Seasonal Change

Hi Everybody, Frank here.

Like the title? Good. Fern and I have been unbelievably busy the last few days. So, if you tuned in for something intellectually deep, thought provoking, spiritual, motivating or uplifting, I’m sorry, but it’s not here today. So. We’re going to share a little bit of beautiful southeastern Oklahoma with you. 

Now you folks that like to move from the left coast, just stay where you are, don’t come out here and try to change the way we think.

You folks on the right coast, if you like these pictures and you’re thinking about moving here, then stop at the Mississippi River and come no farther. 

You northern whatever Yankee types, you can stop at the westward extension of the Mason Dixon line.

And you wonderful folks from the great state of Texas, why would you leave where you are? If you ain’t already here, you get the picture. And speaking of pictures, we hope you’re enjoying the beauty of God’s country. Now, if you want to come a visit, that’s okay. According to the dictionary visit means, you come and you leave. 

Winter time’s approaching, our leaves have either changed or are changing colors. The major projects are winding down, all except for the list we haven’t gotten to yet. The garden has just about done it’s thing for the year. We still have some goats to process. When the flies are gone, it will be a good time to process. Life is good here. Hard work. Tomorrow is Sunday, the Lord’s day. You see, we don’t post on Sundays. I really hope you enjoy the pictures. I earnestly thank you for taking time to read our humble blog. Have a good Sunday. May God and Peace be with you.

We’ll talk more later, Frank
 

Doors….and More Doors

Guess what? We have a new door! 

This is a good description of how I feel about our new doors.

 
And tomorrow, we will have more doors…….

I’ll fill you in on these projects tomorrow evening. For now, we’re pooped. Frank and crew (I think I’ll start calling him Henry just to have a name) worked hard today on acquiring more supplies and the first installation. They worked out some of the bugs with this one.

Tomorrow they are going to cut a hole in the house. Isn’t that exciting? It is to me. I’ll let you know how it turns out. I’ve been out of town in a training session all day and my brain needs a break. It’s almost time for chores, dinner and getting ready for more doors. Talk to you again soon.

Until next time – Fern
 

Homestead News, Volume 11

Outside of butchering seven of our ‘teenage’ roosters a couple of days ago, there isn’t much new to report. We were glad to get five of these roosters in the freezer since our meat supply is literally down to nothing in there. We have quite a bit of meat walking around on the hoof or foot, but the freezer is looking very bare. It reminds me of stories about folks that went out and grabbed up a chicken when meat was needed for a meal. It was killed, dressed and cooked for that day’s food. Refrigeration has really changed the way we are able to live. I have given quite a bit of thought to what it will be like to live without refrigeration again. It sounds much more difficult and not near as convenient as we have it now. Something to ponder. How will you keep things cold or cool that need refrigeration to prevent spoilage and extend the life of your food?

We’ve had a nice little rain today which has helped cool things off. We had planned to butcher the last seven teenage roosters today, but it was 96* by 11:30 this morning. This evening we will have a cold front come through that will make the temperatures much more comfortable, thus it will be easier to work outside.

Our dear friend Faith, that bought some of our goats, took a very bad fall last week. She will be undergoing some reconstructive surgery to her face this week and we would appreciate it if you would keep her and her family in your prayers.

Frank and I have had many conversations about how to set up the greenhouse and all of the possibles that go with that process. As the temperatures start to cool down, it will be easier to work in there. It’s very interesting to see how quickly the temperature rises once the sun reaches over the tree tops and touches the walls. Very interesting. 

We have had a question or two about the exterior sheathing on the greenhouse. When Grace came to visit after we had the sheathing up she looked at it, looked at me and said, “What are you going to put over it?” She explained that she wasn’t sure what she was expecting, but it was something more than what it is. The exterior of the greenhouse is a product called Tuftex. Frank did a lot of research on this product before we decided to use it. The type we chose is called Poly Carb which is described on their website like this: “TUFTEX PolyCarb corrugated panels are our toughest building panel. Made with a polycarbonate thermoplastic polymer in an octagonal-wave profile, TUFTEX PolyCarb corrugated panels are 20 times stronger than 5 oz. fiberglass corrugated panels and are designed to withstand a wide range of surface temperatures: 270° F to -40° F.” Lowe’s carried some Tuftex, but we had them order what we needed to have enough of the right type, colors and lengths. We used the translucent white on the roof and clear on the sides. Until we put the barrels in there, from some angles you couldn’t tell the walls were up. It will be very exciting to look at it and see plants inside, especially when we get it full of plants! I know I have said this before, but it will be a real treat to walk out there in the winter and pick something to eat. I think I will be worse than a kid in a candy shop.

It’s about time to make cheese since the frig is filling with milk. It will be mozzarella this time since the cheese frig is full of cheddar. We still haven’t tried to make cottage cheese again yet, but we will. It’s about time to make bread, too. I have set out the whole wheat sourdough starter to feed and lower the acidity level before I use it. Now days after I feed the starter for a few days, I pour half of it into the pig bucket instead of the chicken bucket. The chickens never did like it much, but you know what they say about pigs, they’ll eat just about anything. Except jalapenos. They don’t like them very much. Or really big, hard okra pods. Either they don’t like them, or they are just too hard to eat, I’m not sure which.

Since I tried our milking machine and didn’t like what it did to the goat’s teats, I haven’t tried it again. What I have done is really pay attention to my milking technique. Over the years I had developed a certain rhythm that was comfortable and seemed to be effective. Now I pay more attention to making sure I get as much milk out with each squeeze as I can. This is causing me to slow down some, but requires fewer squeezes per doe. I don’t know if this has made a difference with the arthritis in my hands or not, but I do know that I can straighten my bent finger out more than I could without working on it to do so. Interesting. I have also been told I have trigger finger on the same hand and same finger. Does anyone know of a natural way to deal with this? Grace told me her sister had it and wore a finger guard for a week and that fixed it. I haven’t tried that yet.

I have also started drinking apple cider vinegar with the mother in it, with local honey in warm water. This should help some of the sinus issues I have been having, as well as the arthritis. I hope. I used to do this everyday for years until it made my teeth hurt. The vinegar I used back then didn’t have the mother in it, though. This time I will make sure I rinse my mouth well with water after I drink it to protect my teeth. I’ve even thought about adding a bit of the canned garlic we have to the mix. Vinegar, honey and garlic are all very good for the body, so it couldn’t hurt any. I don’t mind the taste of vinegar and honey at all, I’m just not sure how the garlic would taste with it. Probably pretty good if you ask me.

We continue to eat our sauerkraut everyday. The portions are bigger than they used to be, and if there is a day we don’t have any, we miss it. When we first started eating it, there were several people that commented about how our taste preferences would change and that we would really enjoy fermented food. You know what? You were exactly right. We do really enjoy the sauerkraut and the health benefits it provides as part of our daily diet. 

We will be starting another project later on in the week that I will be showing you before long [it’s not the outhouse]. It is very exciting to have so many long term plans coming together. There is also a feeling that time is short to get some of these things completed. Frank and I talk about making plans as if there isn’t a collapse coming also, just in case. But at the same time we know it is coming, so we have to plan for that eventuality. Like I said last time, wishing won’t make it so. Just the other evening as we were getting ready for bed I asked Frank, “So where are we going to put the outhouse?” Another one of our recurring discussions. We still haven’t decided on a location.

Hello everybody, Frank here. The immigrant issues that are happening in Europe will soon be knocking on our doors here at home. There have been mass forced immigrant movements all through history. One of my grandfathers came to America around 1900 as a very young boy. His family was forced out of Russia. It has happened for centuries, and it could happen here just as easily as it has happened there. It’s easy to be cynical, but the fact is, people are being dislocated and they are willing to die or drown to escape wherever they are. It has to be horrible. Don’t kid yourself that it can’t happen right here. As we speak, there is a quiet exodus from the drought ridden areas of California. Towns there are shutting down. No joke. We are about to see many people, many more than are already coming here, from the areas affected by this forced relocation. It’s just one more thing that is happening. Is it a diversion? Could be. You decide. But you’d better get prepared. Frank

Now take Frank’s commentary and apply it to a collapse scenario where thousands of people are trying to escape the riots and starvation of our major cities. People that are desperate for water, food and shelter for themselves and their families. What happens when there are hundreds of them walking down the road where you live? I see the pictures of the Syrian people walking through Hungary, and that’s what I see. Hungry people, desperate to escape the carnage behind them, with hopes of assistance awaiting them at their destination. In a collapse situation there is no assistance awaiting them. I really think some people in smaller towns will actually go to the cities in search of government assistance. We’ve all heard the stories about FEMA camps and the rounding up of people to ‘keep them safe’. Don’t get on the bus. 

What I keep seeing when I look at the Syrian refugees are groups of people at the gate demanding water, food, shelter and assistance. There is no way we can feed them. We’re far enough off the beaten path that there probably won’t be many folks walking down this road, but I can see it happening all over the country. What are you going to do if a group of demanding people show up at your door or gate demanding the things you have prepared for your family? If you turn them away angry they will just come back with reinforcements. It is something Frank and I discuss regularly. If you feed one group they will tell the others and the next day there will be 10 groups, then 20, then 40, then 100. Before the last group arrives you will be out of food and desperate yourself. Then what? We can only pray we will never be faced with this situation. But part of being prepared, probably the most important part, is being mentally prepared. You need to have an answer to that question. What are you going to do?

Frank will be doing another article before long that will address some of this mental preparation. What he will discuss is a very difficult topic that will require very difficult decisions and actions from all of us, but one that should be discussed and thought about. Do all you can to have your family ready for what is about to befall us all. Remember, we would rather be prepared fools than unprepared fools. One minute too late, is just that. Too late.

Until next time – Fern

The House is a Wreck!

Well, not really a wreck, but in a great deal of disarray compared to a normal day. Today we accomplished a long, long term goal. We had the windows in our house replaced. This house was built around 1983 and the windows were in pretty sad shape. Many of them had moisture between the two panes that limits visibility. When we moved in there was this yucky brown ick growing on the inside of most of them. Needless to say, replacing them has been on our project list for a while. 

To prepare for this event we needed to move everything away from the inside and outside of the windows to allow the installers access. That was yesterday. We finally finished all of that at about 9:30 last night. Frank also had to remove all of the blinds, which he finished this morning when he took down the ones in the bedroom.

Old window

 

The installers from Window World arrived right on time, were professional, courteous and hard workers. They had our old windows removed and the new windows installed in three hours. There were nine windows in all. I found it rather disconcerting to have strangers walking in and out of the house, going into every room, tearing out the old windows, and making a big mess in the process. But these men were very efficient and did excellent work. They put down tarps below every window outside and drop cloths on the inside. This minimized the mess and made their clean up quick and easy.

 

We never had any question about what kind of windows we were going to have installed. Double hung. Why? Ventilation. We have porches down the length of our house on the east and west sides. This is the same format of the house Frank and I built, not had built, but built ourselves, back in the 1990’s at our first homestead. With the porches on both sides of the house, and double hung windows, we can create a cross ventilation that will greatly enhance cooling the house when we no longer have electricity and air conditioning.

Yes, these windows are part of our preparation for the coming collapse. They are tangible investments in our comfort in the future. If it is raining, no problem, we can still ventilate the house under the porches. If it is a hot summer evening, we can draw in the cooler air from the east porch. Having double hung windows is a great addition to our home that we are very excited about.

For now, we are tired. We have the minimal required window shades and curtains up for the evening. Tomorrow we need to clean all of the windows, which will be easy to do since they tilt in. Then we will need to reinstall more shades and think about how we are going to trim out the exterior. Fortunately, there isn’t any rain forecast until next Tuesday. That will give us a little time to get that chore completed. We’re thinking 1 x 6 cedar with an oil stain. That would look nice and should last a long while.

 

With all of the moving around of furniture and things on the porch, it has provided us with many opportunities to clean and dust things that don’t get moved very often. We’re also thinking to rearrange some of the shelving in the pantry to better accommodate our jars of canned goods from the garden. 

Speaking of the garden. There are tomatoes, green beans and three kinds of squash blooming. We should be able to have our first meal of fresh yellow squash in a few days. While the men were tearing up the house this morning, I escaped out to the garden and gave many plants a good dose of diatomaceous earth. I hope it helps make a dent in the slugs and cabbage worms. There are a number of cabbages trying to make heads, despite the worms and slugs. I also found some damage from some squash vine borers. I am tempted to reorder more beneficial insects since I think most of ours either drowned or got washed away in the last deluge we had. But the class I am attending about beneficial insects is Saturday, so I think I will wait and see what I can learn there. 

Life is busy, very, very busy. There are so many indicators pointing toward some sort of tremendous downturn, outright collapse or shutdown, that we feel it is very important to accomplish some of the things on our list of projects that are geared toward our survival. We have several more things in the wings that we’ll show you before long. Investing in learning and tangibles that will increase our ability to make it on our own is more important than ever. We could leave what little money we have in the bank in the hope that it will still be there when the economy collapses, or we can invest it in our minds and in our homestead. Which one makes more sense? Which one will help us survive? Some folks have a problem with spending what they have, just in case. I find great security and comfort knowing we are investing in ourselves, our lives, and our ability to perform those tasks that are needed everyday to live. That’s what we’re about, and that’s what we want to do. Live. And this is how we do it.

Until next time – Fern