Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Weather delays

Well we are finally getting desperately needed moisture here at the Backwoods of Hell, but unfortunately it is not enough to really help or to refill ponds, though it is enough to make the site unworkable.

So in the meantime I simply plan out the forms and the build process, and wait for clearer days, which hopefully won't be so cold as to prevent concrete from setting up properly.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More progress!

Well today marked the absolute last bit of work that I will have to have done before I can build.. Since the backhoe and Captain Rob were still very near by, I decided to bring him back to the site to lower the entry area a bit (it was higher than the rest of the floor area) and to dig me a small trench for the french drain insurance policy.. Well he lowered the floor a bit, then preceded to dig a trench large enough to drain the great lakes!

But I am not complaining. The trench is deep enough that I can guarantee drainage and prevent water from ever building up in or above my home, so this one goes into the better safe than sorry file..

Tomorrow I start figuring what I need for concrete forms, french drain supplies, and the precise methods to be used in both...

This home looks like it might just happen after all!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Photo time..

Well still no luck with finding the cable for my camera, so I brought out the old one from retirement to get these, just before it perished..

Coming up the drive..

From above the homestead. The major progress is the opening up of the entry (the cut away to the right/downhill) as well as opening up the bedroom window are in the back of the photo, downhill corner.

Standing just outside of the front entry looking to the back wall.

From just inside looking out the front entry. To give an idea of scale, the dirt on the left side is about 9 feet high, and though this photo doesn't show it, where the dirt ends outside of the front entry, is about 15 feet above the undisturbed ground.. Needless to say I am building on a rather steep slope.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

No pics

Well at some point in my travels I misplaced or otherwise lost the cable for connecting the camera to the computer. So for the time being no pics... I have one place left to look before I decide that I simply don't have it and have to get a new cable.

In the meantime, I began digging the trench for the french drain. Once this is complete, then I can fill in some low spots in the floor, get gravel in to level the floor area, and then begin work on the forms for the footings.

It is so good to know that I can make progress now, that it is under my control to a large degree.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


After so many delays, after so many times of being told that this final excavation would happen, after so many months, the final excavation is under way. With any luck it should be wrapped up tomorrow and I can begin laying out forms for the footings on which the posts will sit.

To make things better, we also received a bit of rain here at the Backwoods of hell... not enough to really break the drought but enough to raise spirits a bit.

I will strive to get photos tomorrow and post them, though we are supposed to get rain again.. regardless I'll have some up ASAP!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Forgetting politics for the moment despite this tragic day, I have enjoyed a wonderful mess of greens this evening.. henbit, mustard, turnip, rape (brocolli raab, and some asian radish..)

Beans on the stove, going' to let them cook overnight..

Delightful pea soup recipe which I've enjoyed a bit of this evening and more so tomorrow..

Good Intentions Paving Company

On this tragic day, this is a good reminder to all of us who have compassion for a fellow humans, but specifically to those who wish to reduce government but still choose to vote:


in part:

"Your vote is not a defensive act. It is an act that facilitates violence committed against people like me who have done you no harm but merely wish to live...and peacefully so. By casting a vote, you tell thugs, opportunists, parasites and worse that they have a right to intrude upon my life with their laws, their taxes and zero-tolerance policies about everything from speech to drugs, from guns to trans-fat. You vote is like ringing a dinner bell for wolves to descend."

Monday, November 01, 2010

Deception Day

Tuesday being a tragic day of deception and inherent violence, I'd like to encourage everyone reading this to remember that harming innocent others is never justified. Furthermore it is no more justified to harm innocents by selecting someone else to do that harm for you.

The only recourse for the moral person is to refuse to vote. Refuse to grant the illusion of legitimacy to those would be your masters by refusing to vote.

Respect your neighbors, respect all other persons. Have some compassion and reason and refuse to contribute to the harm of innocents.

To this end, a wonderful piece on voting and the inherent moral problems with it:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

General update from BWoH

Little has been done here at the Backwoods of hell. The final excavation was supposed to be done this week, but as is usual in this area not only did it not happen, but I have not heard a word from Captain Rob the backhoe operator. Adding to the frustration has been the weather, which has been unusually hot and dry. All of Rancher Bob's grass dried up in the pastures and so he has me feeding out hay while he is out of town working. This also effects the garden naturally, which was pretty well dead by the time I returned, as no one here was taking care of it. Still that neglect may turn into a small benefit as onions and potatoes left unharvested, have with the hot weather decided to put out again. If it stays warm for just a bit longer I will be able to get some small potatoes and onions just in time for the soups of winter.

The persimmons have been the best ever this year. Though there has been no frost yet, they are sweet without any hint of the astringency which would normally present itself. I've spent a couple of afternoons eating as many as I could reach that were ripe, giving myself an all natural sugar high.

Foraging has been very limited as well given the lack of rain. I've managed to find a few wild mustards and radishes in Rancher Bob's yard (it gets watered) but the fruit of the passion flower vine was almost a complete no show. I was able to enjoy only one of these, and it was certainly sub par. In fact the foraging is so bad I am seriously considering setting up the contraption that Rancher Bob bought, but has never used, that is supposed to make cracking black walnuts easy. I suspect that "easy" is a very relative term.

No muscadines for wine this year either. They put out a little fruit, but not enough to bother picking beyond just a few nibbles here and there. Strangely though the pear trees did produce fruit, a hard fruit with very little sweetness which is unpleasant to even try to eat. No one around here eats them. Still, rather than let those pears go to waste I am trying an experiment with making cider. We'll see in a month or so how that turned out.

I am trying to stay positive through all of the delays and tribulations in this effort to set up a modest underground homestead, and it is nights such as tonight that certainly help. As I am typing this, I am sitting outside my temporary (well it is *supposed* to be temporary!) home (ratty travel trailer) in a comfortable chair, sipping some unusual local wine (well if 3-4 hours away is local..) watching the thunderstorms over the mountains giving the much needed moisture close, if not here yet. There is hope and a forecast of a good chance of rain later tonight...

So as long as there is light I will enjoy the light show, return to studying aspects of homesteading (currently permaculture and and footings for underground homes..), all the while hoping to get the rain which will force me inside.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Made a run into the Springs yesterday, enjoying the dappled shade of the autumnal trees, and the somewhat cooler temperatures of fall. Normally I really loathe driving, but this was one of those rare times that it was a damn great drive..

More chores for Rancher Bob, feeding cows, keeping everything together..

The garden is struggling in this dry weather, no rain for a month and little chance in the foreseeable future.

Guess I will have to simply sit back and enjoy the persimmons..

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Breaking the silence

I realize that it has been a while since I posted, and for that I apologize. I'd like to blame it on being busy, and traveling, and several other excuses, all of which are true, but the primary cause was lack of something about which I wished to write.

I am back in the BWoH, waiting for the backhoe for the last little bit of dirt work before I can build.. I swear that I won't rely upon anyone else for the rest of the build because of these delays...

In the meantime I've been foraging as best as I can, including some wild mustards and radishes, American Beauty Berry, persimmons, passion vine fruits, and anything else I can find. I've put up gallons of chicken stock, several pounds of catfish, several pounds of an italian meat sauce, as well as some pureed pears which will become cider in the near future..

Not wanting to be completely unproductive with regard to the homestead, I've been working on ways to lift the main girders (2' x 30' oak timbers) into place 15 feet in the air... I believe that I have figured out a solution, though not an elegant one as it requires rolling the timbers down the header of the top wall... Tricky, dangerous and perhaps a bad idea, but it is the best I have come up with so far.

It is terribly dry here, and there is no rain in the forecast, so foraging is poor and the garden all but dead.

That's the news from BWoH for now..

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

A Need for Place

Let me preface this with the admission that I have some pretty great friends, surprisingly wonderful clients, and just a tiny bit of luck I like to think I helped create. That said, though I have spent the last several weeks living in different homes, rotating between all of the above groups.

So as I sit here late at night, in the art gallery as I like to call it, I really want little more than my own place, albeit a tiny one, where I need not worry about the niceties of being a good house guest, or where I can leave out whatever I like..

It is all about a sense of place. While I would never dream of detracting from those whose homes I have shared, we all need a place to be, a place to be without any concerns even those friendly concerns of being a good guest. And sometimes you just need to know that the walls around you, or better yet the plants around you, are your own..

Though it is a different story, and an abrupt change, there are those around us who would deny that peace of mind to us..but I will save that rant for later..

Tonight, a glass of wine, some Hemingway, and some calming Fish..

Monday, August 30, 2010

Book number... oh heck I've lost count.. plus.. well I still haven't counted

The Market for LibertyThe Market for Liberty by Linda Tannehill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Tannehills provide a good introduction to peaceful coexistence, also known as anarchy, in this book. They go into some detail as to how people choose to interact, and how these voluntary interactions can and should replace the bullying, coercion, and violence of the state.

There are some points which could be updated, and some of the specific details of how society would look are too precise for any prediction of the multitude of solutions that freed persons would develop, but overall this is truly a worthwhile stepping off point for any discussion of the nature of the state and alternatives to coercive methods.

View all my reviews

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Still is still moving to me..

I am still living in the art gallery and working far harder than anyone should in the terrible heat here in the hot hills.. Well that was true up until today anyway. I just left that house to dog sit for some friends here for the weekend, then back to the ol' gallery at the invitation of the wonderful folks who live there, having returned from their trip.

Work has been very satisfying, outside of the much needed income. The art gallery (actually a home I remodelled some years ago) has provided the opportunity to touch up some minor details I did not have time to address when we did the original remodel, as well a do a few other projects for this delightful couple. The next project was a kitchen remodel, a partial job for a couple just starting out. I was able to create the canvas upon which they will be able to paint their own ideal kitchen. From that to a flagstone patio and path system, along with a garden shed, and next week I hope to begin an interior makeover which will turn a couple of drab and dreary bedrooms into the exciting Asian inspired rooms that the owner desires.

In the meantime I am reading voraciously, though I've been lax in updating the books here unfortunately. Currently I am on Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, which is guaranteed to be bright and cheerful.. :)

I've probably about another two or three weeks in this locale before I can head back to the homestead, though I'd like to be working on the home, it is good to garner a bit of income before I return.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Strange dichotomy

I have noticed over the years that many who celebrate the wildness of the world, want nothing more than to wall in, essentially cage the rest of humanity as if we were not a part of the world. They wish to control, and ultimately destroy all that is, all of the wonder of science, all of the thrill of being in nature, all in the name of saving it from those who would enjoy and celebrate it..

Might strange world we live in..

Still away from the 'stead

I am still away from BWoH, busily earning a bit of coin to build the homestead, and to enjoy a few luxuries like extra electrical power and water storage.

The stress of running a full time business again is bothersome and a welcomed reminder of why I left here in the first place. Though this too is beautiful hill country, and though I have enjoyed many luxuries simply not available in BWoH, the trafic, constant business calls, and long working days go against the life I am trying to build. A few more weeks and I should be moving on, back to the BWoH.

In the meantime I am making the most of the place I am, while still keeping up on my readings including blogs and news sites. One such blog actually has the author declaring that the moral worth of the individual is unimportant and a failed concept.. Somehow I am guessing that if it were himself or those for whom he cared who was threatened, he'd change his stripes.. :)

Life goes on.. we make the most of it that we can, and if we are decent we do so without harming others.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sad coincidence

As I was reading book number... yeah still haven't recounted.. Inherit the Stars by James P Hogan, I learned that Hogan passed.. This is a great loss to the sci-fi and liberty world both.

Preparing for travel again, this time deep in the heart of Texas. More work, some stand in work for a customer, and just a wee bit of catching up with friends, including one poor traumatized black dog I've been missing.

I leave at a particularly bad time as lots of food in the garden is coming ready to put up. All I can hope in this case is that there will be some left when I return, perhaps as dried beans for instance.. That said, I am planning on spending part of the day tomorrow putting up edemame, one of my favorite foods, for later use.

Zero progress on the homestead thanks yet again to delays in the excavation. As I have said all along, I have but one step in this entire process upon which I am relying upon others (paid help) and that is what has prevented this home from being built.. Perhaps when I return in just over a month.. If not, then I may build a different, smaller home, as a temporary home and future guest house, as I cannot bear a third winter in this caravan.

So goes it here in the Backwoods of Hell..

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Its been a good week for foraging.. I've positively identified some staghorn sumac, great for lemonade, some sasafrass, great for root beer and gumbo, wild blackberries (not a tough one there), and another edible and delicious mushroom, provided you only want to live a day or two: death angel..

I also identified a possible fruit for the future.. it may be a plum of some sort, though it is late and hard for that, but it may be a wild apple... I will watch it and see..

In the mean time I am enjoying a bumper crop of pin cherries, and cannot help but notice that the orange pears are abundant.. I just have to get that fruit press built this year so I can have delicious cider.. maybe some hard cider as well, since like the frontiersmen I want to preserve the harvest....

Monday, July 05, 2010

Back to school

So much of this blog has been keeping up with the basics of homesteading, my building projects, determining what power sources to use, etc. that I feel I am overlooking some important aspects of intentional living.

So here is a bit about my life which is not directly linked to the build project, nor is about growing veg, or composting toilets.. I have opted to go back to school.

Now for those who may not know me as well as others, I have many years of school under by belt, and I have been both an instructor and a guest lecturer, so school is nothing new to me. Still, I've not been a formal student for 11 years now, and so this choice to focus again on formal studies is an important choice.

So why return to the classroom, and moreover why as a student instead of a lecturer? Well, there are a few reasons, but most important to me is the motivation to explore something I have been exploring but have lacked any feedback on. I am taking two courses, one on the basics of liberty, and the other on alternatives to government coercion to law and order.

I have more than a decade, perhaps two, under my belt of defending liberty against those who would impose their ideal (various forms of tyranny) upon the rest of us, but still I would like to have more concrete examples of non-coercive measures which serve as alternatives to the current coercion which we endure from government. Basically voluntary is always the better option.

The classes last through the 15th of September, so amidst travelling, building, ranching, remodelling, etc. I will be making time for video lectures, pretty intensive readings, and online "chat" class times..

More on this as it progresses..

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Busy Day

The day began early and started slow, but like that annoying bunny, kept going and going..

Started out weeding the garden, making some progress.. nibbled on some spinach as I went. Organized some of my materials I am storing at Rancher Bob's so that I could unload the truck of the additional materials I brought back from the flatlands. That done, I contemplated the next project for Rancher Bob, scraping, sanding, and cleaning his enormous porch in preparation for repainting it, another job for me.

Deciding that was not the job to tackle today, I sprayed some weeds (something I would not do on my own property) and cleaned some flower garden paths for RB's wife.

Then attacking the squash bugs to try to salvage some crop of squash.. during which Rancher Bob's wife got a call from Captain Rob, who needed my help. I rush off to go help Rob who is stuck about 50 miles away, which lead to towing his one ton dualie which was towing a cattle trailer, all the way back at about 15 miles an hour, up and own hills.. a bit stressful, but we made it despite the unenlightened folks who waited until there was no more hint of any possibility that they could see what was coming over the hill to pass us..

I get back in time to set up a sprinkler deterrent (we hope) to stop the raccoon from eating all of the corn. By now it is getting dark so I begin the trek back to my place when I recall that I still have to feed the piranha masquerading as catfish.. I quickly feed them, then get back only to recall that I have reading to do..

... for the classes I signed up for online! During a brief break in activities I decided to once again take some classes after 11 years away from school. So I am taking two classes this term, one of which requires a good deal of reading. Still I hope that this will be good for me, helping to focus my writing further to the end of once again getting published, this time in my chosen field (other publishing has been in gardening magazines).

Yes a busy day, but a good one.. and I confirmed with Rob that as soon as the next two hay jobs are done, he will get out with the backhoe to complete the excavation! That means that this fall the build begins in earnest!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Roughing it?

I know that many of my friends and family think that I am depriving myself, or doing without here, but this morning I cannot help but feel sorry for them.

Breakfast consisted of oatmeal in yogurt with fresh raspberries the size of my thumb!

Lunch will be fresh catfish with okra from the garden, fried.

Dinner more catfish, with squash, cherry tomatoes, and fresh asian beans. Also refrigerator pickles with cukes fresh from the garden.

My poor deprived friends and relatives.. having to make do with supermarket fare..

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Book number... oh heck I've lost count.. plus two

A Man Without a Country A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
If you like Vonnegut you will probably like this pseudo biographical set of very choppy ramblings. It was neither as scathing as I was led to believe by the NPR review, nor is it anywhere close to being a principled response to the abandonment of the sovereignty of the individual that it could have been. Vonnegut contradicts himself frequently on political matters, but condemns only the administration in power at the time for the actions which have been taken by both parties since FDR, who he not merely forgives for the same actions, but celebrates and worships. Still, fairly entertaining with some good points being made about living. Borrow it, but don't buy it...

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Site Visit

A quick visit to the site yesterday in preparation for the final bits of excavation, which I hope to have done next week. Though there are many reasons for the delays in the excavation, the primary being getting the equipment and operator out to the site, you can see from this picture the difficulty in digging on this site. This is the back wall of the house, the up hill wall, which as you can see is solid rock. Terrible for digging, but great for the cellar which will but up to it!

It has changed a great deal in the two months I spent in the flat lands. The rye grew tall and lush, and then as you can tell, died off from the heat. The weeds have now taken a hold, but since they too will stop the erosion they are for now welcomed.

On the upside I may have stumbled into a care taking/property management position here which won't pay much but might just allow me to spend more time working on the homestead and supporting my few remaining vices, such as the internet.. We will see what comes of it in the future.

Until then I am debating on putting up a post about a successful aspect of the composting toilet system. I cannot decide if it will disturb some who read this, or if it will be met with the enthusiasm I had upon this happy discovery..

Friday, June 25, 2010

Book number... oh heck I've lost count.. plus one

The Self-Sufficiency Handbook The Self-Sufficiency Handbook by Alan Bridgewater

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The book is an okay introduction to going off grid in the UK or commonwealth, with some of it applying to the US as well. That said, it is pretty basic with regards to the information provided. I honestly cannot think of one new thing I learned from this book, though to be fair I have been in the process of going off grid for a couple of years now. The instructions on canning, making cider, and the like are interesting and will be good enough reference material to justify keeping this one on my shelves. I had hoped for more, and it reads very choppy. Still, give it a look if you are interested in self-sufficiency, particularly if you are just beginning your interest in making a go of it.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, June 21, 2010

Book number... oh heck I've lost count..

Wild at the Table: 275 Years of American Game & Fish Cookery Wild at the Table: 275 Years of American Game & Fish Cookery by S.G.B. Tennant

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I look forward to trying some of the recipes in the book, but it feels quite shallow and scattered in the recipe choices. Few of us would ever have the opportunity to try more than maybe a handful of the recipes, since the game needed is so very regional. Still, for the hunter-gatherer with enough money and time to spare to allow for extensive travel within the US, this provides a decent stepping off point in learning to cook wild game.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Back in the backwoods

After a very long, extended stay in the flatlands, I am now finally back in the backwoods of hell, with the perhaps optimistic hope of getting the last of the excavation work done before I have to leave again in a month..

Tonight is set aside for simple recovery.. I hope it will be enough..

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Blog changes, materials and getting moving.

As you can see, I made a few design changes to the blog, which I hope will make it a bit more inviting. Feel free to let me know what you think.

Thanks to three of the jobs I have tackled here in the flatlands, I will be taking back to the build site a few building materials ranging from a couple of bags of concrete, to some pressure treated 4x4s, to salvaged cabinets and siding (which will become shoring on my home). Having found a source of food grade polypropolyene barrels, I had hoped to take several back for my water storage, but sadly there simply won't be any room in the truck. I guess that will have to wait until next trip here to the flatlands..

I have only one job to wrap up, which I hope to finish on Monday so I can be on the road Tuesday. That will give me a few weeks on the build site before I have to head out again.

I never would have guessed at the beginning of the year that I would be traveling this much or be this busy not building the homestead..

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Lights and tunnels...

The first light of significance is that of the sun.. I would love to tell a tale of how I received my solar panels and they are pumping out power for me to use, but sadly this is not such a happy tale. Instead I am experiencing that sensation unique to the flu and sunburns, that of being both hot and cold at the same time. Foolishly I spent part of the day, the first real day I have tried to take off, cavorting with younger women in a pool. Several decades younger in fact.. 4 and 5 years old to be specific.. :)

As a result I am beet red and in a fair amount of pain, left wondering if this will speed up the appearance of the inevitable skin cancer I will one day have, assuming that the room does not get too smokey before that day..

The other light of significance is that at the end of the tunnel of this trip away from the homestead. I am tentatively planning on heading back to the site in a week now, with a tiny bit more cash in my pocket, another (great) design under my belt, and some good feeling for the work I have done on the primary and secondary jobs here.

Tomorrow I begin some siding repair for my grandparents, and with luck the next day I will also begin a job for a friend here in town. When those are done, I can head back with a clear mind, and optimistically hope to get the excavation completed before the next trip away from the homestead, this time down south but for the same reason: to build up a little bit of cash to pay for the build and utilities.

I have been lax in keeping up with the reading list, but I hope once settled again, albeit briefly, back on the site, I will update the books read. Or maybe I will find time before I leave here..

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Back on Rancher Bob's place, we have lost the best working dog I have ever known. She unfortunately became overheated, and just could not recover. She will be sorely missed..

And here again I am reminded as to why I don't want pets of my own, or in this case, even a wonderful working dog/pet: I cannot take the loss. Call me weak, or unrealistic in this regard, but ever since we lost the very first dog I knew, a dog that was actually part of the family before I was, a dog that I sat with keeping flies away from as she passed, I just cannot take dealing with the death of a pet.

Still, I get close to the animals I am around (well less so with the cows, though I still feel badly when they pass) and so still must deal with such passings.

Good bye Star...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Enjoying some stormy weather

Though the primary project is not yet done, I am very much enjoying some unexpected storms this evening (okay late night), which almost compensate for being away from the build site..

I simply love what others call "foul weather."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Still away from the site

I am growing increasingly frustrated with being away from the site, knowing that I am missing a great time to be building, however I must be realistic, knowing that since this is the one step I cannot do myself, the dig that is, that I must work to pay for it. I am also fulfilling a promise to my mother, to design and remodel one house for her once she retired. A short while more and it will be nearly complete. Perhaps one more trip in the fall and I will have not only the entire interior, but the remaining exterior landscape design as well.

On the upside, I am further developing my agorist life by accepting more work in yet another city, which will happen after a stay back on site during which time I hope to get the rest of the earth (read "rock") moving done, so I can begin the build for real.

Spent the evening with some dear friends and two beautiful young ladies.. A fun night was had by all.. one of those rare great days..

Hopefully not too long and I will be back on site..

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Freedom of Movement

I know that I have been quite bad about keeping up posts while I am traveling, and for that I apologize. For the most part there is little to inspire me as I am in my old stomping grounds, doing a great deal of work, and of course thus I am making no progress on the homestead.

That doesn't mean that I stop everything though..

Tonight I was catching up on a blog I have read for some time about a gal and her husband living off grid. Many of the posts are quite helpful, even where I disagree with the approach she takes, for she documents some of the experiments that they are undertaking. I've been inspired by a few, sought out research from others, but the latest two are not only not helpful, sadly they are hateful.

That in and of itself is rather trivial of course, though it is saddening. What prompted me to write tonight is the issue on which these hateful posts addressed. They were emotional appeals to bigotry and the power of the state. They embraced an attitude better fitting the USSR than the tradition of the US. In essence they called for a new Iron Curtain to come to be around the US to keep out the undesirables (tan people).

So to this attitude, I pose a few simple questions: Where in the Constitution is the federal government granted the power and "authority" to close the borders?

If the government is to have the "authority" to regulate movement, then do you oppose internment camps? If so, on what principle as you have abandoned any right to movement?

What about the ideals of the sovereignty of the individual? What about reason? What about honesty, compassion, tolerance?

And finally, why on earth do you want to decrease the standard of living not only for the immigrants, but for virtually all of us here? Restaurants would have to shut their doors by the hundreds.. Housing would be so expensive none but the wealthiest could afford it.. what manufacturing that remains would disappear.

So if you are going to rant about immigrants, you must either be inconsistent, else drop the economic claims, the pretense of any appreciation and respect for the founding of the US, any hope of moral justification, and of course any hint of the basic respect for persons that is necessary under morality. With all of that removed, all that will be left is the bigotry and hatred bared for all to see.

IF that shames you, or the suggestion angers you, then rather than lash out at others, why not drop the hatred and bigotry in favor of reasonableness, compassion, justice, and economic prosperity?

All individuals are inherently morally worthwhile, regardless of sex, skin color, language spoken, even religious leaning (at least until they act on it, such as the Crusades).

Support liberty, not internment camps regardless of how large the fence is..

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Remodel update

The new floor is in on the Great American Desert kitchen/living room remodel. Took longer than I wanted, but it looks great. Next step is the finish work, caulking, shoe molding, touch up shellac on the existing trim, etc. Then back onto the island design/creation.

Sounds like everything is pretty well ready to go on my own build once I return. With luck the month plus I will be back on site will lead to several posts going up, and perhaps even a couple of roof girders going into place. Because of the all too necessary work schedule, I expect to be building into the fall this year, but as long as I can get it closed in, and get a wood stove installed, I will be spending the winter in my own home, rather than in my tiny caravan.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Brief update

I am still working in the great american desert.. The remodel has grown, and I have thankfully picked up a little more paying work to help cover the costs of the U-house build. The main project is coming along nicely and will result in a modest home looking exceptional, a goal I often have with my work.

Finished The Old Man and the Sea.. good, interesting, but lacked some of the depth of some of the other Hemingway works..

Monday, April 12, 2010

Slavery seeking control freaks?

In one of the many blogs I read there was an entry about a clever way to try to get around the social pressure, and sometimes actual rules against... wait for it.. those evil clotheslines.. Er, what? Clotheslines? Really? There are people who have so little going on in their lives that they hate clotheslines?

Well, yes. Sadly I actually know some people for whom this is an important issue. Why? I cannot fathom why...

However it comes down to control pure and simple. All rational persons want a measure of control over their lives. To be rational in the most basic sense means to seek to avoid the five basic harms: Death, pain, loss of freedom, loss of ability, and loss of pleasure. Yes there are times when it is rational to trade off one for the other (when the pain is too great, it is rational to seek death) but without going into the complexities of how these all can relate, we are safe in recognizing that we all seek to avoid these five harms. This is normal, and is behavior found in all moral agents..

But somewhere along the lines in our culture we have gone FAR beyond these basics. We tend to seek to control every aspect of our lives.

So how do we get from clotheslines to seeking to control every aspect of our lives? Well the only complaint about clotheslines is that someone (either the complainer or someone else) may actually see the clothesline.. So the complaint really spelled out is that such persons want to control not only every aspect of their own lives so as to avoid those five basic harms, but they want to go so far as to control the very particular photons which may come into contact with their eyes! Worse yet, they want to control the photons which may come into contact with the eyes of others...

They want this control so badly that they seek to be controlled so as to never be faced with the possibility of others not being controlled.. This is at the core the only explanation for governments, including but certainly not limited to Home Owner Associations...

If that is not frightening to you.... well, honestly I have no idea what to say other than to say that I wish to control no one, nor do I ever want to be controlled.

People, learn to respect others enough to allow them to live their lives.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Working again.

After all of the delays on my own build, it is nice to actually make progress on something once again. Currently I am working on a kitchen remodel, which includes removing two walls, new cabinets, new flooring, and a custom island. The walls came down today, with all of the lumber, except for one piece about two feet long, being salvaged for future projects or as needed on this project. The door frame is becoming part of the island/bar, and all of the wiring, except for one outlet, is also being re purposed into the island or along another wall, so as to make it more usable and to save on the cost of sub-contractors.

The homeowner has given me almost carte blanche to design the space as I see fit, as long as I also do it on a very tight budget. All in all a fun project that will have a great deal of impact when it is complete.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


It's been a while since I have done any traveling, and though I am certainly not going anywhere exotic, I do leave tomorrow for the Great (??) plains.. Wheat fields and evolution deniers here I come..

If you know me, and live in doodah, give me a call or write.. I'd like to catch up.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Tough few days

Its been busy here in the Backwoods of Hell..

Between planting the garden, adding rice hulls for mulch around all of the plants, including the berry bushes put in a few weeks ago, getting ready to travel to do a kitchen remodel job in Kansas, getting seedlings started, and of course taking care of cattle, I've had little time to myself, except for the long nights when I have not been sleeping...

But what has really made this a tough time is that in the small herd I am caring for, we lost a calf a few days go, and then his mother today. It is incidents like this, where you lose an animal, despite your best efforts, that make me wonder if I will ever be able to raise any livestock myself. It may well be that I simply do not have the demeanor for it. Time will tell..

Friday, March 26, 2010

Looking around me now

Part of the blog and part of the reason for this journey is to reflect on living intentionally, a concept which has stuck with me for more than 20 years now in various forms. One of the earliest was from the Rush song Time Stand Still.

I'll let it speak for itself here:

Time Stands Still

I turn my back to the wind
To catch my breath
Before I start off again.
Driven on without a moment to spend
To pass an evening with a drink and a friend

I let my skin get too thin
I'd like to pause
No matter what I pretend
Like some pilgrim
Who learns to transcend
Learns to live as if each step was the end

(Time stand still)
I'm not looking back
But I want to look around me now
(Time stand still)
See more of the people and the places that surround me now
Time Stands still
Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each sensation a little bit stronger
Experience slips away
Experience slips away

Time Stands still

I turn my face to the sun
I Close my eyes
Let my defences down
All those wounds that I can't get unwound

I let my past go too fast
No time to pause
If I could slow it all down
Like some captain, whose ship runs aground
I can wait until the tide comes around

(Time stand still)
I'm not looking back
But I want to look around me now
(Time stand still)
See more of the people and the places that surround me now
Freeze this moment a little bit longer


Make each impression, a little bit stronger
Freeze this motion a little bit longer
The innocence slips away
The innocence slips away...

Time stands still
Time stands still

I'm not looking back
But I want to look around me now
See more of the people and the places that surround me now
Time stands still

Summer's going fast, nights growing colder
Children growing up, old friends growing older
Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each sensation a little bit stronger
Experience slips away
Experience slips away...
The innocence slips away.

Rainy days

The break in the weather which allowed me to get all of the lumberjack work done is apparently over. Sure the temperatures are much improved for the most part, but now we are getting rain. This is not all bad as Rancher Bob's pastures were in need of some moisture so that he can get a good hay crop this summer. The rain also helps the cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and other plants I put out at his wife's insistence though it is about two weeks early by my own guide. After getting amazing harvests from a short lived garden in Austin before I had to move, I am completely sold on the methods found in:

How to Grow More Vegetables: A... How to Grow More Vegetables: And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine
by John Jeavons

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring? Says who?

After several days of almost perfect weather, something never seen here in the Backwoods of Hell*, winter has returned. As I type this there is snow and sleet falling, almost certainly with the sole intention of killing the 60-80 cabbage and cabbage family plants I just put into the ground yesterday...

Began planning for the next work trip, a kitchen remodel in Kansas. I loathe putting off working on my own build project, but money is getting rather tight, and this is a job which was in the pipeline for some time. So I will have about a month away from the site starting around the 4th of April. When I return, I intend to be a pain to the backhoe operator until he gets out and does the few hours of work I need so that I can begin the actual building phase.

With an increase in the size and number of timbers I have available, I have revised the plans yet again, though these are minor modifications. I have removed all interior posts that are not already in the few interior walls, and I have decided to double up many of the posts on the outer walls, just to make the job of finding shoring materials even easier. I believe also that this increase in posts on the exterior walls, will offset the effects of having very large (two feet in diameter) timbers running overhead. There are also other advantages, such as the ease with which shelves can be built between posts, but those are all secondary at best.

Though I still cannot begin developing my own garden yet, since the site needs more sculpting, I've been focusing on developing the garden schedule. Essentially I am applying the methods and recommendations from John Jeavons (How to grow more vegetables..) to this climate, noting dates of planting from frost dates, as well as some companion planting. Hopefully come next spring I will have the beds created, soil very amended, compost system set up, and a simple plan for growing more than enough food for myself, and to barter for that which I either cannot or do not wish to grow.

I've ordered three hazelnut bushes from the Arbor Day Foundation, and may well order a few more though they are supposed to be very good producers. The plan for these is to offer up some wildlife food, as well as plenty of nuts for me as well.

With the weather turning nasty again, I returned to the internet for some of the projects I have been putting off. I finally ordered the few necessary pieces of equipment and supplies I have needed to get back into brewing beer again. Call it channeling the spirit of Edward Abbey... A new 185,000 BTU burner, some caps, and a new stainless steel brew pot are all on their way.

I am now debating ordering more wine supplies, since I saw a kit for making trebbiano, a wonderful very dry Italian white wine that unfortunately is not found often as a varietal, but rather is usually blended with other grapes. This being one of my favorites, and the kits being just about half price I am finding the temptation quite strong, though so far frugality is still wining.. for now..

With luck, we will have only one day of this nastiness, then back to warmer nice weather.. If not, I may actually get through my inside chore list..

*I'll explain this reference in a later post..

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Window farms

While going through the blogroll today, I came across a post which linked to a site promoting "window farms" . The basic concept is to grow some of your food indoors, using your window as the source of light, and a simple hydroponic system for the plants.

One of the really great aspects of this project is that it is all open source and focuses on easy frugal and practical solutions.

That said, some of the rhetoric on the site does make it clear that they buy into the nonsense coming out of IPCC and Al Gore concerning anthopormorphic climate change, virtually all of which has been thoroughly debunked at the most basic level (google "climategate" or just read The Deniers).

Still, their hearts are in the right place, and unlike the IPCC, they do seem to be focused on real results. Will growing a few herbs and other veg in your windows radically change the world? Nope.. but it could be a great way to get high quality, otherwise expensive produce for pennies, while enjoying better flavor and nutrition as well.

So while I find the idea intriguing, and while I may well try it out myself, one question is nagging at me, prompted by some of the aforementioned rhetoric:

We know that indoor air quality, especially in apartment buildings and urban housing, is terrible.
We know that many if not most of the materials used in such housing out gas significant amounts of toxins.

Won't those same toxins be picked up by the plants which we will be eating?

A sort of typical day

Fed cows
Went to town to get feed and minerals
Did grocery shopping
Tilled garden
Fed cows
Showered up at the big house
Fed cows
Ate leftovers

and now.. computer time.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

From 106 to 160, now with photos!

Last day of timbering for a while, I believe. I cleaned up the dozed area, gathering in several more timbers along the way. When I started staging the timbers last week, I had 106 stacked that had to be moved to this staging area. Today ended with 160 stacked in two different staging areas. This photo is of the secondary area, and of only some of the new timbers taken from the dozed acreage. There are 43 timbers in the photo to be precise.. ranging from about 5 inches in diameter to over a foot in diameter. The really big ones are at the primary site, of which I have no photos as of yet.

Monday, March 15, 2010

More timbering and foraging

With the spring rains holding off, I've taken advantage of the dry fields and hills to pick up timbers I had already cut, and stack them into another staging area, as well as to get some timbers from last year that never made it to the original pre-staging area. On top of these timbers, I harvested another 30 foot hard wood timber which is always exciting to have fall.. Still I successfully got it to the primary staging area safe and sound. The gaining of this timber eliminates the need for any posts in the middle of any room in the house. The design method I am using for the build calls for posts every 8 feet, but the timbers used in his examples are all softwoods, which are notorious for their less than stellar performance as beams given their lower sheer strength.

In my own build I am using all hardwoods for beams and girders, and I am increasing the girth from his suggestions (10") to in some cases a full 24"! Even at 18" which is about as small as these girders are on the narrow end, they can carry far more weight than the suggested 10" pine or cedar timbers.

I am using cedars however, as their compression strength is wonderful, as is their resistance to rot and insects. So all of the posts are cedar timbers, some of these also approaching 2 feet in diameter.

So with that in mind it is easy to see why another massive 30 foot hard wood timber would be cause for celebration!

Along with the tedious gathering up of timbers and staging them, I have had a little chance for some more basic foraging and some gleaning as well. I foraged some wild garlic (which I suspect is some other plant actually, but it tastes more like garlic than anything else..) and hen bit, though not enough of the latter yet for a meal. Then this afternoon after I finished feeding cattle and moving timbers, I checked on the garden where there were a few pitiful looking turnips left over.. which turned into a delightful dish of turnips and greens, with butter and some cajun seasoning..

Another day or so and I will have picked up all of the timbers I can for the time being.. which means back to waiting for the backhoe to get out here to finish up the excavation so the build can finally begin in earnest.

*** I have finally found the cable which connects the camera to the computer so pictures will be forthcoming, though Windoze does not recognize the device, I am sure that linux will..***

Friday, March 12, 2010

First Forage of the season

Scored an incredible find, all from simply being helpful! Some neighbors were unloading cinder blocks and I saw no reason not to stop and help make the job a little easier. While transferring them from the trailer to an utility vehicle, I noticed what really looked like chives. This would not be out of place except that these were quite a ways from their garden area and certainly were not organized.

Well a couple of days later while checking the beaver traps, also for that same neighbor, I noticed more of these chive looking plants near the pond.. Finally, I checked and sure enough these plants are wild chives! I asked the neighbors and they were delighted that I wanted to take some. They directed me to an even larger patch of the chives, and though I am not really ready to plant anything on my site yet, as there is some sculpting of the hillside left to do, I dug up several plants and transplanted them to an area which won't be disturbed.

Then this morning to go along with the lunch of rice and beans, I picked a good handful of chives to add to the meal.. nothing short of delightful.

Once established, I should have enough chives to keep me quite satisfied, which is not easy to do..

Monday, March 08, 2010

More timbers, and a book review

Moved onto the last of the primary staged timbers today. Managed to get about half of the last stack moved to the secondary site before the rains began. Had two timbers which seemed pretty normal, though admittedly they are hardwoods, which turned out to be extra-ordinarily heavy. They alone caused me to drop the tractor down a gear while moving them. A temporary annoyance, but nice in the long run as these will make fine roof supports.

Rain will put all progress on hold for the time being, as the secondary staging area quickly turns to mud as it was just cleared of trees last fall.

I finished:
Legends, Lies, and Cherished M... Legends, Lies, and Cherished Myths of American History
by Richard Shenkman

And.. well give this one a pass. The author repeatedly relies upon biased and questionable sources, ignored some of the most obvious myths (like that Lincoln cared about slaves, he didn't according to his own letters) and for some strange reason referred to some of his sources as good "Marxist historians." Last I checked marxism is a pseudo-economic system, not a scientific or historical methodology..

Saturday, March 06, 2010

61 of 106

After today's moving efforts, I have 61 of the 106 timbers stacked. This leaves just over one of the four stacks, the one containing all hardwoods, left at the primary staging area. If the weather cooperates I will try to get that moved tomorrow, then if there is time left, round up some of the timbers that are laying down cut to length in the bulldozed area of Rancher Bob's land.

Obviously this is a slow process. Keep in mind that the timbers are various diameters and lengths, and not all will move down the road the same. The primary staging area is a half mile from the secondary staging area, and every trip is made by me on a tractor either dragging or carrying timbers. Some trips will have only one timber, if it is particularly large, others will have as many as 5 if they are smaller and will hold together as a unit (this is rare).

But I keep telling myself that this is one step closer..

One advantage of this move is that I am better able to organize the timbers so that the ones I need first (posts and girders) can be stacked together so that I do not have to tear down entire stacks in order to get to one needed timber. Hopefully this bit of organization will save me time and headaches come build time.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

More Books (15-16)

Finished the first of these several days back, though it was too painful to even think about until now. I am speaking of

Not since reading "The Accident" (Author unknown) have I come across a book that is so deserving of destruction. The author clearly has never studied any philosophy, logic, or ethics, and dismisses all who do as mere pointless musers or some such nonsense.

Why does he do this? It appears so he can try to pull the wool over the eyes of those who might read the book.

While he claims that the "golden rule" is the only moral guide, and is a perfect one, he fails to actually apply his own rule in any sensible way. Unlike those mere muddlers, those condemned "thinkers" who actually consider whether a claim is true or an approach practical, he ignores all of the counter-examples to his claims, that is to say all of those countless cases where the "golden rule" actually tells us to do either the wrong thing, or something which cannot be moral at all (such as being "obligated" to buy all of the encyclopedias from the traveling salesman who comes to your door, this is required by the "golden rule" but is not in fact morally obligatory).

His entire pop-(non)philosophy book (nearly a pamphlet) assumes that you are going to do the right thing already. If you aren't then the golden rule is worthless, especially as he describes its application. If you are going to do the right thing anyway, then his rule can only lead you astray or offer nothing at all.

The book serves only purpose only: to make the author money at the expense of ethics and knowledge. Avoid this one and go to something of value!

Fortunately the next book was much better.

Voyage From Yesteryear Voyage From Yesteryear
by James P. Hogan

Hogan is one of the most solid sci-fi authors, and as he shows in this book, a truly gifted thinker as well. He crafts a story which involves a few novel approaches to not merely colonization but development of society, along the way also showing how a peaceful people who embrace responsibility and liberty (cannot have one without the other after all) can defend themselves through almost exclusively voluntary non-violent action, reserving a physical response only against the most dire and determined threat to innocents.

This one is a joy to read in this time of economic and political turmoil where daily we see reports on the every growing police state. To be reminded that peaceful existence is not only possible, but practical and in fact necessary to our continued existence, helps us keep going in light of all that is going on around us.

I believe that this makes numbers 15 and 16 of the 50 books effort..

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


More progress on the slow build..

Spent some hours today moving the stacks of timbers, and organizing them at the same time, to the next staging area. I need to get all of them out of the hay pasture so that when I start using them I am not destroying the much needed hay, nor the wildlife habitat I will be developing this year.

I managed to get the two 30 footers moved and stacked, along with 12 others. Some of these had to be dragged along the road, which served to remove any deteriorating wood as well as any bark left on the timbers.

I will likely spend the next couple of days, doing more of the same until all of the stacks of timbers are moved to the staging area. Then I need to collect the timbers from the cleared over area, assuming that it has dried out enough to get in there with a tractor. Earlier this week I managed to get a utility vehicle stuck in that area when it slipped into a sink hole where a tree used to be. Tractors are far more prone to getting stuck so I have to be particularly careful.

Still it is nice to once again be working towards having a home.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


A good day to receive.. 

Today brought with it five books, and a few dvd's courtesy of a friend who thankfully is supplementing my entertainment.. The dvds are of mixed shows and movies that he thought that I would enjoy.

The books are: 

   Forge of Heaven (The Gene Wars, Book 2)
by C.J. Cherryh 

Giants' Star (Giants Trilogy, Book 3)
by James P. Hogan

The Heritage of Chinese Civilization
by Albert M. Craig

Legends, Lies, and Cherished Myths of American History
by Richard Shenkman

The great wine blight
by George Ordish

The first two will being part of a series will force me to pick up the earlier books in the series, but from these authors I can be confident that it will be worth it. The rest should appease my history hankering for a while. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Composting Toilet

Prompted by a problem in the sewer tank/line of the caravan, perhaps caused by the cold weather, I am faced with the option of tackling this problem head on, in the cold and nastiness, else to leap forward in my plans for a composting toilet. Hm.. work on a difficult to access, unpleasant, and cold sewer system without instructions or any guarantee of being able to resolve the problem, OR get two five gallon buckets, fill one with rice hulls, and thus begin the journey to being a total composter.. Bob I'd like to take door number 2, thanks.. 

So this is just what I did yesterday. I got two of my five gallon buckets and set them up in the tiny bathroom of the caravan to replace the now non-functioning toilet connected to a septic tank. Once a week or as necessary I will take the full bucket to the house site and empty it into what will become my compost pile. The system is quite simple and has already proved to be effective with regard to keeping odors at bay. You do your business in the bucket, no different than any other toilet, then cover the leavings with sufficient cover material, in my case rice hulls, to completely hide the deposit. This is enough to keep odors from developing. 

In a year or so, the compost pile will have broken down to the point of being fine, rich compost without any hint of the original source of organic matter. All without the deadly chemicals used in city sewer systems, and all without wasting one drop of potable water. Instead of being a detriment to the environment, this system will provide a boost to plants, insects, and certainly microbial life, which in turn will provide a boost to animal life as well. 

Though I am using a bare bones system currently, I am looking forward to building a fine throne in the U-home, so as to give a juxtaposition between the beautiful furniture and the function of the piece. 

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I am experimenting with a brief hiatus from the net. Other than email, I skipped the net yesterday and most of today. Decided to post this update, as it pertains to keeping my sanity, moving forward on the homestead, and the desire to not have any anchors.. 

Though like many, I enjoy a great deal my explorations online, and though I do have luddite tendencies, I am not currently condemning the net as a whole, nor even a particular aspect of it. Rather I awoke yesterday to find myself disinterested in it, and so decided to run with that experiment. 

I am sure that I will soon find cause to order something online, or to visit some sites I value, and of course I will be continuing this blog, but for the short term I am going off line to enjoy the company of a friend from China, the fine weather we are enjoying, and a bit more of "real" life. Who knows what I may learn, and what I may learn about myself in this brief experiment. 

Monday, February 15, 2010


Well finished The Sword of Behleu by Watt-Evans.. it is one of his earlier works and shows it. Interesting but not compelling or really of much note. I'll probably seek out the rest of the series, but more out of having a good deal of time on my hands than out of any real connection with the story.

Snowed again.. the snow and mud are getting old..

I am back to writing again, both essays and some lyrics/poetry. Feels good..

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lucky Book 13

Just finished the thirteenth book of the year.. An Agorist Primer An Agorist Primer
by Samuel Edward Konkin III

This is a must read. I have included it in my 100 must read books on GoodReads.com and consider it to be one of the most concise critiques of the state I've come across. SEK3 speaks clearly as to the nature of the state, and why liberty is not merely morally required, inherently valuable, but also practical.

He derides the minarchists, the Libertarian Party, and others for abandoning the core principle of refraining from harm to others, which calling out those in power for the very nature of their actions. He makes a point I have in all humility only seen made before by myself: every action taken without consideration of any law, or through the threat of violence is an act of anarchy. SEK calls it an act of agorism, but the point is the same.

"Agorism" refers to the greek "agora" for "market," but don't mistake this as an endorsement of all business or of corporations. Not in the least, instead this is a reference to the voluntary nature of these institutions of spontaneous order where individuals get together to make the lives of one another better through free exchange of goods and services.

Whether "Agorist," "Voluntaryist," or "anarchist" the same respect for persons holds.. No one has the right to own any other person. This simple fact necessitates that no state may exist, and no instigation of violence can be moral.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A moment of weakness

This evening, being tired and a bit eye sore from reading, I finally gave in and watched a DVD given to me months ago. It is Elizabeth, which was apparently nominated for 7 academy awards.

I spent the whole movie, about 7 hours near as I could tell, wondering when the notable performances would appear. Geoffry Rush was quite good, I will admit, but sadly the story and the rest of the cast were so flat as to make ten day old 7-up left on the counter appear vibrant and full of fizz..

I recall that this movie received much the same buzz as Titanic and other "successful" Helliwood movies.. and I see why: it is complete crap.

The actors and actresses are normally good, and I don't hold it against them, but this movie did them a disservice. If you are given the opportunity to watch it, I recommend choosing virtually any other activity.

I want my 7 hours back..

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Food Forests and Hemingway

The weather has not cooperated much lately, consisting mostly of cold rains. So my time has alternated between getting soaked while feeding cattle, and stripping off to try to stay warm until next time I had to go out to feed cattle.

During the times spent drying off and getting warm, I have been following the rabbit trail of links on permaculture and food forests. The basic concept of a food forest is to create seven natural levels of the forest with various complementary plants which will provide harvestable food with minimal care. In fact the food forest is a type of no-dig gardening once established.

Now before I get too far into any explanation, I have to admit that I have only just begun to really start to think about, learn about, and consider the concept, so I am not really in a position to provide any more than that basic explanation.

So off I go again on a book search, this time to find a really good book on food forests in the hopes of being able to create a wonderful environment of mixed edibles, from fruit and nuts, all the way down to potatoes growing at the base of these trees and shrubs..

And speaking of books, I have just finished Hemingway's Snows of Kilamanjaro. It was a slow read and most of the stories just were not compelling, unlike his longer works. However, that cannot be said of the last short story in the book: The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. This one read like Hemingway at his best. This one story justifies keeping the book (not that I ever need much justification for that!) and certainly will keep me reading through the Hemingway library.

So that makes book number.. 12 if my count is right.

I am already reading The Sword of behleu by Lawrence Watt-Evans, which is about half completed. Hopefully the Agorist Primer comes in soon as it seems time for a non-fiction work, though to be honest a history of some sort, such as a history of science is really more the flavor of what I am in the mood for. Well that or something on food forests of course..

Friday, February 05, 2010

Dolly is back!!

In the world of frugality and self reliance there is one person who shines brighter than virtually all others. She is Dolly Freed. Don't know her? Well you probably did not grow up in the 1970's when she wrote the runaway best selling book Possum Living.

I came across this book a few years back, and like so many others I immediately fell in love with it. It is on my 100 must read books on Goodreads.com and one I recommend to anyone with even the slightest interest in intentional living, frugality, self-sufficiency, homesteading, gardening, or really just living. Dolly and her father lived without jobs in the suburbs in Pennsylvania, so they were not back to the landers, as were common in the 70's. They were not survivalists, like the Y2K-ers or the media image of militias. They simply lived for what is important: life itself.

A couple of years back I was wondering what happened to Dolly, who was illegally home schooled, which obviously worked since she wrote her book when she was merely 18. I searched the net, and though at the time you could find copies of her book available free online, no one seemed to know what Dolly did after the book, the talk shows, and the documentary. Well now we know because she is back!

On her site, possumliving.net, you can read her blog, get a copy of the reprinted book, get recipes, and follow the new press about her.

In these difficult times, just as in the 70's (though I predict ultimately far far worse) we need all of the examples like Dolly to remind us that we can live, and not merely live but thrive by living intentionally, living smart, and valuing what is truly important.

Welcome back Dolly!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

So you want to be a Cowboy?

Well imagine the darkest day you can recall..

now add rain, on top of days of rain in a soil which has no organic matter.

To this mire add slop, and only the bares glimmer of hope..

deny all comforts.. refuse to be warm..
and never expect to be dry..

This is a not so much less normal day for the cowboy.. this is my day..

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Busy Day

The day started early with feeding the cows in what the weather site called "freezing fog." Discovered another new calf, barely born, maybe an hour old..

Walking the neighbor's pond led to a quick trip over to see Captain Rob as the traps were empty but there was a clear path made in the frost from our clever beaver friends.. who I am trying to eat.. :)

From there a quick return to Rancher Bob's place to meet with the fence guys run by the oldest working man in the world. As we were digging the holes for one of the corner posts we hit a septic line, meaning more work for me in the near future. With rain coming on tomorrow, this job will be put off a bit..

Lunch with Mrs. Rancher Bob, then immediately to digging holes for the berry bushes which came in yesterday. With 15 holes dug, I began to prep the holes for plants (Add in manure, dry matter, soil, then plant the plant.. ) This was broken up with feeding the cows again, and then again by collecting more manure for the holes.

Quit planting about 5:00 with 5 more plants to go. Those blackberry plants will just have to wait..

Fed Rancher Bob's dogs, which may not sound like work, but with four dogs, two of which are well over 100 pounds, feeding time can be work..

A bit of dinner, and now I am back in my caravan, exhausted, not quite ready for another busy day tomorrow, but feeling that "good sort of tired."

Still working on The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Hemingway, and I am truly sad to say that it does not measure up to his novels. I have enjoyed only one of the short stories, "In Another Country" with others ranging form okay to very forgettable. I have certainly not given up on Hemingway, but I will lean towards his novels more than short stories now I believe. There are only two stories left in this collection with which he may change my mind.. we will see.

I am also reading The Sword of Bheleu by Lawrence Watt-Evans. Not his best work, but interesting and readable.

Thus ends a rather busy day.. and somehow no progress on my own home, though some plans made for the future..

Monday, February 01, 2010


The world will change when you are ready to pronounce this oath:
I swear by my Life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man,
nor ask another man to live for the sake of mine.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tragedy of the Commons averted

With the ice storm itself past, the time for clean up began. The weight of the ice and snow was simply too much for many trees, resulting in fallen limbs, trunks broken, and many of the younger pines bent double.

Even though property taxes are always on the rise, and despite the promises of the county, the roads are never kept up. So this unowned land, the road itself, normally suffers from the tragedy of the commons: no one takes care of it.

In some ways I don't blame the folks who live on the road, because after all they had their own property stolen supposedly for the upkeep of the roads. But even so, I cannot help but take the opportunity to show how liberty, and thus responsibility, works.

So I took it upon myself to travel the road the entire way to the blacktop clearing trees and limbs along the way. I did not need to head to town myself, or even go out to the black top really, but I wanted the road clear in case I needed to go at some point. So rather than wait on "services" that will never come, I chose to set an example. Hopefully we can start a trend now with all of the neigbors pitching in to maintain the road ourselves if for no other reason than we use it and would all like a road in better condition than the one we currently deal with.

Liberty can work if we give it half a chance..

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Shadow Roads

Just finished The Shadow Roads, by Sean Russell. This is the conclusion of his Swan War trilogy.

Okay enough of the book report format.. I've said before that Sean Russell is more a great story teller than simple writer of fantasy. His works are understated, yet detailed. They are engrossing, yet well paced. This trilogy is no exception. One of the marks of a truly good story is that you are sad that it is over, even when the story ends on an up note. Well, I won't claim that this is a tidy, perfect Hollywood ending, as some things are left unresolved, but they are unresolved in the sort of ways that love and life are so often not so easily resolved. That said, I am still sad to have the story end. Like the addict jonesing for the next hit, I just want to pick up just one more book in the series, then I'll be ready to quit.. I mean it this time..

At this moment I don't know what will be the next book.. It is very early morning as I write this (about 1:30 am) but as is so often the case when I finish a book, I am not quite ready to sleep.. so maybe I'll start another..

While I do not know what will be next, I do know the latest addition to the stack:

An Agorist Primer
by Samuel Edward Konkin III

"If you've ever wondered what Agorism is or why it is the next step in the evolution of libertarian theory and practice, then this introductory volume is exactly what you've been seeking. Told with clear and concise prose, An Agorist Primer is exactly that — a primer on all the important aspects of Agorism and Counter-Economics: how they work together to enable you to free yourself and expand freedom to your friends, family, and the world!"

Rain turning to Ice.

Just after midnight and I am still awake, not an uncommon occurance to tell the truth. However tonight it is because I am enjoying the sound of rain on the all too thin roof of my little caravan. The forecast is for rain all night, turning to freezing rain and ice.. The last two are not really all that welcome as I have to get out to play cowboy in the morning, but then again they will give the landscape a new facade which is nearly always welcomed.

Listening to the rain fall on the roof will be one of life's great joys that I will be sacrificing for the everyday comfort of a home in the earth. With up to two feet of soil on my roof, I won't hear the tattoo of the rain hitting a tin roof as I enjoy now. I've considered options to give me this sound, so welcome it is, but so far none have made it into the plan..

There is something comforting about weather which limits us, which changes our plans or choices. While in Canada one winter, the forecast called for several feet of snow, on top of the four feet of snow already on the ground. My hosts were prepared since that was not an unusual forecast for them, so the house was warm, food was plentiful, but all plans for travel were cancled. It made for a better environment. A shared experience, a shared “tribulation” or challenge. It removed almost all of the modern world, putting us back in the situation of just providing warmth and food. Granted because of the planning of my hosts this was not much of a challenge, but rather a friendly reminder of what once was and could be again.

To a lesser extent a good rain has a similar effect. We want to stay dry, so we avoid going out in the rain. We find ways around what we do not have, or what we “needed” before the rain started. We face a new challenge, cut off, however slightly, from others who are beyond the veil of the rain.

Perhaps it is my love of solitude, or that of a challenge, or perhaps my cynicism on modern culture, or maybe, and I believe this to be the case, it is a sincere love of nature and weather which drives me to stay up late simply listening to the rain, or rising early to test the new snow... Regardless, this is one area I probably won't examine too closely, just to make sure that the magic of extreme weather is not chased away by the bright light of reason..

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Books to date this year:
The Integral Trees (Mass Market Paperback) by Larry Niven The Integral Trees Niven, Larry

The Smoke Ring (Mass Market Paperback) by Larry Niven The Smoke Ring Niven, Larry

Niven is truly one of the greats. His imagination is unique, his writing enticing, and the stories interesting.

The Deep Beyond: Cuckoo's Egg / Serpent's Reach (Union-Alliance ... by C.J. Cherryh The Deep Beyond: Cuckoo's Egg / Serpent's Reach Cherryh, C.J.*

Cherryh too is one of the greats, able to drift between sci-fi and fantasy doing wonders in both.

On the Shortness of Life (Penguin Great Ideas) by Lucius Annaeus Seneca On the Shortness of Life Seneca, Lucius Annaeus

The Golden Sayings - Epictetus (online book)

Enchiridion Enchiridion
by Epictetus

I began reading Seneca first (these are in no particular order) as I have for years wondered where I could find his "smoky room" argument for suicide. Well after speeding through Seneca, I discovered wholly by accident that the "smoky room" argument is not his at all, but belongs to another stoic, Epictetus. I immediately ordered Enchiridion, but could not wait so read the gutenburg online book The Golden Sayings. Here I found the "smoky room" argument for suicide, but it turned out that I already knew the entire thing: When the room gets to smoky, I shall leave through the door..

Still the stoics are wonderful reads, very contemporary surprisingly. They understand that we choose our emotions, and that others cannot force us to feel anything we choose not to feel emotionally. Taking this sort of responsibility for our actions and reactions frees us, but also allows us to grow as individuals while embracing the best emotions of life.

The next step on this particular path for me is either more stoics, else into the cynics..

The One Kingdom (The Swans' War, book 1) by Sean Russell The One Kingdom (The Swans' War, book 1) Russell, Sean
The Isle of Battle (The Swans' War, book 2) by Sean Russell The Isle of Battle (The Swans' War, book 2) Russell, Sean

Sean Russell is less a fantasy writer than he is simply a truly gifted writer. I honestly believe that he could given a bit of time, and the market for it, be ranked along side some of the most notable names in literature.

The Sun Also Rises (Hardcover) by Ernest Hemingway
The Sun Also Rises Hemingway, Ernest

And speaking of the most notable names in literature.. Hemingway is one I came to only in the last several years, in part because of the reputation. So often that which is supposed to be great is disappointing. Not so with Hemingway. In some ways he reminds me of Tolstoy, but where Tolstoy is often as dark as a shadow on a cloudy night, Hemingway tends to be more like the darkness of a forest which is often broken by dappled light, and the occasional clearing.. Both are wonderful, and similar, but still unique.

Growing and Canning Your Own Food by Jackie Clay

This was a book I had intended to purchase over the hellidays, but put off because I was told that I would have full access and probably be given, several books on canning and preserving foods. Ironically the person whose books those are was given this book by some neighbors. I happened to be over there yesterday to care for a loving but challenging dog (a boxer.. ) when I noticed this book on the coffee table. I dove into it, not stopping until I had read all of the book, except for a few pages on butchering your own beef.. While I am not opposed to it, I know that I fail to have adequate storage space for a whole beef. I have to say that while it gives some recipes, and some killing and butchering methods, as well as how to can various foods from meat, to vegetables, to fruits, and even dried goods, Clay is able to explain it all in terms a novice can understand without going into anything arcane or truly challenging. You might find some greater detail or certainly more recipes elsewhere, but this is a wonderful primer and bible for canning.

I will try to review books as I finish them, so that from this point forward the books will be in order of completion, and there will be more detail for each book.. From the past year, in which I have truly been delving into reading more than I have since graduate school at least, I expect that fiction will still be the majority of the titles, followed by philosophy, political issues, economics and history. Interspersed will be books on homesteading, gardening, foraging (though do I really need more books on foraging?? Need, no. Want.. oh hell yeah..), and other subjects related to self-sufficiency. There may well be some on electrical work and off grid power generation as I am working on building my own off grid power station. (Wind, solar, and generator back up) .

Too good to pass up

Okay let me lead off with the fact that I am not a fan of either rap or youtube.. that said this little gem was just too good to pass up, after all how often do you see any song about economics?

YouTube - "Fear the Boom and Bust" a Hayek vs. Keynes Rap Anthem

For more on the Austrian School of economics, the only description of economics which actually makes sense, works, and does not require massive and always increasing debt, check out:


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Books and a friend

A friend posted a blog on the goal of reading at least 50 books this year, which admitted struck me as ambitious. Still I respected the goal, and quietly in the back of my mind wondered if I am up to that same task..

Well as we close in on the third week of the year, I am embracing that goal for myself with full credit to my friend. Why you may wonder? Well because I am now on my sixth book of the year which if I kept this pace (unlikely) would put me on pace for closer to 100 books this year.

I have never kept track of how much or little I read, and I will still be excluding from the count the magazines like The Economist, which can take some time to read, or the websites like Wendymcelroy.com which is chock full of material to read..

Still this may be a good experiment for me and I welcome it. It is not a competition with my friend or anyone else, but rather an excuse to keep track of what and how I read for a year.. What comes of it is what comes of it..

In the following days I'll list the books so far..