Monday, August 30, 2010

Good doggie

Some of you may think that with a goofy, friendly face like this, Lydia couldn't possibly be anything but a goofy, friendly dog.


I know she's a purebred Great Pyrenees, and I know she's bred to defend her flock (us).  But frankly I've never seen her even get close to approaching an aggressive stance with anyone.  Until this morning.

Don was outside and coming out of the shop toward the house (which has a glass door, so she can see through it) with an armful of tankards.  For whatever reason (possibly the bundle of tankards) Lydia didn't recognize him.  When she saw him, she exploded into aggression and flung herself against the door, ready to attack.  Woke both kids out of a sound sleep, that's for sure!  Frankly if Don had been a stranger and the door hadn't been between them, I wouldn't have given him half a chance.

I was impressed.  This is what we wanted!  As soon as Lydia realized it was Don, she dissolved back into her goofy, friendly self. 

Strangers aren't a problem.  We have loads of friends and visitors and she's fine with all of them, because we're fine with them and she gets her "vibes" from us.  But God help a stranger who tries anything aggressive against us, her flock.

Yay Lydia!  And thank you to the wonderful people responsible for bringing her to us!

Busy busy busy con't

In the aftermath of last Friday's marathon coating session, we were faced with getting all these tankards out the door and into customer's hands by this upcoming Labor Day weekend.

Sunday, far from being a day of rest, was spent baking (to force-cure the lining), testing, carding, and boxing all these pieces into five large and one small box (the small box was to a different customer).  Needless to say the house was trashed by Sunday evening:

This morning we woke up early and continued packing.  The temperature was surprisingly chilly, a mere two degrees above freezing:

Fall is unquestionably coming early this year, which may herald a harsh winter (another reason to always be "prepared" in this neck of the woods - getting snowed in for a week at a time is nothing unusual).

We spent a frantic morning finishing up the tankards, getting them boxed, and making invoices:

Here they are, boxed and ready for FedEx Ground.  These calm-looking boxes don't reveal the frantic effort that went into them!

This is the seed stock for the opening weekend of the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.  Whew!  We can't rest on our laurels, though.  We have to get busy making replacement stock for everything that (pray God) will sell over the next seven weekends.

Send me your ideas

As you all know, I've been writing a weekly column for RegularGuy.  Somehow it became my platform for country humor (don't ask me how).

Trouble is, especially with my brain-dead status during our busy season, I'm having a hard time coming up with ideas about what to write.

A reader just posted this comment:

Hi Patrice, I was reading some comments about some article this morning, someone wrote that she was "going to move to a farm, get off the grid, have a garden and a hammock" ...and I thought of you, I bet you could set her straight on the hammock part! Your blog is a great lesson on country living. 

Voila!  My next column!

Which gave me an idea.  How about if you, my beloved readers, send me your thoughts about some aspect of rural life (especially if it can be contrasted with urban life) that would give folks a chuckle?  Post your thoughts as a comment on this blog entry so we can all enjoy them, and that way I'll be able to harvest a wealth of ideas from your intelligent contributions.


Sunday, August 29, 2010


Here's a website called BushcraftUSA that picked up my post on Hoarding.


It never rains but it pours. A neighbor called and asked if we wanted their one single chick who was born a few days ago. This one has a mother, but the neighbors aren't equipped to handle a mother and baby by themselves (if nothing else, the other chickens devour the specialized chick-starter food).

So we brought home Crackle in a paper bag.

He's mightily annoyed to be separated from his mama, as you can imagine.  He's cheeping fit to kill.

Here he is with Snap, who backed into a corner, not sure what to make of this creature.  We installed them in a bigger box after this shot was taken.

All we need is a Pop and we'll have a nice little trio!

As an aside, looky what I just found in the greenhouse:

I guess we'll be breaking out the wasp spray tonight...

Let's play!

Couple o' cute shots of Lydia wanting to play...

Busy busy busy

This is what we did on Friday: coated tankards from dawn til dark.  About 300 here, more or less.

We let the wet inside coating dry for a day or two.  Today's task is to bake them at low temps in the oven for an hour and a half to force-cure the lining.  Once they're cool, we test them for leaks by filling them with water.  Then we attach guarantee cards (some of which are already on, you can see the cards in the above picture) and send them off.

These will all ship tomorrow (Monday) via FedEx Ground to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival for their opening weekend.  I'll be glad to get these out of my hair!


Looks like our new baby chick is called Snap.  Being solo, he's getting a lot of attention.

I'll confess that even I will settle down to read with Snap cupped in my hand on my lap.  At some point we're gonna have to introduce the fact that he's a chicken, not a human.

 (Yes he pooped.  Don't worry, I cleaned it up in time.)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Seriously creepy

Preschoolers. They're outfitting preschoolers with tracking devices in Contra Costa County (CA).

This is seriously creepy.

Ten Practical Steps

Here's an article I lifted (with permission) from a blog on economic collapse. What I found interesting was this exact post was picked up on the Lew Rockwell website. In other words, prepping isn't just for extremists any more. More and more people are waking up to the unavoidable reality of our economy.

Ten Practical Steps That You Can Take To Insulate Yourself (At Least Somewhat) From The Coming Economic Collapse

Most Americans are still operating under the delusion that this "recession" will end and that the "good times" will return soon, but a growing minority of Americans are starting to realize that things are fundamentally changing and that they better start preparing for what is ahead. These "preppers" come from all over the political spectrum and from every age group. More than at any other time in modern history, the American people lack faith in the U.S. economic system. In dozens of previous columns, I have detailed the horrific economic problems that we are now facing in excruciating detail. Many readers have started to complain that all I do is "scare" people and that I don't provide any practical solutions. Well, not everyone can move to Montana and start a llama farm, but hopefully this article will give people some practical steps that they can take to insulate themselves (at least to an extent) from the coming economic collapse.

But before I get into what people need to do, let's take a minute to understand just how bad things are getting out there. The economic numbers in the headlines go up and down and it can all be very confusing to most Americans.

However, there are two long-term trends that are very clear and that anyone can understand....

#1) The United States is getting poorer and is bleeding jobs every single month.

#2) The United States is getting into more debt every single month.

When you mention the trade deficit, most Americans roll their eyes and stop listening. But that is a huge mistake, because the trade deficit is absolutely central to our problems.

Every single month, Americans buy far, far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us. Every single month tens of billions of dollars more goes out of the country than comes into it.

That means that every single month the United States is getting poorer.

The excess goods and services that we buy from the rest of the world get "consumed" and the rest of the world ends up with more money than when they started.

Each year, hundreds of billions of dollars leave the United States and don't return. The transfer of wealth that this represents is astounding.

But not only are we bleeding wealth, we are also bleeding jobs every single month.

The millions of jobs that the U.S. economy is losing to China, India and dozens of third world nations are not going to come back. Middle class Americans have been placed in direct competition for jobs with workers on the other side of the world who are more than happy to work for little more than slave labor wages. Until this changes the U.S. economy is going to continue to hemorrhage jobs.

The U.S. government has helped to mask much of this economic bleeding by unprecedented amounts of government spending and debt, but now the U.S. national debt exceeds 13 trillion dollars and is getting worse every single month. Not only that, but state and local governments all over America are getting into ridiculous amounts of debt.

So, what we have got is a country that gets poorer every single month and loses jobs to other countries every single month and that has accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world which also gets worse every single month.

Needless to say, this cannot last indefinitely. Eventually the whole thing is just going to collapse like a house of cards.

So what can we each individually do to somewhat insulate ourselves from the economic problems that are coming?....

1 - Get Out Of Debt: The old saying, "the borrower is the servant of the lender", is so incredibly true. The key to insulating yourself from an economic meltdown is to become as independent as possible, and as long as you are in debt, you simply are not independent. You don't want a horde of creditors chasing after you when things really start to get bad out there.

2 - Find New Sources Of Income: In 2010, there simply is not such a thing as job security. If you are dependent on a job ("just over broke") for 100% of your income, you are in a very bad position. There are thousands of different ways to make extra money. What you don't want to do is to have all of your eggs in one basket. One day when the economy melts down and you are out of a job are you going to be destitute or are you going to be okay?

3 - Reduce Your Expenses: Many Americans have left the rat race and have found ways to live on half or even on a quarter of what they were making previously. It is possible - if you are willing to reduce your expenses. In the future times are going to be tougher, so learn to start living with less today.

4 - Learn To Grow Your Own Food: Today the vast majority of Americans are completely dependent on being able to run down to the supermarket or to the local Wal-Mart to buy food. But what happens when the U.S. dollar declines dramatically in value and it costs ten bucks to buy a loaf of bread? If you learn to grow your own food (even if is just a small garden) you will be insulating yourself against rising food prices.

5 - Make Sure You Have A Reliable Water Supply: Water shortages are popping up all over the globe. Water is quickly becoming one of the "hottest" commodities out there. Even in the United States, water shortages have been making headline news recently. As we move into the future, it will be imperative for you and your family to have a reliable source of water. Some Americans have learned to collect rainwater and many others are using advanced technology such as atmospheric water generators to provide water for their families. But whatever you do, make sure that you are not caught without a decent source of water in the years ahead.

6 - Buy Land: This is a tough one, because prices are still quite high. However, as we have written previously, home prices are going to be declining over the coming months, and eventually there are going to be some really great deals out there. The truth is that you don't want to wait too long either, because once Helicopter Ben Bernanke's inflationary policies totally tank the value of the U.S. dollar, the price of everything (including land) is going to go sky high. If you are able to buy land when prices are low, that is going to insulate you a great deal from the rising housing costs that will occur when the U.S dollar does totally go into the tank.

7 - Get Off The Grid: An increasing number of Americans are going "off the grid". Essentially what that means is that they are attempting to operate independently of the utility companies. In particular, going "off the grid" will enable you to insulate yourself from the rapidly rising energy prices that we are going to see in the future. If you are able to produce energy for your own home, you won't be freaking out like your neighbors are when electricity prices triple someday.

8 - Store Non-Perishable Supplies: Non-perishable supplies are one investment that is sure to go up in value. Not that you would resell them. You store up non-perishable supplies because you are going to need them someday. So why not stock up on the things that you are going to need now before they double or triple in price in the future? Your money is not ever going to stretch any farther than it does right now.

9 - Develop Stronger Relationships: Americans have become very insular creatures. We act like we don't need anyone or anything. But the truth is that as the economy melts down we are going to need each other. It is those that are developing strong relationships with family and friends right now that will be able to depend on them when times get hard.

10 - Get Educated And Stay Flexible: When times are stable, it is not that important to be informed because things pretty much stay the same. However, when things are rapidly changing it is imperative to get educated and to stay informed so that you will know what to do. The times ahead are going to require us all to be very flexible, and it is those who are willing to adapt that will do the best when things get tough.

Tudoring me

I came across a website recently that focused on a controversial subject. While glancing through it I came across this surprising and totally unrelated announcement:

For those aspiring to take the IELTS examination AND/OR speak flawless English, I teach English Euphonics, grammar, spelling and punctuation. I will grade your papers, tudor you and prepare you for your examination.

No thanks, I can tudor myself.

Friday, August 27, 2010


This morning I came stumbling downstairs about 5 a.m., bleary-eyed and still half-asleep.  As I descended the stairs I heard a soft peeping sound.

I couldn’t imagine where it was coming from because it sounded just like a baby chick, and of course we have no baby chicks in the house.

Or so I thought.  It seems that one of the eggs Younger Daughter and her friend Miss Calamity put in the incubator last week hatched during the night!

Obviously it was WAY too early for an egg to hatch – chicken eggs take 21 days to hatch, and the girls only set up the incubator six days ago – so obviously one of the eggs they gathered had already gone 2/3 of the way through its incubation period when the girls put it in the incubator.

At any rate, after I blinked the surprise from my eyes, I got a box and some hay, then took a gooseneck lamp to give warmth, and put the baby in there.  It was still damp from hatching.

Life is never dull around here!

Lydia was curious about the noise, of course:

This means war!

Our war on mice continues.  Yesterday I bought a lot of new traps...

And we had a marathon trap-setting session.  Six traps on the kitchen counters (here are three of them):

Six traps on the washroom floor.

This morning there were two dead mice in the kitchen:

And five in the washroom.

The battle continues...

Random pix

Spoiled dog.

Gluing on handles.

This time of year, coating tankards is a family affair.

A full moon.  I have tried and tried and tried to photograph a full moon and can never do justice to its beauty.

Younger Daughter watching the moonrise.

Yesterday was a day of high winds and lots of blowing dust.  There's supposed to be a mountain in this picture.

The dust and clouds disguised the sun in a dramatic fashion.

The half-grown chickens tucked themselves under the car to dodge the wind.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Clueless in Seattle

I have a new column posted at called Clueless in Seattle.  Enjoy!

UPDATE: Before anyone gets too annoyed at my friend Janet, please keep in mind that "Janet" doesn't actually exist.  She is an amalgamation of numerous people I know.  I've received all these comments at one time or another from different people and decided to roll them all together into one mythical friend.  So don't pummel Janet too hard!

The average teen sends 3000 texts a month

Here are some revolting bits of trivia.

Statistics show 80 percent of all 15 to 18-year-olds own a cell phone. And the rate of texting has sky rocketed 600 percent in three years. The average teen sends 3,000 texts a month.

 This apparently fits all the definitions of an addition.

Neuroimaging studies show the same brain areas are stimulated with both texting and using heroin.

Our Older Daughter reports that at summer camp, even though electronic gizmos weren't permitted, some girls were smuggling in cell phones.  She woke up at midnight one night and heard one of the girls stealthily texting.  Midnight, for pete's sake.  At summer camp.

Meanwhile, many teens have a working vocabulary of only 800 words.  I believe there are chimps with a larger vocabulary than that.

These teens are our future, folks.  Perhaps parents should introduce their children to a novel (literally) concept.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Peaceable kingdom

The dogs started barking this evening, so I looked out the window and saw a doe and her fawn just catching the last of the sun's rays.  (These pictures were taken through a rather dirty window so they're not the clearest.)

Then suddenly I realized there were two fawns.