Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just Some Updates

From time to time I make updates to the right hand side bar of this blog. One such category that I've never touched upon in any of these writings, is what I titled "Nuke Threat Awareness". At risk of coming across as just another paranoid Internet wacko I put it there with the accompanying links because of my concerns in regards to the dangerous world we are living in.

I came of age under the shadow of what they called M.A.D. or Mutual Assured Destruction. Back when I first learned that the United States and that old evil empire, the Soviet Union were in effect, holding each others populations hostage, to the ravages of all out nuclear annihilation, I concurred that yes indeed, it was truly MAD. I wondered what kind of insanity prevailed upon men to keep such a heinous public policy?

Another concern of mine, as I grew up in a city with a fully functioning nuclear reactor that we could see in all it's glory from the end of our driveway, was the potential of some crazy accident like Chernobyl or on a more minor level, like Three Mile Island happening. So from a young age I took it upon myself to study all I could about the workings of nuclear energy and it's potential hazards. One of the first things I ever learned regarding fallout was that with proper precautions it was entirely possible to survive and to go on and live a perfectly normal life. That is, if defensive measures were actually taken. It infuriated me that none of our leaders ever bothered to tell us of that fact. Most everyone I knew assumed that if there was ever a nuclear war or an accident at a power plant then we might as well resign ourselves to bend over and kiss our rear ends good bye. I mean that was always the attitude.

Secondly I learned that there was a good reason why we were all kept in the dark about the survivability of nuclear fallout. That was, if either the American government or the then U.S.S.R. ever told their populations about the precautionary steps they could take in the event of such a disaster then that would signal to the the other that they might be preparing for a nuclear first strike. I shuddered at the "MADness".

In time I grew up, got married and started a family. I suppose just one of the many motivating factors that was in the back of my mind of wanting to leave where I grew up and live in the country, was that I wanted to get my family away from such hazards of living by a nuclear power plant. Even if fear of an accident was unfounded I always assumed it would be a likely target in the event of a war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. From what I had learned, the further geographical distance between you and "ground zero" the higher chances of survivability and lessening the adverse effects from radiation poisoning.

But, then we witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union. Almost instantly we heard people saying " we won" the "cold war is over" and that they could finally set the hands back, on the "doomsday clock". I for one never shared that kind of optimism, in fact I concluded that we had just taken a turn for the worse and our world became at that time, far more dangerous, far more complicated.

Looking back I can see my fears where rightly founded. Some say we now have a nuclear armed India and Pakistan as a direct result of the break up of the Soviet Union. And, at least in the days of the cold war America had a single nuclear armed adversary with which to negotiate. (With the exception of China) Then there were all the unemployed nuclear scientists and military personnel of the Soviet Union with nothing better to do than render their services to the highest bidder. Now we have no idea how many rogue nukes are floating around the world at this time. Just to name a few changes that would in effect make for a far more dangerous and complicated world. Things are not looking too bright for the young people of today.

Recently I got an email from a fellow who reads this blog. He said, "My wife Carol and I find your site interesting and informative... very proactive, with just the right touch of shared 'what if' paranoia to keep us all on track." I got a kick out of the "what if paranoia" part but, it confirmed to me that I needed to at least give something of a disclaimer here about some of these things. Especially after I put the picture of an exploding nuke over there at the right. If people were wondering about me before, then they'd really think I was over the top with that.

I guess another thing I should mention and it's really a big part of who I am, is the fact that all my life I've believed we are living in the Last Days. I hesitate even putting those words together, LAST and DAYS because the first time I ever did that I got a lesson in how the Internet works and got more feed back than I was comfortable with from some of those "internet wacko's" that I've been concerned that people might label me as. I make a big effort to try and be balanced in my world view and really consider all sides to a given topic. I do have some strong opinions but, I like to give the benefit of the doubt in most instances. Like the fact that I might not have all the facts at my disposal. Like I heard a preacher once say, "I think I'm right but, I could be wrong". So I try not to be too dogmatic.

I know that alot of the Christian Agrarian bloggers out there don't share my take on the end times, but that's fine, we have plenty in common regardless. So I try to be respectful and not harp on it too much here. However, because of my world view I do watch current events like a hawk and that is reflected in what I talk about.

But, no matter how bleak things seem to get I hold out that there is tremendous hope in the soon return of Jesus Christ. My belief is that after Jesus comes back, the earth will be restored to Garden of Eden type conditions and the prophecy I have at the top of this blog, up by the title, will come to pass. "...and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree..." Micah 4:3-4 There's actually quite a bit written in the bible of how people will live agricultural lifestyles and will live a life much closer to the land than the modernites of today are currently living.

We look to all kinds of things in this life to give us hope. Lots and lots of folks see these presidential elections as kind of a last ditch chance for hope and "change". But, what kind of "change" are they talking about? Sadly, putting our trust in man is going to do nothing but dash our hope to pieces. We need to look a little higher than the presidency to find the change we all need.

Until Next Time

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Three Amigo's

These are three of our four spring lambs. Shetlands. The one in the middle is exceptional and we will be keeping him. We have all the sheep in 16' x 16' cattle panels that I move everyday. All together there are 5 pens. I've been working them back and forth across the field all summer and now into the fall. I don't think I've covered over a couple acres all together.

Earlier in the year we had the sheep behind electric fence but the Three Amigo's kept getting out. We use solar charged electric fence. If the electric grounding is not perfect the voltage is greatly diminished. And with the sheep's wool they can easily slip under. These cattle panels have worked better than the electric though they still nose under sometimes. When one does get out it doesn't go anywhere since they want to be with the other sheep anyway.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Final Week CSA - 16 Weeks

We got in 16 weeks of CSA shares this year our first! Actually it was a little less than we anticipated. We had based our calculations on a 2o week season. We might have made it had our spring not been so cool and drawn out this year. But, that's "life in the north woods baby" as someone once said to me.

With the heavy frosts and cold night time temps, even with coverings, the gardens took a big hit in quality and production so we figured we'd better quit on a good note. Even the tomatoes we had growing in the green house seemed to be coming to the end of their life cycle and began shutting down. Perhaps it has more to do with length of daylight than actual temperatures, since frost and cold wasn't a factor for the stuff in there. We are still getting ripe tomatoes however, but not near enough to keep the CSA people supplied.

Here's a list of what we had in the last bin:

* Butternut Squash
* Acorn Squash
* Carrots
* Hot Pepper(s)
* Bunch of Beets
* Parsnip
* Bag of salad greens & lettuces
* Rutabaga
* Yellow pear and Cherry tomatoes
* Tomatoes
* Baking apples
* Eating apples
* Purple Cabbage
* Pineapple Sage
* 4 oz. jar Honey
* jar of Pure Maple Syrup
* Sample bar of Goat Milk Soap

We provided gift samples of honey, maple syrup, and goat milk soap, which I think was a nice finale for the last bin of the season. These items came from the other growers. The goat milk soap came from our friend Christine who has her own herd of dairy goats. The honey came from a brother in law of another grower. And the maple syrup of course came from our friends Phil and Diane who have the maple syrup business, the folks with the 6000 tap operation I've talked about in the past.

We've gotten a good amount of positive feed back from CSA members and as far as I know most folks are signing up again next year, plus 4 new ones to date. Today we just got an encouraging card in the mail from a lady who was a member. She happens to be a good friend but, it was typical of what we've been hearing.
Here's what she said,
"Thanks to all in your group for the wonderful produce - it was awesome & I plan to buy in next year also, Thanks!" Very encouraging words indeed!

There were times this year when we weren't entirely sure we were going to pull it off. From getting everything planted to keeping up with the eventual weeds. Actually in the end, with our personal gardens ( not the other growers) , the weeds won. Fortunately we finally conceded defeat once the weeds themselves started shutting down too. I mean they we're still there, you know, but that all consuming vitality they had in the middle of the season actually slowed way down. Otherwise they would have choked out most of the stuff. Mostly it just became unsightly and we had to wade through it to harvest the crops. So it wasn't to the point where the production suffered I don't think.

Now, the beds that were heavily mulched did well. It just happened that we were never able to get everything mulched, is all. Just ran out of time. That fact in it's self is something we have to address for next year so that we can keep up with all that we are going to need to do with even more share holders.

I'm reluctant to do the "traditional" row crops. But, I may have to resort to that some, just to get the volume we need. Then at least I can cultivate the weeds. The square foot method is great for getting alot in a small space but, mulching and cultivating is hard to do with everything so close together. Maybe there are some tricks I haven't learned about yet. I know it is critical to get the weeds when they are tiny no matter what method of planting you use.

But, all in all it was a great learning experience. From growing food for all those people I have loads more confidence that in the end we can grow enough to supply all of our own personal food needs. Without a doubt.

We've had the blessing and opportunity, thanks to our friend Marge, to acquire 3 more green houses from a Rhinelander florist that went out of business. They're all 17' x 96'. Actually we are getting two and other CSA growers John and Scarlet are getting one.

Marge struck up a conversation with a man who manages a landscaping supply business and it so happened he had these green houses he'd sell cheap. $200 a piece for them. Even cheaper than the ones we got in IL before we moved here. But, they're alot more work to take apart. Alot more! Almost to the point where I wonder if maybe he should have paid us to take them down. Well, not that bad but, it is a big job as these are more of permanent structures unlike the portable ones we originally obtained, the ones we are using now.

So every chance I get I've been down there dismantling these. Not just me but, our friend John, Marge's husband and the other John, Scarlets husband. John and Scarlet have alot of friends and they've been a big help too.

Even with all the help it is still a slow process. But, it is well worth it. You can't buy much as far as any kind of structure for $200. We spent more than that putting together our raised beds this year. So we have alot to work with here.

And we don't even have to keep with the same dimensions. We can put together smaller units and get two or three structures from one. I'm hoping to build a movable chicken house for our laying hens. That way we can move our laying operation from where it is currently. It's been in that spot for a good 8 years which is exactly the wrong thing to do if you heed the advice of the likes of Joel Salatin. Actually I had hoped to get them moved this year but, again we ran out of time. If I can get something put together before the snows come then next year it will become reality.

I hope everyone is paying attention to this financial crisis and all it's ramifications. If you just look at the surface it might not seem like that big a deal, life goes on. The changes being brought about now are every bit as monumental as what took place after 911. Our world has changed. The whole system is undergoing unprecedented change. The New World Order is being forged right before our eyes. What that means to our personal freedom remains to be seen.

On a brighter note, in closing here's some cute pictures of some kittens that were recently born here on the farm.

Until Next Time

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Canning Marathon


Mountain Firekeeper was here again! We did a pressure canning "marathon"! Well, not too much of a marathon but, it did last over half the day. I think it was rather easy by Mt. Firekeeper standards, judging by Lynn Bartletts comment after my last post. He helped them can. She said, "My most intense experience was when our family purchased 200 chickens from a Hutterite community, and took only 2 days to pressure can it all!"
Wow, now that's a canning marathon!

During our visit we talked about sometime renting the town hall and doing some heavy duty pressure canning on the industrial sized gas range and you should have seen the gleam in the Mt. Firekeepers eye. He really gets into this stuff! I admire his enthusiasm!

Kelli has been quite intimidated by our pressure cooker/canner. She mentioned that fact to Mt. Firekeeper back last December when we first met him in person. So when he came for another visit he remembered and walked us through step by step on how to safely and properly operate the appliance. That was way better than reading the manual. It really helps to have someone who is experienced walk you through with something like that.

Mt. Firekeeper quickly adapted to our quirky 17 year old electric stove. First, after filling the jars with veggies and placing on the lids and rings (finger tight) we'd put them inside and evenly tighten down the wing nuts. Then we set the pressure canner along with it's contents on the stove and turn the burner to high. At this point the little pressure relief weight thing that jiggles and hisses when the pressure is up is not in place until the kettle gets good and hot. After steam steadily streams out of the hole that it sets on did we put on the weight. (Hope that made sense)

Now, the settings on our stove are no longer accurate to it's original factory function so we had to find our particular "sweet spot". After putting on the pressure relief weight we'd turn down the heat from high to maintain a constant pressure to no lower than 12 psi and no higher than 15. (It depends on where you are relative to sea level. We are at 1500 ft. above sea level) On our stove simmer was that place. That particular burner will boil water on simmer. Depending on what we were canning we kept this up for between 25 and 40 minutes. Carrots and green beans went for 25 minutes. Stew vegetables or rather "vegetable soup" as Mt. Firekeeper called them, went for 40 minutes. The finished products looked absolutely wonderful. And every jar sealed tight. We've canned plenty in the past without using a pressure cooker, it is always like music to my ears to hear that neat little 'pop' when the lids pull down tight during cooling.

It was all a great learning experience since Mt. Firekeeper is an excellent teacher. And he's entertaining as much as knowledgeable as he regaled us with story after story of his many life adventures and travels. For instance this summer he spent time on and off living in his tipi.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with Mt. Firekeeper.

Well, we had back to back company over the past few weeks and life here is getting back to normal, if there ever is anything that can be considered normal for us and how we live. But, as we continue to look at the headlines it's hard to comprehend exactly where all of this financial crisis is taking us. Unprecedented changes are before us. Here's a couple headlines just to sum it up: Market crash shakes the world and Berlusconi Says Leaders May Close World's Markets

I believe more than ever it's time we become proficient at doing things for ourselves and not relying so much on the system to provide the most basics of our needs. Like canning food. It's one thing to raise some food it's another thing to preserve it for future use.

Back in April Mt. Firekeeper had sent me an article that he had written for 'Life after the Oil Crash' forum about canning meat. I think it is timely information and with his permission I'd like to share it with you here.

By Mountain Firekeeper:

Canned meat is DEFINITELY convenience food!!!!

I grew up on an old fashioned farm where my extended family butchered and processed ALL of our own meat including pressure canning meat in a number of ways. Opening a jar of canned meat was soooooooo much easier than thawing something out from the freezer and done specifically for that reason!

We mixed beef, pork and seasonings for our 'sausage' meat. Some of it went into sausage which was smoked, cut to length and stuffed into wide mouth quart jars and pressure canned. This seasoned meat was also rolled into small meatballs which were stuffed into jars and canned----these were used in 'macaroni and meatballs' for a super fast meal. The meatballs were also added to spaghetti sauce--delicious!!!

We cut roundsteak into widemouth jar size pieces or smaller, dipped the pieces in seasoned flour and browned in frying pans and stuffed into jars. A gravy was made from the drippings in the frying pans and poured over the meat in the jars. After pressure canning, this steak will fall apart with a fork! This steak and gravy served with noodles or mashed potatoes made one of the BEST meat meals ever!!! The canned steak was what my Mother would grab if we had unexpected company and she needed to whip up a 'praise worthy' meal quickly.

All the beef bones from meat cutting were saved and then boiled down in large kettles. These kettles were allowed to cool---butchering was in the fall so outside temps were cool enough to cool the butchered animals and then also the kettles of bones. The next day, a thick layer of tallow was picked off and then the meat was picked off the bones. The resulting meat and broth was pressure canned and then used for a beef noodle or vegetable beef soup.

She also canned pork chunks which tasted delicious but she used 'Tenderquick' which has a bunch of nasty nitrates so I've never done that for health reasons.

We canned all of our old laying hens after the second year as they were replaced with younger laying hens. After butchering and washing, the chicken bodies were cut into large pieces and boiled until the meat would easily come off the bones. After the bones were removed by hand, the meat and broth was canned for 'chicken soup'---or turkey, duck, goose--wild or domestic. Sometimes we'd cut the thicker meat from the breast and thighs and pressure can 'chicken chunks' to use in pot pies or noodle dishes.

With such variety, convenience and AWESOME taste, I'll continue to pressure can meat for as long as canning supplies are available. I have no experience trying to cook wonderful meals with dehydrated meats but I'm guessing that it would be delicious as well.

A word of CAUTION!!!

Always pressure can meat---never use the hot water bath method. The meat has to be fresh, clean and not allowed to set out raw at room temperatures for extended periods of time. Wash off the rims of the jars right before you put the lid on even if it looks clean. The fats and oils from the meat as you filled the jars that have gotten on the jar rims will reduce the number of jars that don't seal. After pressure canning and allowing the jars to cool, wash the outside of the jars off in warm soapy water as the fat that escaped during pressure canning will coat the outside of the jar. The outside of the jars may get covered with mold and look yucky. If it does happen, just wash the outside of the jar off before opening---the inside meat will still be good.

When you do open a lid, the seal should be tight and take some effort to open. If it opens easily, the seal may have been weak or broken--don't eat it!!!

Enjoy! I have less fear of my own processed meats than what I receive from the STORE because I KNOW what has gone into my jars!

The way I look at things I don't like to be dependent on any one system for mine and my loved ones well being. The system that provides us with "just in time" delivery is just a man made system like any piece of machinery. And any system or machinery can become broken or worn out. Nothing lasts forever. So I believe it is best to know how to live without the conveniences of the modern world if need be. And it can be alot of fun. It gives a sense of great satisfaction to accomplish some things.
One of our most recent accomplishments was to finish a full season with the CSA. Here is a picture of our last share of produce which was last Thursday. I hope to blog about it on my next post.

Until Next Time

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Below is a WND article called 'Be afraid. Be very afraid', about being prepared for financially hard times that may or may not be coming. While I dislike the title, because I don't like fear mongering to get people to change their ways, I can appreciate the practical advice to prepare just in case. And of course for many, hard times are here right now and preparing now is a tad bit late. Minimizing the impact however is relevant at any point.

Real America
Patrice Lewis
WorldNetDaily Exclusive Commentary

Be afraid. Be very afraid
Posted: October 04, 20081:00 am Eastern© 2008

The economy has been a frightening subject lately.
Bank failures, government bailouts, mortgage crises, bankruptcies, plunging stock markets … it's enough to make anyone quake in their boots.
The average person who hears and watches this
financial chaos is probably scared spitless. While stocks rise and fall, while banks fail or get absorbed, we the citizens are being buffeted by hurricane-force winds, battered and bruised and terrified, knowing good and well that we – individually – can do nothing to stop, change or alter the course of financial history now taking place.
Folks, it's time to batten down your personal hatches. If you're planning on riding out a hurricane, you'd better prepare.
One of the problems of my generation is we've always taken abundance for granted. Having never lived through hard times, we were probably bored with our grandparents' intense frugality that resulted from surviving the Great Depression. Why save aluminum foil or keep hairpins beyond their functional use when all you have to do is … buy more?
That's become the solution for most Americans: buy more. Everything is plentiful.

Click Here For The Rest Of The Story

Friday, October 03, 2008

Ron Paul on Bloomberg TV