The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

What's Growin' in the Garden 1

Frank had a good idea earlier in the year. We're going to be showing a time lapse of the garden growth as the season goes along. Harvests and production rates will be noted as well as any difficulties we encounter along the way. In the long run, this will probably be more useful to us, but we hope you find something of interest along the way.

Last year we had a real problem with mosaic virus. Not only did it affect our green beans and Jacob's Cattle beans (a shell variety like pintos), it affected the tomatoes as well. Not in time to affect last year's growth and harvest, but hopefully to have a good impact for this year, we applied nematodes. Lots of them. Aribco Organics is a place I have found for beneficial insects. We applied nematodes from them about four or five years ago for slugs and it worked great, I rarely see a slug
in the garden. Well, last year we also started a strawberry bed that seemed to be doing well until later in the season when some of the plants started having brown leaves and dying. The only thing I could find in any of my books was a type of virus and the recommendation was to kill all the plants and move the bed somewhere else. We didn't want to do that, so they got a healthy dose of nematodes as well. The three pack of various nematodes affects a wide variety of garden pests, so that is what we used. It takes a while for the nematodes to multiply and affect the health of the soil, so we'll see how it goes. Nematodes are a natural part of the soil which will continue reproduce and become part of the soil as long as nothing comes along to affect the population. There are beneficial and 'pest' nematodes that can help or hurt the growth of garden plants.

March 31st

Winter spinach in the back porch bed

Freshly tilled dirt



April 10th

Time to clear some brush from the fence row


Apple blossoms

Turnips blooming and going to seed after spending the winter in the garden

April 12th

Brush removed, tilling complete

Trellises in place for tomatoes, beans and peppers

April 19th

Tomatoes by the trellis, pots of basil, carrots down the middle

Mostly dirt, but lots of potential!

April 22nd

The corn is peaking out.

It's all planted. Whew! The greenhouse is now empty and in need of a good cleaning. We've planted around rain showers and muddy ground. Luckily, we've had some pretty windy weather in between that has allowed us to keep planting. I could keep adding more and more pictures and updates, but I'll take up here with the next garden edition.

Now, we wait. As always we hope to have abundant harvests with lots to eat fresh and even more to put in jars on the shelf. As of today the plantings have included: corn, okra, Thelma Sanders and Cushaw winter squashes, amaranth, beets, tomatoes, carrots, basil, zinnas, nasturtiums, yellow squash, pole green beans, peppers - sweet, bell, banana, jalapeno and our cross pollinated surprise peppers, sunflowers, pinto beans, lettuce, cress, turnips and swiss chard. I think that's everything.

The strawberries are blooming and have lots of green berries. We hope they continue through the season.

Has anyone grown amaranth? If so, any pointers? We hope to be able to harvest leaves and grain. Another new adventure in gardening and nutrition.

How are things growing in your neck of the woods? We hope your harvest is abundant and your shelves are blessed with many jars.

Until next time - Fern

P.S. Frank bought me a surprise bag of red potatoes yesterday to plant. We had planned on picking up some seed potatoes at the feed store a while back but never made it. The potatoes we saved from last year sprouted a long time ago. They look like some extreme, wild hairdo with long straggly sprouts. Frank was at the store yesterday while I was visiting my mom at the nursing home and spied a bag of red potatoes with lots of eyes. Thus, my surprise. 

After the rain showers pass in a few days, we will have one more addition to squeeze in out there. We plan out our garden with annual maps for rotation and companion planting. After the potato surprise yesterday I got out the map and my Tomatoes Love Carrots book to check for companion placement for the new addition. It's already pretty crowded out there, but we have a place to squeeze them in. If you looked at the garden now, you might not consider all of that dirt crowded. Just wait about a month or two and you'll wonder where we walk to harvest and get around.

Some wives want flowers, I wanted potatoes to plant. It's a great life!
 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Raw Fermented Cacao

When we found out about Frank's heart blockage, my research went into high gear. We were given the gift of extended life without the damage of a heart attack and I want it to be the best experience we can produce through the efforts of our own minds and hands. That's why we have them. To work, to use, to do all we can. Everyday.

Therefore, research! 

We changed our breakfast from high protein bacon and eggs with berries to oatmeal, eggs and berries. In time we changed to lacto fermented oatmeal which we feel is even more healthy. We added flax oil, hawthorn berries and low does aspirin to our supplement routine and probably some other things I no longer think of as 'new'.

One of the things we ran across after a relative mentioned it was raw, fermented cacao powder. After reading a number of articles and figuring out the difference between dark chocolate, cocoa and cacao, we have settled on this. As with most things we buy, we shopped around for a good price in bulk. Healthworks sells this by the pound which we appreciate, so we buy it by the 5 lb. bag. It's also available on Amazon and other places.

Here are two articles that discuss some of the data we used in making our decision. Two of the main reasons are for the antioxidant properties and the affect on cardiovascular and blood pressure.

So, how do we partake of our daily cacao? We still do not use any sugars or sweeteners of any kind except for honey in our kefir and sourdough and that applies to our intake of cacao.

By the way, before we changed our diet and cut out all sweets I was a serious chocoholic. Very serious. I missed chocolate very, very much. Adding cacao to our diet is good for us? Hallelujah! Chocolate has returned to my taste buds! Okay, that's a little over board, but I really do like chocolate and enjoy our medicinal dose of cacao every single day.


We put it in our coffee. A cup of coffee, a spoonful of cacao, a splash of goat milk creates a real treat, and it's good for us. Who said living right had to taste bad and be torture? It's not for us, it's the good life and we appreciate the opportunity to live it.

Until next time - Fern

Friday, April 19, 2019

GMRS Radio - Time to Get Talking

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

I thought I would introduce you to another form of communication, but first I'm going to back track a little. A couple of articles back I gave you FCC regulations. It is your responsibility to know them, or at least pretend like you do. There are rules, there are regulations, and there are laws. For this boys and girls, you are responsible. People violate the law everyday, that does not make it RIGHT. I have a tendency to drive a little to fast in my vehicle sometimes. Am I violating the law? Yes. It is my choice.

Moving on. We also talked about CB radios, a great means of communication. Today, we're going to primarily discuss GMRS. It is a great way to communicate also. It is FM instead of AM, just like your car radio, FM has a clearer signal and less static than AM. There are reasons why, which at this particular time you don't need to know, but it will be covered later on, just not today. GMRS frequencies will not bounce off of the ionosphere like CB frequencies will on occasion. They are line of sight communication, LOC, similar in nature to CB, with some slightly different properties. The re-posted article below has lots of information talking about GMRS, FRS and MURS. 


They have come out with a new radio since this original article was published. Other companies may manufacture this new radio, but the only one I have seen is made by Midland. Yes, it is legal. It has more power, a detachable antenna and I can see where lots of people would like this particular radio. I have included a picture here and the manufacturers website. Check it out. You can use this radio as either a mobile or a base station. You can put a mag mount antenna on your vehicle, or at your base station you can put an external antenna way up in the air. The higher your antenna, the greater your line of sight communication. 

A controversial statement here. Could you use a commercial radio, either handheld, mobile or base station and communicate with these same GMRS frequencies? Absolutely. Can you use a modified ham radio transmitter? The answer again is yes. The difference is the Midland radio is legal, the modified ham radio and commercial radio are not legal to transmit on the GMRS  frequencies. You will hear this often from me. Is it illegal to drive 36MPH in a 35MPH zone? Yes. Is it illegal to drive 96MPH in a 35MPH zone? Yes it is. Which one will get you the most attention? 36 or 96? The answer is obvious.

You will still need the license to operate the GMRS radio mentioned above. It is not a ham radio license. If you have a ham radio license can you use the illegal radios mentioned above to operate on GMRS? You can, but it's still illegal. I will talk  more about commercial radios and modifying ham radios in the future, but today, we're going to talk about GMRS. I would check out that new Midland radio mentioned above.

Now, below is a re-posted article with a handful of comments added to it. If you're interested in learning more details about GMRS, please continue reading. As usual I would encourage you to get your ham radio license. It is by no means 100% necessary, but it will vastly increase your communication options.

If you have questions, ask. If you have comments, state them. Remember, this is fun. Go in the bathroom and look in the mirror and have a good laugh. Life is too short to be stuffy. There are enough serious things in the world. Have fun and communicate. Communication might save your life.

We'll talk more later,  Frank


Originally published October 11, 2014
 

Radio - GMRS, FRS & MURS



Hi Everybody, Frank here.

We're going to do a re-post today about non-ham radios. I know some survivalist say that everybody needs to get their ham radio license, but in the real world, that's just not going to happen. I received a comment on the blog this last week or so, and I want to share it with you. This man and I have shared a couple of comments back and forth, dealing with the properties of 2-way radio communications. If you want to get your ham radio license, great. But, if you want to communicate with your cousin Billy Bob down the road, then there are other ways besides ham radio. 

The GMRS radios, made by a number of manufacturers, will all communicate with each other. Don't believe the advertisements about 36 miles or 24 miles. These are line of sight communication radios, but they work great for their intended purpose.

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Frank- first off, thanks so much for the time you and Fern put in to sharing good information and just real life results of learning homesteading skills.

My question is on repeaters. Our home is partially earth sheltered, with most of the main floor cut in to the hillside. And of course, the garden, barn, and workshop where I am most likely to be when my wife and I might want to communicate, is uphill, the barn with metal walls. So, I am thinking I may well need a repeater to make things work, but am very early in my research. If I were to get the Baofeng/Pofung radios in this post, or something similar, what type of repeater would I need, and are they very expensive? I would most likely buy the radios first, to see if I even need the repeater, but would like to know now what the hit might be if one is needed.

Are there different repeaters for different bandwidths, or are there some repeaters with features that might be of benefit if I decide to move on to ham or CB?

Thanks again for your efforts.


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Hello. Great questions, and I can see some thought has gone into the issue.

Number one. I would borrow a couple of GMRS radios and see if they will work from your house to your barn. This would be, beyond a doubt the cheapest way to go. An example. Our barn is metal, our house has a metal roof, the barn is about 500 feet from the house, and from inside the house, to inside the barn, we have absolutely no problems with intelligibility, or volume. There is a small rise between the house and the barn. I can see the upper half of the barn from the house.

Following this same theme, the corner of our property, from corner to corner is about 1500 feet. There is no line of sight, and that is due to a hill in between, not a big hill, but still, no line of sight. With this scenario the transmission has a little bit of noise, but is still intelligible.

Number two. If for some reason, number one does not work for you, an external antenna might be your answer. That means your radio will have to be connected to the antenna, which certainly limits your mobile factor. But, if you do use this type scenario with an external antenna, depending on your setup, you can talk for miles. If I were guessing, I would guess that number one will be your best answer.

Number three. A repeater. A true repeater can get expensive and complicated. It has to have a constant power supply. Now, there are ham radios and commercial radios that function as cross band repeaters. I have never attempted this technique. What cross band means is you have a two band transceiver, one channel is set on VHF, the other channel is set on UHF, and through internal programming, it will broadcast and receive on each of these frequencies. Again, I have never used this technique, but they advertise that it will work. You're looking at $350.00 for this dedicated radio, a power supply, an antenna, but according to the manual it will work.

I would either borrow or buy two real cheap GMRS radios, everybody has them. They may not know they have them, but the things their kids play with, that's what they are. An external antenna for your home is easy to make, and will extend your transmit/receive range sharply. In some of the other radio posts I talk about external antennas. Of course, I would like for you to read all of the posts. Try the two handhelds first. If you decide on the $40.00 radios, great. You will need a programming cable, unless you want to do it the old fashioned way by keypad entry, which can be done. I use the RT system and it works for me.

One last thing to consider. No matter what frequency you use, somebody can hear you. Hope this helps. Enjoyed your blog, by the way. Take care.

Frank


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Frank- I went ahead and got the Midland GXT 1050 radios you mention in the post on GMRS/FRS/MURS. Tried it out in the barn, other places, and excellent reception all around. I might even take one up in the tree stand this November and wear the ear piece.

Any comments on maximizing the NiMH battery life? For now, I plan to keep them in the recharge cradles unless we are using them, which may not be a lot till we develop the habit more.

As you and Fern say many times, until you have actually DONE something, you have no idea how it will really go down. In this case, it worked out fine, but we have many other tasks in front of us as we work to improve our self sufficiency. Thanks again for the time you two put in to sharing. After a couple more seasons on our small farm, maybe I will be able to share with the wider world what we have learned as well. 


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Hi. I'm glad that these worked for you. As far as maximizing the battery life. One, I would use the radios everyday, then they become part of your routine. It's kind of like putting your keys in your pocket, if you get in the habit, you will always take it with you.

Let the batteries drain before recharging. I know that this type of battery advertises it does not develop a memory, but it does. If you keep them fully charged all the time, then you will have much less battery life. If you're using the internal battery pack that came with the radio, you can remove it and put four AA rechargeable batteries in it that will charge in the cradle, and sharply extend the transmit and receive time. If you're going to be out all day, like sitting in a tree stand, charge the battery that came with the radio, take it out, put it in your pack and keep it as a back up.

My best advice is to not keep the radio in the charger all the time. For a long time I would always charge the radios on a Friday night. Then I would have well charged batteries that would last me a week.

Make sure you wear the ear piece when you are hunting. Because I, on more than one occasion, have listened to hunters chat between each other whispering. There is always some clown who will make a loud noise in the radio, like a duck or coyote call. Some people think that's funny.

No joke, though, don't keep your radio in the charger all the time. It will shorten your battery life tremendously. Hope all this helps, and I'm glad the radios worked out well for you.

Frank


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Next, I want to share with you an interesting and exciting comment I received this week from an individual that has gotten their Technician ham radio license. They purchased one of the $40.00 radios that I wrote about, and seem to be very realistic about their goals for ham radio. You see there is no magic secret to radio. For the most part, you turn the on/off switch to on, you push the little transmit button and speak into the microphone. Whether ham radio or GMRS, you can still communicate when you need to. And while you're doing your research, don't forget to check out the CB radio. Because with the right CB radio, not only can you communicate with Billy Bob down the road, but when the ionosphere is in the right position, you can also listen and talk around the globe. Do your research. Enjoy the read from the person that got their Technician license, and if you would like, please read the re-post about GMRS, FRS & MURS.

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Thanks so much for this review [this comment was on the post about manual grain grinders], I really needed an item like this. I also recently got my Technician ticket thanks to all of Frank's writings. I appreciate your blog!

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You're welcome for the review of the grinder, but please do your own research.

That being said, Congratulations! on your Technician ticket. I genuinely hope you enjoy the hobby, if you choose to use it as a hobby. As you are aware now, there is a whole world open to ham radio. And you are aware that I use it for survival purposes.

I would highly recommend that you go ahead and pursue your General license. Same number of questions, one more formula, and about the same level of difficulty. The General will open up the rest of ham radio to you. There isn't anything you can't do with the General, just a few places you can't go that the Extra will allow you.

Very few people ever comment on the radio posts, but on occasion I get a comment like yours, stating that an individual had received their Technician and sometimes also their General. Your comment is why I do this. Thank you again. Best of luck.

73s, Frank


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Frank, I do plan on getting my general. I am a mechanical engineer so the formulas and schematics aren't hard, it is the stuff you just have to memorize that slows me down. I wanted to get my tech before the pool questions changed. I joined the local ham club and the emergency comm group, which is a great way to learn. To me, having a tech is like a learners permit - I can legally practice and learn the culture and then get my general. 73 

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Fern was kind enough to indulge me when I was working to get my Technician and General. She also picked up her Technician and General. We use radios in our life everyday, and not always ham radio. Fern didn't have the interest in getting her license like I did, so she just memorized all of the answers. We took our Technician's and she did better on the test than I did. She missed one, I missed three. The funny part is, when we took our General test, I was surprised that the guys doing the testing remembered us. When I went up to get mine scored, the older gentleman said, "You missed one." Then kind of laughed and said, "And your wife still did better than you did!" I had a buddy that took his Technician and General on the same day, and he just memorized the answers. I, on the other hand, can't do that. Yes, there are a couple of them that I would never learn. So I found some cute little pattern to try to associate the numbers. But, I have to be able to see how things work in my head. So, that's our story.

I think you have a real good plan, and I really hope that you enjoy it. If you're going to do emergency comm work, check out the CA 2x4 SR. This antenna works outside of the ham bands and does a real good job. And if your area is like most, emergency comms fall in the lower 150's. And there is a ground plane kit for a stationary mount, a Tram 1460.

Take care and keep me up to date.

73s, Frank


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Frank, thanks for the recommendation. I will check them out. I am really excited by this hobby. I can't wait to get a setup that works for me. I have a baofeng HT and am researching what more I want. I enjoy seeing your shack. 

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Originally published July 5, 2013
 
Hello, Frank here.

Today we're going to talk about Subpart A, Subpart B and Subpart J. Okay, do you wonder if this guy has been out in the sun too long? Well, no ......... maybe. This is what we're going to talk about today.

Subpart A is GMRS, General Mobile Radio Service. Subpart B is FRS, Family Radio Service. Subpart J is MURS, Multi-Use Radio Service. All of this comes from CFR, Code of Federal Regulations, Title 47, Telecommunications, Part 95, Personal Radio Services. This is a little review of where Federal Regulations come from. Subpart A & B we are going to talk about together - that's GMRS and FRS.

These little walkie-talkie type two way radios that guys use during hunting season, and their kids play with out in the yard, are actually GMRS/FRS radios. Okay, what's the difference?
GMRS has 23 channels that operate between 462 - 467 MHz (megahertz). For future reference, when we get into ham radios this is UHF (ultra high frequency) and the ham people call hand held radios HT's (handy talky). But for our purposes, we will call them two way radios. 

FRS shares GMRS channels one through seven. Channels eight through fourteen are only FRS. Channels fifteen through twenty-three are only GMRS. FRS has a maximum output of 500 milliwatts, or 1/2 watt. GMRS has an output of up to 5 watts.

Now here is the big difference. To operate on GMRS you are required to have an FCC license. Not a ham license, but an FCC license. For FRS there is no license required. So, channels 8 - 14 do not require a license. Channels 1 - 7 do not require a license if you operate on low power. Do most people have a license that operate on GMRS? Do most people drive 56 MPH in a 55 MPH zone? I have never met a person that actually has a GMRS FCC license. But if you do apply for one and receive it, then legally anyone in your family or circle of friends at your house can use your radios. 

So much for legal. From here on out, I am just going to refer to these radios as GMRS.

Cobra, Midland, Uniden and others all make two-way radios. All make claims of transmitting 10 miles, 20 miles or 36 miles, but remember this is under perfect conditions. An example: mountain top to mountain top, you can do much farther than 36 miles away. So, take 36 miles distance with a grain of salt. These are line of sight communication devices. If they are putting out four or five watts, the one that advertises 10 miles will go as far as the one advertising 36 miles. What's the difference? Features. Some have duck calls and coyote calls. Some have weather ability. Some have clocks. But if you want a basic radio and you don't care about duck calls, then just about any of these radios will meet your needs.

Most of these two-way radios have rechargeable batteries that can be recharged from the provided cradle and AC and DC power connections. Surprisingly, not all radios come with a charging system. Some only operate off of AA batteries. I would avoid these. Most of the radios come with a battery packet insert that can be easily removed and replaced with AA or AAA batteries, or rechargeable batteries. Some will recharge rechargeable batteries while they are in the charging cradle, but most won't. Here's my point. If you buy a certain type of radio, you can put rechargeable batteries in it, and you can recharge them in the cradle that came with the radio. Rechargeable batteries will last much longer than the battery packet that came with  the radio. Some manufacturers make radios that look almost identical and some will recharge rechargeable batteries in the cradle, but most will not. I learned this from simple trial and error. It's a lot more handy to come in at the end of the day, take off the radio, put it in the recharging cradle and the next morning you are ready to go. Or you can take off the radio, take the back off of the radio, take the batteries out, recharge the batteries, then put the batteries back in the radio and replace the cover. It's your choice.

I'm going to make a recommendation here. I use a Midland GXT 1050. The GXT 1000 is the exact same radio, one is black, one is camo and the black one costs about $10 - $20 less. When you buy this package, it comes with two radios,
two battery packets, a charging cradle, AC and DC power supplies, and two earphone/microphone type headsets. I have never used the earphone/microphone accessory. I use a 12 volt system to charge all of my radios, which means that you can charge your radios in your car if you have the charging cradle with you. The reason I recommend this radio is you can remove the battery pack and insert four rechargeable AA batteries and they will charge in the charging cradle. They are advertised up to 36 miles if you live on top of a mountain. Just kidding. I have used this particular radio for a number of years. I have also bought some of the other Midland radios that look identical, but will not charge the rechargeable batteries while inside the radio. Prices vary greatly from dealer to dealer, some folks are a lot more proud of their stuff than others. 

Now I am going to switch over to MURS, Mult-Use Radio Service, for a minute. MURS operates from 151 - 154 MHz, which is in the VHF (very high frequency) range. MURS is also line-of-sight communication. Maximum output power is 2 watts. It does not require a license to operate. There are five channels. In the rural areas few to none use the MURS frequencies. I'm sure over time things will change, but things change slowly in rural areas. I became aware of MURS about five years ago when reading one of James Wesley, Rawles books. He is the author of SurvivalBlog.com. There is not much traffic on channels one through three. Channels 4 and 5 are old business channels, so around some larger cities there are businesses that still use these channels because they have not been phased out yet. 

I do not know of any manufacturers that produce an exclusive MURS radio. Most guys that use the MURS frequencies use a commercial radio. I will give you more information about MURS and how to operate on the five channels in the next post. Most of the people that operate on MURS frequencies use modified ham radios or commercial radios. Both of these techniques are questionable. Remember, driving 56 MPH in a 55 MPH zone is illegal. But if you are not bothering anyone else, then you will not attract attention. As always, it's your choice.

If you would like to start looking at hand held commercial radios, try this site. Some of their radios are strictly ham radios and some are commercial. It is legal to operate a commercial radio on ham frequencies if you are a licensed ham, but it is not legal to operate a ham radio on anything but ham frequencies. While at this site, check out their power pole connectors. They have tons of information and easy to understand diagrams and pictures. I have bought from these people and in the future I will buy from them again.

Next time I'll talk more about commercial radios and modified ham radios. This will introduce us into the first part of the ham radio series.  

We'll talk more later. 73, Frank


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

April 19

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

April 19th is a big day in our country. No, you don't get the day off and it's not the birthday of some old, dead President, but it is a day that you need to pay attention.

Rules.
  • Avoid crowds. Of course I stole that from Ol' Remus.
  • Next, look at the first rule.
  • Last rule - NEVER TRUST THE GOVERNMENT
 
This will be a short article so don't go to sleep just yet. 

Follow me now.

Lexington and Concord - April 19, 1775
Our government attacked the citizens, or they were going to, anyway. You say, No Frank, that's not right. It was the British soldiers that attacked. Well, the heroes of that time that we call heroes, the American Revolutionaries, were British citizens and spoke British English. But getting back to the point, they were coming after us.

Waco, Texas - April 19, 1993
David Koresh of the Branch Davidians, a religious leader, a preacher, I guess you would say, helped fund his church by legally buying and selling used guns.
Every morning Reverend Koresh went for a jog and stopped in a little cafe and had coffee to shoot the breeze with the local folks. This was his routine, daily. I do believe these folks were Christians and they chose to live their life together. If they, the government, wanted to talk to Mr. Koresh, why didn't they have a cup of coffee with him? Instead, they lied to the Governor of the State of Texas to get her military equipment after their unsuccessful raid of the Branch Davidian compound. Why did they have to kill, or better yet murder, all of those women and children? Why did they have to burn them to death in an inferno?

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - April 19, 1995
The Murrah Federal Building. Timothy McVeigh and some of his helpers detonated a bomb directly in front of the Murrah Building.
The ground level floor was something similar to a daycare with little children. There are a lot of discrepancies and stories that came out of that escapade. The Oklahoma City (OKC) fire department just happened to be doing a bomb drill that morning. There were FBI agents from Dallas in OKC that lied about being there. Sadly, they used a private credit card for their hotel room. Why was the OKC bomb sniffing dog team out practicing that morning? Other people on death row stay there for years, but not Timothy McVeigh. Why were entire offices of federal agents empty the day of the Murrah blast? Why did they kill all of those women and children?

There are other tragic events that happened on April 19th, but the reason for this short article is to remind you that April 19th will be here very soon. There are people out there that will kill you, your family and everyone in your area for their convenience and no one will ever be prosecuted for it.






On a side note. It's also Holy Week. Sunday. Easter is the biggest holiday in the Christian world. 







Pay attention everybody. Remember, there are those that will do you harm.



We'll talk more later,  Frank

 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Life Is More Serious

Realization that mortality is ever closer comes to those who are fortunate enough to age. When we were younger we knew one day we would die, but as with many things, that was off in some distant future. Aging is another stage of life with many opportunities to learn, just learn different things than we did in our younger years.



Life has gotten more serious. Things that once seemed so important, things that needed to be done 'like this' or like I wanted them to be, now seem so trivial. What was once worth arguing over, now is inconsequential. I often think, why was it such a big deal when I was younger? I wish I had learned this earlier in life.





A few months after Frank's bypass surgery he was walking in the yard, doing some normal something, I don't remember what. All of a sudden my breath caught in my throat and I thought, "He didn't die!" I could have just stood there and cried. Maybe sometimes it takes a serious shaking of our world to get us to see what is most important in life. Frank and I had many very serious conversations after we realized the only restorative choice he had was a bypass. He needed to know that I would be okay if I were left here alone. They were very difficult conversations, but left us both with a peace in knowing where we stood and plans were in place for "what if".

Then my Mom's dementia progressed to the point that she obviously was in need of serious care for her welfare and safety. It was very difficult to come to the realization that my siblings did not see the needs she had until she finally insisted that death would be better than the options they offered. She had stated these things many times with me, but I was just the girl and exaggerating things. Mom was okay. Even though she was have major delusions, obsessions, paranoia and health issues. She was okay. She wanted to continue living alone and that was fine according to my siblings. 


So following on the heels of contemplating Frank's mortality and my mother's mental incompetence, Life Got Much More Serious. Add to that our continued aging process.

The reason I list these specific experiences in our lives is only to make a point that if the SHTF today, tomorrow, next week or next year, the seriousness of life will make these few occurrences pale in comparison. If we were starving and having to defend ourselves and our food supply on a daily basis, how could that even compare to our 'normal' experiences of life? Let's face it, as people age, they have more health issues. It's a fact of life. But as Frank and I say regularly, "I'm not dead yet." With that philosophy and outlook, we have a lot left to do and offer, a lot of life left to live.

We talk about quality vs. quantity. This can be applied to so many things. Take life, the actual breath in your body. Neither of us care to remain on this earth if we are not functional. This may upset some of you, but fortunately at this time, we have a choice. Frank and I agree that if we have a serious health issue that will incapacitate us to the point that we are not functional, and the only health treatments out there will only prolong life for a short time at the cost of our mobility, cognitive abilities, etc., then we will forgo the offered treatments. Quality of life over quantity of life. 

Again, apply that to an SHTF situation. There won't be extensive medical treatments, no surgeries unless you are in a very unique situation. Health and medical attention will be provided by those around you or your own knowledge and abilities. Are you ready for that? Mentally? Do you have supplies that can be utilized for some health needs? Do you know how to use them? What are you going to do when you run out?

Life is more serious. We are focusing in on the essentials whether it is in our garden, in what we store, in how we manage our daily chores or in how we
communicate with others. We are downsizing and becoming much more focused. Frank's response to a comment yesterday said we don't talk about the conditions of the world, our country, the economy or the need to prepare anymore. We don't. There have been many that think we're the tin foil hat wearing nut jobs. Some want to know where our bunker is. There have been those that literally laughed in our faces. There have been those that said they were coming to live with us, to which we promptly responded - no you're not, we're not going to feed you. Most just look at you and politely nod their heads, but you can tell that they don't agree and think we're just plain weird. As a consequence, we don't talk about preparing or SHTF or a collapse much anymore.


We have been preparing to live, depending solely upon ourselves, for most of our married life. Almost 40 years. We rejoice that the electricity is still on and we hope to have air conditioning through
another hot Oklahoma summer. But if it's not and we have to adjust, we have tried to train ourselves to deal with that reality. Our bones are older and creak a little more. We may move a little slower and accomplish less in a day than we did a decade or two ago, but our minds are sharper, and we have learned so many more things. If the collapse had happened a decade ago, there are untold amounts of knowledge and experience we wouldn't have had access to that we now do.

Life is more serious. It would appear inevitable that we have strife, conflict or outright war coming here in our country, in our neighborhoods throughout the land. Many, many sources indicate the economy is on the brink. We saw an
article a few days ago indicating a housing collapse is now occurring or on the precipice in 40 major cities around the country. 2008 anyone? You don't even hear about it because of all of the lies, innuendoes and major contention in Washington. We have no national government, we have warring factions spending our tax dollars to attack and 'investigate' each other. What about the country? What about The People they were elected to serve? That is a joke. There is no functional government anymore, looking out for the welfare of our country. There is only a slow motion collapse into anarchy in the once hallowed halls of congress and our nation's capital. Where can that lead? What kind of example are they setting? No wonder there is more contention, hatred and violence on every street corner in America.

Enjoy every day, for it is a gift. Live your life in gratitude of your daily gifts. Work hard, for nothing is more satisfying than the results of your own two hands or applying your mind to something. Relish the sunshine on your face and the love and admiration of your family. Earn and maintain the reputation of being an honest person of high moral character and integrity. In the end, what really matters? The only thing you will leave behind is your legacy, good, bad or otherwise.


Relish the joy and freedoms of your life everyday because if Life Is More Serious now, just wait until that day arrives that we are no longer falling off the cliff as a civilization, but we hit bottom with a resounding crash.

Until next time - Fern

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Get Out of the City

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

A few days back I was reading comments on WRSA and I ran across this little clip. If you have a minute, and it won't take much longer than that, just read it and get the gist of what it is saying. Fern and I have written numerous articles about storm clouds, don't get on the bus, ample food storage, water, chickens, eggs, goats, cheese, gardening, what type of vegetables, canning, and the list just never ceases. It's not just us, there are hundreds of folks out there writing and providing information to help you see what is obviously coming. 

It doesn't make any difference if you're right, left, red, blue or pink. This thing is going to affect everybody. There won't be bastions where there is relative safety. If by chance there is, you and I won't be there.

This guy's comment, it was profanity laced, but read what he is saying. Here at Frank and Fern we don't support this style of language in our written blog, but that doesn't mean that this man is wrong. I'll say it again. Read what he says, get the message. It is time to get out.

Now, if you would, take a minute and read this fellow's comment.




Western Rifle Shooter Association


Anything Left to Talk About
 **Language edited by Frank and Fern


Leonard
I have a lot of sympathy for people that are genuinely trapped in suburbia but I suspect that 9 out of 10 people that say “I simply can’t move to the sticks” are full of ****.

What, you need ******* dialysis treatment twice a week?
“Muh wife and daughter”.

Sack the **** up. Get out of town and if you don’t have the the authority to force everyone to follow then you weren’t the man of the house anyway. If you can’t force a move then what do you think is going to happen when things get ugly and your “household democracy” kicks into action.

“Who votes we just do what the man on the radio tells us to?!”
If you are in the suburbs you are ******. 

Period.

End of story.

Gangs are going to go door to door and burn out anyone that resists. They will take their casualties and have a thousand recruits waiting to fill the gaps because life will be so cheap as to be worthless. The leaders will send their soldiers and if you fight back then they’ll toss bodies at you until they win just to get your guns, much less whatever you’re using them to protect.

At that late point all your excuses about “muh wife and daughter’s social lives” are going to seem pretty ******* lame in retrospect.

I got out 10 years ago and it was a ******* hard sell and a harder move. Once we got here none of us second guessed whether we were better off back in the hives. All the hardship to get here has paid off a thousand times over, and we’re not even in the deep end of the **** yet.


Wasn't that long, was it? Actually a pretty easy read. So, are you one of those type that thinks you will see what is happening before it gets here? It won't do any good to talk to you, because you should have already done it.

I know, I know, I just can't do it right now. Today I'll use excuse #431. I hope I don't upset anybody here, but if I do, get over it and find a way to take your family to safety. If you just show up at grandma's house, she may turn you away. How is she going to feed you? Think about these things.

There will come a day when you are going to feel ashamed of yourself. Okay, you sensitive types put your fingers in your ears. You are going to feel very ashamed of yourself when that tenth guy has his way with your daughter. Wrap your head around that. That's hard, isn't it?

Okay, I'll let you go so you can go back and watch TV, eat Cheetos and pound on your chest like a gorilla. We're not all gonna make it through this thing, even the most prepared won't all make it through it. Get your head screwed on right and quit riding the fence. 

Sorry about the bad news. The fat lady has sung.

We'll talk more later,  Frank

Friday, April 5, 2019

Homestead News, Volume 20

We just got back from Frank's checkup, his second cataract surgery was yesterday and everything is going well. He has some physical limitations for a few more days, so we'll be taking it easy. It's supposed to rain over the weekend too, so another reason for a slow couple of days.


We have added the last of the fertilizer from the chicken house to the garden and tilled it again. Planting will begin sometime next week, weather and mud will help determine the timing. This year will be one of the latest starts on planting the garden. We didn't put in any cold weather crops this spring, they just haven't produced well for us, so we didn't expend the time and effort. We decided to try some time lapse photos of the garden through the season, so here is step one. Dirt.


The seedlings are doing well in the greenhouse, all except the carrots who are suffering from a case of aphids. They moved outside and have been through a few frosty mornings. Maybe that killed off a few of the little buggers.

Beets

Tomatoes

Peppers with basil in the middle smaller pots

Tubs of lettuce, almost ready for lunch


Carrots outside


Nasturtiums

Part of the bed out back, sometimes known as the herb bed, will be used for the perpetual turnip bed. I started to do an article on the nutrition of turnips and turnip greens since we had a lot of interest in them recently, but then realized I had already written one. 



We have simplified the goat herd, quite a bit actually. We had 14 baby goats this year. It's always easy to keep a few young does, they're young, cute and have potential to be good does. At first we were going to keep one, then two, then three. What did we end up with? None. And that was a good decision. We also sold three adult does. What do we have left? One Stripe, our 11 year old, 'old lady goat' that is no longer a producer. 



Her four year old daughter Patch that had a serious illness with a retained placenta this year that led to mastitis on one side of her udder. Her six year old sister Copper, who we sold, help raise her triplets along with her own. Patch is still losing hair in some places and I'm still working on her udder, but her health appears to be much better. I'm actually hoping she goes into heat and breeds, then maybe her udder will function on both sides and she can provide us with milk this coming winter.

Two of our young does had their first kids this year and are doing well on the milk stand. I'll write a Goat Tail sometime soon and give you more details on their progress.




Our chicks have hatched and more arrived in the mail, but that tale will wait for one of Frank's chicken stories.






It's spring, almost time to mow the yard, rains are here and the temperatures are rising. What's not to like about spring? Unfortunately, the temperatures appear to be rising in more ways than one across our country. There are those in power that will never cease fomenting hatred and unrest in our country. They care not one wit for your welfare, well being or contentment with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They will never be satisfied. Ever. Until everything is either under their boot or destroyed down to the last man, woman and child.


I relish the sunshine, the awakening of spring and the quiet solitude of our rural, country life. But I am not unrealistic about how quickly the peace can be shattered in an explosion of violence and hatred. Even here. Do not be led to believe that all is well in the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is not. Do what you can in whatever environment you find yourself in, there are always opportunities available.

Until next time - Fern
 

Monday, April 1, 2019

Why Are You Back, Frank?

We received a very interesting question in a comment today that we thought was worth bringing to everyone's attention. The question and Frank's response are included here in their entirety. This should make for an interesting conversation. What do you think? Let us know.

 
W. - I'm glad to see you back, but I'm wondering what changed that made you come out of "grey man" mode?
 
 
 Hi, W.

Well, well. Interesting question. Actually, I'm still in the grey man mode, more of a summer grey than winter grey, but still grey, none the less.

I would guess the primary reason was politics. Corruption is rampant in our government and I'll try to get back to that. I have never seen a Trump television show. Yes, I have the basic gist from news clips and the sort. So the Trump that I know, or what I've been exposed to, is a flamboyant, wealthy, property developer who has a propensity for pretty wives and well advertised divorces. I really never thought that he would get elected, but he did.

Now, going back to corruption. The Clinton family. Yes, I do believe in God, but I hoped and prayed to God that Hilary Clinton would NEVER be president. And you see, God answered my prayer. Bernie Sanders, who should have been the democratic nominee, in my opinion would probably have beaten Trump. Senator Sanders is a hard core socialist. This opened my eyes sharply to what Americans, not all but most, truly want. Most Americans support the concept of a socialist government.

Back tracking a little here. Are we a socialist government? Absolutely. Look at all the current social programs. Way too many to name, but a few - Social Security, the plethora of welfare programs, public schools and on and on. But we are not a pure socialist country. Why do the immigrants want to come here? Primarily for the social programs. Do you blame them? No. I don't.

Your question. The grey man mode. What little difference Fern and I make in this world might help a handful of people see things different. My belief again, our country, nation, society is on an irreversible, destructive path that is going to end in the failure of our society. I really do not believe it can be changed, and I am by no means alone.

Fern and I encourage everyone to prepare for whatever is coming. Look at this last midterm election. Look at the squalor, filth and trash that has infested congress, not that it wasn't already infested. This is just the beginning of a large boil that will spread to infect us all. Look around, seriously, with your eyes wide open, and it cannot be missed. "Just like a snowball headed for hell."

Can we still have good times? Sure. But it can't continue. Consumerism has consumed us all. It's not just our country, look all across the Middle East, Europe. We are on a horrendous, downhill slide.

You need food. You need water. You need protection. You need shelter. You need communication. YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE YOUR HEAD SCREWED ON RIGHT.

Thank you for your question, and I genuinely mean that.

By the way, summer grey is lighter and cooler than winter grey.

We'll talk more later,  Frank Feral