Merry Christmas!

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

Fern and I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas. 
May the Lord be with you and yours.

If you are out shopping, please be vigilant, pay attention, and avoid crowds if you can. This might be a good year to get people things that they actually need and can use. Kitchen tools are always handy. They may be hard to find right now, but garden tools, shovels, rakes, hand spades. Back in grandma’s day, these were standard gifts. If you’ve got a little extra jingle in your pocket, the means to protect oneself is always an excellent gift.

Yes, I know this is Christmas eve and most people have already bought for their loved ones, but in a couple of days you can take all the things you don’t want back to the store and get things you need. Sporting goods stores are good places to shop. I like hardware stores, too. While you’re there, get a couple of dust masks and put them on. That guy two aisles over that has the cough that’s coming from his belly button may just be sharing the latest version of our government released plague. 

But this is not the day for that, the plague, that is. I was in a store yesterday, grocery store, went to get some apples while Fern was visiting her mother in the nursing home. There were a lot of sick people in there. I don’t mean the transgender type, these people were really sick – coughing, hacking.

I hear the gun shops are having brisk sales this time of year. Did you know they make brand name rifles and pistols with pink grips? I guess if your neighbor has a whole closet full of those pink hats, you don’t want to clash with your neighbors, now do you? No, you can’t shoot that pink flamingo in their front yard, or for that matter, you can’t shoot that fake deer in their yard either. Because if you live in a state that has red flag laws, somebody will turn you in for having a bumper sticker on your car that says ‘vote for Trump’. Probably your neighbor with the pink hat, though they won’t tell you who it is, but they will take your pink gun.

I keep reading about Virginia, no that’s not a TV character, that’s a state on the east coast. You know, one of those states that the left is trying to take from the right. That government out there just appears to be just a bunch of fools. But then the government just north of there, well not really north, but you know what I mean. The people in our Congress are not supporting what I believe in. I don’t know about our national government anymore. Is it a game they’re playing? No one seems to be serious. It reminds me of a bunch of kids on a playground. I’m serious. 

Is this the big show we’re seeing out there or is this the diversion trying to cover up what’s really happening? 

We’re being told that the economy is going great guns. Do you see it? I sure don’t. There are trucking companies shutting down, steel mills laying people off. Yes, I know the fast food places are hiring, but people need real jobs. This repo thing has nothing to do with cars and houses, you know. If our economy is so good, why is the federal reserve pumping billions of dollars on a regular basis into big banks and industry?

And where’s the wall?

When we thought the Japanese were going to attack mainland Alaska, our government in conjunction with the Canadian government, built a highway. Yes is was crude by today’s standards, actually most of it is still crude by today’s standards. There were numerous bridges across big rivers that most folks have never heard of, never will hear of and will never see. But they did it, they built that road in some of the most inhospitable land on the planet, most of it during the winter. It took right around six months.

Where is that wall? Give me break. Somebody is lying to us. We all know that the “free” press doesn’t lie. You know our government doesn’t lie. The economy is teetering on collapse. Look up there a paragraph or two and find all the information you can on the Federal Reserve and repo. Do the math. Our fiasco in Washington? Who knows what is going on.

This thing in Virginia, it’s the next big show in town. Pay very close attention. While you’re paying attention, watch this Brexit thing also. And pay attention to the immigration problems in Europe, too. The European Union is in dismal financial shape and their immigration problem is past the point of no return. Are you ready for another Irish invasion? I don’t see another Crusade coming. Looks to me like they’re going to just build one large dome across most of Europe.

Going around to the other side of the world. How are things looking in China? I’m going to take a break here for just a second and let’s do a quick tour of rioting in countries all around the world. It’s going to be easier just to say we’re not rioting here in the United States and Canada. Yet, that is, it’s going to be a hot summer. You are aware our southern border is lined with a well organized, highly lethal and well trained military. Except it’s not a government military, it’s called drug cartels. Yes, there is rioting going on in countries all around the planet, including China. China is rapidly developing a sophisticated military. Why?

Ever read history about how China was able to enter the world financial markets? Most of us don’t. If we read history at all, we refer to it as Western history, you know, England, France, Italy, those types of places. Read about Mao. When it comes to mass executions he made Hitler look like an amateur. We know about Hitler, or we think we do. But look at this old boy Mao Zedong. While you’re at it check out Chiang Kai-shek. I know people will say there was a famine or something like that, you read it and do the research. I wonder if there is any possibility that our government would do this to the American people? 

Well, it’s Christmas eve and here in our part of the country the weather is beautiful. Today will be sunny, light winds with 65* to 70*F. For you folks living in the frozen north? Better you than me, I’ve been there and done that. The only way I’ll do that again is if they put me in a boxcar and ship me up there. We’ve done that in this country, too. Read about what good old Andrew Jackson did to the Indian population, then tell yourself you’re sure glad you live in America where we don’t do that kind of thing like the Chinese, the Germans, the Russians and the Italians. The list goes on and on. Ask some of the Indian folks what they think about relocation and Andrew Jackson. Remember, Andrew Jackson is President Trump’s favorite past president. Don’t think it can’t happen here? It has happened here before. Ask the Japanese people in California.

Here at Frank and Fern, we have a saying. Don’t get on the truck and sometimes it says don’t get on the bus. Just a modern day version of a boxcar or a trail of tears. 

A little side note here. All the groups mentioned above had their weapons taken away. There are lots of places where this same thing that’s going on in Virginia has happened before. We’ve got red flag laws creeping across the nation, Gestapo type tactics. The economy is teetering on collapse. This is not a game. This is not cutesy. Get your ass off the couch, turn off the TV and prepare for war. Don’t get on the bus. 

Don’t forget to tell your loved ones Merry Christmas. Shake their hands, pat them on the head, give them a hug and TEACH them. It is going to be a hot summer.

Let’s finish up here, boys and girls.

Pray for peace. 

Prepare for war.

We’ll talk more later,  Frank

Homestead News, Volume 10

Life on the farm, or homestead, is trucking right along. The one man ‘crew’ we hired to help with some of our projects is back from an extended vacation, so he and Frank are back at it.

They started Monday morning by doing some of the finish work on the greenhouse. Now the vents are all in, the outside and top corners are closed in and the flashing has been added where the roof meets the side of the house. The doors will be installed later.

Yes, that’s a radio antenna in the background on the other end of the house.

 

This is used to block rain from blowing in under the edges.

 

8:30 am in the greenhouse

This morning before it got hot, I went out and swept out the greenhouse in preparation for placing the water barrels. On one of the trips to the barn to bring down supplies for their work, Frank loaded up some of the barrels that have been stored there. As he took them out of their cardboard containers he found the invoice. We ordered these barrels from Emergency Essentials in 2009. They had a great sale with free shipping, so we ordered ten 55 gallon barrels. We couldn’t believe we would get free shipping for these in our rural location, but we did. That is how long we have had this plan for a greenhouse. We already mentioned that we had the slab poured in 2008 when we first moved here and had the porches added to the house. This project is definitely a long term dream come true.

 

The reason for ten 55 gallon barrels of water is multifaceted. Initially, it was a place to store water in case of emergencies. It will still be good for that, but the reason these barrels are being placed in the greenhouse is for temperature regulation. It probably won’t make much difference in the summer. The shear impact of hot air temperatures, will create a very hot environment in there. We plan to use the greenhouse in the summer to dehydrate, or dry many plant materials. Right now it easily gets 105+ degrees by noon each day. But in the winter, as the sun heats the greenhouse, and thus the water in the barrels, it will help raise the temperature not only during the day, but all night long. Our hope is that the heat absorbed by the barrels during the day and radiated overnight will help keep any plants that are growing in there from freezing. Will it work? We will find out over the coming months. We will place a 3/4″ sheet of plywood over two barrels, one barrel at each end of the plywood, then will have a working area. This should give us about five areas to pot, store, dry and grow plants or food.

 

The placement of the barrels has to take into account the vents, and shelving against the wall of the house.

This window will be removed and a door installed in it’s place before long. We don’t know if there will be room for another set of barrels in the middle of the floor, it depends on how the stairs work coming out of the house. We’ll figure that out when we get that far along.

These two concrete block were left over from when we had the house leveled. They’ll make nice steps coming into the greenhouse.

The grass and weeds are already trying to grow up inside the sheathing on the greenhouse. After I finished sweeping, I trimmed the grass and pulled everything out of the way. We will spray some of the foam stuff around the bottom of the siding to prevent plants and bugs from finding their way in so easily. Speaking of tools (in the last article), this is one tool that I haven’t taken very good care of. It lives outside under a roof, but the blades were starting to rust. After I finished trimming, I got out the wire brush, gave them a good cleaning, then sprayed them with WD-40. Maintenance of tools is essential if we expect them to last.

 

The projects the men worked on yesterday included replacing the rotting trim around this window and door. The materials that were used to construct the building were of very poor quality and didn’t last very long. Frank chose to replace them with some of the cedar we had left from trimming the windows in the house. While they are at it, they are going to replace the trim on the other window and the other building as well, instead of waiting for the same thing to happen to them. They also chose to put an angled board above the window for rain runoff. Not only is it functional, it looks very nice.

Remember that big patch of zinnias we had in the garden earlier in the year? They’re coming back up everywhere! That’s okay. I hope they bloom enough to make more seeds. They look great, attract pollinators and are supposed to deter some bugs. Besides all that, we really like them.

This old shed was here when we moved here. It has seen better days and needed some roof repairs. We had covered the old aluminum vent system that went down the middle of the ceiling with a tarp a while back because the roof decking was starting to rot.

Well, yesterday off came the tarp and rotted boards, replacement boards were installed and a roll of shingle material was applied the length of the roof ridge. That should hold it for a while. We also put vents in both ends of the building.

New light on top, old light on bottom

Today Frank installed a new light fixture up at the ceiling level. This is a great improvement. The old light was down at head level on the bottom of the rafter. These rafters are not even six feet tall. The man that built this shed was short and he only built it tall enough for him to walk under. I can walk under it, but Frank has to duck between each truss or bang his head. Anyway, the lighting up at ceiling level instead of truss level is a vast improvement. Maybe we won’t need to use the flashlight all the time to see.

 

We also had vents installed in the garage today, as well as some electrical repair. These vents had been stored in the barn for a while and had been blown around by a few storms. This one had the screen backing torn, so I did a little repair job before it was installed. Bellen, you’re right about having sewing supplies on hand and knowing how to use them, even if it is in unconventional way.

 

This morning after I finished sweeping the greenhouse, I swept out the old shed as well. Small price to pay for such great improvements.

The goats were waiting impatiently for their breakfast and milking when I arrived this morning. They are always ready to eat.

The pigs continue to do well. Liberty, our gilt, will let me pet her all over while she is eating, even under her stomach, which is very good. I will be monitoring her closely over the next few months trying to figure out if she is pregnant. We haven’t seen any signs of breeding or a heat cycle, but since we aren’t familiar with raising and breeding pigs, I don’t know if we would recognize it anyway. We will see. There is one barrow I don’t particularly care for. He is always jumping up at the bucket or at my hand with his mouth open for a taste or bite or something. I just don’t trust him. He will be the first one on the dinner table when the time comes.
 

10:45 am in the greenhouse

 

This is where the water barrels have been stored for the last six years. These two still need to be taken down to the greenhouse, then the mess cleaned up.


We have been using some of our lumber store while working on our many projects. It won’t be long before we will need to restock this supply. This is one way we are investing our money in tangible assets, and is something we think is very valuable. Let’s face it, when the SHTF, we are not going to be ‘making’ 2×4’s or plywood, fence staples or barbed wire.


Here are some more supplies we will be using in some upcoming projects. You can tell by the layer of dust that they have been here for a while, kind of like the water barrels, just not as long. 

 

This is an area that will soon be involved in a project, along with these water barrels. We are really looking forward to this one as well.

The porch is full of tools that are used daily in our projects. The weather isn’t as hot as it was a month ago, but the humidity sure makes it feel that way. The men start early in the morning and stop in the early afternoon. It makes for a shorter day, and keeps them out of the hottest part of the day.

I want to thank everyone for their well wishes on my sinus dilation. I went back for a checkup on Monday and found out that I was already growing scar tissue back over an area the doctor had worked over pretty good initially. He was surprised at the rate I was healing. I told him it was because I don’t eat chemicals. I don’t think he believed me or paid much attention to that statement. I do think that is the case, though. But because of the scar tissue trying to close off the left maxillary sinus, he had to cut it out. Suffice it to say that it was gruesomely painful and extremely difficult for Frank to see me hurt that bad. It took a while to quit shaking, and I was exhausted. 
 

Noon in the greenhouse


Yesterday I made some mozzarella and waxed two wheels of cheddar which filled up the small cheese frig. Now I need to try making cottage cheese again. There has to be a recipe somewhere that will work with our goat milk. 

Thanks for the flower seed, Grace.


Today I was glad I felt up to sweeping and helping Frank install the light in the shed. Tomorrow I plan to butcher a few roosters, maybe only two for fresh eating, but it will be a start. I already feel better each day and can only pray there will be no more cutting when I go for my next checkup.


As you are aware, the stock markets of the world have been, and continue to be, on a major roller coaster ride. The politicians continue their playground antics pointing fingers at each other and exposing themselves for the weak, ineffective people they are. The world leaders continue their saber rattling and posturing. And most people continue to stare mindlessly into screens small and large for the diversion of the day that is meant to distract them from the fact that the temperature of the pot is fast approaching the boiling point. Folks, you need to work hard and fast to get as many things in order as you possibly can. Many, many indicators are getting closer and closer to that red line, and when they cross it there will be no turning back. 

Until next time – Fern

Hand Tools for the Near Future

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

We recently had a question that for me was thought provoking. It had to deal with tools. I’ve included a partial quote from the email, and my response in it’s entirety. It’s just food for thought. There is one item I would like to add to the list, though. It may not seem like a tool to you, but anything that makes your life easier I classify as a tool. That’s comfort food. So the tool I would like to add is a big box of Snickers. You know, those health bars covered with chocolate. Hope you enjoy the list. But it was a very good question.

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“We have been finishing much of our “to-do” list (aka ‘preps’), including purchases of lumber and fencing for the future garden beds. I did want to ask your opinion on what type of hand tools should we get to keep on hand?  We do have many garden tools, and shovels and such.  Any other recommendations?  I am talking just what you think would be absolutely bare-bones necessary. Could you do a short article on that subject?  I think it would be most welcome by everyone.”

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Good question.

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I think your idea about doing an article on hand tools is an excellent idea. The garden tools that Fern and I use are good, solid, well-made, with long handles. We are both tall people. When I do buy extra, they are on sale and stock up for the future. Garden tools may make an excellent barter item some day.

As far as hand tools go, I buy the best tools I can afford. Not the most expensive, but the best. The last few years I’ve started relying heavily on battery operated tools. I rarely use a hammer to drive nails, so I buy a lot of long screws. My elbow will not take the pounding anymore. Saws are very important, all kinds of hand saws. But I use my battery operated tools as much as I can for cutting and drilling. A quality brace and bit is also necessary. Sockets and socket sets are a must. Buy lots of drill bits, especially the little ones, they break easily.

I have multiple sets of tools. One basic set in the house, a complete set in the garage, and a pretty good set in the barn.
Watch for sales at the big box stores like Lowes, and as mentioned earlier, buy the best tools you can afford. Don’t forget things like files, grinders, punches, chisels, nail sets, but especially don’t forget files. Heaven forbid, but you can sharpen your kitchen knives with a file. So, don’t forget good knife sharpeners too, which ever type you prefer.

A shotgun is a handy tool, too. Double 00 buckshot, bird shot, a Remington 870. This tool will help you keep your other tools much longer.

A good Bible comes in handy. Axes, big ax, hand ax, mauls, splitters, sledge hammer – big one, and smaller ones. Pry bars. The list goes on. On occasion when we have a small animal to get rid of, a small sledge hammer comes in handy. A good stock of lumber, as you mentioned, is very handy, as is fencing, especially barbed wire. A couple of extra loads of gravel is a nice tool to have.

A small, full functioning tractor is extremely handy, especially the front end loader. You can haul larger animals in the front end loader for butchering processes. Yep, I’d get a good, small, solid, full functioning tractor with implements.

Might want to stock up on clothes, too. Go ahead and buy that extra canner and water bath now. Don’t forget boots, socks and underwear, gloves and hats.
 

If I were you, I would switch all of your light bulbs out to LED bulbs. Don’t forget traps. Some day those traps might feed you. Get a good supply of mouse traps while you’re at it. Don’t buy the cheap ones, you get what you pay for.

Don’t forget trash bags, paper towels, kleenex, toilet tissue. Don’t cut hygiene short either. Laundry detergent in large plastic buckets? Get a bunch. The buckets are really handy and powdered laundry detergent will meet the vast majority of your cleaning needs.


I’m tired. Hope this helps. Just food for thought. Don’t forget rechargeable batteries and solar panels. Take care.

Frank

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Here is another handy tool. Tools for Survival by James Wesley, Rawles



Seriously folks, don’t forget the Snickers, man does not live by bread alone. It’s late, it’s been a real long day.

We’ll talk more later, Frank
 

Gardening, Chickens, Goats & Organizing

 
Yesterday before the arrival of yet another week of possible rain showers, we were able to till part of the garden with the tractor. The day before, we went out with a shovel and dug around a little to see if we could possibly till it up. Some of it was still too muddy from the last few weeks of rain. Although this is not best practice, we knew that if we didn’t take advantage of this small window of opportunity, it would be another week or two before the ground would be dry enough to work. 

 Before we tilled the garden I went out to dig up the wandering strawberries that had made it out of their bed and into the garden area last summer. I thought I would order more and use these to start another bed. Little did I realize that there were probably 50 plants that needed to be moved. The more of them I dug up, the more of them I found. Now I don’t need to order any more. I think this is plenty for the new bed I have in mind. They too, will have to wait until the ground is dry enough to work.

Their new home will be back there by that fence.

 

I also pulled up the last few turnips that we have been eating on and feeding to the chickens all winter long. I really hated to see the last of them go. Since the place I have planned for a new turnip crop is still very muddy, I sprinkled a bunch of seeds in an area in front of the herb bed. I’m not sure how well they will do in the summer, but it is early enough that I hope to be able to harvest greens both for us and the animals into at least early summer.

Another turnip patch will be here in front of this shed.

Cabbage

Broccoli

We planned on getting our cole crop seedlings into the ground a couple of weeks ago, but the rain and rain and snow had other plans. The weeks long cloudy weather has also put a damper (pun intended) on the growth rate of the seedlings. They have grown rather leggy, but are still pretty vigorous. Because of that, I planted four or five plants together in the hopes that one or two of them make it. I prefer to have larger plants to transplant, but that just didn’t happen this year. When I

Spinach

went out to check on them this morning, they hadn’t disappeared and most of them were upright and looked good, although rather small. A few of them looked a little limp, but that’s to be expected. The carrot and beet seedlings are still quite small, which is okay since the area they are destined for is still very muddy.

Frank has been working on getting a few things out of the garage and more organized. He came up with this idea for holding some of the extra pvc we keep on hand, as well as some of the extra antenna poles we have here and there. Great idea, and very effective.

Today while I was dressing out our two extra roosters, he also put up this board to make a place for some of our frequently used tools. This area is under a carport that is attached to the garage. It will keep our tools organized and off of the ground. Once he got the places ready for them to hang, we also cleaned them all very well with the drill with a wire brush. It is simple, effective and looks great.

Yes, the roosters. We ended up with three roosters and 19 hens from last years young birds. Two of the roosters are Buffs, either Buff Orpington or Buff Rocks. The other is was red, not Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire, but some kind of red. Well, Red matured first, but one of the Buffs had basically taken over the hen house, causing a lot of daily ruckus and much commotion. Time to get down to one rooster. Besides that, we want to make sure that all of our eggs are fertile because come the first of May we will start saving eggs to fill up two or three incubators. This will give us meat for the table and replacement hens for a new flock. The cycle continues.

Wethers

So, Eagle Eye Frank dispatched the roosters so we could have them for dinner. They were six months old and a little tough, but pretty tasty, too. I will put all of the left overs into a pot tomorrow and simmer them for most of the day to make broth and soup. That will make for an easy meal, which is good, because tomorrow we plan to butcher two of our wethers. We are out of red meat again, so it’s time to replenish the freezer. Our plans are to dress them out tomorrow, hang the meat overnight, then, besides the hind quarters, we will grind, wrap and freeze the rest the next day.

This evening when we fed the goats we moved the does to a different pasture that has more new green to eat. Things are starting to grow quickly now, and even with that, the does had really made a dent in the pasture they were in. This will give the young does some good grazing these last two weeks before they kid. We also moved the ‘boys’, the billy and the wethers to a different pasture. The primary motivation for this was to escape the large mud hole that is right in front of the gate of their previous pasture. If we are going to dispatch two of them tomorrow, we don’t want to have to drag the carcasses through a big mud hole to get them out. We will have to watch for a window of opportunity when it is not raining to kill them and bring them down to the garage. Then we will hang them under the carport to dress them out and wrap them in a meat bag so we can leave them hanging overnight in the garage. Once we get them down here, it won’t matter if it is raining, which it probably will be.

Life’s routines come and go with the seasons and we enjoy them all. Some are a little more work than others. Some make our bones a little more achy than others. Planting time is always a lot of work, sometimes back breaking work. Tending and harvesting, not so much. Raising animals is not generally a lot of work, although we do need to mix feed again. And then again, we would like to raise a whole lot more of our animal feed, which would entail more planting, tending and harvesting. I really admire our forefathers that raised what they ate, year after year. It is a lot of work to do the little we do. We are so much softer, and less skilled at it than they were. They did it out of necessity and we do it out of a desire to be more independent and less dependent. And folks think we’re nuts for living the way we do. But that’s okay. I usually think the same of them.

Until next time – Fern