Country Living Series

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Happy Earth Day!

What shall I do on this Earth Day?

For all you cretins out there, today is Earth Day, the day everyone pretends to be green and virtuous and love their “Mother.”


Earth Day is now touted as the “world’s largest environmental movement” and is often characterized by mass gatherings of people who expended untold amounts of carbon to travel to Washington D.C. and protest the carbon footprints of everyone else (usually followed by photos of the amount of trash left in their wake).


Alternately, for those unwilling or unable to go to mass protests against environmental pollution, supporters can engage in something called “iActivism” in which they can tweet or post their disgust at pollution on social media, using their mass-produced electronics and the Internet Al Gore created. These tweets, of course, will make people think they’re actually doing something useful as they take pictures of themselves holding pieces of paper with “#hastagactivism” written on it.

Meanwhile protesters/supporters will laud the continued legalization of marijuana while condemning wheat or vegetable farmers, since apparently it’s “greener” to grow pot than to grow food. It’s the old “Leonardo DiCaprio has huge yachts, jets, and homes, and Al Gore has villas without solar panels. Where do they get off telling us what to do?” problem.

Yet apparently we, the Lewis family, are the hypocrites because we don’t support Earth Day twaddle. This, despite the fact that we don’t commute, don’t use disposables, have almost zero garbage output, never use our clothes dryer, have no personal electronics (except computers and one “dumb” phone), shop second-hand stores, heat with wood, keep our electricity usage between $30 and $50 every month (LED lights!), and otherwise subscribe to nearly every recommendation the environmentalists make.


But as “green” as these accomplishments may be, activists probably won’t approve. The difference, of course, is we support green living – not the green agenda. The green agenda is nothing more than a watermelon: green packaging around a red center. It’s socialism, prettily wrapped up in 100 percent recycled wrapping paper, with a communist bow on top and backed up by governmental force. Open that green package, and the gory red insides spill out: the blood of hundreds of millions people who have died from collectivist régimes in the last century.

Somehow it’s become unacceptable to live green lifestyle without having a suitably militant red attitude.

Meanwhile, back on the farm, we’ll celebrate Earth Day by going about our ordinary lives: Feeding the livestock, planting peas and potatoes, gathering eggs, and living the life God intended for us. I can think of no finer celebration.

Planned Parenthood's latest sick idea

Here's my WND column for this weekend entitled "Planned Parenthood's latest sick idea."


For those unable to access the WND website, the text of the column is below.



Planned Parenthood’s Latest Sick Idea

As you’ve probably heard by now, in late March a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Pennsylvania sent out a revolting tweet: “We need a Disney princess who's had an abortion.” (Not just an abortion; apparently America is also ready for a Disney princess who is pro-choice, an undocumented immigrant, a union worker, and transgender.)

Undoubtedly realizing they’d crossed the line, the abortion provider deleted the tweet soon after – but not before igniting a firestorm of protest. Planned Parenthood Keystone head Melissa Reed confirmed her group sent (then deleted) the tweet, stating their attempt to “challenge stigma and champion stories that too often don't get told.” (Then why did you remove the tweet?)

In that same statement, Reed defended her branch’s efforts to mix politics and meme culture. “Planned Parenthood believes that pop culture … has a critical role to play in educating the public and sparking meaningful conversations around sexual and reproductive health issues and policies, including abortion,” she said. “We also know that emotionally authentic portrayals of these experiences are still extremely rare – and that’s part of a much bigger lack of honest depictions of certain people’s lives and communities.”

Whoa. Educating people about “sexual and reproductive health issues” – that’s asking a lot of Disney. (That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if Disney took the idea seriously. Sadly, this venerable organization has long since abandoned the wholesome family-friendly content on which it was built.)

Reed also said, “Emotionally authentic portrayals of these experiences are still extremely rare.” Putting aside the appropriateness of pushing abortion on little girls, what does she consider “emotionally authentic” portrayals? Women weeping in anguish for the life they’ve extinguished? Women fighting breast cancer later in life resulting from their choice to abort?

And let’s see – if a Disney princess had an abortion, was she married or just sleeping around? Was she too stupid to know about birth control? Was she so weak she was incapable of keeping her knees together?

For generations, Disney provided role models for little girls with its princesses who overcame adversity with good cheer, hard work, sweet dispositions, and strong personalities. They’re not known for coming to the silver screen steeped in regret about their personal lives. There are no thoughts of, “Gee, I wish I hadn’t slept with Prince Charming on the first date. But at least Planned Parenthood was available to come to my rescue and kill my baby so I can continue to wear pretty dresses without losing my figure.”

How long has it been since Reed and her cohorts have come up for air in the real world? How long has it been since they’ve poked their heads out of their cauldron of sex and murder to understand most Americans – particularly little girls in the 3 to 10 year age demographic – aren’t interested in sexual promiscuity?

Now let’s look at what a princess used to be, shall we? In a monarchy, a princess was the daughter of a king. Her genetics helped ensure the continuation of the monarchy, whether or not she was in direct line to the throne. Princesses were often negotiation tools whose marriages were used to cement alliances. Believe me, princesses didn’t sleep around (at least, not openly). In the medieval world in which monarchs ruled supreme, the purity of a princess’s sexual life was of utmost importance, far more so than for princes.

So why celebrate a princess who had an abortion?

Of course, Disney princesses aren’t without their critics. Rebecca Hains, associate professor of advertising and media studies at Salem State University, said in a Washington Post column, “The Disney Princess brand suggests that a girl’s most valuable asset is her beauty, which encourages an unhealthy preoccupation with physical appearance. The brand also implies that girls should be sweet and submissive, and should expect a man to come to their rescue in an act of love at first sight. Although newer characters like Elsa, Anna, Merida and Rapunzel behave in ways that correct these ideas, as a whole, the brand remains out of step with modern ideas about raising girls.”

It appears Hains is correct – “modern” ideas of raising girls encourages them to “empower” themselves by ignoring what’s between their ears to focus on what’s between their legs. This is why Planned Parenthood sees everything through the lens of murder and sexual promiscuity, even to the point of how little girls should view mythical heroines.

There’s only one reason to urge Disney to create a princess who’s had an abortion: to normalize murder. Feminists are astoundingly hostile about applauding old-fashioned role models for little girls. Ironically, they push the notion that women should be little more than sexual toys. No wonder Planned Parenthood’s services are so “necessary” to empower women when their promiscuity inevitably results in pregnancy.

Feminists don’t like to admit it, but most little girls are not born as feminists. They’re born as little girls. They like pretty things – princesses, dolls, sparkly unicorns, whatever – at least until they’re marinated in a feminist mindset long enough to reprogram their young impressionable brains in a direction contrary to their biological instincts.

But this whole “let’s applaud women who have had an abortion” attitude proves how much the definition of “hero” has changed over the last few decades. We used to look up to people whose virtues and strengths were admirable. But now Planned Parenthood wants Disney to bring down standards for little girls by showing them what they can aspire to someday. You too can sleep around, get pregnant, kill your baby, rip the parts from your body, and still be able to wear pretty dresses and crowns!

In 2016, Planned Parenthood murdered 328,348 babies in the womb. During the same period, their contraception and cancer screening/prevention services declined. I guess “educating the public and sparking meaningful conversations around sexual and reproductive health issues” doesn't pay as well as killing the innocent.

Sick sick sick. Twisted twisted twisted.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I would never condemn a woman for having an abortion. No one knows what personal reasons called for such a measure, and those reasons could be anything from frivolous to desperate. It’s a rare woman who doesn’t regret to some degree her actions, though the regret may not happen for years.

But the organizations providing abortions are something else. They don’t just provide a (cough) service; they actively encourage abortions, cultivate abortions, seek out abortions. They are evil, evil to their core.

Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire, wrote, “We need a Disney princess who uses her royal authority to defund you stupid a**holes.”

Now that’s a sentiment I can get behind.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Update on Polly

So many people have offered prayers, consolation, and advice concerning our sick Jersey cow Polly -- thank you all! I'm happy to report she seems much better.

She still had me worried yesterday afternoon. I stepped out into the woods and watched her -- she was nibbling the still-short grass, which was a good sign -- but she was still hunching and passing bloody urine on a frequent basis. (Don't be alarmed by how bony she looks -- that's just a "Jersey" thing.)


Last evening when Don went to feed, all the other animals bellied up to the feed boxes -- except Polly. At least, at first. After a few minutes and some calling from us, she made her way under the awning and, to our delight, began eating. (That's her calf Anna with her.)



This morning I went to feed the animals, and saw only four cows with their heads in the feed boxes. Four cows, not five. My heart sank a little -- where was Polly? But to my delight, she was right there with the rest of them, eating vigorously, at the far end where I didn't see her at first.


A couple hours later, I hooked her up to the lead rope and put her into the squeeze chute again. This time Don administered the antibiotic shots, and a very fine job he did of it too. After that, I backed Polly out and returned her to the herd. Her eyes are clear and the swelling in her jaw is down, and her urine looks much more normal.


We'll finish out the bottle of antibiotics on her tomorrow and keep an eye on her, but it looks like the crisis is over. She seems well on the road to recovery, thanks to the awesome power of modern medicine.

And reader support.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Polly is sick

Polly, our remaining purebred Jersey cow, is sick.

Yesterday morning when I went to feed the critters, I noticed Polly wasn't among them. I found her in an adjacent pen, looking miserable. Though she was facing away from me, something seemed unusual about her head.


I entered the pen and was horrified to find her face entirely puffed up, her eyes like slits and her jaw with a huge soft bulge. I ran into the house and placed calls to every large-animal vet in the region, only to find none available.


Meanwhile a man stopped by to visit some neighbors. Luis has something of a local reputation as a "horse whisperer" -- he's magic with equines -- and as it turns out, he's highly experienced with cattle as well. He looked at Polly and said she had a large infection, and recommended we get an antibiotic called LA 200.

We ran a string around Polly's midsection, a method for estimating weight in cattle. By this determination, we guessed she weighs 927 lbs.


I went into town and purchased the antibiotic. Luis promised to come out this morning to show us the best way to administer it.


This morning Polly's swollen face looked better, but she kept hunching over and passing bloody urine. Not good.


At least she's on her feet. A cow off her feet is very seriously ill indeed. But she's off her food, lethargic, and often just stands slumped.

Luis arrived this morning, and I walked Polly into the squeeze chute. LA-200 supposedly stings going in, and I didn't want anyone (bovine or human) getting hurt in the process.


Based on Polly's weight and the recommended dosage, Luis filled the syringe...



...then he injected her intramuscularly in three different places (apparently the medicine is best administered spread around).


Polly jerked a bit, but she's lethargic and didn't fight. I backed her out of the chute without a problem and returned her to the corral.

We'll give her the next few shots ourselves, repeating the dosage for the next couple of days. According to LA-200 information, she should show "marked improvement" in the next 24 to 48 hours.

I don't want to lose Polly so soon after losing Matilda. We'll be watching her like a hawk.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

That streak of gray

So yesterday I was in a thrift store in the city, purchasing a replacement coat for the one I have with a broken zipper. I brought the garment up to the register, and the nice lady asked me if I was 55 or older. "Actually, I'm exactly 55," I said. "Why?"

"Because you get a 20 percent senior discount," she replied, punching the keys on the cash register.

Ouch.


I suppose it was inevitable, but honestly, that's the first time I've been "rewarded" for being a "senior." I put "senior" in quotes because I sure don't feel like one. But I guess that long streak of gray in my otherwise brown hair is a giveaway. I wasn't sure whether to be flattered or insulted.

But if there's one thing I've learned from my dear mother, it's to age gracefully. Mom never dyed her hair or fought the wrinkles. I guess now it's my turn to do the same.

But still. Ouch.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Now gardening is racist

Here's my WND column from the weekend, entitled "Now gardening is racist."


For those unable to access the website, here's the text.



Now Gardening is Racist

In yet another example of liberal lunacy, some environmentalists are slamming gardeners and wildlife biologists for being racist.

Breitbart notes, “A consultant for New Scientist magazine, Fred Pearce argues that foreign flora and fauna are being ‘demonised’ unfairly while the problematic species which are native to Britain are given a free pass. … Pearce decried the language used to describe ‘invasive species’ as ‘very xenophobic,’ stating it ‘suggests that anything foreign is bad. ‘It is terrifyingly similar to the language which can be used about immigrants invading the country,’ added the environmentalist, who claims scientists are more likely to present species as dangerous if they are foreign in his book ‘The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature’s Salvation.’ …‘True environmentalists … should be applauding the aliens.’”

Pearce isn’t the first to equate gardening with racism. “In 2014,” continued Breitbart, “academic Ben Pitcher claimed that people who enjoy talking about gardening are closet racists who use the hobby as a covert way to promote white identity” and claimed using terms like “invasive” and “non-native” showed gardeners’ opposition to migrants and is “saturated with racial meanings.”

Okay fine. You wanna equate gardening with racism? Then let’s do it – and see where it goes.

I have spent the last ten years cultivating a huge vegetable and fruit garden through sheer hard work. And make no mistake – it’s work. I put many, many hours each summer into cultivating strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, pears, apples, grapes, plums, cherries, watermelon, cantaloupe, hazelnuts, walnuts, corn, green beans, dried beans (several types), peas, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, red bell peppers, carrots, lettuce, sage, oregano, basil, horseradish, cayenne peppers, garlic, parsley, rosemary, spearmint, seed poppies, and thyme.

All these food plants (with the exception of the trees) are in raised beds. I’m quite proud of my garden. It’s the first thing we show visitors.

Of course, weeds grow in any garden, which I diligently work to remove. In small amounts, most weeds don’t damage vegetables. Gardens can take a small amount of “weed pressure,” as it’s called, without damaging the primary crop. It’s only when weeds overgrow a bed that the crop suffers.

Sometimes I even find a volunteer vegetable plant in the “wrong” place, growing from the previous year’s seed. This kind of diversity is always welcome. Even though the volunteer is not where it’s “supposed” to be, it still contributes to the garden and produces a useful result.

Learning to garden has been something of an uphill battle for me, and I’ve made many mistakes. One year I naïvely mulched many beds with old hay, thinking I was doing the right thing. But old hay often contains foreign (to my garden) seeds, and to my horror I found I had inadvertently introduced a bunch of invasive weeds. One particularly pernicious specimen was a type of aggressive grass that sends out root runners and spreads vegetatively. Left alone, it soon dominates a bed, forming dense mats, crowding out everything else, and causing the vegetables to either grow thin or die.

Uprooting this grass is delicate and difficult. Unless every little bit of root is carefully dug up and removed, it snaps and regrows new plants from the snapped pieces. For years I’ve fought this grass and slowly I’m winning. But it’s still a fight. And that doesn’t count other weeds that invade my garden which, given the opportunity, would take over. It’s a constant battle.

Am I racist? Are my actions or my language “promoting white identity”? Of course not. I’m simply describing my gardening challenges as we strive for food self-sufficiency on our farm. If you interpret it any other way – now listen to this very, very carefully – that’s your racism showing, not mine.

Now let’s look beyond gardening. Let’s look at nature. I have a background in wildlife biology, and invasive species putting pressure on native plants and animals is a huge issue among biologists. Take Australia, for example. Here’s a continent that had been geographically isolated from the outside world for a long, long time. It contains perhaps the finest examples of unique, not-found-anywhere-else flora and fauna on the planet. But as soon as invasive species were introduced – either deliberately or by accident – they spread and flourished and out-competed the native plants and animals, sometimes to the point of extinction. The only sane way to keep this from happening everywhere is to limit the introduction of species that spread easily.

Because, you see, not all alien species become aggressive invaders. Some plants and animals assimilate beautifully and would never dream of taking over. Australia is in no danger of being taken over by non-native chickens, for example, even though chickens are everywhere.

It’s those plants and animals which don’t assimilate – which, instead, take over a garden or an ecosystem in an aggressive and destructive fashion, causing populations to become threatened or go extinct – that are the problem.

Now consider the words of historian Bill Federer:
After the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Communist labor organizers, community organizers, agitators, and agent provocateurs infiltrated other countries, including the United States. They utilized the tactic of psychological projection or “blame-shifting,” in which the attacker blames the victim.

Sigmund Freud wrote in "Case Histories II" (PFL 9, p. 132) of “psychological projection” where humans resort to the defensive mechanism of denying in themselves the existence of unpleasant behavior while attributing that exact behavior to others. A rude person constantly accuses others of being rude.

Marx is attributed with the phrase "Accuse the victim of what you do" or “Accuse your opponent of what you are guilty of.” If you are lying, accuse your opponent it. If you are racist, accuse your opponent it. If you are sexually immoral, accuse your opponent it. If you are engaging in voter fraud, accuse your opponent it. If you are disseminating "fake news", accuse your opponent of spreading it. If you are receiving millions from globalist and Hollywood elites, accuse your opponent of being controlled by the rich.
I will continue the fight to defend my garden from invasive species so it can flourish and provide us with food. I presume Australia will attempt to do the same, to save its native species of plants and animals from extinction.

All you liberals out there can interpret this as you will.

As for Pearce and Pitcher, they can take their racism and false accusations – and shove it.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

It's the little things in life

Almost exactly two years ago, Don built me a little shelving unit to store gallon jugs of bulk staples: oatmeal, brown sugar, whole wheat flour, tea, pasta, raisins, etc.


I was making some oatmeal-raisin cookies for the neighborhood potluck last week. As I always do, I pulled the necessary jugs of ingredients from this shelving unit and placed them on the table until needed.


And it occurred to me how much I took for granted this extremely useful piece of furniture. What a blessing to have a woodworking husband who can make such needed items.

This inspired me to look around the house and realize that everything -- with the exception of a sofa and loveseat we bought new in 2004 -- is either a second-hand purchase or handmade by my talented husband. The result is eclectic and unpolished -- and yet it somehow represents us very well.

After all, we're kind of eclectic and unpolished too.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Winter isn't done with us yet

Typical for spring, we're alternating between nice warmish days of sunshine, and days of rain and/or wind. This morning we woke up to howling wind and snow. Wheee.


The flakes were flying sideways.



The vehicle was getting plastered. If I'd waited an hour longer to take these photos, the vehicle would have been even more plastered.


We have a stack of wooden pallets leaning against a barn pole. They got plastered too.


Our brave stand of daffodils, pushing up, also got plastered, poor dears.


The neighbors across the way were simply obliterated.


And now -- a few hours later -- everything's gone and we even have periods of weak sunshine (though the wind is still blowing). If you don't like the weather, wait five hours. Or something like that.

Double-dipping

Our beloved Jersey cow Matilda, who passed away February 10, absolutely loved calves. She would nurse any and every calf who wanted milk. As a result, we called her our Universal Donor.


Yesterday I caught Amy, Matilda's adult daughter, engaging in the same practice. Double-dipping, anyone?


One calf is hers, and the other is little Ferdinand.

As far as I'm concerned, having a Universal Donor is an excellent thing on a farm ... plus it's a testimony to Matilda's gentle, generous nature -- something she clearly passed on to her daughter.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Catching up

Here are a couple of things from the last few days on which to catch up:

My latest blog post on Lehman's is now up. Hop over and take a peek.


Also, last weekend's article on WND entitled "If the service is free, you're the product" was featured on the carousel on Saturday.


For those unable to read the column on WND, it's copied below.



If the Service is Free, You're the Product

America, and possibly the rest of the world, is still reeling in shock at what is being called "worst breach of privacy in modern history." Forget the old mundane stuff like swiping credit card numbers or bank account passwords. Now we're learning that everything – and I mean everything – ever loaded onto Facebook has been mined and stored away. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg admits the company "could read and censor the private messages that you send to your friends." Users are understandably horrified, and trust in the social media company is in free fall (along with Facebook stock).

Company personnel are in massive damage-control mode, explaining the data mining is for the children. "Keeping your messages private is the priority for us; we protect the community with automated systems that detect things like known images of child exploitation and malware," a spokesperson said. "This is not done by humans."

The funny thing is how sputteringly defensive these tech people get whenever someone objects to their actions. After all, what do we have to hide?

"The reality here is that if you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people who can't afford to pay," Zuckerberg said. "And therefore, as with a lot of media, having an advertising-supported model is the only rational model that can support building this service to reach people. … But if you want to build a service which is not just serving rich people, then you need to have something that people can afford."

Sadly, Zuckerberg is right about one thing: If the service is free, you're the product.

"Of the myriad critiques of the computer culture," noted a 2015 Washington Post article, "one of the most common is that companies are getting rich off our personal data. Our thoughts, friendships and basic urges are processed by computer algorithms and sold to advertisers. ... That information is valuable. A frequent gibe is that on Facebook, we're not the customers, we're the merchandise. Or to put it another way: If the service is free, you're the product."

Finally – at last – people are waking up to how unpleasant it is to be a "product." Although our world is now so interconnected that it's all but impossible to disconnect completely, some people are waking up to the dark side of technology.

"Political progressives once embraced the utopian promise of the Internet as a democratizing force," says the Washington Post article, "but they've been dismayed by the rise of the 'surveillance state,' and the near-monopolization of digital platforms by huge corporations."

Preach it, brother. Why is it necessary to know so much about everyone?

The trouble is, being a product is so easy. It's so convenient to take smart phones everywhere we go. No one reads books anymore; they're all too busy staring at screens. You don't even have to store photos or text on your computer; it all goes into the cloud. Facial recognition software identifies everyone, no matter where they go.

This desperate desire to mine data from Joe Sixpack is getting crazier and crazier. Homes are becoming "smart" and brazenly advertise their Internet connectivity – not just computers and phones, but also refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, thermostats, heating/cooling systems, security systems, lights, televisions, stoves, ovens, coffeemakers, speakers, toys, and even (ewww) a "smart mattress."

Is all this really necessary? Even more pointed, is all this even desirable? Doesn't anyone realize the scope for abuse from malicious hackers or viruses? It's literally to the point where hackers (or the government) could cause your home to hold you hostage.

In the 2008 Pixar film "WALL-E," Earth is garbage-covered and abandoned, with its population evacuated onto starliners. According to the Wikipedia summary, "the descendants of the ship's original passengers have become morbidly obese after centuries of microgravity effects and relying on the ship's automated systems for their every need."

These tubby blobs of people are whizzed around in mechanized chairs. If they happened to fall out, they're as helpless as a turtle on its back. Watch this silly little clip of a dystopian future and ask yourself whether this technology made people smarter:



Is this where we're headed?

As one person put it, "It is exhausting just to think about. Constantly having to worry about what you say, do, even think now becomes a worry as to who may be listening or monitoring in order to 'catch' you. It certainly is a good way to make us slaves by our own hands."

Remember this: Every keystroke you make is measured, recorded, documented, and stored somewhere. Every website you visit, every phone call you make, every text you send, every email you receive, every bank account you balance – everything is recorded. You're a product, and your cooperation is required.

"There are days when you have the impression people are treated as battery animals or experimental rats," said Giovanni Buttarelli, the European Data Protection Supervisor, about Facebook. "We are treated as a farm for data. We are in within a walled garden and every single action is monitored."

Whether Facebook eventually collapses under the weight of its own arrogance remains to be seen, but it hardly matters. Another "free" service will arise to take its place, to which people will flock in droves. "Free" is just too irresistible, and people seem to enjoy being self-lobotomized.

It's now a radical, subversive thing to go (or remain) low-tech, but a growing number of people are deciding it's not worth being a "product" and are opting out. Forget the smart appliances. Forget the smart phones. Forget the seductive, addictive dumbing down of personal electronics or wi-fi appliances. These tech dissenters are engaging in radical behaviors such as face-to-face conversations, reading a good (physical) book, and walking in the woods unaccompanied by a digital leash.

But most people won't take that step backward. And when they've left all their actual physical friends behind, I suppose "Alexa" or Google Assistant will be all that remains.

But if that's the path you choose, just remember this: When free stuff means you become the "product," the next step is inevitable. A product isn't free. It's owned.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

And to think it all started with a potluck

If there’s one thing I’m always harping about when it comes to preparedness, it’s comparing it to a three-legged stool. One leg is supplies, the second leg is skills and knowledge, and the third leg is community.


In our neck of the woods, the ties that bind us with our neighbors are our potlucks. We've been having these neighborhood potlucks for about nine years now. Nine years. That's a long time. Many of you have heard the story before; but for those unfamiliar with it, here’s how our potlucks got started.

Way back when, some new neighbors moved in across from us. They had a rough start. While the wife and four kids settled in, the husband kept his job on the east coast. For the next three years, the husband visited his new home whenever he could, but he had career commitments to tie up before he was able to move here permanently.

During this time we got to know the wife and kids quite well. One day we invited them to dinner, figuring the mom would like some adult company. She brought dessert, the grownups sat around the table and talked, the kids (our and theirs) did their own thing, and we all had a splendid time. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we invited them back the next week for a repeat performance.

As she was heading out the door at the end of that second meal, the mother said, “I’ll host next week,” and our weekly potlucks were born. Soon the husband was able to conclude his job and came home permanently. We invited a third family to join us, then a fourth, and these four families became the core of a weekly sociable that has taken place for nearly a decade.

My potluck dishes

In the last year or so, the potlucks have grown as we've had more people join our circle. I think the most we've ever had over at one time was 23 (I now keep stacks of extra plates and bowls for potluck meals). We now have three separate families acting as hosts, so no one gets overwhelmed (or at least, no more often than once every three weeks).

Sometimes we have to cancel for a week or even a month when schedules get busy, to resume when things are more settled. We’re fluid in our arrangements. Newcomers are always welcome – other neighbors, visiting friends and relatives, guests. With so many people, folding chairs and folding tables get passed around from house to house. Even so, often there aren't enough chairs to go around, but people are very good-natured about sitting on the couch balancing plates on their knees or eating standing up.

Folding table and chairs, stored until needed

I can't tell you how much these potlucks mean to me. To look around a crowded room, to listen to four or five conversations going on at once, to open with prayer, to see everyone pitch in to clean up ... even after nine years of this, it never gets old.

As a result of these potlucks, we’ve been blessed to know these good people better than most neighbors ever get to know each other. We cheer each other’s victories, we mourn each other’s losses, we commiserate hard times, we laugh about good times. We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and graduations.

If someone needs help, we know who to call. It might be a horse tangled in a fence. It might be a flat tire or a vehicle stuck in snow. It might be a missing dog or an escaped cow. It might be something heavy that needs to be moved. If someone is ill or recuperating from surgery, we pitch in to feed livestock, cook meals, and run errands. We share garden produce and seeds. We keep others informed if there’s a good deal on hay for winter feed. If one of us visits the city, sometimes we’ll pick up a needed item for someone else.

Stuck in the snow

In short, these potlucks have strengthened the ties we have with the people surrounding us. To be honest, none of us gave this much thought – it just seemed like a natural thing to do – until outsiders started saying in awe, “You meet every week?” or variations to that effect, and we realized we had something special going on.

As a community, we'll often share tools and equipment, saving people the need or cost of purchasing each item on their own. Our log splitter gets used by several other neighbors. We've borrowed trailers for hauling heavy loads. Seed spreader, plow, disker, back blades, cultivator, rototiller -- all these tractor implements get passed around wherever they're needed. We have a neighbor who's taken it upon himself to be the neighborhood snowplow (since our road is not county-maintained), and we'll pitch in some money to cover his gas. Another neighbor with a Very Beefy Tractor will stack our hay for us in the barn each summer.


Now that our girls have spread their wings and entered adulthood, there are times Don and I think we should sell out and move to a smaller house ... but quite honestly, we don't want to leave our neighbors. We're not certain we could ever duplicate the love and friendship we've developed with these people if we moved anywhere else. So -- we're staying put.


And to think it all started with a potluck. Something to think about as you look around at your own neighbors.

UPDATE: Oh wow -- this got featured on SurvivalBlog!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Prepper gardening

I'm pleased to announce a new ebook in our Country Living Series entitled Prepper Gardening. This is a fairly broad piece that covers a number of factors distinguishing between a survival garden and a regular garden. At $2.99 and nearly 8,000 words in length, we feel it's a bargain.


Also, some readers expressed concern about using the checkout features on the Country Living Series website because it requires an address. This is unnecessary information, since the ebooks are sent electronically (not mailed). We've requested this feature be disabled, but were told it was impossible.

So -- and we've tested this -- you can input a false address as long as the town and zip code match. We put up a notice concerning this on the Country Living Series website, but it's kinda small print.

For those wanting to order ebooks, please input the following address when prompted:
General Delivery
Day, FL 32013
Hope this helps!