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 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 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,, 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.