Thursday, September 30, 2010

Words of wisdom

A reader sent this collection of quotes from Thomas Jefferson.  Do you realize how nearly every major problem in this country could be solved if we'd only heeded Jefferson's words?

•    When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.

•    The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

•    It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes.  A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.

•    I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

•    My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.

•    No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.

•    The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

•    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

•    To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

•    I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.  If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property - until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.

Goofy shot

Let's play!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sowing wheat

Finally, at long last, we had a chance to sow our wheat field.  But not without a lot of work!

First things first.  Our tractor has been down all summer, so some wonderful friends of ours (hi Mike and Judy!) loaned us their tractor.  These are the kinds of people who would literally give you the shirt off their backs, and we're honored to be among their friends.

Mike drove his tractor to our house (a distance of - what - four miles?) from his house.

Don had disked the pasture several times over the summer to kill weeds, but there was still some growth.

So this time he decided to dig deeper and use the cultivator rather than the disker.

This loosened the soil much deeper than the disker had.

You can see the difference.

Next he disked once again.

Ready to plant?  Not quite.

But first we had to get the seed wheat.  We got one hundred pounds of treated hard red winter wheat (type: Paladin), resistant to the Hessian fly, and non-hybrid.  Cost: $18.

This wheat is treated with a fungicide to maximize the potential for germination.  For this reason, it is not suitable for human or animal consumption.  The fungicide dyes the wheat red so it can't be mistaken for regular untreated wheat (which, of course, is brown).

Before sowing, though, Don wanted to run over the field one more time with another neighbor's chain-drag-thingy, which smooths everything out.  I tell ya, with all the stuff we're borrowing from everybody, this wheat field is truly a neighborhood endeavor.

The chain-drag-thingy was pretty heavy, so we sort of draped it over the tractor bucket in order to bring it over to our wheat field.

But boy what a difference it made in how smooth the field was!

Finally, at long last, we were ready to plant!  I found an old photograph of a farmer sowing seed by hand.  This was the technique we needed to emulate.

I divvied the wheat into buckets...

...then we spaced ourselves across the pasture and prepared to sow.

It was a little trickier than it looked, trying to fling the seed evenly across the ground.

By the end of the first pass, we were disappointed by how thin and uneven the seeds were.  We could definitely appreciate the benefits of a seed drill in terms of reducing waste and increasing efficiency.  But we lined up and did it again...

...and again, and again, and again.  We kept filling our buckets and walking abreast with each other across the pasture until the sacks of seed wheat were empty.  (With the last little bit, we told the girls to run along and fling it however they liked...)

And you know what?  When we were done, it didn't look half bad!  (Look closely and you can see the red wheat on the dirt.  This was after the first pass.)

Sure, the wheat won't grow as pretty and uniform and weed-free as the professional farmers, but what the heck - if all goes well, we'll have enough wheat to feed our family for a year as well as share some with the kind friends who loaned us their implements and equipment.  North Idaho is wheat country, so there's no reason ours shouldn't grow at least moderately well.

Don took one last pass over the field with the chain-drag-thingy.  This buries the seed very shallow, and keeps the birds from eating it.

And that's it.  In theory, with the possible exception of adding some fertilizer in the spring, we don't have to do a thing to this field until next August.

Winter wheat is planted in the fall.  It starts to grow, then goes dormant over the winter, buried in a blanket of snow.  In the spring, it comes up lush and impossibly green.  It starts to head in July, and by August it should be ready to harvest.  We'll see what happens!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Who's that knocking at my door? (Please see UPDATE below)

Well, it's show time.  Time to find out whether the eggs we started incubating on Sept 6 will hatch or not.

Since we didn't want a repeat of the sad circumstances of little Pop, Younger Daughter took the precautions of taping the dome of the incubator so a chick couldn't push it open.

Last night I put my ear to the dome and listened for signs of life.  Nothing.  This morning, however, I can hear faint tapping from at least one of the eggs.  Looks like we'll have a chick (or two) by tomorrow!

UPDATE:  The little chick died.  Darn darn darn.

It started to hatch...

...and managed to push open a good-sized chunk of shell...

...when all activity ceased.  For hours, nothing happened.  Finally my husband gently peeled back the shell to find the baby had died.  Crud.

The one remaining egg is well past its due date and I don't detect any signs of activity in it, so it looks like that one's a dud.

We obviously haven't had the best luck with chicks this year.  I think it's time to invest in a proper incubator and try again next spring.


For those with a "prepper" mindset, here's an ebook called "How to Survive Chaos" that may be of interest.  I haven't read it and therefore cannot vouch for its contents, but it sounds like an interesting approach to the subject.

Chuckle du jour

A reader sent this.

A Congressman was seated next to a little girl on an airplane, so he turned to her and said, "Do you want to talk? Flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger."

The little girl, who had just started to read her book, replied to the total stranger, "What would you want to talk about?"

"Oh, I don't know," said the congressman. "How about global warming, universal health care, or stimulus packages?"  And he smiled smugly.

"OK," she said. "Those could be interesting topics but let me ask you a question first.  A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff – grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, but a horse produces clumps. Why do you suppose that is?"

The legislator, visibly surprised by the little girl's intelligence, thinks about it and says, "Hmmm, I have no idea."

To which the little girl replies, "Do you really feel qualified to discuss global warming, universal health care, or the economy when you don't know shit?"  And she went back to reading her book.

On the radio again

Looks like I'll be on the radio again!  This time it's with a fellow named Darrel Mulloy with a group called Texan 2 Texan.  The interview will be through BlogTalkRadio on Wednesday Oct 6, at 8 pm Central (or 6 pm Pacific - we had to make sure we had our time zones correct).

Mr. Mulloy and I will be discussing self-sufficiency and independence from government interference in food production and consumption, as well as how people can move toward self-sufficiency even in urban settings.  I hope ya'll can join us!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chuckle du jour

Speaking as a small business owner, I thought this cartoon was particularly apt.

My lids are in!

After several months of saving up, I did something last week I've wanted to do for a long time: I ordered my reusable canning lids.

Ever since trying Tattler reusable cannings lids last July and putting them through their paces, I knew this was a product worth buying.  They're sturdy, have a lifetime guarantee, and the rubber rings can be used about twenty times before needing replacement.  (The lids are also BPA-free, for those who consider that an important criterion.)  According to their website, I could order bulk lids for a price break.  So that's what I did: I ordered 500 each of wide-mouth and regular-mouth lids (which come with rings).  A thousand lids in all.  I also ordered ten boxes each of replacement rubber rings, which are cheap ($2.50/box of 10).

I doubt I will ever have to buy another box of canning lids at the grocery store, ever again.  Whoo-hoo!

The box of lids weighed almost forty pounds.  On top is a smaller box containing bags of rubber rings.

Here's the bag of 500 regular-sized lids.  (The bag of wide-mouthed lids is underneath.)

Here's the "loot."  I'm so tickled to have these!  Better than Christmas!

Random pix

Some random shots over the past week or two.


My mixer died the other day in the middle of a batch of cookies.  No problem, we hauled out the manual egg beater I'd bought for Preparedness purposes, and put it to the test.  Worked great!

My daughter's elderly piano teacher lives on the edge of a field.  Here's the view from her back porch.

A little fall color...

Full moon rising.  (Click on this one to enlarge - it's a pretty cool shot.)

Near my friend's boarding school is a herd of bison.  (Well, why not?)  Very impressive animals close up!

Pelicans a-plenty

Last week I was driving toward our county seat along a road that skims the southern edge of the lake.  Because of the winding nature of the road - and also because of its beauty - there are quite a number of turn-offs for slower-moving vehicles to pull over to let faster vehicles pass (it should be noted I know where every single one of these turn-offs is) or to admire the view.

Anyway, we passed one such turn-off that had a stopped car and two people staring down at the lake with binoculars.  Something white on the lake nicked the corner of my eye, and though by that time I was already past the turn-off, I told the girls, "I'm turning around.  Looks like something interesting."  I'm so glad I did!

This particular turn-off is several hundred feet above lake level in an area where there are several reed islands.  Clustered on one tiny island were a group of white pelicans.  I'm glad I had the camera with me!  The folks who had stopped ahead of us kindly lent us their binoculars so we could see the birds close up.  What a fascinating sight.  (Click on the photos to enlarge them.)

It's nice to live on the edge of the wild!  (Most of the time.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Getting started in self-reliant living

Here's a blog entry I found on SurvivalBlog, though the original article was in Backwoods Home Magazine, one of our favorite publications and one for which I frequently write.

This fellow writes about hard-core self-reliance while still living in the big city.  You think country life is easy and/or automatically lends itself to miraculous self-reliance?  Read this fellow's suggestions for how to truly achieve self-reliance before taking the plunge for rural life.

A fascinating post.

Boy do I have THEM fooled

My husband was noodling around Google this afternoon when he came across a website called Politics Line:

We both got a chuckle out of the website's slogan: "Political commentary and politics from America's greatest writers updated daily..."

The reason for the chuckle is this:

While I'm flattered to be listed among "America's greatest writers," I think the fellow running this website has waaaay too erroneous an impression of my abilities.

Besides, wanna hear a confession?  I hate politics.