to be ham radio. It provides the opportunity to talk and listen very long distances, so this will open up a new world. Getting your HF radio will also provide you with a first class SWL radio. I enjoy listening to radio news stations from other countries and continents. This is really not ham radio, it's just a bonus feature. 

The radio equipment, overall, is going to be little bit more expensive. The radios will have bells and whistles that you will not have heard of before. The antennas are going to be more sophisticated than sticking a 2 meter mag mount on your car. There are a number of different types of antennas, and everybody and their cousin will have a preference as to which one is
the best. If you remember from my previous posts, there is no best of anything, it's all up to you. But then there's that deer in the headlight look, "I don't know which one is best." So, you go to one of these ham club meetings, sitting in this room is a world of knowledge, mostly guys, and everyone of them has a different opinion of what is best. So, what do you do? That's a good question, I can't answer that one for you. I will tell you what I think is best. So, just pretend like I'm number 15 in that room full of guys.

I got into ham radio for the communications aspect of it only. I have no intention of ever contesting. I'm not trying to "work all states". And for the guys doing this, that is fine. It's a big stadium, and there's lots of room for
everybody. I spend most of my time listening. I listen to Beijing Radio often on shortwave. I listen to folks all around the country and spots around the world. I use very simple equipment, and simple generally equates to less expensive. My entire purpose for listening is to ascertain information from around the world, around the country and local. Some of us believe that someday some catastrophe is going to happen, who knows what it will be, but there is a probability we are going to see reduced electricity and more government control. This is why I want to be able to listen. A couple of days ago, I was playing on my CB radio, which is an HF radio 11 meter. I was on AM and talked to a man in Boston and one in California, and I live in southeastern Oklahoma. 

So, during the Technician's test, we talked about GMRS, FRS, MURS, these are forms of local communication. Now, with the General, we're going to step into long distance, or DX. So, as mentioned above, this will open up a new world. If you will look at the ICOM band chart, you will notice that 10, 12, 17 and 160 meters are entirely open to the General class. ARRL also has a band chart that is a little bit different, but you can figure it out. The other bands not
mentioned above, are partially open to the General. So getting your General license will open up the majority of the HF bands. Don't forget, you don't need morse code for any level of amateur license. Decide how you want to pursue this. If you want to use Romanchik, go ahead and download the manual, borrow, or purchase any other books that you want to use. Check out the websites for tutorials, and I didn't mention earlier, that local ARRL clubs often have free classes for the Technician and sometimes for the General. Another reason to check out your local ARRL. 

The pace on this particular class will be sharply quicker than the Technican. I will primarily use the Romanchik manual, but at a much quicker pace. This manual starts off like the Technician did, covering formulas and using some general math that occasionally intimidates people. As mentioned earlier, if you can't master the formulas or the math,
then just memorize the answers. After the formulas and math, it is just general knowledge like it was in the Technician's manual and it is a whole lot easier to learn. There are some old salts that disagree with this idea and technique, but don't worry about them, they're not the ones taking the test. So, if you need to, memorize the whole test. That's what my wife did, she just memorized the whole test. She learned a little bit, but not much. I on the other hand, have a background in electronics and some of it I just memorized. So, do whatever you need to do to pass and don't worry about what somebody else thinks, it's a waste of time.

So, gather up the tools you're going to use and we'll get started here shortly. But, please do not wait on me, if you are a self learner, then you may be finished by the time I start. If you have your Technician license, and you take your General and pass it, you do not have to wait for the FCC to post your new license before you can start transmitting. If you pass your General test, you can start that day.

We'll talk more later. 73, Frank

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Velvet's Baby Goats

We've got kids! Today was Velvet's big day. But before her kids arrived, we were doing some standard Saturday stuff. Making our traditional Saturday morning biscuits and as a bonus, we had gravy today, making sourdough bread (I set out the sponge last night), making yogurt and trying to clean up the kitchen while I continued to mess it up. You know, a normal day.

When I went up to the barn to milk, I noticed Velvet's hips and tailbone were very visible, so I knew her babies had dropped.
The hip bone to the left is very prominent.

Right along here, her tailbone is very visible. It's much harder to see in a picture.

A comparison of how hollow Velvet's hips and tail look. She is on the left.

Velvet on the left, Ivory on the right

Over the past few days her udder had filled up nicely and she was not cleaning up her feed, she just didn't have much room with the size of the babies.
Yesterday. Velvet on the left and her sister, Copper, on the right.

Yesterday afternoon

I finished off the milking and took the milk back to the house. Instead of chilling it after we strained it, I just heated it up and made yogurt. Then we added water to the incubator. The eggs have been going for a week now, only two more weeks until we have baby chicks.



Then I mixed up the bread and set it aside to rise. Since I used a half cup of butter in the bread, I set out more cream to make butter.

I also used up the honey we had ready to use. So, I got out the gallon jar of honey we are using. It has gone to sugar so I put it in jars to heat and rejuvenate it. Which made more messes, by the way.

Then it was back to the barn to check on Velvet. The goats were a little ways out in the pasture. Velvet was slow to make it to the barn and she was definitely in labor.


So, I fixed up the nursery.....

And penned up her mother, One Stripe, beside her for comfort. Here is the peanut gallery where I pull up a chair.


After a while it didn't look like anything was was going to happen soon, so I went back to the house to bake the buns and have some lunch. The buns didn't turn out right, they were kind of hollow. I am still getting used to using sourdough instead of regular yeast bread. Maybe some experienced sourdough folks can give me some pointers.

Then it was back to the barn. This is what I found when I arrived. Twin bucks. Nice big healthy boys. My concern with this birth was Velvet. Last year she had a big single doe, but she was kind of in shock for hours afterward. She wouldn't clean up the baby, nurse it or talk to it. She just stood there. Thankfully, this was not the case today. She is a very attentive mother and patiently stood for her boys to nurse. I am very grateful. It's hard to get newborn baby goats to pose for the camera, but here they are.

Velvet is the first of three does to kid this almost spring. Ivory is due next Sunday.
Copper is due the following Friday on March 7th. Then we will be swimming in milk again.

I'll be giving you updates on how everyone is doing. For now, at the end of a very busy, productive day I thank God for His many blessings, two healthy little boys and a healthy mom. Now it's back to the barn to check on the babies.

Until next time - Fern