Monday, December 29, 2008

A lil' something to make you mad

Ok, I know this is my second one today, but I ran across this article when going through a couple other blogs and this made me mad as all get out. So, I had to share...

This guy's article... argh, I can't even discuss it, but go read it... if you are in the mood to get frustrated with people and pissed as all get out!

The link to the blog below is where I found it. He cooled off enough to be able to at least talk about it intelligently... I'm too frustrated to do that right now.

For when the Revolution comes...

Ok, I just saw the wife use my line as a comment to someone else's blog. Be warned, I use this line quite a bit. To be fair though, I am not completely serious about it. Kinda, sorta, maybe, but not.

Ok, let me state this right here, right now. I am NOT, in any way, shape, or form, advocating rebellion against the American government or any affiliated government. I am an American and still proud, yes, mighty proud to say it! I do believe that this is still the best country in the world, bar none.

That is not to say that America is perfect. There is wayyyyy too much government involvement in the daily lives of Americans and in the daily business of corporations. There are crooked politicians and power-drunk bureaucrats. There are spoiled lazy people that sit at home and live off of the tax dollars of others. Still others living on credit with no way, means, or intention of paying it back.

Now, that being said... There are hardworking men and women in this country that are the lifeblood of this nation. There are soldiers... VOLUNTEER soldiers, ready, willing, and able to put their body on the line every day so that we as Americans have the Freedoms that we do. There are good, solid, honest people willing to stop and help a stranger change a tire, people willing to help a neighbor jumpstart the car, bring covered dishes to the house when someone passes, etc. I could go on for hours about what I believe are the majority of people in this country, but I need to get back to my main point.

The Revolution.

There is no Revolution that I know about. However, I believe, like many of us, that the need is upon us to be prepared for whatever may come. Saving food, learning survival skills, craft skills, learning to be self-sufficient, to feed ourselves, etc. These are vitally important things, now more than ever. This is my stated reason for stocking up food, and firewood, and lamp oil, etc. Its not the real reason, well, not completely. Its a reason that based in humor, but a scary edge of humor.

With a government caused economic problem, with government meddling in the once-and-hopefully-future Free Market exacerbating the problems, who knows what is in store for us all... but I, for one, will not let my family suffer. I will do whatever it takes to get my family through this, safe, secure, and stronger.

We will survive.

America is still based on the best foundation in the world, and we will rise again. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but I believe, I HAVE to believe, that the good, honest, hard-working Americans will triumph and raise this country up again.

May God Bless America


May God Bless You.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Lucky Find and its product (aka Saurkraut)

A while back, I was in the basement at my parent's house and I saw this big white thing hidden in the back corner of the fruit cellar. I dig it out and its this huge ceramic crock! Not only that but in the bottom is a wooden weight/lid! So of course, first thing I started thinking about? Saurkraut! Yum yum yum. I even found this old wooden handbuilt mandolin that my grandfather made for slicing the cabbage. Of course, I had to talk my mom out of it, and back to Ohio it came!

So I cleaned it out and waited for cabbage to go on sale. Meanwhile I read up on making saurkraut. Unfortunately, Pap had written his recipe on a piece of paper and attached it to the bag the mandolin was in. Either water or mice got to it, so I only have about 1/2 of the recipe. The damage was right down the middle of the paper! Of course. So I did some research and the next time it was cheap, I picked up 6 heads of cabbage. Some shredding and cutting and salt later, I have it packed in the crock. 6 heads, maybe 2 inches deep... that's all. Only another 30 inches to fill next time.
As you can see, once I put the cabbage in, its gets covered with a wooden lid that just about fits all the way around. Have to let the excess gases escape somehow...
After the wooden weight goes on, I weighted it down even more with a full jug of white vinegar. Hey it was handy and able to be sanatized quickly!
As it is in the cooler basement, I've given it a few weeks and I think its about ready! One of the great things about saurkraut is that you can eat it fresh, right out of the crock, you can raw pack it for canning, or you could hot pack it. Nyom nyom nyom. YUMMY!
This is a picture of the saurkraut once the wooden weight comes off. Everyone online says that the blue color around the edge is just a scum that is formed that won't hurt you but that you can try to skim off. I just took a few scoops out of the center, re-leveled it and put the weight back on.
So the saurkraut was good, but I think it may need another week or two. Also, I found that it is possible to put too much salt on the cabbage when you are making it. Trust the recipes online when they say 3-4 Tbsp per 6 heads of cabbage! Still, very good for a first try! Will be doing this again!
I guess you can figure out what will be getting a lot of room in the garden next year! :-)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tech for the Homestead?

Ok, I guess I should live up to my screen name a bit, huh?

Technology. My field of profession. I went with it because I'm good at it and, heck, it was easier to go with this than to try to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. I remember one time I told my dad that I wanted to be a knucklebuster (auto mechanic), and his response? “Ok, I'll support you but realize that you will spend a lot of time at the bottom of the ladder buying your tools and sweating in the summer and freezing in the winter” Or words to that effect. I thought a lot about becoming a chef... but I hated working nights when everyone else I knew was working one daylight shift or another.

Now, when I say technology, I mean to say that I am a computer programmer. I have worked in most fields of the I.T. trade from pulling wires for networks, to setting up and managing said networks, to designing and maintaining websites, to writing custom programs. I can administer a system and a network, or I can find most anything on the 'net. Sound interesting? Trust me, its not. Well, I guess I can't say that... I'm sure someone out there is working on an interesting project. I, however, am not currently working on any project at the office that is interesting. Notice that I said that I don't have any interesting projects at work. I have a few projects at home in the works, that once they are done or are a little further along, I'll be sharing.

What brought this rambling on, you may ask? (or so you may not...) I was going through one of the newer issues of Mother Earth News that we have lying around the house, and looking at the ads (oh my, aren't there so many to look at!). There are a bunch of ads for solar panels and windmills, etc. Ok, great, I can completely support wanting to use renewable energy for some things around the house, but isn't self-sufficiency part of what we want? How self-sufficient is it to have your energy coming from a kit or from a device that you don't understand? Especially for those living completely off-grid, if something happens to your solar panels, are you going to be able to fix it or make the system work? Obviously we don't have the technology to make solar panels at home to replace broken panels. I understand that, but what if something else breaks, something isn't charging or no power is coming through. Can you fix it?

Now, I understand that many/most of the people interested in homesteading and self-sufficiency are handy and can rig something. I'm not even saying not to use these systems. I am saying think about it and what would you do if something happens? This is a yardstick that I also apply to cars. Hybrid or electric cars? Is enough information known to be able to fix these cars at home? But that's a topic for another day.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Puppy Naming

A'yup... the pup has been Named! Thank you to anyone who stopped over to the DivaHick's site to vote in our little poll. I got the name that I wanted! Dante... (well, she vetoed Virgil right out of the gate!) So now we have Faust and Dante.

Since I kinda named the new one, and I know I named the old one... I wonder what their names say about me? Faust... a midieval alchemist and scientist searching for the truth of the world beyond the physical who deals with a devil (Mephistopheles, not Ol' Scratch). Dante... the wandering human who is led through and shown the three worlds beyond.

Hmmm... very interesting... but shtupid!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

May I present...

The dog with no name. Yes that's right, this dog has NO NAME! Take a trip over to the DivaHick's blog to cast your vote in our Name That Puppy contest!

My lovely wife, the DivaHick, surprised me yesterday by having us go get a new puppy! I had been talking about it for a while, and keeping my eyes in the papers and Craigslist at the pups there. She just called me up in the middle of yesterday afternoon and said that I had to come straight home, we had to run out to get something. Voila!

He's a little sweetheart... he's 1/2 Border Collie and 1/2 Brittany Spaniel. 8 weeks old and probably about 10 lbs.

I'm hoping that as he grows and all the standard training is done, I would like to try to train him as a hunting dog. Now, this will be my first attempt at training a hunting dog, and its not like I know where to go hunting in this here state, but I think I'm going to try it anyways!

I'll keep you updated as the training progresses!

Don't forget to stop over and vote!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I am going back through some of my massive quantities of books and seeing if I can't thin them down some. While doing this, I ran across some of my favorite books, the FoxFire books. These books come from a magazine that was started in a Georgia school in the mid-1960's by an English teacher who was trying to get his students to care about the language. The students chose to start a magazine and the purpose of this endeavor was to gather and collect stories and interviews from the old timers in Appalachia.
There are 12 books in the series now, a few extra books that are additions to the series but not numbered the same. They still put out a twice-yearly magazine for a few bucks a year. I haven't seen the magazine, but the books are well worth the price (I own 1-4 and the 40th anniversary).
I love these books. The stories about the people that grew up and lived in the mountains at that time are just great because in many ways that is what a lot of the homesteading today and the self-sufficient movement is all about. Read stories about mountain folk who lived long and well with no plumbing, electricity, or gas. Read stories with pictures and diagrams how to build a butter churn, fiddle, banjo, etc. Learn how to tan a hide, dress a hog, make a cabin or wagon, and so much more.

The stories and articles included in these books hearken back to days of simplicity. Harder lives and the attitude and environments that give rise to the people that survive. I don't know if they are in the libraries around the country, but whatever you can, I highly recommend giving them a read, at the least! Psst, buying them is even better!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A man's a man for a' that

One time, many years ago, I was talking to a friend of mine and I don't remember what tape was in the tape deck, but he pointed something out that has stuck with me ever since. It was a heavy metal/speed metal group and he had to point out that when bands like that get playing so far over 200 bpm many of these drummers can't keep up so all they do is bang on the snare. Rat*tat*tat*tat*tat*tat*tat*tat on and on ad nauseum. I never noticed it on my own and then once I had it pointed out to me, its all I hear on these bands! Over and over in my ears without being able to hear the rest of the music. The same thing is going on with TV and movies only in this case its my eyes that can't get over being assaulted by the same imagery, again and again and again.

Men are no longer portrayed as men. How many tv shows can you point to that have a strong, capable Man? Now, I don't watch much TV, but it seems that every time I turn the tube on, this is what I see. Looking at these shows, the guy is bumbling, incompetent, lazy, idiotic, etc. Look at commercials, guy gets sick and is a whiny little wuss. I remember growing up and watching movies and TV shows with strong, capable, MANLY men. Heck, even cartoons showed men this way (Popeye anyone?), and the whiny characters were comic relief (Wimpy). Is it any wonder that so many boys today don't know how to be a man? They don't know any better! The lack of good, strong, moral Men as role models is able to be seen in today's society.

I hear on the radio and TV all the time about “deadbeat dads” and males abandoning their families or their children. These are a product of how they were raised and the lack of strong Man models. They may have male role models, but they are not good ones. But then these males get in trouble for being the way they were raised and told to Man Up and take responsibility for their actions. How are they supposed to do this when they have never been shown how?

Now I am not saying that there are no good Men anymore. I am saying that there is a lack of them being portrayed by the mass media. I know for a fact there are good Men out there, but so many people are unable to see this. Those who are actually good Men that embody what it means to be a Man have to put up with the media and others telling them that they are wrong for being the way they are. Those that are not that way but that would be interested are told that it is wrong to be that way.

We need to make room for a real Men to come back into American society.
We need to work to help encourage the next generation to be real Men.

Until next time...

*title poem is "A man's a man for a' that" by Robert Burns.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Vehicular Transportation

Call me crazy. Go ahead, won't be the first time! But when it comes to my vehicular transportation, I have my preferences (don't we all!), and they are a bit out of the ordinary from today's "norm". I can't always get what I want, but I was thinking about this and I wanted to share. See what other people preferred and why.

My personal preference is 4x4 (RWD at a MINIMUM), carbureted, with a manual transmission and preferably a V8 (an Inline 6 is good too). Obviously the easiest of these to find are trucks, but older Jeeps, and even the old AMC Eagle work too. Why, you may ask, are these my preferences? Thank you for asking, so I'll tell you!

4x4 - This should be obvious, I live in a semi-rural area where we get snow! There are a lot of benefits to having 4wd rather than anything else. You don't get stuck as easy in the snow, you are able to pull heavier weights (including other vehicles, tractors, fallen trees) without worrying about digging up the front yard or burying yourself in dirt. While there are more moving parts than a straight FWD or RWD, that's Front or Rear Wheel Drive for those who don't know, they really are no more complicated and the increased suspension height that they come with allow easier access to get underneath and work on them!

RWD over FWD - If I can't have 4wd, I would rather have RWD. Even though a lot of people, even some "experts" say that FWD is safer for you, I have never found this to be true. RWD allows you to add sand bags for extra traction and then remove them for better gas mileage when the weather gets nice. Can't do that in a FWD... what are you going to do, strap the sandbags to the hood and obscure your windshield? Don't think so, scooter. Plus, it is easier to work on a driveshaft and a transmission than a transaxle because you can pull them down in seperate pieces rather than dropping the entire thing to work on one bearing.

Carbureted - Ok, now I know this is where I will butt heads with some people because the fuel economy on a fuel injected vehicle tends to be better and there are less issues with cold weather than with a carburetor. The problem in my mind is that once you start fuel injecting vehicles, you have to start adding computer controls and monitors and sensors and wiring all over the place! Those little sensors can get pretty expensive, pretty quick! Plus trying to track down a sensor failure can be a real pain. With a carb, you unbolt it, pull it off, clean it up with some time and carb cleaner, put it back together, adjust the choke and the fuel mixture and you are good to go! Carbs allow loads of adjustment opportunities as well. You can change the jets to get more fuel, you can adjust the jets for high or low altitudes, you can modify them for steep inclines and declines, etc. I know, this is all taken care of for you in fuel injected vehicles, but 1) How do you KNOW it's right and 2) isn't it more fun and rewarding to do it yourself?

Manual transmission - Ok, now with today's advancements in automatic transmissions some of these reasons are not quite so true anymore, but here they are. You have more control of the vehicle. If you are hauling a heavy load, or towing a vehicle, you can put it in second or third and cruise, rather than having the auto decide its going to play the gear changing game. You get better gas mileage. This is one of those that new automatic transmissions are very good at this, but the older ones.. yeah, not so much. I can fix a manual transmission at my house. Automatic transmissions are more difficult, if you can even deal with it without specialized equipment. Last, but not least... Its FUN!! To me it helps me pay more attention to what I am doing late at night or on long trips. And its just fun to me to switch gears... helps me feel in more control of the vehicle and more in tune with it.

V8 - More power, obviously! Ok, so they aren't the best on gas, and in today's market that is a big concern. Unless you need the power. A full load of firewood is not light! Towing a tractor or another car, you need power. Want to pull a stump? Tie the chains on! Carry enough shingles for 20 square? No problem!

I6 - Ok, since the V8 is going to be more expensive and eat more gas than we need all the time, my next choice is for an I6 instead of a V6. Why? What's the difference? Well, the way an inline engine is designed, it makes much better torque than a V6. The V6 might give you higher horsepower, but when it comes to a working vehicle. Torque is King!

Thanks for reading through, have a comment or question? Let me know! I'd love to hear everyone else's thoughts preferences on the vehicles that we like and use. But I think that's about enough for now.

Until Later...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hot Face, Cold Face, Red Face, Blue Face...

The weather has been quite... ahem.. chilly recently. Nighttime temperatures around 20 with windchills being a bit below that, and the house being perched directly in the path of wind. All of the wind, doesn't matter what direction its blowing from, its hitting the house, and that means it hits the wife or I as we go out to do our chorin' or any work on any projects that we have going on right now. So while my wife, DivaHick, was complaining a bit the other day that her face is getting windburned and a bit red, I was only able to offer my sympathies as I sat scratching my fully bearded chin.

I know, I know, its not fair, but it got me thinking... I've already discussed my preference for facial hair removal, but why is it that men going through the process of removing facial hair every day or every other day.

Take a walk down the street of a bigger city and you will probably see a whole bunch of facial hair styles. The goatee, the "flavor saver", the bootstrap... but honestly, you don't see many full beards anymore. Some men still keep the moustache only, but they are not all that popular. It seems to me that the more rural you go, the more likely you are to find a full beard on the face of a guy that works outdoors all day.

Now, I'm not saying every guy should or could grow a beard or some sort of facial hair. But it does make sense to me that if you work outside in the cold and the wind, that you would want all of the protection that you can get. Let me clarify something... I do not work outside all day. I work outside before I go to my job and when I get home, but during the day I am in an office all day for now. I would love to hear from some people who do work outside and who choose not to grow a beard. Why?

I also realize that I may be in a minority in that my wife likes me with facial hair. I don't hear daily griping to shave or anything like that. Once in a while, I'll hear that I need to trim some areas, but nothing about shaving it all off. So maybe that plays a larger part to this all than I realize, but that is why I am asking for information. This is just how it seems to me.

Until Next Time...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Black Coffee

Whatever happened to coffee being the staple drink of people? On top of that, whatever happened to black coffee? All you hear about is Mocha this and whipped that with caramel and sprinkles on top. Stinkin' fancy pants coffee houses.

Within the last month or two, I have switched myself over from putting cream and sugar into my coffe, to drinking it black. Every once in a great while, I want to put some cream and sugar in to my cup (especially if its REALLY bad coffee), but for the most part, I drink it straight from the pot. It is really interesting to see what new flavors you find when you drink it this way instead of covering it up with all the other misc. crud that people dump in to their mugs.

Thinking about it, people on the prairie and in pioneer days drank their coffee black because sugar was scarce. You might have some milk or cream if you had a cow or some goats, but sugar? Good luck with that. Maybe for Christmas or some other really special occaision, but every day, multiple times a day? I don't think so, scooter!

Now to show how odd my mind works, you take all these people ingesting sugar in coffee and pop every day, all day, and what do you get? That's right, an overly obese population! Caffiene is one of the best metabolism boosters, LEGAL boosters, on the market today. It increases metabolism, increases mental focus, and it increases the body's functioning capabilities by increasing blood flow. Why do you think all of the diet pills feature it so prominently? But when you pile sugar and fat on top of it, you lose any benefit that you might have gained. Even that high fat, low carb diet (you know which one) offers you the choice to drink coffee in the morning because they knew it would increase your metabolism and promote weight loss. And I'm not even going to touch on the fake chemicals that some people put in their coffee (and pop and tea and and and...!). At least sugar occurs naturally in nature.

Since I have started drinking my coffee black, I can't count the number of strange looks that I have gotten at restaurants, gas stations, etc when I just take it black. "Cream and sugar with that?" they ask. "No thank you" I reply. Warning, nutso, cuckoo, etc. You can see it through their eyes. To be fair, not everyone looks at me funny, but many have.

So as I sit here, back from my mornin' chorin' and drinking my first cup of hot black coffee, these are the thoughts that run through my brain. Have a good morning and I'm sure I'll touch base a little later after we run out and do some of the errands we have on our list for today.

Until Later....

Friday, December 5, 2008

Democracy? I think not!

Stop saying Democracy!
ShareMonday, October 20, 2008 at 12:03pm
(This is a repost from another website that I had published it on previously)

America is not now, nor has ever been, a DEMOCRACY! It was founded as and continues to be a Representative Republic. It is based on democratic principles, but it is not a democracy. We don't vote directly on the laws of the land, we have a House of REPRESENTATIVES and a Senate of elected officials that vote directly and we vote for them to represent us. Even the president is elected by the Electoral College, not by popular vote. When did people start thinking we live in a democracy? Doesn't every child in America learn the Pledge of Allegiance? (well, at least we all did when I was growing up) The Pledge states: "I pledge allegiance to the Flag and to the REPUBLIC on which it stands..."

Seriously people, its not rocket science.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dancing the Razor's Edge

Regardless of a person's preference for facial hair, shaving has been and will be around. For as many styles of facial hair that there are, there are as many ways of removing it. And, well, since this is my blog, this will be a discussion of my preferences and my reasoning behind them. Of course, you may be wondering why I am talking about razors when, if you see me, a razor hasn't touched my face for over a month. Well, I like my razors, and I have given a lot of thought to this topic.

I have two straight razors that are my main weapons against facial hair. I will admit that I went cheap off of ebay, but they work great. Of course, with the straight razors come the responsibility of maintaining them. There are some great tutorials on the web and if you are really interested there are some books out there, too. But to break it down, a straight razor needs to be sharpened, at least at first, but it also needs to be stropped. Stropping the blade helps keep burrs down and lets the blade run smoothly down the skin. Well maintained, a straight razor will last far beyond one person's lifetime.
Now, when I first started shaving, oh so many Moons ago... I used what was called a safety razor. It took double sided razor blades as refills. One blade would last me a week, and the case for the replacement blades took up so little space. I jumped off the deep end to start with.

This is not to say that I haven't tried the others, but I did not like the other styles. I tried an electric, but you still have to replace the blades and heads for them... and they were NOT cheap. I tried the disposable cheapies, but they MAY last me one shave... if that. The more expensive disposables will last me longer, but that is more money flowing out of my pocket constantly. Call me cheap, but I'd rather spend more money upfront if it will leave money in my pocket for a longer time.
I also use a shaving brush and soap instead of a can of shaving cream. A brush will last a long time and even when it starts to wear out, there is less left to go into the trash. Think about each can of shaving cream when it gets thrown away... think of the amount of trash that gets thrown out.

Then there is always the fact of going through the whole routine of shaving with them. When using straight razors, they are not like the cheapie disposables that you take out of the bag, scratch on your face, bleed a bit, and move on. No, you need to run the blade across the strop to make sure that the blade is ready. Then you wet your brush and work up a good lather with warm water and brush it into the face to make the bristles stand up to face the blade. You don't need to rinse out the blade to get all of the stuck bristles out of the razor, so it takes a lot less water.

On top of the money savings and the reduced waste, I feel that I get some of the best shaves from this method. I don't expect everyone to agree with me, or even be willing to give this a try, but if you are worried about the waste you produce, its a great way to cut down on garbage. Also, it gives you a great feeling to be able to say, "Why yes, I do shave with a cutthroat razor". Not too much is more Macho!

I think that's about it for now, until next time!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Howdy Yinz!

Hi there and thanks for stopping by. I hope you take some time, read what I've got written... This site is an ongoing collection of rants and raves, thoughts and evaluations of all things in life. I may bounce from politics to religion to whatever pops into my head. Follow the twists and turns of my mind to what seems clear and logical to me. I may get deep, I may just glance on a topic.

Pittsburgh born and raised, I currently live on a small beginning homestead in northeast Ohio with my wife [Divahick], dog [Faust], and 9 hens. Hopefully, this weekend we will be adding 2 roosters and a few ducks. Over this winter I am drawing up the plans for a goat house and a barn/shed. I'd like to get them built this winter, but they may have to wait till spring.

If there is anything on this site that interests you but that you would like to discuss in more detail, then let's! If you don't mind a public discussion, leave a comment, but if you would rather discuss your question or issue in private, then I have included an email address that you can send that to as well. I will try to respond to everyone, but I can not promise a specific turn around time because, well, life happens.

I am sure that my views will become apparent as you read through, so at this point, I don't think I will label myself in any way as that does tend to be a bit.... reaction making and constricting.

Thanks for taking the time to stop and read.