Self-Sufficiency Series

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Welcome to Jurassic Farm

It has been a Very. Long. Day. And a noisy one too.

Polly yelled the whole day through. I let her out of her pen this morning and let her meet Matilda and the Brat Pack (Smokey and Pearly, as well as little Thor). The calves all yelled. Polly yelled back. We sometimes jokingly call our farm Jurassic Farm because of all the noise (reminiscent of the dinosaurs in the movie Jurassic Park). Today was one of those days.


I think I was secretly hoping that Matilda - maternal, will-nurse-everyone Matilda - would "adopt" Polly on sight and ease the poor kid's loneliness.

Nothing doing. While she certainly wasn't aggressive, Matilda left no doubt as to who was boss.


Things went better with Thor. You could almost hear Polly thinking, "All right! A kid brother!"


Polly was lonely. Where she came from, there was mama and no other cows, so she didn't have to deal with anything as primitive as a pecking order. But here, she has to get used to being the low gal on the totem pole. She certainly made friends with Thor and Smokey, and as the day went on Matilda was more and more tolerant, but no one really "warmed" to the poor kid.

And she kept trying to sniff out Matilda, doubtless recognizing a mother figure when she saw one.


And all day long, she yelled until I thought she would go hoarse. At last in the afternoon I closed her into her pen. Younger Daughter and her friend Miss Calamity spent some time brushing and petting her.


Meanwhile there's been a shrieking wind all day, the bull and steer got loose and kicked up their heels in a flamboyant fashion across the neighbor's land until we could round them up, and the sucking mud continues to squelch everywhere. I have a column and an article due tomorrow, the chicks have gone past the awww-cute stage into the stinky stage, and the State of Idaho is claiming we owe them $1054.16 (which we most assuredly do NOT).

Maybe things will be better tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Picking up Polly

We have our new little Jersey heifer! We picked her up today.

Not without some effort, of course. Don spent a lot of time constructing a nice little pen to put her in.


In the process we found where one of the hens has been secretly laying her eggs - on the shelf above the pen. (Busted!)


Then this morning we woke up early and hit the road by 7 am. It takes us a good 4 1/2 hours to drive to this remote farm, and we were pulling a neighbor's borrowed horse trailer to boot. Don was driving - white-knuckled most of the time - and he did a superb job.

The sellers, Dave and Lynne and their four kids (the oldest is off at college) are an absolutely charming homeschooling family. We wished we could have visited with them longer, but we had a vet appointment at 1:30 and had to hustle.

We put a halter and lead rope on Polly and led her out of her pen.


She's beautifully lead-trained for such a young animal, and I led her to the trailer without any trouble.


Getting her into the trailer actually went pretty well too.


Polly's poor mama was upset, as you can imagine. It's always sad to break up a family.


Next stop: The Deer Park Veterinary Clinic, a massive facility that specializes in large-animal work.


I think they could treat an elephant if they were asked to do so.


This tortuous-looking device is actually a custom-made squeeze chute. Oooh, were we jealous! We want one too.


Don backed the trailer up to the proper bay and led her inside.


Poor Polly wasn't too happy about this device, as you can imagine. Here she got her Bang's vaccination, an ear tag and ear tattoo, and a health checkup. With all the paperwork in order, we were soon on our way.


After an immensely long drive home (poor Don was exhausted!), we backed her out of the trailer...



...and tucked her into her new pen.


Oh my she was unhappy! Poor little girl, taken from her mama and bounced over roads for many hours and poked with needles and tagged and tattooed in her sore ear and now put into a strange pen!


And to top it off, everyone was staring at her!


"I want my mama!"


Can you see her new ear tag and tattoo dye?


We spent some time with her, scratching and petting, but she wasn't in the mood to be cuddled. She's still trying to get used to her new environment, and as I post this I'm hearing a lot of bawling. Still, she's tucked into the barn warm and snug. There's a howling wind at the moment, with more rain threatening, and we wanted her protected for the night. Tomorrow we'll let her out to meet her new herdmates.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Go west, young man

This is a rather long post, so please grab yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and prepare to do some hard thinking.

I was reading SurvivalBlog the other day when a rather startling piece leaped out at me. Most of SurvivalBlog's pieces are written by readers, but this piece was written by James Rawles himself, who runs SurvivalBlog.

It was the passion behind the piece that surprised me. Mr. Rawles suggests readers move - now - to the western mountain states (specifically Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, eastern Oregon, and eastern Washington). He calls these "safe haven states." He urges people to move as part of a coordinated movement which he calls the American Redoubt.

Apparently Mr. Rawles had a straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back moment after reading an article on how Florida motorists who had the temerity to use large bills to pay their road tolls were being illegally detained. This so outraged Mr. Rawles that he wrote a piece urging his readers to get the heck out of Dodge and move somewhere less troublesome... before it's too late.

He printed a long list of suggestions (copied below) but you'll need to read the original article to understand the reasoning behind it.

Don and I spent some time discussing this piece last night. We've been faithful SurvivalBlog readers for about the past year, and this article was quite unlike anything we'd seen before.  It was, in a word, drastic.

We talked about how everyone has a breaking point. While we've been active Preppers for quite awhile, the recent article on how Louisville, Colorado is putting language into its emergency response plan which would allow the city to "commandeer" private property and seize necessary supplies, concerned us a great deal. While I wouldn't call this our "straw" moment (our backs were "broken" quite awhile ago), it does make me realize how unprepared this nation is as a whole to deal with widespread interruptions in just-in-time deliveries of food, medicines, etc. And this doesn't even begin to address the rapid erosion of our Constitutionally enumerated liberties and the overweening power the Federal, State, and local governments are grabbing.

Mr. Rawles urgent suggestion to "go west, young man" illustrates how at some point you have to decide what you’re going to do. There are places in this country that are already lost. Do you really want to be caught in Los Angeles or New York or Chicago if the dollar crashes and legions of entitlement-dependent people begin rioting for food? Do you think you can get out of Dodge if everyone else has the same idea? Or worse ideas?

By this point I'm sure everyone stuck in undesirably areas is saying something along the lines of, "Yeah right - get real. I've got a job, I have a family to support, I have a house I can't sell, I can't just up and leave."

I understand. It's hard. It's a wrenching lifestyle change. Money is tight. You might have connections - family, church, community - you don't want to sever. If you decided to take the plunge you might have to take a huge financial loss.

But you...must...do...SOMETHING.

As my friend Enola Gay puts it, there are those who talk about Prepping, and there are those who DO it. Don't get me wrong - the "talking" part is important because it means you're beginning to think things through. "How much food, water, medical supplies, ammunition, etc., would I need to see my family through hard times? How safe or dangerous is my current location?"

But there comes a time when you have to put those thoughts into actions or the whole concept of Prepping is useless. We've moved from the "talking" stage to the "doing it" stage several years ago, and I spend a lot of time on this blog and in my WorldNetDaily columns urging others to do the same.

But many times those urgings fall on deaf ears. Skeptics doubt anything truly catastrophic could ever happen. People don't want to interrupt their comfortable lifestyle and sell the big-screen TV to buy wheat or rice.

But - especially with my readers - the more common response is, "I can't." The depressed real estate market means selling the house in the 'burbs is virtually impossible. Finances might be tight through unemployment or bankruptcy. The harsh reality of our current economy means a lot of people feel trapped and unable to change their current conditions.

Please believe me when I say I understand.  But it also means I worry about you.

No-nonsense radio talk show host Dr. Laura, when suggesting a particularly difficult course of action to a caller, often hears them say, "But I can't do that - it will be too hard." Dr. Laura always responds with a variation of, "Of course it will be hard. No one denies that. But that doesn't mean you don't do it. Where there's a will, there's a way. Your job is to find the way."

I believe one of the concerns behind Mr. Rawles' post stems from the idea that, even if you're an urban Prepper who has supplies up the whazoo, what will happen in the long-term once those supplies are used up? How will you get more supplies if there are no more supplies to be had?

It's an interesting (and frightening) thought.

Here's James Rawles' list from his article, as something to think about:
_____________________________________

I suggest that you follow these guidelines, as you prepare and then move to the American Redoubt:

* Research geography, climate, and micro-climates very carefully.
* Develop a home-based business.
* Lighten the load. Keep the practical items but sell your junk and impractical items at a garage sale.
* Bring your guns.
* Sell your television.
* Sell your jewelry and fancy wristwatch. Buy a Stihl chainsaw instead.
* Choose your church home wisely, seeking sound doctrine, not "programs"
* Leave your Big City expectations behind. There probably won't be cell phone coverage, high speed Internet, or Pilates.
* Expect a long driving distances for work and shopping.
* Sell your bric-a-brac and collectibles. What is more important? A large collection of Hummel figurines, or having a lot of good hand tools and Mason jars?
* Switch to a practical wardrobe and "sensible shoes".
* After your buy your land, convert the rest of your Dollar-denominated wealth into practical tangibles.
* Begin homeschooling your children.
* Sell your sports car and buy a reliable crew cab pickup.
* Expect persecution and hardship. You will be despised for being true to your faith. (Just read 2 Timothy 3:1-12. and Matthew 5:10-14, and John 15:18-19.)
* Encourage your kids to XBox and Wii less and read more.
* Make a clean break by selling your house and any rental properties. You aren't coming back.
* If you buy an existing house, get one with an extra bedroom or two. Some relatives may be joining you, unexpectedly.
* Donate any older bulky furniture to the local charity store before you move.

After you move:

* Don't try to change things to be like the suburb that you left behind. You are escaping all that!
* Pitch in by joining the local Volunteer Fire Department (VFD), Ski Patrol, Sheriff's Posse, or EMT team.
* Be a good neighbor.
* Patronize the local farmer's market and craft shows.
* Respect the property rights and the traditions of your neighbors.
* Be active, politically, but use a pseudonym in letters to the editor an internet posts.
* Use VPN tunneling, RSA encryption, firewalls, and anonymous remailers.
* Support local businesses, and companies that are headquartered inside the redoubt, not Wal-Mart.
* Encourage like-minded family and friends to join you.
* Stock up heavily on storage foods for lengthy power failures, or worse.
* Do your banking locally, preferably with a credit union and/or a farm credit union.
* Be active in local home school co-ops and service organizations.
* Find and visit your local second-hand stores. Watch for useful, practical items that don't need electricity.
* Conduct as much business as possible via barter or with precious metals.
* Gradually acquire a home library that includes self-sufficiency books and classic books--history, biographies, and novels.
* Join the local ham radio club. (Affiliated with the ARRL.)
* Expect to be the subject of gossip. Live a righteous life so there won't be much to gossip about.
* Loyally support your local church with tithes and support your local food bank.
* Get used to eating venison, elk, moose, antelope, trout, and salmon.
* Attend some farm auctions in your region to gather a good collection of useful hand tools and a treadle sewing machine.
* Attend gun shows in your state. (This keeps money circulating in the state and keeps you legal, for private gun purchases.)
* Choose your fights wisely. Don't tilt at windmills, but when you feel convicted, don't back down.

_____________________________________

Doing these things may be hard. They may call for you to lose much. And they will take time. But time, I'm truly afraid, is not on our side now. Please my dear readers - look into your hearts, talk to your family, and pray (a lot). Then act.

One of Don's favorite quotes is from the character Aragon in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings: "One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters..."

Don't be fettered.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chuckle du jour

Found this online this morning and got a chuckle out of it.
____________________________________

Best friends graduated from medical school at the same time and decided that, in spite of two different specialties, they would open a practice together to share office space and personnel.

Dr. Smith was the psychiatrist and Dr. Jones was the proctologist; they put up a sign reading: "Dr. Smith and Dr. Jones: Hysterias and Posteriors.”

The town council was livid and insisted they change it.

So, the docs changed it to read: "Schizoids and Hemorrhoids."

This was also not acceptable, so they again changed the sign.

"Catatonics and High Colonics"......No go.

Next, they tried "Manic Depressives and Anal Retentives"....thumbs down again.

Then came "Minds and Behinds"....still no good.

Another attempt resulted in "Lost Souls and Butt Holes".......unacceptable again!

So they tried "Analysis and Anal Cysts".....not a chance.

"Nuts and Butts".....no way.

"Freaks and Cheeks".....still no good.

"Loons and Moons".....forget it.

Almost at their wit's end, the docs finally came up with:

"Dr. Smith and Dr. Jones--Odds and Ends"

Everyone loved it.

Like well -oiled machinery

Sorry I've been so quiet today. I was putting the finishing touches on the Spring 2011 issue of the Dexter Journal, the quarterly magazine for the Purebred Dexter Cattle Association.


I was busily engaged in emailing the magazine to the printers when the cry went up, "The horse is out!" This was quickly followed by, "And all the cows too!"

Like well-oiled machinery, all four of us sprang into action: donning mud boots (it's spring after all), grabbing push poles, and marshaling into a force to scoot the animals back into the woods. Naturally a squall was threatening (the livestock never escape during good weather).


Brit (the horse) is the one who causes most of the trouble whenever the livestock get out. Cows herd easily but horses don't. So I lured her into Matilda's pen and locked her in so she couldn't gallop around in high spirits and scatter the rest of the herd while we attempted to round them up. She was not amused.


While the girls manned the driveway, Don scooted the animals toward the bull pen, which has a gate into the corral.


I can't blame them for wanting to escape, it's pretty muddy back there right now. Have you ever seen a more grumpy-looking herd?


Next step is to temporarily repair the escape route, in this case a gate post that had rotted and given way, resulting in the fencing being wrenched off the barn wall. Grunt.


(Notice our high-tech repair job.)


Then to make things more complicated, the interior barn gate wouldn't open - the gate had sagged on its hinges - so I couldn't let Brit out in the barn. I had to lead her outside first and then into the barn through another door.


It seems like everything is falling apart around here all of a sudden. That's what happens at the end of winter when the ground thaws and sucking mud is everywhere. Don said he was going to have to take the whole day tomorrow and fix stuff up. Double grunt.

Just another day o' country living.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chuckle du jour

Here's a joke a woman told in church today.

A five-year-old boy was attending the baptism of his baby sister Sarah. Afterward on the drive home, he start crying uncontrollably. His concerned parents try to get him to explain what upset him. Finally he hiccups, "When the pastor baptized Sarah, he said she and I must be raised in a good Christian home...and...and..." His tears break out afresh. "And I want to stay with YOU!"

Oooh, they're starting to mention it!

Mention what, you may ask? Why my book of course! The Simplicity Primer's release date is June 7 and they've listed it on the WND Bookstore site - whoo hoo! And just now I noticed the tagline at the bottom of my column makes mention of it:


I understand the book is at the printers and soon - very soon - I'll be able to hold a copy myself. I have to admit, I'm getting more and more excited about it. Up to this point it hasn't really seemed "real," if you know what I mean.


On a different note, Don's been after me to let you guys see the formal portrait that will be on the back cover. If you remember, this is the picture they had to hog tie me to take. I still don't think it looks like me and frankly didn't want to post it, but Don said if I didn't, he would (LOL) so here it is.


I tried to convince the publishers that this farm photo was much more ME, but they wouldn't have it. Oh well.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What's yours is yours and what's mine is yours

Well this is a lovely development.

Last night while reading SurvivalBlog, my husband picked up this cheery article. It seems that Louisville, Colorado is putting together an emergency response plan which includes language that gives the city the power to "commandeer private property" and "seize" buildings in a crisis.

Louisville Police Chief Bruce Goodman "has been pushing Louisville to adopt an emergency preparedness plan for several years" and says he "understands how some of the draconian language in the ordinance raises 'red flags,' including a section that empowers city officials to 'seize any food, clothing, water or medical supplies necessary to sustain displaced disaster victims.'" But, he adds, "the real life examples of a temporary takeover of property during an emergency are a lot milder than what the words connote."

I see. Milder, eh? If "real life examples" are so mild, then why the over-the-top language unless they want it there in the first place?

After all, how nice to have all the harsh draconian wording already in place so that if the bleep hits the fan, all the Preppers can be raided and stripped of their supplies. Because, let's face it, given the just-in-time nature of grocery stores and the rapidity with which they are emptied in a crisis, the only other place that will be left for a "temporary takeover" will be mine...and thine.

And see, this kind of language is only going to get more and more common as cities realize that yes, the bleep could hit the fan at any moment and so whose supplies can they seize? This is where Don and I realize how vulnerable and out-on-a-limb we've gone by publicly urging people to follow our example and prepare. We knew from the start it was a chance we were taking.

The logical next question for Don and I is... how can we make our preparedness items... disappear?

This will take some thought and planning. They can't seize what they can't find.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tangible investments

Here's my latest WorldNetDaily column called Tangible Investments. I was gratified to see it was placed on the top of the Commentary page:


I strongly suspect it has something to due with the awwwww factor of our newest heifer, Polly.


How can anyone resist such a face?

Random pix

Did you know that cows are curious about human barns? Here's Matilda peering in the window to see what we're up to.


Thor has to look hard to see past all the dirt on the door.


Mama and son.


Eating rotten tomatoes.


Why we've been keeping our driveway gate shut. (When we accidentally leave it open, everyone goes on a "field" trip across our neighbors' land.)


As of March 23:


This is an Aracauna pullet. Her cheek "sideburns" are so fuzzy they sometimes block her eyes. We named her "Tribble."


Chicks are so cute. They fall asleep anywhere.


Lydia seems entirely indifferent to the constant peeping coming from the stock tank.


A sudden violent sleet squall this afternoon...


...which led to some pretty clouds at sunset.