Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tiny homes and silence

This evening I was reading various blogs and sites about tiny homes, which I find quite fascinating and ingenious, when one site which gave awards for tiny homes/tiny home blogs, made me think about the entries. One was a 64 ft sq home, which is smaller than where I am living currently, by about half. At this point it dawned upon me that small folks, like the founder of Tumbleweed Tiny Houses, have a distinct advantage over tall folks like me.

First there is the obvious, such as the 6 foot high ceilings in the Tumbleweed homes works for people under 6 foot tall.. but not for those of us who are more than half a foot again as tall as that.. but then too there is a problem of space. Our clothes take up more space, we need more space to dress, or to do anything.

Houses, even tiny houses for those of us who are larger are going to cost more, thus consume more resources to heat/cool than an identically constructed house for a smaller person.

Just some of the thoughts on small homes, as they pertain to me.. I am not in any way thinking of abandoning my own small home, though it may not qualify as a tiny home since I am making it large enough to make my own daily living comfortable. It will still have a "footprint" about a third or less than the average new home in the US, so if we adjust for space needs based on size, this is my tiny home..

Just before I wrote this, I opened the door of my extremely tiny temporary home (ceilings are just over 6 feet high..) to see how cold it felt on this last day of 2009, to discover not only is it not too cold, but more surprisingly to me, it is dead silent. No wind noise, no animals at all. Just silence. Quite nice, though I don't know how often I would be willing to be up at 1:00 am on any given night on the off chance of silence..

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ice

Being fed up with not making progress of late on the homestead I went to the site, pick in hand to try to see if the latest idea for securing the posts to the ground would work.. well what I discovered put a damper on my mood and on any progress. 

Ice.. 

The excavation was still holding water, but now in solid state. Though the temps have been climbing into the mid 40's or higher lately, the excavation, which is on the north side of the ridge, never gets sun in the bottom of it currently. So the ice just stays.. and each night gets thicker.. So I fear that I may be shut down for the season. 

I may still be able to salvage something, though not real progress as much as perceived progress in that I may decide to write up my own instruction manual so that when the weather once again permits me to work on the site, I can just look to my instructions without having to think about what step to take next. A very hollow victory at best, but something to keep me going..

That said, I have been working on developing my garden plot, the primary one anyway. I have hauled a couple of hundred pounds of manure to the site so that it can decompose, feed the soil, and the worms. Since it looks like I will spend another half year or where I have parked my caravan on Rancher Bob's property, he and I are going to work closely this year on a garden. With luck, unlike last year, I will be able to grow many of the foods that I enjoy, and want to live off of, so as to save on the ever increasing grocery bill.  With the seed catelogues coming in it is time for dreaming of the wonderful harvests.. 



Monday, December 28, 2009

Ironic, surprising, and apt quote

I never thought that I'd be quoting CS Lewis of all people, but given the current efforts to force government restricted (well more restricted anyway) health care upon us, his quote is quite apt:


Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.


C. S. Lewis

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A night of "Culture"

Mozart

Emerson

Sake


Check..

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Hermit Turns 40

Strange day.. Began early (5:30am)  rain ongoing from the night before.

Feed cows in the rain about 8:30am

Make a hasty trip to town for feed..

Return only to head back to town with Rancher Bob and his wife and her family for dinner.

Back to be welcomed by snow and temperatures plummeting by more than 25 degrees. 

per usual, little fuss about the day, all focused on the morn..


Thankfully, a couple of friends remembered... to them, I tip my glass.. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Old is new again

Well, the "old" setback of not being able to sink the posts into the ground because we have excavated down to solid rock,  has also defeated the "new" solution. The "new" solution was to drive Re-bar down into the rock (it is "soft" rock) then pour concrete around the posts and re-bar thus giving the post a good strong footing. Well, a few days ago I tried to drive some re-bar into the rock to no avail. Not even a hint of progress.. So onto the next approach.. 

Now I am going to try to dig out a trench out of the rock, using a pick and my own labor. Depending on a few factors, this trench will either be for the posts themselves, else for concrete wall to sit in front of (downhill/inside) the posts to prevent any downhill movement. Then I will be running cedars from the uphill "wall" to the downhill so as to further prevent any chance of movement. I am fairly certain that this is overkill, but though I plan one day to take my own life, having a few tons of soil come suddenly crashing in on me is not the way I plan on undertaking that endeavor. 

Regardless, I can see no other way to resume progress on the site now that the equipment is locked away for the season while the owner heads to Cancun.. And to think that there are some who question my wanting to do virtually all of this myself when I cannot rely upon others to meet any sort of deadline.. 

In the meantime I have been working out the details of my plan, catching up on movies (odd for me) reading economic books, and buying christmas presents using the rewards I receive from various frugal/reward sites. The $20 in Amazon cards went a lot further than one might think.. and a delayed present from another site will be 26 weeks of the Economist for Rancher Bob, which has the benefit of my getting to read them when he is through with each issue. 

Yes money is tight now, but there are still ways to make the most of things using the various rewards. To be honest, I have not even touched the best reward program yet (Harris polls) nor have I counted the cash from Pinecone Research. 

I've also come around to the decision to forego a refrigerator completely in favor of an ice box. I realized that over the past year I have been living with this small RV fridge, and using it mostly for the freezer section at that. Moreover the use I have for the fridge has been for leftovers, which in my case get eaten right away, and for condiments. With that in mind, I calculated that I can use a well insulated container for these items, making the ice (for now) with the freezer unit which I intend to keep. This will mean firing up a generator* once or twice a day to keep the temp cold and to make sure that I am making ice for the icebox, but that seems a small price to pay for the energy savings from not having an appliance that I really have little use for.  I hope to get to the point of being able to do without the freezer as well, perhaps by building one of the solar ice makers** that have been designed, and perhaps by canning more of the foods I would normally freeze. Then too in the winter when the temps drop into the teens, there ought to be no problem creating ice for the icebox, and to add to the freezer to keep it cold enough without needing to fire up the generator. 

*Compressors and other motors require too high an initial draw to safely operate on a small solar/wind/battery system so a generator stands in to take the draw and at the same time recharge the batteries. 

**http://free-energy-info.co.uk/P13.pdf

http://dvice.com/archives/2008/08/solar_icemaker.php

We are expecting rains starting Tuesday, lasting for three days, so that will once again prevent any on site work from getting done, but it feels like I am making progress by getting some of the plans worked out in better detail to deal with the new/old hurdles. 

That is the news from the backwoods of hell.. where the children are absent, the men overworked, and the women are welcome. :) 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Poignant




http://www.cagle.com/working/091214/stein.jpg

I can only imagine that those who held the hope for change, the hope for hope, or a hope for peace with the seizing of the reins of power by Obama, are the most sorely betrayed and disappointed. Surely even though I know from history and even the simple application of reason that no politician will ever actually reduce his own power, I still had some small hope that Obama would actually try at least to seek peace rather than to escalate two wars and start a third. Whether you like him or dislike him, you have to be disappointed in his decisions to seek and expand war. 

I realize that Obama considers himself the smartest person in the room, no matter what room he is in, but he is no Einstein. 

Friday, December 18, 2009

The trinity

No I am not suddenly going to start preaching about the fallacious 3-in-1 rhetoric.. I am speaking (and borrowing the reference) about Obama, Krugman, and Bernanke. 

I was reading the Mises Institutes web site today, including a number of great articles, but was struck by this one in particular: The Trinity is Complete by J. Grayson Lilburne .

A brief snippet: " "We Need a Housing Bubble" Krugman got a Nobel in Economics. "Let's Ramp Up a Murderous, Useless War" Obama got a Nobel Peace Prize. So what do we give Helicopter Ben Bernanke, who has squandered much of whatever capital we had left after the housing bubble burst by pushing interest rates down to zero, and guaranteed (just wait for it) the worst depression in American history? Make him Time Person of the Year!"

If you are wondering why these awards are so very wrong, consider that following the advice of Krugman, we are now in terrible economic shape. Following the policies, practices, and desires of Obama with regard to wars, we are now outdoing even Bush's fondest wishes expanding two wars, and fighting a third undeclared and illegal war on Pakistan. And now Time honors the man who determined that instead of a recovery, and instead of learning from the actions of the fed at the time of the Great Depression (NY fed was in control then) Bernanke opted for doing exactly what the fed did in 1929 three days after the market crashed.. except that he is taking it even further! 

It was Keynesian theory that set up the Great Depression, and now we have Krugman who is a dyed in the wool Keynesian, whom the powers that be are celebrating.. It was the actions of devaluing money that helped extend the Great depression by several years, and so we now are celebrating taking the same actions and calling them creative and inspired. 

We are on a tragic path economically, and Time is playing the fiddle while the dollar burns.. 


Thursday, December 17, 2009

AAARRGH!

Okay.. let me start by saying that this is a pet peeve of mine, and in one sense of little importance, but in another this one factor can really take away from an otherwise good story or film. 

What is it? Well it is the way that hats are treated... See? Sounds trivial.. But give me a second or two to explain.. 

I am a hat guy. This is one of my truly impractical (not always, but sometimes) indulgences.. I like a damn fine hat, both for myself and others, and both for men and women. Hats are no longer valued as they should be, nor seen as often as they should be. Hats provide elegance, can define character, provide protection, can show style, and offer up countless opportunities for graciousness. But this is not the post for arguing for the wearing of hats.. (oh, and I am NOT talking about the trashy caps that are so popular, but real hats.. )

No, this post is to simply vent on a practice which no real hat enthusiast, or even those who purchase real hats of quality would ever indulge: putting a hat down on its brim. 

Hats always "point" up right so you set them down in the same direction you wear them... 

No.. the brim is fragile and can be reshaped through such ill considered practices. This is why a good hatter will always tell you how to treat and care for your hat, whether it be a discounted second running about $100 US to a custom 100+ point fitting running a few grand, the quality hatter makes certain that you understand that you always put on the hat using the brim not the crown, and you always rest the hat on the crown (upside down if you will) rather than the brim. These are the practices which keep the shape of the hat intact. 

So why is it that this common knowledge amongst the wearers of real hats, never seems to find its way to the movies or tv shows? Why is it that these supposedly wealthy high bred characters never seem to know how to treat one of the few elements which separates them visually from other characters? Why can't hollow-wood ever seem to get this simple point right?

When they fail to have the character actually know how to treat their hat, they give lie to the character, thus harming the performance, and thus the story itself.. 


Sigh.. 

Economics

I should really know better than to read the suggestions by Amazon.. Today I noticed that they suggested that I pick up "The Keynes Solution: The Path to Global Prosperity" 

For those who are not familiar with economics, Keynes was unfortunately a very influential pseudo-economist whose rise to popularity rests upon two factors: 1. He told the powers that be that they are right to increase the size of government and to severely restrict liberty, and 2. He said that we can and in fact we must generate enormous debt in order to be prosperous.  Politicians like nothing better than being told that they need more power, and that they must spend money that they (and we) do not have in order to increase that power. 

Keynes must have been the basis for South Park's Underwear gnomes.. 

Step 1. Get underpants

Step 2. (well we are still working on step 2) 

Step 3. Be wealthy!

For Keynes the formula runs: 
Step 1. Increase government while generating enormous debt. 

Step 2. Wealth magically just appears

Step 3. Be prosperous.. 

There is just that little problem of Step 2..

So what made me cringe when I saw the Amazon recommendation is that no one who is familiar with economics, history, and logic can make the case that Keynesian "economic" theory leads to prosperity, particularly given that not on ly the US but virtually the entire world has been dutifully practicing Keynesian economics since before FDR was in power. After nearly a century of devout worship of Keynes, and holding everyone hostage at his alter, we should be free from any possibility of recession, much less the depression we are in now worldwide. The fact that the economy sucks is proof positive that Keynesian "economic" theory fails to accurately describe reality, and fails to provide a worthwhile guide for action. 

All of which ignores the moral aspects, where Keynes assumes that the people in power have not only the right but the duty to essentially own all other persons. 

Under sound economic theory the "Keynesian paradox" does not exist. This is the fact that we know it is smarter for the individual to save, but Keynes claims that this is harmful to the economy. We have been hearing about this "paradox" quite a bit lately on the "news," but none of these folks bothers to think about why this appears to be a paradox. It is a paradox ONLY if we assume axiomatically, that is without any thought, that Keynes is always right. Drop that assumption and the conclusion is clear: No paradox exists, Keynes is simply wrong!

But a brief explanation might help to make this more clear. When I save money, I don't stuff it under the mattress, I invest it. I either invest it in a bank in the form of a savings or checking account, or I invest it in other ways (stocks, bonds, precious metals, etc.). Now the banks don't stuff that money under their mattress either, they invest it to make a higher return than you will so that they can make a profit as well and thus stay in business. Or if you are buying stocks, bonds, etc. you are directly investing in a business which is producing (hopefully) goods that are desired by others. The banks are also investing in such businesses. Those  businesses then produce goods, which if desired will be purchased. Since we have been saving money, we are on good financial footing, and do not have the need to spend all of our time servicing some debt, so we can spend some on luxuries, or non-necessities, thus further advancing the economy. All with no debt.. 

Ultimately we must let reason and evidence rule the day. Either Keynes was right, and thus we are now experiencing incredible prosperity without even the possibility of any negative consequences, else we are in fact in a recession/depression and thus Keynes was simply wrong. Since governments have been closely following Keynesian theory, all other possibilities are excluded. 


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A little politics

Though the name of the blog is inherently "political" in that it states clearly that I do not want to rule the life of any other, nor can I tolerate others ruling my life, I have tried to limit the political posts as surely we are all more interested in living, rather than in arguing about how it is supposedly justified to live another's life for them. 

Still, with my background in ethics and socio-political philosophy, and my interest in real justice, I find myself near constantly reading about and otherwise delving into the area of politics in some form, though never in a way which could be understood to lend any legitimacy to the distasteful practice. 

On that note, a particularly good blog post was offered today by Wendy McElroy, a noted author of women's issues, history, and the individual. In this post she discusses the question she invariably gets when she writes on the police brutality which passes as "law enforcement" today: Where are the good cops? 

A snippet: Where are the good cops when police brutality happens? Where are they afterward when victims plea for justice? William Norman Grigg eloquently asks and answers these questions on his blog Pro Libertate where he is currently presenting a series of articles about police brutuality; it runs under the general title "The Thin Blue Whine." Where are the good cops is a question of particular interest to me because, whenever I write about police brutality, I hear from at least one reader who objects, "But what about the good cops?" The clear implication is that I focus on a few "bad apples" and, so, I'm being unfair to the majority of cops who are (it is claimed) decent men.

I disagree...for several reasons.

Follow the link above for the rest, it is well worth reading for both those who know that there simply is no role for police, and for those who still believe in the myth of a good cop. 

More on the build process to come. I did some testing today for a new method and need to make some adjustments to the plan..

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A brief update

Little new on the homestead, except for the acquisition of a few slabs, those being the bits cut off the sides of timbers when they are milled into lumber. These slabs will hopefully serve as the shoring, or part of the shoring system, for the U-house.

Weather has been alternating between cold (in the teens F) and rainy, and somewhat moderately tolerable, with the latter being the less frequent of the two.

Decided on some important design changes necessitated by not being able to sink the posts into the ground as per the normal method. I am going to drive re-bar all around each post into the rock and then pour concrete around the post and re-bar. Then I am going to run 6 inch in diameter cedars from the base of one post to the base of another post downhill, for each post. This will create a box structure firmly tied to the underlying rock, and prevent the posts from trying to push inward from the weight of the soil on the outside.

With any luck I will start to work on setting posts in the very near future.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

equipment

All about maintenance right now.. The tractor (Rancher Bob's) needs an oil change, filter change, and greasing, but I discovered that there is not enough oil for an oil change after all, so this means a run into town...

The chainsaw, with new bar and new chain still seems to be overheating so I need to clean it out really well and make sure that the oil is getting to the bar, which I strongly suspect that it is not now..

The beaver, being smarter than us humans, decided to stay inside this evening while Captain Rob and I waited in the cold for them to come out to be shot..

More of Rancher Bob's new parcel of land is being cleared, and I have done a bit of research on beaver online, discovering that they are essentially like cows as far as food and fur are concerned.. so I have dubbed them "creek cows" for my own amusement, and with any luck epicurement as well!

I am still slowly working on learning Portuguese. Seems harder and harder to find the time each day, but still it interests me for many reasons, so I try to keep progressing.

I will try to get photos up again soon.. left the camera in the atv today and have no desire to get dressed to go out into sub freezing temps to get it..

Friday, December 04, 2009

Outdoor Grocery Store

I have for many many months now enjoyed breaking my fast with fresh raspberries, muscadines, and only for the last few weeks, fresh persimmons as well. But the first two of these I must admit are cases of gleaning, not really foraging as they are intentionally planted plants (not by me, but by a neighbor) as opposed to true wild edibles. The persimmons on the other hand, if any were intentionally planted the original planter has long since passed, and no one but me, and very rarely Rancher Bob makes any use of them.

However these are far from the only wild edibles I have been either enjoying, or working to positively identify so that I may enjoy them in the future. A few other examples are henbit, which I described in the past and look forward to enjoying here again soon, as they are the first of the greens to come up. Since it is either ignored or hated by most gardeners, I have no problem harvesting more than I can possibly use in exchange only for strange looks and even rarely some gratitude for "weeding" a small area of the garden. The henbit is used much like cooked spinach. I am partial to using it in italian style dishes mixed with other ingredients, but it can easily stand on its own as a "pot herb." "Pot herb" being just another name for any cooked greens.

I gleefully took advantage of the fresh briar leaves, as some may recall. And I have enjoyed clovers, and clover look alikes such as wood sorrel and yellow sorrel, both of which are wonderful slightly sour additions to salads. I read recently that they also make fine lemonade like drinks.

Still, I very much consider myself a novice forager, one still learning as much as is possible while trying to identify as many plants as possible. Some such as pecan are ridiculously easy, others present more of a challenge, such as mushrooms, though I am making some progress on that front as well having positively identified two mushroom varieties on the land which are edible.

Last month, I finally managed to find and correctly identify a Jerusalem Artichoke, which is neither from Jerusalem nor an artichoke, but is related to the common sunflower. The tubers it produces are edible and can be substituted for potatoes for those on low starch diets. I had and still do plan on growing this as a vegetable, but finding on in the wild is an unexpected delight.

With the cold temperatures, around 20F currently, the search for wild edibles turns largely to meat. With any luck at all, I will be filling the freezer with beaver meat which I have come to learn can be used in any recipe calling for beef, but is leaner than beef. With the arrangement I have made with Captain Rob, I hope to have no need to buy meat again. Between the beaver harvest each year, and what I take of rabbit, perhaps even squirrel if I feel like it, I should have an abundant supply of meat for every occasion!

Add to that the chance at turkey and deer, and I should be able to set quite an extravagant table when I desire to do so. In some ways it is hard to believe that some folks claim that there is a food shortage. In truth there is a shortage on knowledge, and a shortage on willingness to try "new" (or very old) things..

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Beavers? Dam!

Still no luck in trapping the nuisance beavers in the neighbor's pond. They dropped another tree last night, and have begun on yet another sweetgum. These are not small trees either, probably about as old as the dam itself. Each is over a foot in diameter, yet this or these pesky beavers are determined to drop all of them, and many good pines as well.

All the while they are building their home, and undermining the existing dam, which will of course cause their home to cease to be. I am certain of the undermining as I discovered myself looking at the world from three feet lower when walking across the damn this afternoon. I'd stepped above one of the tunnels, which was large enough to drop me quite a ways.

This means that we need to get these beaver out of this pond before there is no pond to save and it costs the landowner quite a bit in both time and money to have the dam rebuilt.. most likely meaning waiting until summer, meaning all of the fish will die, and the land will be changed by the winter rains etc. with the pond gone.. Fortunately the neighbor is a gentleman farmer who has no livestock relying upon the pond, though he is seriously considering getting a few next year to cut down on the fuel expense of bush-hogging the area a few times a year.

Little else to report.. I turned a left over hambone and a couple of dollars worth of beans into several meals, then turned the remainder into several more meals of chili by adding in ground turkey, more onion, and spices.. finally I turned the last bit left which did not get frozen into future meals, into three final meals of a modified chili which includes corn and whatever else is on hand.. For all of these meals I am guessing that I am averaging under 25 cents a meal.. Not too damn bad if I say so myself..

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

More Thoreau via McElroy

Wendy McElroy, noted author and lover of freedom offers up another great post on Thoreau and the support for the state: http://wendymcelroy.com/news.php?extend.2898

"I am sometimes upbraided for excoriating policemen or the military or [fill in the blank with the state agent of your choice] because I allegedly do not take into account that policemen or military are individuals with unique motives and values. The accusation runs...it may be true that the legal system currently expresses and enforces injustice, but many individual policemen are honorable and believe in the constitution. Thus, it is unfair to hold them responsible for a system that they are trying to change.

I disagree. As long as an individual freely chooses to violate the rights of peaceful people -- and the War on Drugs (to state just one example) is clearly such a violation -- then it is not a defense to claim the individual is decent enough to know his actions are wrong any more than it is a defense to say "it is his job"....which is to say, he is not only violating rights but also getting paid for it. These are not defenses. These are further condemnations. If a policeman knows it is unjust to smash in a door in the middle-of-the-night because someone may have drugs in their sock drawer, then he should not do it. Like the employee whose video "Why Bank of America Fired Me" was featured here on Sunday, they should refuse to violate innocent human beings. If they chose to do so, then they must take personal responsibility."

More on her site... WendyMcElroy.com

Monday, November 30, 2009

Eating beaver

No.. get your mind out of the gutter.. 

I am talking about the real deal.. good old fashioned hat wannabes.. big flat tail, destroyers of forest, underminers of dams.. wet slick, furry beavers.. (hm.. might not have helped much, eh?) Well four legged swimming beasts that tear stuff up like no bodies business... 

What brings about this post, other than the long delay in posting* is that I have been talking to Captain Rob who traps beaver, amongst other critters. Now I will admit a full on bias against trapping that I have harbored for decades. That said, and that being the case, I am no less curious about the actual practice. So knowing that Ol' Rob was going to be trapping beaver next door, I could not help but ask to tag along. Thankfully Rob, being a loner like myself, was willing to have me tag along and I did what I could to help (hauled all of the traps and what I could..) What I discovered surprised me. Rob does not have the same sensibilities about critters that I have, and I will admit to not knowing in this instance which is morally correct (I suspect that neither opinion ever enters the moral fray..) but I expected the worse. What I discovered was that the traps he set for these particular destructive beaver are VERY humane and kill instantly. 

For those city folk who thankfully read my blog, know that beaver are not the cute and cuddly creatures those terrible social studies class films led us to believe. Sure they have a life, as all living things do, but their life is not only destructive to forests, fish, ponds, rivers, streams,, etc, but also self destructive! They will undermine the very pond that they rely upon for life, and thus cause their own untimely deaths, while costing the rancher or farmer, or gentleman estate holder, a great deal of money. Now if you are an Obama fan (or love Johnson, or FDR) this is a good thing because they rely upon destruction as a social good, but if contrarily you are a thinking person, then you realize that this is a harm.**

So where do I get around to referring to the off color blog title? Well now... So Rob being a devout christian, though not a church going one, ( an important distinction I believe that Luther would appreciate) does not eat the meat of those animals he traps. Well, as most of y'all know I am not at all a devout christian, but rather embrace reason and reality, so I am more than willing to try out this meat to see if I can appreciate it.  After long talks and several instances we have worked out a plan which not only gets him the hides he relies upon for some of his income (yes we still use beaver hide, including in the hats I value so dearly)  gives him some help in the capture and gives me possibly more meat than I can possibly use..  From what I hear Beaver is one of the best meats around... 

I am not a hillbilly who grew up on squirrel and rabbit, I have never had 'Coon, or many other "alternative" meats, but I am a person who appreciates frugality, and using what is there in front of you. If it were not for many other factors, including my own willingness to take the excess meat, I'd chastise Rob for wasting flesh he could eat, but because I am willing to respect his beliefs, and use the meat myself, he has actually suggested that maybe he will try it as well. This is the peaceful, voluntary method of changing the minds of others.. 

Nothing else to report. For many reasons no progress has been made on the house until the backhoe gets out. So for the time being I am worried about the financial situation, hoping for some jobs to come up (send emails if you are interested!!!) and working so as to reduce my labor in the future. 

* the long delay has many reasons, not he least of which is that I have just been trying to get along for now. I've paid for the excavation, and it is done, now I need to either dig a trench myself or hire that done, then set posts. Neither option is positive, and neither works with the weather so I"ve held off.. 

**Here I rely upon not only a basic understanding of introduction level of logic, but also upon some knowledge of history. NONE of FDR's programs in any way at all ultimately helped the US, In fact his programs can easily be shown to have contributed to extending by at least 4 years, the great depression. What Bush did, and what Obama has done mimicks closely what FDR did, and that which we know caused tremendous harm. We need to avoid this. Neither "party" is free from responsibility, and neither can pretend to hold no blame. "Both" faces of the one part are to blame because they assume that they have the right to control the peaceful lives of innocent people, and thus drive those lives into the ground. We need to stand up to these thugs and refuse at all points to obey their commands. Unfortunately most folks won't so we will have these thugs around for some time. Watch the news, even these mouthpieces for the powers that be never can point out a case where these thugs did something good... Even where the SS (Secret Service) failed in this case of the White House Dinner Party Crashing, they are looking for charges to place against the folks for the crime of proving flaws in the system!! (not that I like the folks, but they did nothing legally or morally wrong!!) 


So such is life.. For those who love nature, and see benefit in living with nature here is a blog I follow, which usually does not deal with such issues but this post is greatly appreciated: 

http://wendymcelroy.com/news.php?extend.2895


To all of my internet readers and friends.. stay strong. and remember to send encouragement to friends and relatives where they are open to it...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Filler

You just have to love the folks as the Ludwig Von Mises Institute.. when an error occurred and I received a blank disc rather than the Rothbard lectures I expected, not only did the contact person immediately respond (literally within minutes!!) but who I can only assume to be her supervisor also responded ensuring that he would send out the disc immediately.. This is what one expects from folks who understand interpersonal relations, including but not limited to business interactions!.

And there is doubt as to why Keynesian "economics" fails to describe reality??

A few days spent simply doing chores.. nothing of note. Too little tractor time because diesel is running low.. need to fill the reserves again in the few days that Rancher Bob will be in town/country..

The local loonies are out in force.. both the drunk "hunters" and the crazies who fantasize about catching these drunken "hunters" where they ought not be... So early mornings are the norm for the time being...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Re: Steven Brust..

Never argue about reality with a writer of fiction, he might not be able to tell the difference..

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Possum Living

In the late 1970's an 18 year old home schooled (before there was really a term such as "home-schooled") girl/woman wrote a book on her life, on a pitiful typewriter which had to be rigged with a rubber band attached to the wall to get the carriage return to work. This book was Possum Living: How To Live Well Without A Job And With (Almost) No Money. This became somewhat of a "cult" book when released, despite being on the tail end of the back to the land movement, arguably actually past that time. What I believe made this book so popular with free thinkers, back to the landers, and a great many mainstream folks is Dolly's wonderful honesty, straight-forwardness, and the fact that she and her father were not nut jobs or extremists, they were not even making their choices for ideological reasons, but as she put it out of laziness (I don't for a second believe this latter claim, as they worked, but enjoyed that work!) 

They did not flee to the country, or disdain the suburban life, rather they lived what appeared to be a normal suburban life in Philadelphia but without "real" jobs, instead living off of the produce from the garden, the meat from their rabbits and from what they could catch in the rivers, and off of the hooch that they distilled themselves... They had all that they could want, even more because unlike their neighbors they had freedom to live, time to live, and of course wholesome food to eat. 

Dolly was taken out of government schools in the seventh grade, and clearly did not suffer for this "loss" (what would otherwise be objectively be called a great advantage!) as she went on to get a college degree on her own and to become an aerospace engineer for NASA. She retained the understanding of what it means to live life intentionally, not because you are trapped as a "wage slave" or even as a tax slave (in the US you spend at least half of your time working to pay for some form of tax!) . 

So why do I bring up Dolly's story now.. well her book Possum Living struck the same cord with me that it struck with so many in the late 70's, so much so that she was brought onto the Merv Griffin Show (think Oprah but in spades!). After many computer troubles, I had lost my digital copy of Possum Living, and sadly could not even recall enough of the book or author to google it but thankfully stumbled across it again thanks to a fellow blogger who linked to a list of "free" ebooks, from which Possum Living had been removed. Now normally I will admit that this new would have been disappointing, after all I was not to get the book again free, but it was removed because a publisher had opted to reprint the book! What better time? When the economy is in far worse shape than it ever was in the 60's or 70's and appears to be headed for complete collapse thanks exclusively to the Keynesian economic practices of the last several administrations.. So while I may miss out on having the free copy, I look forward to buying the updated version, with a new introduction. 

Interestingly there is a series of youtube videos which were clearly made a year or two after the book came out which documents Dolly's life at the time. These are wonderfully positive, encouraging, and enlightening videos and I encourage all of my readers to take the few moments it takes and watch them: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvn79E40VSc&feature=player_embedded

This is pure realistic intentional living, without ideology, without harm to any others, and without any pretense. I hope only to come close to her example. 

Quick photo update

reading: On the Shortness of Life by Seneca, Chanur's Endgame by Cherryh, Where Keynes Went Wrong by Lewis

listening to: Jen2 compilation


For those who could not resist the swimming pool comments before, despite forewarning, here is another opportunity. You can see that with the deepening of the excavation, it holds water even easier. This is the result of less than two inches of rain.. I am sure it has occurred to some that this could be a problem once the house is built, but first off, there won't be a hole to catch the rain as the house will be in the place of the hole, but also there will be a french drain system in place to carry away what water might threaten my U-house. 




Here you can see to some degree the amount of material we have removed from the excavation. Look to the slope of the hill itself. It does not change as you get higher, the change is strictly the many tons of excavated soil pushed downhill. 

We are almost at the point of setting posts. I would like to get the backhoe out to try to dig a trench for the posts, especially since some of the main supports are going to be 2 feet in diameter at their base, so digging a hole into this rock is less than appealing. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Unexpected progress

Well captain Rob was back in the excavation today, though I thought that we were done until the backhoe could get out.. he managed to get the floor lower, expand the space, and tighten up the corners so that the excavation is almost ready for posts! I will try to get a photo posted soon, weather permitting. We are expecting rain tonight and tomorrow.. maybe on Tuesday as well. 

The site is really coming together. The slope off of the house will be steeper than I expected, but that works out nicely aesthetically as far as I am concerned, and I can shore it up with stone from the excavation as necessary. The rye is growing like gangbusters, and now I am in spitting distance of setting posts... 

On other fronts,  I enjoyed a nice catfish dinner tonight from a fish I caught a couple of days ago. If I can find the time away from cattle work, I will freeze one of the fillets for later. 

I have begun learning Portuguese, in large part due to a friend who is from Brazil. With some luck, sometime in the next year or more, I will hopefully accompany her and her husband to Brazil for a visit.. ah what unexpected turns life brings! 

So much for the brief update.. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two related developments


Well there is little I can do still on the site until we get the backhoe out, though I was able to get in the hole, around some of the mud which has remained, and mark off the dimensions of the house proper so that we know where the excavation needs to be tweaked. Very little to tweak actually. I'd still like to be able to get rid of some ledge rock on the high side, but the time and thus money required is simply too much to bear. So I'll have to work around this obstacle. 

However I did broadcast annual rye on the slope so as to hopefully stop it from eroding over the winter, and the good news is that because of the unusually warm weather (somewhere Algore is dancing a jig..) it has come up and is growing wonderfully. 

I realize that this is not the most attractive shot, especially with the lovely downed tree so prominent, but that will be moved when I get to covering and backfilling around the U-house. still, this is the only time, I believe, that this area will ever resemble a lawn. I am fully intending to allow it to return to natural native plants (as opposed to those plastic native plants..(yeah I can laugh at myself) )  as well as to try to seed it with various wild edibles, such as passion flower which I will have to post on another time.. 



That same new visually attractive "lawn" is quite attractive of and to deer. These prints were taken from the future floor of my home where clearly I had a couple of four legged visitors coming in for a drink from the bit of water remaining. Perhaps also hiding from the local yahoos who like to get all liquored up and go shooting.. * 

* I am NOT anti-hunting at all jftr. I have been deer hunting myself, and at other times I have been a vegetarian also. I have shot rabbits, as well as varmints including armadillos. I take no special pleasure in killing, and do try to avoid it in most cases. I mention all of this only to make clear that my comments about the yahoos around here are specific to those yahoos and not a general comment upon hunting. I hope to keep encouraging deer to visit, as I would really like to be able to take one right near, perhaps on top of, the house so I would need only move it a very short distance.. :) I will be encouraging lots of wildlife for a variety of reasons. There is a bobcat which lives in the area I am building. If he/she is not frightened off, I will hopefully have him/her as a neighbor. Though locals shoot them just to kill them, or trap them for their hides, I cannot abide either as they seem to me to be fine independent animals in many ways living a life of which I am quite jealous on nearly a daily basis. There are also bear in this area, which I would not mind seeing, ... from a distance. I've no desire to hunt them, but do realize that my home may be quite attractive to them. 

Leave it to a philosopher to have an aside be as long as the post itself.. More to come later.. I cooked the mystery fruit and am working on various plans for human powered devices.. 

Friday, November 06, 2009

A little light reading and listening

Taking a side step from the house project, which is on hold until the backhoe can get out to finish the corners and dig the trenches for the posts to sit in. 

I am back on cowboy duty for the next couple of weeks while Rancher Bob is out of town again. I discovered while helping run the cows and calves through the shoot to immunize them, that I was not made out to be a cowboy.. Oh I did the job fine, but there is a real drain on a fellow from working with the beasts, and a particular terror that comes from knowing that you have to stand fast as an 800 pound animal is charging at you, determined to get by.. 

Maybe this is why cowboys in the old west were also often outlaws.. the noose or a bullet does not look so bad after a day of wrangling cattle.. 

But on with the show.. now I just have to feed the critters and move them from pasture to pasture for a couple of weeks, which is fairly easy and usually uneventful. Since it is not cold, the beard I've let develop is a bit premature, but I recall how grateful I was for it last year, so though we have temps in the mid 70's now, I am keeping it. 

Since I cannot work on the homestead yet, though I do have grass growing now, I am focusing on a couple of projects for Rancher Bob, as well as enjoying the last few movies in my cheap mystery DVD collection, and then too I have just received three items on economics which ought to keep my attention for a while. The first is a book I've needed for some time so as to be able to explain in detailed ways why and where Keynesian "economic" theory went so horribly wrong, and why it is still wrong today. If you are not familiar with Keynesian "economic" theory, just look to the nonsense of the US government, which under the last two administrations (and many others) they claimed that if the government only went far enough into debt then everything would be wonderful and the rivers would flow with gold.. 

I don't know about you, but I've not seen any of those gold rivers or magic pills yet.. and I know from logic and the lessons of history that I never will. Still, it is good to get a firmer grasp on the inherent problems of the "charge your way out of debt" mentality (AKA "deny liberty and you will be free") so I am delving into first of the three: Where Keynes Went Wrong and why government keep creating inflation, bubbles, and busts by Hunter Lewis. 

I am reminded of some advice I was given almost 20 years ago by two professors of philosophy who knew at the time that I did not share their anti-individual, anti-liberty, pro-state ideology: take more economics classes.  I was tired of the academic economics classes, because they did not make any sense in following Keynesian "economic" theory though I did not know that then, so though I've always had an ear open and thought about it, I have not explored economics beyond the three classes I had already taken. The reason that this advice comes back to me now is not in spite of those two wonderful people, but because of them. They may have believed that I would come to adopt Keynesian faith, rather than follow reason, but I do not know. What I do know is that they honestly wanted the best for me (and for all of their students) and so gave excellent advice which would help me in the goals that I set, as opposed to any agenda on their part. I can never repay or appreciate enough the philosophy department of WSU for their dedication to philosophy, to the love of wisdom, the love of teaching, that leads them to this day to teach HOW to think, and not WHAT to think. 

The next couple of books are not both books at all. The first in no particular order is Murray Rothbard's America's Great Depression in which he examines the most famous "Great Depression" (there have been more than one, though few know it) in the light of reason, rather than seeking to find non-keynsian scapegoats.  The other is a collection of lectures by Rothbard, who btw is without a doubt the greatest economic thinker and social thinker of the latter half of the 20th century, which has been turned into a book on "tape" (cd/dvd) so that those of us who were not fortunate enough to be able to attend the classes of the great man can at least hear his famous voice, and listen to the arguments and evidence he presents. 

Though I've not read any Rothbard as of yet, though I do possess his most famous work Man, Economy, and State going on twelve years, I will admit to a bit of a positive bias going into this exploration, not because of my appreciation of the value of the individual, or because I know that no person has any right to control the peaceful actions of any other person, but rather because a dear friend of mine was one of Rothbard's closest friends and students, and I have been regaled with stories of the man for a good portion of the last decade. The stories are not always flattering, and seldom are they on the issues of economics, but rather they are on the person and his life, his way of speaking, and his appreciation for his fellow man, particularly if that fellow man was a young woman! (No implication here.. I have no idea about his actual behavior other than being told that he like most men, appreciated cute young women.. ). 

So there I am. Between the little and the profound, between the physical and the philosophical, between ignorance and bliss.. such as it seems that I always am. For now, I am going to be enjoying what Mill and other utilitarians believed to be the "higher" pleasures: reading and learning.. 


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Any ideas what this is?


Trying to figure out what this is and what use it can be.. seems a bit like apples or pears, but stays astringent well after the first frost. Might be able to make some sort of cider out of it if I had a cider press... 

Monday, November 02, 2009

Change

You may notice that I added a banner for Swagbucks.com. Rest assured that this is my addition and not google's or just another banner ad. This is a program I have used for some time now, which has paid dividends in the form of Amazon gift cards worth to date approximately $50, and that just this year when I lost connectivity or computers were down for a good portion of the time. 

The deal is this, Swagbucks is a search engine, sort of. It is more like an information broker. It pulls searches from google and ask.com to display, and gives you points for searches. Those points can be turned into gift cards, cash (via paypal), or other "prizes." 

You can also get points via referrals, say through a banner on a blog perhaps.. Anyone who joins from that link will be helping me to feed my book habit and will receive much gratitude, as well as the benefit of getting paid for searches you would do anyway. 

Give it a try.. 

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rain is over...

...for the time being.*



I have already heard all of the swimming pool comments, so save them.. :) Given the amount of rain we had I am surprised that there is not more water in the excavation. Still, I have already capitulated to the idea of putting in a drain in the uphill patio so that any water which accumulates there will immediately be drained out down hill. When living in a timber frame underground house, it is a good idea to err on the side of caution. Well, that is true when building any home actually.

Finishing out the corners will be on hold until we can get the backhoe out, and that may be a little while as Captain Rob has other work to do as well. Speaking of the good Cap'n, he cut me a hell of a deal on the excavation, even knocking off time (and thus money) simply because he wanted to take some other precautions that he had not run by me. This is the sort of business man, more importantly this is the sort of man (meaning "person" in this context) that I want to deal with. As a result I offered to help him with some design and remodeling work on his home, free of charge. 

Good deeds may almost always be punished but I'll be damned if they will be punished by me! :) Seriously though this is how liberty works, or if you prefer how anarchy works. We are responsible for ourselves, but because we interact face to face we relate better to people and so respect them as people. I recall a similar situation in spirit if not details concerning some of the land I will be butted up to. The seller argued that the buyer was offering too little, the buyer arguing that the seller was asking too little. The result has been an ongoing friendship despite the seller moving hundreds of miles away to live a more nomadic, and more social, life. 

I may go into this, and related topics in the next post which would be decidedly political, practical, reasonable, and still a bit of a rant. :)


* What on earth does this phrase really refer to? What is a "time being" unless it is a time traveler?  Dr. Who must be the only time being left...  (Ain't equivocation fun?!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Decade of (employment) Freedom

While discussing ways to create a homestead, live frugally, and live with as much freedom as we can in the police state, it dawned upon me that I missed an important anniversary this year: Ten years of total self-employment! Come next month it will actually be ten and a half years. 

I recognize that this may not be the path for everyone, though most of us should consider it if not immediately pursue it. There is more direct personal accountability, and more authenticity to be gained, as well as advantages such as in my own case of being semi-retired now after only ten years, in fact I made that move at the nine year mark! 

There is also a great deal of flexibility which comes in very handy in all sorts of situations, whether it be taking care of a sick child, to dealing with the recession turned depression under which we are now suffering, and which will only get worse. My job cannot be downsized, and I cannot be laid off. Because I am flexible, I can take jobs that perhaps I would pass over when times are good, but still keep an income. 

Anyway, I just found the realization an interesting one, and as good a reason to celebrate as any. I've got 30 years of work history under my belt, and a full third of these were spent working completely for myself making others very happy.. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rainy Days


Well yesterday was another rain day, and we are forecast for more coming tomorrow and the day after, so work is on hold. However it appears that captain Rob has all of the dozer work done, as he has taken the dozer off site. We still need to bring in the backhoe to finish up corners and hopefully dig trenches for the posts, then I can begin the build itself. 



For now, I am still in waiting mode except for finalizing some of the details of the revised plans. One of the changes I have had to make in the name of privacy, and also some degree of efficiency, is to lower the roof a bit an decrease the angle. I have decided to make the low end of the roof be a mere 7' from floor to ceiling. This is still enough for me to clear it, and the front door on that side will be taller as it sits in a gable end. Then by decreasing the angle of the roof, I can get the top end ceiling height to be 13-14 feet, thus making the structure a bit more hidden, while not substantially decreasing the overall feel of openness and airiness of the U-house. 

All of which will be subject to change as the build progresses since I am working with natural materials and a difficult site. 

The only other progress being made at the moment is research on alternative energy sources. I've come across a small wind generator (200W or the larger 350W) for a very reasonable price ($150, $200) which I will likely pick up very soon. Though wind alone won't serve me here, it should help enormously in keeping me in an abundant power supply. 

I did receive in three new books: 

A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and Central North America (Peterson Field Guide Series #23)

The Timberframe Way: A Lavishly Illustrated Guide to the Most Elegant Way to Build a Home

Time Saving Gardener

The Timberframe book may seem odd given that this is an underground house, but in fact it is an underground timberframe house, so I thought that I might pick up some interesting pointers from it. The others are just for pure pleasure of my hobbies.. 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Another rain day



Well as predicted we are getting rain all day today, so no progress. But you can see the pond is looking really good. It will take a while to clear up, but once it does this will be a really nice and fairly deep pond. 


I had not found the camera when I was on the site last evening, so this is not the current depth, but it does give you an idea of the progress being made. We have actually gotten to the depth it is going to be, and now simply need to bring in the backhoe to clean up the corners and dig trenches for the posts. Though it differs from the PSP method somewhat, I am going to be setting the posts in concrete (though still protected as per the PSP method) because the soil here does not lend itself to compaction, and because I am sitting on rock which prevents me from digging down the several feet that we would want for the posts. So if I can get a foot into the rock with a trench, I can set the posts in concrete in that without any worries that anything will move. Then too being in the oldest mountain chain in the US movement really is not much of a concern. 

This is why I used heavy equipment to excavate: 

As you can see there are a great many rocks in the pile.. and in fact we hit ledge that thankfully was soft enough to break up. Still, with some rocks weighing more than a hundred pounds, I cannot imagine trying to dig this by hand. 

If the rain will let up a bit, I will try to get back out to the site for today's pics.. If not, it might be a couple of days as we are forecast for rain again tomorrow. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Camera on walkabout..

As I cannot find the camera at the moment, I believe that I must have left it up at Rancher Bob's place this evening. So no photos today, though I will get some up asap. A little more progress today, in that the rock ledge has been broken up more so that I will be able to sink the house almost ten feet down, which should be sufficient to keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter. 

Not much else to report. We are going over budget on the excavation, which does bother me, so I will have to find ways to save on the windows, doors, and other materials needed for the build. Add to this the necessity to set the posts in concrete, which was not in the plan, and I have to find ways to save even more if I am going to keep to the budget. 

Still, in the worst possible case, I will have built a very energy efficient home, which is self sufficient for pennies on the dollar (perhaps even less!) than the average home in the western world, and still retain comfort levels as high if not higher than the best of those.. 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Still is still moving to me

Still making progress on the site. As noted, the pond is full which is a delight, especially since it is higher than expected when full, giving me perhaps as much as 6 feet of depth in the pond. Hopefully this means that I will always have water available for myself and my garden. 

The excavation continues as well, and is as of 6:30 this evening about 10-12 feet deep at the lowest point. There has been a lot of rock, and unfortunately much ledge so going is slow meaning that this is pushing my budget as I knew that it would once I opted for the new site... but the incredible views and the dramatically increased privacy should offset the additional effort I will have to make to recoup the additional savings I will have to use to pay for this greater expense. I am also going to have to make some cuts somewhere if I am to suck up this expense and still stay under my budget of $5000 for the house. The excavation, clearing, and pond, could come close to half of that cost. I can deduct the pond at least from that particular budget as I consider it separate from the house, but simply moving the numbers around like some political ideologue won't create any additional wealth.. Still, the reason for moving this to another category is to keep my numbers straight on the house itself so as to work on documenting what it takes to build a home, and then a homestead even in this downward economy. 

No photos today, though I have a couple from yesterday. The camera is fighting me and perhaps on its last legs. She has served me well in travels from Texas to China, to Canada, and across the US. The motor on the lens is failing so I will have to fall back upon one given to me recently which would otherwise have been simply discarded. It is sometimes amazing what you can get simply be being open to the idea that everything need not be new, packaged, shiny, and meeting the approval of the most uptight constipated consumer.. 

I seeded the hillside today with annual rye so as to hopefully decrease the amount of erosion that occurs this winter. I still have more seeding to do, but that will have to wait until the excavation is completed. I probably have more seed than I need at two hundred pounds of seed, but in this case the seed is relatively cheap insurance against erosion, and for a time at least it will give the appearance of a fancy manicured English lawn.. not that I will make any effort to keep that look! 

Through one of the many groups to which I belong, I discovered a wonderful little wind generator at bargain basement pricing: http://www.usawindgen.com/200hd.htm

I am very close to ordering one of these, perhaps the 300 watt model, to provide power for my home in the winter, and any time that the wind is blowing more than 7 miles an hour.  Even at the government subsidized (read : "immorally taken labor of others")  electricity available locally, a little wind generator like this pays for itself in no time. Heck the monthly charge simply to have a hook-up with the local "co-op" electric "company" (again, this is merely a branch of the federal government, not an actual company) would pay for this little generator in less than 6 months, and with the increase that they announced recently, perhaps less than 4 months! This is not exactly the doom and gloom that the folks opposed to individual energy generation (again the feds to a large degree) preach. They tell us that the best possible return is 20 years.. For this they assume a Larry Hagman (yeah, JR Ewing!) approach: buy gigawatt solar arrays to cover any and all possible usage! Crazy approach, though kudos to Mr Hagman as he did this first for his own house which is larger than he planned (he let his wife design it) and voluntarily provides power to some local low income families he screened. 

The point is that we need not adopt these massive arrays to account for our power usage, but rather make different choices when we know power is limited. I won't do without my comforts, such as the internet and computer usage, but that does not mean that I need to be able to power up a stadium either. 

Okay.. perhaps a bit of a rant.. gist of all of this: much progress is being made, some things are really coming together, and we can live very comfortably, in fact even luxuriously if we think before we act or spend. 

More pics tomorrow.. 


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Daily mundane aspects.

Reading: Survival with Style by Bradford Angier

       Immortality Option by James P. Hogan

      Freedom in Chains: The Rise of the State and the Demise of the Citizen
by James Bovard


Food/gardening/foraging:  Raspberries are still producing! The flavor is improving with the weather getting cold. The persimmons are edible, though still somewhat astringent, they have a delicious sweetness. What we believe are quince are ripe, though I have yet to positively identify them. If identification can  be made, then quince pies (like apple pies) are predicted.. Muscadines are still producing, for eating if not saving for wine. Clover is still up and growing, though obviously no flowers. I am still enjoying the malabar spinach which will in the next year comprise part of the roof of my home.. I am also enjoying the peppers from my aunt's garden, including jalapenos and habaneros... I am also lucky enough to have received some pickles from that garden as well as Basil from the herb garden I built for my mother.

As the weather cools meals of the sweet potatoes I have harvested in the great plains and in the Oachitas will be paired with tea from the brambles, that is from the blackberries and raspberries. The potatoes will be seasoned with wild garlic (maybe wild leeks??) and enjoyed twice as they warm the house during cooking and again in their delicious flavor.

Though it is my first full year here on site, I am glad to be enjoying so much natural harvest and gleaning from the gardens that would otherwise be completely wasted. Over the next few years I hope to be more efficient in harvesting, identifying, and gleaning of the produce of the woods, streams, ponds, and fields around where I will be homesteading. 


Music wise I am alternating between the prog of Marillion/Fish and the celtic sounds of bands like Clandestine. 

The difference a day makes..


After two days of good progress on the site, today work was at a stand still because of constant rain. Still, I am not too upset by this as the rain filled the pond (in fact filled it to overflowing..). This picture is taken looking back at the point where I took the picture of the pond yesterday. I had to approach from this side as the other is all mud where we have done the dozer work. With any luck this will stay full enough to provide me all of the water I need. So maybe no work done today, but still some progress made. 

The rain also gives me a bit of a chance to revise and rework the house plans given the new information about the specific site I have now that we have cleared it. Not that I need an excuse to work on house plans.. 



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More progress

Captain Rob cleared the rest of the site, including where the pond was to go, then built the pond, and at the end of the day began the excavation itself.  As you can see he managed to get about four feet down into the high side of the hill before calling it quits for the day. We've got rain coming in tonight and tomorrow, so we may be on hold again for a time. 



That same rain which will likely keep us from making any more progress ought to help to start filling the new pond which will be the source for all of my water, in conjunction with whatever rain water collection I am able to set up. 


I know that it looks a mess now, but in a year or two the sides will be covered in grass, and this will hopefully be a nice little forest pond. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

PROGRESS!!!

After eight months of delays, of being stagnated and unable to do anything at all to move forward on the homestead, this morning the dry spell was broken. Captain Rob showed up today with the bulldozer and cleared to the site, then cleared the site once I saw the lay of the land and the view and so knew that this was the place to build. He managed to clear a couple of other areas for gardens, and a path down to where he will build the pond which will serve as my water source along with what little rain collection I can do.  


This is a shot of the site itself which is steeper than it appears. The house will sit right at the top of the slope in this picture, with terraced gardens below it.

This is but one of the views to which I will wake every morning. 

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Change in the Weather

The rain finally broke, and today the sun made its first appearance in a week or better.. The ground is still soaked, so no clearing work, but perhaps a few more dry days and we will see the bulldozer make an appearance. 

The clear skies means a colder night, a predicted low of 36F. 

I spotted what I hope is another possible hen of the woods while checking out the pastures. With any luck I will be able to head back tomorrow to try to confirm that identification. 

That is about all there is to report. I spent the day dealing with tech issues and supervising some construction on Rancher Bob's place. 



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A very good year..

On the homesteading news, Rancher Bob and I bottled our first vintage today (not counting the two bottles I capped and took with me to Kansas). We netted 14 bottles, or 16 if you count the two 22 oz bottles I took as well. Not bad for a first purely experimental run using only the fruit Bob's vines produced last year. 

We look to be on for at least ten gallons of wine this year, or approximately 36-40 bottles given the fruit we have picked so far. 

The bottles I took with me revealed the best muscadine wine I have ever enjoyed, and a wine which I contend has the complexity and subtlety of fine European wines, while still remaining absolutely true to the muscadine flavor. Though golden in color, the wine has characteristics more often found in bold reds, like Zinfindel or Cabernet, but without some of the more harsh tannic aspects. The wine is still dry, unusual for muscadine wine, but not as astringent as those reds without any loss of complexity. I am even tempted to try to turn it into brandy, though I cannot imagine sacrificing a good deal of wine to end up with a small bit of brandy. Still, I think that the flavors would lend themselves quite well to the endeavor. 

Still very wet here so no work on clearing the site, much less excavation. However it is a good sign that captain Rob called to ask about bringing the bulldozer out to be ready to start should it dry out. This damn excavation which was originally scheduled for February might just happen this year.. 


To those who follow this for that aspect of the blog, I promise more timely updates, pictures, and details once the build begins. 

A bit of Entertainment

Some months ago I picked up a dvd collection of 50 mystery movies, all for under $20, in fact if I recall correctly it was about $12 for the collection brand new.  I mention this because this evening as I was enjoying Basil Rathbone portraying Sherlock Holmes I thought to check the date of that movie, and others in the collection. The dates sounded about right as I read them, as many of these movies are in black and white, but then I did the math only to realize that the oldest are nearly 80 years old! 

This in no way takes away from these movies, in fact often it adds to them as mysteries are not about the special effects, or the nifty camera or CGI tricks, but rather about the story itself. Certainly these are serving as fine entertainment for those rare occasions when I simply want to watch something rather than read. 

I was struck when I purchased the set, which includes parts by Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, the aforementioned Basil Rathbone, Peter Lorre, Reginald Owen, Frank Sinatra, Mickey Rooney, Glenn Ford, Orson Welles, James Cagney and many others, as to the reasonable price of this collection, but watching it now I am also impressed by the frugality of "recycling" or re-using entertainment. These performances entertained my grandparent's parents, and who knows how many others since then, and now, nearly 80 years later in some cases, I too am enjoying them. Moreover I will enjoy them again in the decades to come, and I sincerely hope that I may pass these along to another who can not only appreciate the historical aspects (London with double decker electric trolleys in front of Big Ben) but also simply enjoy well made and well told stories. 

The actors, the writers, the cameramen, and probably all who worked on the oldest of these have passed away, but the pleasure that they bring to others lives on today on my personal computer, and upon the screens of others who recognized this bargain.  Were these furniture, or cars, they would considered antiques, but these antiques can be enjoyed by all today because some foresighted individuals thought to repackage them today for our enjoyment. Tonight I tip my glass to both the original producers and the creative individuals who "recycled" this material so that it may live on, and the enjoyment of these portrayals may also continue to grow. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Simply Priceless

 http://www.cagle.com/working/091011/cole.jpg



Monday, October 12, 2009

Still up in the air

I know very well that there are those folks who read my blog who are interested only in the homesteading, home building aspects, which I certainly understand. However at the same time a large part of who I am and how I live includes standing up for the undefended, or the "little gal" who has no voice, usually by simply standing up for what is right.  The discussions of this latter sort while wholly in sinc with the discussions of creating a peaceful, self-sufficient life, are often of no interest and perhaps bothersome to many of the granola crowd (a term I use with affection, fwiw)

So I am trying to figure out how and whether to keep the reflections on issues of philosophical and moral importance separate from those issues of a more practical nature concerning solar showers, and earth sheltered homes. 


For the time being I will try to separate the two between the two blogs, but there will be crossover where independant living is threatened.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Muscadines

Picked what I estimate at about 45-50 pounds of muscadines, which are now residing in the freezer to await their transformation into delicious wine. Should be bottling the last batch any day now, and then beginning the next batch or two. The last batch used about 20 pounds of muscadines, so this batch will hopefully be about ten gallons of perhaps the best wine you've ever had. 

For those not familiar with the humble muscadine, it is a native "fox" grape, usually dismissed as being unsuitable for "true" wine and so is treated like the red headed step child of grapes, deemed to be good only as a table grape (it is infinitely superior to any table grape) or to be treated as suitable for "fruit wines" only. 

All commercial muscadine wines, such as the wines from Post Familie Vineyards, a fine vineyard btw, tend to be sweet wines, nice sweet desert wines, but the wine that Rancher Bob and I, along with the help of some eager yeasts,  created this past year is a rich, full bodied, wine that are far more complex than usual fruit wines. I suspect that it would make a wonderful brandy and/or grappa, though I admit to be hard pressed to ever distill any of this delicious elixir, regardless of legal technicalities. 

I have also enjoyed a few lovely persimmons, a treat that most folks in the US overlook or are completely unaware of. While helping to corral the couple of bulls, the retired massive beast and the young up and coming stud, I stumbled across two wild persimmons, one I knew of but often ignored, and another unknown to me or to Rancher Bob. The latter while being smaller and hidden, holds a good deal of fruit as long as one is not looking to make jam or jellies.. for eating these are delicious provided that you let the frost or other conditions to mellow the astringinent aspects. 

Little else of note, other than hearing a bit of good news that the mighty Rob should be bringing the dozer out to the site this week, despite the terrible rainy weather... This means that there is a chance of getting the site cleared in a week or more.. Then perhaps I can site the house and just maybe get the god damned hold dug for the house.. 


Can you tell that I am very tired of waiting??


 

Friday, October 09, 2009

To the Nobel Committee:

While I imagine all seems very peaceful when you are high as a kite, don't you think that making decisions of such magnitude should be postponed until you sober up?

The first and foremost criterion for granting any award is for the recipient to have taken SOME action, secondarily those actions should be positive. So far on the issue of peace, your awardee has done nothing more than increase the efforts of his predecessor. Surely we can all recognize that this is neither peaceful nor worthy of any admiration. 

So enjoy  your recreational activities, but save important decisions to those times when you might be clear headed. 


Thanks. 

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Back on site/ computers yet again.

I made it back to the hills safely yesterday. I am trying to take it easy today, though I do have a great deal to do. There are muscadines to pick, malabar spinach to put up, fish to catch before it gets too cold for them, as well as setting up the Systemax computer that is now fixed. For some reason they felt it necessary to wipe the hard drive, thus removing my partition and other OS, in order to re-install XP. As a result, I first need to set up XP and all of the programs I need on it, then repartition the drive and install the good OS (Linux) for everyday use.  Following that will be the installation of all of the programs used under linux.. I suspect that I won't do it all in a day so this will be an ongoing effort over the next few days. 

On the upside I confirmed 3g connectivity on the site so I can go ahead with my plans to use that for internet service rather than satellite resulting in quite a bit of savings. 




Monday, October 05, 2009

Hitting the road again.

Tomorrow I head out back to the hills, with the promise of a soon start to the clearing of the house site. I have stocked up on essentials and items unavailable locally so I should be set once I get back. The weather is turning chilly again, and it will have been 11 months since I first arrived on site with the intention of building my own home there. All of the work that has been done was completed by February of this year, and since that time I have been struggling to get Rob out to do the digging and leveling that is beyond the scope of what I want to tackle by hand.

Assuming that the work gets done in the near future, as I sincerely hope that it will, then I have to make a decision as to spend another winter in the caravan or to seek out paying jobs in other places so I can travel, see friends, and make enough money to cover the additional expenses and of course restock the house fund which has been diminished by the long delays.

Maybe the weather will hold out and I will be able to get the posts and roof up.. Regardless it will be good to finally once again be making progress towards creating this homestead.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

?

With the paying jobs done as of today, I am left only with two tasks. The first is to plant some ornamental annuals for my mother, and the other is to decide whether to address the relationships that a couple of individuals have chosen to sever near as I can tell for no good reason whatsoever.

The planting will be cathartic. I look forward to some design and working in the soil.

The other I don't get. I don't get the games. I don't get the lies. I don't get the devaluing individuals who have been very important to your life. These I will have to just ponder further, and hope that something becomes clear. In the meantime I am appreciating the dear friendships which have lasted, and which bring joy to my life.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Light at the end of the Tunnel

I know it has been a while since I posted, and I have no excuse. There is little of interest (to me) to report of the time in KS as the jobs are uninteresting simple maintenance jobs. Replace siding and paint, in one case. Replace siding and sheet goods in another.. and paint a fence in the third. Nothing creative, nothing which provided any challenge aside from fighting the weather.

The current plan is to return on Tuesday to the hills, where it sounds like I might just be able to get some progress in clearing the new site, finally. I've spent much of the last day drawing up preliminary plans for the new site, as it is sufficiently different as to make me abandon the original plans as unworkable. Out of this has come what appears to be a "V" shaped house, which allows for privacy, efficient use of materials, and still give a very open feel to what will be a modest home. I am still looking at about 800 ft sq, with a 100 ft sq loft, which for one person is quite expansive. Even for two, should that come to pass, there is plenty of room for different interests and activities inside the house. That said, this house is going to be designed so as to encourage me to spend more time outside. The uphill patio is a separate room accessible only from the house, yet retains the privacy of any room in the house. Of course the garden will be a refuge for me, and I hope to continue to spend time walking the hills.

But that is all in the future. My current time has been spent doing these mundane jobs which will help to pay for the build, and trying to understand why what I consider to be the most basic elements of any relationship, from friend to lover, are seemingly absence in perhaps our modern culture, but if not that then in a few individuals I know from the midwest. Rather than go into that now, I am going to focus on the future, and hope that at some point I will figure out what the heck is going on. Still it is times like this that I wish that I had continued my work in psychology while I was still studying philosophy...

So I see light at the end of this long and boring midwest tunnel, and I hope to finally get started on the actual build in the coming weeks. I won't be able to close the house in before winter, so I might be traveling for work again, but at least I will have made a start.

So if you have paying work for a designer, remodeler, builder, or philosopher, shoot me a line and let's see if I can turn your house into your dream home..

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Back to work

With the bug/virus/flu retreating today I immediately returned to working on the siding job I am on. Completed the siding repairs today, caulked all of the new siding, and much of the old, leaving tomorrow to finish caulking, pick up paint, and prime all bare wood to be ready for the start of painting on Friday, if the weather cooperates.

Obviously I am feeling better, in fact better than I have since I arrived here. I truly hope to make some good progress so that I can complete this job close to on time, take up the next two smaller jobs, and get back to my own build site in the eternal hope of getting some work done on clearing the area and excavating for the house.

I did receive a bit of good news today: my newest laptop will be arriving back at the build site on Friday. Though I won't be there to enjoy it, it gives me a pleasant feeling knowing that there is at least one computer I own which is functioning properly. I do have to put in a good word here again for Systemax computers. Even though they said that they could not see the shadow on the screen (no idea how it could have been missed) they sent the computer along to the vendor who immediately replaced the screen and sent it back to Systemax. They received the computer today, and shipped it out to me today as well. Other than a bit of frustration as I tried to explain how they could best see this rather obvious shadow, the entire exerience was what I am coming to expect from Systemax, which is to say that it went as all business interactions should.

If you need a new computer, particularly a laptop, I strongly recommend going with Systemax for the quality of their products, the options they offer, the price, and perhaps most importantly the customer service. This is a company which still understands that customer service is what counts.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Standing tall

It seems very often that whenever you take a principled position, someone (or several someone's) will claim that you are not willing to accept the consequences, or that you do not really mean it. Well today I have the opportunity to prove such naysayers wrong yet again.

Having read a fair amount about all of the H1N1 virus, I have come to the conclusion that most doctors have come to as well, that this is mostly hype and political posturing. Get people good and scared and you can do whatever you want to them..

So all along I have said that the best prevention is simply taking care of yourself. I have done this as well as I ever do, which is say less than I like, but better than average.

Secondly, if you get afflicted with the flu, get lots of liquids, take what meds you can, and rest. No difference this time around, hoopla or not.

Well while I cannot say for certain that it is the flu, today I have been very achy, sick to my stomach, and feel as though I have the flu.

Did I panic and go rushing to the nearest hospital to infect everyone else?

Did I blame everyone else and demand that the thugs with badges (government) force others to take care of me?

Did I demand that everyone else make certain that I get healthy again?

Nope.. I have had a few bowls of broth (flavored with mushrooms and jalapenos the latter for their flavor but also their healing properties). Been drinking juice and water, and took some generic dayquil to relieve the symptoms as best as it may. Tonight I will take generic nyquil so I can sleep and allow my body to heal itself.

I still feel terrible, but contrary to the predictions of the naysayers I am standing tall, even if it is from a prone position in bed..

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Obligation NOT to vote

For many years now I have actively chosen to refrain from voting in any governmental election. I am not apathetic, quite the opposite, but rather I understand the immorality of voting for rulers. The trigger for this decision was the wonderful essay by Wendy McElroy Why I Would not Vote Against Hitler.

Today I read another such essay, this time by Alex R. Knight III on the obligation not to vote.

Both of these lead to that "How did I ever think otherwise" moment when you see clearly that which was always right in front of you, but never recognized.

Here is an off the cuff addition of my own:

We are morally obligated never to initiate violence or coercion against any other moral agent (person). Basically, we cannot morally steal, cause pain, physically harm, enslave, or otherwise harm another. Pretty simple and uncontraversial.

Government is merely that entity which claims to have the legitimate authority to engage in exactly those sorts of actions.

Government cannot even exist without engaging in those sorts of actions. If we have the power and ability to disobey, then the entity in question is not a government but rather at best some sort of advisory board.

Since we do in fact have a government which claims ownership over us, that is to say the right to dictate our peaceful actions and take without permission our property (in the form of wages, as well as any real property we may own), the issue of any such advisory board is moot.

So to voting.. voting is simply lending the illusion of legitimacy to the use of force against innocent non-aggressing others. With every vote, with every action taken supporting government you are not merely consenting to any and all harms which may come to you via that government, but you are also consenting to all harms to all others. While you may irrationally consent to harm to yourself, as I noted earlier, you do not have the moral authority or the right to consent to harm to others.

Show basic respect for others, show some compassion for others, show that you respect right action and simply stop supporting harm to others: Stop voting.

More computer woes

I have been fighting the thinkpad to keep it working well enough until I get the Systemax back, but it seems that have lost that fight. This morning the thinkpad decided that it cannot boot, claiming a stuck key, but no stuck key can be found. Needless to say this is quite frustrating. The Dell is still iffy with its memory problems, and I lack any wireless card for it so at best it is a paperweight as well. It will be a couple more days before the data plan turns on, so I am stuck currently on a borrowed machine, which is inconvenient to use.

And people wonder why I have luddite leanings...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Fininshed The Faded Sun trilogy by C.J. Cherryh, one of the rare wonderful story tellers. I first thought this to be a pale reflection of the Foreigner series by her, but in the end this is entirely its own and a story I hated to see end, a feeling I attribute to great story tellers.

Dinner was another garden feast of mixed squashes, garlic, and fresh herbs.. delicious..

Work progresses slowly due to weather and four legged complications. Still, I made some progress today after the rains quit.

Still experiencing computer issues, and phone issues, but I am adopting a bit of a view that they are all magic and there is not enough eye of newt in the mix currently.. or some such missing ingredient. There seems to be no rational explanation to the computer problems, and dealing with AT&T customer service is more difficult than communing with the dead via seance.. Perhaps I can rationalize some lesson to be learned here.. or perhaps this will tip the scales and turn me into a pure luddite.. (reminds me.. I saw an interesting hulu show called something like foodie luddite.. I will try to post a link later.. )

link: http://www.hulu.com/watch/85508/gourmets-diary-of-a-foodie-the-hungry-luddite?c=Food-and-Leisure#s-p2-so-i0

Practical and Effective Health Care Reform is off the table

Borrowed in whole from WendyMcelroy.com:

------------------

Since the Big O* is giving a speech tonight to try to sell his health care plan, and will doubtless regurgitate some blather about being open to all options, I thought I'd list for the record at least nine options for health care reform that are "off the table," and will never be allowed on the table...or even in the room:

1. Ending medical licensing.
2. Ending employer tax deduction for medical insurance; or better yet,
3. Providing a personal tax deduction for all medical expenses.
4. Ending patent protection for pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
5. Ending all regulation of drugs and supplements.
6. Ending Medicare.
7. Ending Medicaid.
8. "Fee for service" for routine medical services.
9. Tort reform.


* Obama. But to Canadians, "the Big O" has a special connotation of government extravagance, incompetence, and cost overruns: the 1976 Olympic Stadium.

---------------------------

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Feasting from a few gardens

Tonight's dinner was a large spaghetti squash (if you have never enjoyed one of these you are missing out on a wonderful and unique natural treat), topped with a butter and olive oil sauce of red anaheim pepper, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil (four kinds), garlic chive flowers, and a touch of kosher salt. With the exception of the salt, oil, and butter, all of this delightful meal came from gardens I have worked in. Two in the flatlands, and one in the Oauchita mountains.

There was no longing for prepared pasta sauce, or some mass produced accompaniment, but rather an explosion of flavor which reminds us of what pale shadows all of the mass produced food is to real food.

Mass produced food is food with no history, no story. Even the "farmer" who harvests it could not recognize even one of the pieces of produce from "his" land, but the farmer who truly respects his or her crop, who knows the land and that which grows upon it, whether in a urban plot, suburban back yard, or acreage in rural areas, can identify the produce, the product of their effort. There is a story behind every piece of food in those gardens.

Tonight's stories include failed efforts to raise emu for meat, discovering entirely by accident a volunteer pepper plant brought low by malabar spinach vines, and a union of efforts of specific individuals, amongst other stories. These all add spice and flavor to the meal directly and indirectly.

I find great joy in the fact that even a nomad (as I have recently been dubbed by none other than the great David (another story, another time)) can enjoy the wonders of the garden in which he/she has worked, or in this case several gardens. Nomadic gardening.. there is an idea..