The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

We Are Two! Be Vigilant!

Guess what? We're two! We began our blog on May 30, 2013 with much trepidation and doubt that it was an intelligent move on our part. Doubtful that anyone would find it useful, interesting or even read it, and trepidation at putting our thoughts out there in internet land. But we felt compelled to share what we know, what we have experienced, and our knowledge of the need to prepare for the demise of our country and society. Unfortunately, the call to prepare still needs to be sounded for as many as will listen, so we continue to share our lives, our thoughts and our preparations.

Frank's first radio communications post was about rules and safety. From there he moved on to CB radios and regular family handheld, or GMRS and FRS radios. He has taught folks how to get their ham radio license, what equipment they need to meet certain communication goals, and how important radio communications will be to all of us when no other means of contact is available. We want to thank everyone that has asked questions and shared with us their success at obtaining a ham radio license. It is always great to hear that something we wrote helped them along the way.

Fern has shared goats, gardening and cheese making. Canning, cooking and insects. Even though she has shared many things in these categories, she has learned a great deal from the comments you have left. We enjoy the 'conversations' we are able to have with you through the comment section. The article is not finished or complete until we have had the opportunity to learn more, or be given food for thought, by you the reader. You see, even though we share many things here in hopes that it will be useful to someone, we have also learned a great deal from all you have shared with us. For that, we are truly grateful.

We have had the honor to be featured on several prominent blogs in the homestead/preparedness/survival areas. We would like to thank Patrice Lewis of Rural Revolution for tutoring us when we first began this blog. She took the time to answer many questions and give us pointers.

We would also like to thank James, Wesley Rawles of SurvivalBlog for featuring several of our articles on his blog. These folks have helped increase our readership and allowed us to share with many more people than we would have ever reached on our own. Every time you comment, you give us more to think about, research, and learn. We truly appreciate all that you teach us.

Besides radios, chickens, cheese and bugs, we all need to be astutely aware that our government is playing some serious games. Most of us are aware that the economy, not just of the United States, but of the entire planet, is in serious, serious disarray. We've all seen bugs and birds, fish and mammals do everything they can to survive. Our government is no different. It will do what is necessary to keep itself with it's head above water at any cost. Just take a look at quantitative easing. It doesn't work and hasn't worked. 


Now is not the time to become complacent. Look at Baltimore, or Chicago. If we look very closely it would appear that our government is stirring the pot and turning up the heat. I know these are sad things to say, but if we look closely, it appears that the lines are being set for some type of civil insurrection. Just watch a cattleman herd his cattle. If he wants them to go a certain way, he doesn't have to use lots of force, he just very gently coerces the animals in the direction he desires. This is what is happening in America. We're all being led like the cattle, ultimately to the feed lot and slaughter house. Metaphorically speaking, of course. 

Summertime is coming. Lots of daylight and lots of heat. October is the traditional month for stock market problems, and some of our financial bubbles cannot continue to survive. You need to keep an eye on Greece, because if they go down the drain, that will be the end of the European Union. You need to pay attention to congress, also. This is unquestionably the highest concentration of corrupt, white collar criminals ever organized. They, like the government, will do anything to keep their heads above water. We do not have a representative type of government any longer. Are there exceptions to the rule? Of course, but they are few and far between. So, if our government will do anything to keep it's head above water, and congress will do anything to keep it's head above water, I don't think that you and I, the common people, are really on anybody's agenda. We are just slaves.

There are a few other topics to pay attention to. We have a serious immigration problem. Our borders are being flooded with unskilled criminals, not just from Mexico, but from other countries with which we have serious enemies. The Department of Human Services, or whatever your state calls it, has created a huge population that refuses to work, and our government has conveniently created a majority welfare subculture. The educational system, as I stated before, is a pathetic, cesspool pretending to be educating our children, while the children are actually being indoctrinated. Are there exceptions to this rule? Sure there are. 

Now is not the time to drop your vigilance. A lot of prominent individuals are predicting a serious disruption this fall, and some are saying earlier. Please pay attention and get prepared. If I am wrong, Hallelujah! If I am right, may God be with us all.

Frank's favorite poster

God gave us the incentive to share our lives here, and in turn we have been greatly blessed. We thank you for reading our words and sharing your lives with us.

From the humble hearts of, 

Frank & Fern Feral

Friday, May 29, 2015

Homestead News, Volume 3

Even with historic rainfall, it seems we have managed to stay busy on our homestead. There are a number of projects that are either ongoing, getting started or waiting in the wings for next week to arrive. Here is a rundown of some of our recent events.


Frank has wanted to put another layer of gravel on the road going up to the barn. We had this road constructed when we bought our place, but it was time to increase the gravel depth and width. This should do for this road for years to come.


We also wanted a load of gravel placed in the backyard so Frank could spread it out in our parking areas and in a number of other places. Unfortunately, the dump truck got stuck before it could make it down the hill. This necessitated dumping the gravel by the chicken house, which means Frank will have to make many, many trips up and down this hill to place the gravel in the desired place.

The dewberries are ripening, so my friend Grace came over today and between rain showers, we picked a few berries. I hope to pick many more in the next few days. By the way, yesterday and last night we got another 1.4" of rain, and then today we got another 0.4". But! This is supposed to be the end of it. There is no rain in the near forecast. Hallelujah!

We have had some issues with the egg turner in our incubator this year and were afraid we would have a very poor hatch rate. Today, the day before our actual hatch date, we already have eleven, no make that sixteen, new baby chicks. We were surprised and pleased with this development. Frank will fill you in on the details in an upcoming chicken story.

Our house was built in 1983 on a stem wall with floor joists. Over time it has settled in the middle and needed to be jacked up and leveled. It was hard to find someone to do this kind of work, but today two of our friends arrived and began this project. After this job is completed, they will be helping us replace some of our 30 year old carpet with new flooring. We are really looking forward to that.

Next week the window company will be here to replace our windows. Many of them are clouded over on the inside, and one on the north side lets the cold air in if it is very windy. This is another project that has been on the drawing board for awhile.

The pigs are growing, and will be given more room sometime in the coming week when we let them out into the larger pig pen. First we need to add a few stock panels up against the barn. The last set of pigs really rooted out a lot of dirt under the edge of the slab the barn is sitting on. We don't want to allow any more of this dirt to be removed. All of the pigs are becoming tame enough to pat and scratch while they are eating, and occasionally when they are not. They greet me each time they see me, especially if I have a bucket in my hand. 

Easter on top, Bo in the house
Tomorrow our last two kids will be separated from their mothers for weaning. Easter, our Easter Sunday doe, and Bo, our little bowlegged wether will be joining the adult wethers, the teenage wethers, and the billy goat. The teenage wethers and Patch, another young doe, have been separated from their mothers for eight weeks now. One Stripe is Patch's mom, and she is no longer being milked, so Patch will be rejoining the doe herd tomorrow. I will be glad to have her back with the 'girls' so I can give her more attention. She is already a very sweet, tame doe and I look forward to adding her to the milking line up next year.

Tomorrow morning Faith, our friend that bought Penny to milk, is coming over for a cheese making lesson. We will be discussing how to make soft cheese and making a batch of mozzarella. Faith has been reading a lot, but learns best by watching and taking notes. She is just beginning to put together a list of needed equipment and ingredients. We will have a fun time talking goats, milk and cheese.

The garden is growing despite all of the rain. The zinnias we planted in and around some of the vegetables are starting to bloom. And they are beautiful. 

It seems we are busier than ever, with much to do on our plates. Once the few projects I mentioned are complete there are about a half dozen more waiting to be started right behind them. We'll let you know what they are and how they go. Life on a homestead always gives you many things to do. Some planned. Some not. Either way, you learn, you work, you live. It's a good life.

Until next time - Fern

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Life's Little Trials

There are times recently that we feel like we've been given the chance to practice the future. The future that doesn't contain all of the wonderful modern conveniences we have grown so fond of and in some cases, dependent upon. There are skills we can practice now, some by choice and some by circumstance, that may increase our success and comfort when the chips are down for good. Here are just a few things we have had the opportunity to experience in the last few weeks and days.

  • How to garden with too much water
  • Preparing to have the water shut off due to flooding or contamination of the public water supply (this ended up being rumor, but was good mental practice) 
  • Power outage involving a fire at a regional substation (found out a transformer blew; odd it didn't happen during one of the major tornadic thunderstorms we had on Monday, it happened in calm weather; we found this strange)

  • The main ham radio repeater in our area was down due to a power outage. A generator that was donated to the radio club has not been installed, and there is limited battery backup to keep the repeater operational. This repeater is the main source of communication for our regional storm spotter and emergency communications hub.

So, what does all of this teach us? Many, many things, which is good. Let's start with the garden. We have had historic, record breaking rainfall amounts in this area for the month of May, with this came muddy soil conditions for planting which is far from ideal. A few years back we were in serious drought conditions and when we tilled the garden it was in a cloud of dust, literally. This year, it was really too muddy one time, but we knew our window of opportunity was very narrow, so we took it, and now, I'm glad we did. There are still folks waiting to plant or replant their gardens, and what they did get planted may or may not make it.

Yesterday, in the beautiful, rare sunshine, we noticed a few of the squash plants were wilting, which immediately made us think of squash vine borers. We have applied two batches of green lacewing eggs and nematodes in hopes of combating the vine borers, among other insects, so we were very disappointed. But upon inspection, we could find no damage from vine borers, so we pulled one small squash plant. The only conclusion we could come to was that it rotted in the ground from all of the rain.

Slugs. The slugs are proliferating at a phenomenal rate in all this moisture, and eating everything. We are in search of some iron phosphate which is supposed to be deadly for slugs. We are now finding tiny little new slugs everywhere. We have been putting out eggshells and coffee grounds, caffeine is supposed to be fatal to slugs as well, when we have them. We could also apply diatomaceous earth, but with daily rain, it would just wash away again and again. If we get a few days without rain, we will apply it everywhere. The cabbage worms have also showed up in mass, even with the lacewing applications. It has been a tough year for gardening.

Along with our record rainfall this month there have been a number of days that we spent in very, very stormy weather with too many tornado warnings for comfort. We've had neighbors that have been flooded in for days, remember we live in hill country. There are some houses that when you have a heavy rain, you just can't get out. As of May 20th, we had record rain for the month of May and it has been forecast everyday until the end of the month. Most of the folks we know that have been rained in, or conversely rained out, are doing fine, but not everybody has been so fortunate. We have lost a few rescue workers, and that's really tough on a community. We've had people's houses washed down rivers, thousands of acres of pasture land and cattle ranches are under water. There are still a handful of people that are unaccounted for. These are just some of the tragic stories. 

As mentioned earlier, our local ham radio repeater, and every antenna tower on top of a mountain was without power for about two days. Most of the commercial towers had reliable backup power. Somebody made an intelligent decision to shut the repeater down. The reason being, it is the primary radio communications system involving severe weather, and since we have severe weather forecast almost daily, it can be turned back on if needed for severe weather use.

Other types of communication needs. We were told by a reliable source that our local water treatment plant had been compromised with flood water. Then we started hearing the same thing, via the rumor mill, from multiple sources. The fact is, it never happened. We contacted our local water distributor the next day and they told us to listen to the local country stations for any announcements. Well, we don't get AM radio where we live, and our main local little town, which is 25 miles away, had a 12 hour power failure. So, how are we supposed to know? 

Next, we had a power failure in our area. As a general rule, during the worst weather, we seldom lose power, but it does happen. We called a couple of nearby neighbors. No power. We called some neighbors five miles down the road. No power. We called some friends 10 miles away. Get the picture here? This was not just a little power outage, the entire area was black. So, here come the rumors. The good news is, we could get rumors. The bad news is, they were also false. There was a fire at a local transfer station, not sure how it happened, it was not a hot day, there was no bad weather in the area. But we didn't have a way to communicate, not effectively anyway.

Before it got dark, we went around and gathered up lanterns. Fortunately, the day before I had charged up the rechargeable batteries and lanterns. By the way, all of our lanterns are battery operated. But the reason they were all charged is because the day before, on Memorial Day, we had four separate tornado warnings one right behind the other in our little neighborhood. Thank the Lord this happened during the daylight hours. But, all of our batteries were charged. 

We have some interesting pictures for you, of some of our local flooding. This is the highest I have ever seen the water in this area. If it's a low lying spot, it's got water sitting in it.

So, that's what we've been dealing with for the last week. But the whole month has been a down pour almost everyday. We've learned a lot. Sometimes people can get a little edgy when they don't get enough sunlight. In the northern climates they have a condition called SAD, seasonal affective disorder. When we lived in Barrow, Alaska they used a special type of fluorescent tube in the classrooms that provided kids and adults with a broader spectrum of light. We also had a special light in our home, for some people it worked and for some it didn't. But there's been a lot of folks in this area that have been a tad bit edgy lately. I guess that lack of natural vitamin D will do that to some folks. 

We have some eggs in an incubator right now and they're about four days away from hatching. We've had some incubator issues lately, which I'll discuss more in a chicken post in a couple of days. But when you have eggs in an incubator, and your power goes off, you better act quickly. In this case we grabbed a bunch of blankets, wrapped up the incubator, and hoped for the best. Our power was only off for three or four hours, but if it had been like the little town close to us and it was off for about 12 hours, then that would have been a different story. More on that later.

And to add to it, we went up to take a peek at how the livestock were doing, and discovered that the pigs were out. At first it was a serious concern, but like most animals that you feed, with a small can of feed, you can easily coax them where you want them to go. That was a great learning experience.

Part of what we're talking about here is how you deal with things. When life is great, and everything is going along well, then it's easy to deal with life. But we all know it's not like that everyday. We didn't lose any animals to flooding. Nobody got hurt. Our chicken pen is in sad shape, but someday it will dry. Overall, we are doing pretty good. It's easy to deal with things. But the last few days have been excellent practice. Today the power is back on, we don't have any real issues with our drinking water, the stores are still open, my retirement checks are still coming to the bank, and the shelves are still full of items that people need and don't need. But tomorrow that could all change. One of us could slip and break a leg. We still have severe weather just a hundred miles west of us and it's got to go somewhere. So, take advantage of the good days, because someday, maybe someday soon, the days are not going to be good. Practice today while you can. Learn your weaknesses and your limitations. And if you're of this persuasion, then thank God for what you have.

We'll talk more later, Frank

Monday, May 25, 2015

In Memory

On this day, we remember our fallen heroes, those who gave all that we might be free from tyranny. We pray for their families and loved ones, that they might be comforted.

May God and Peace be with you.

Frank & Fern