Breathe, Live Simply, Move Slowly

I read somewhere that sometimes trying to create a change or, as some say, having the universe tell you to change, that the indications will come in the form of some kind of pain. The idea that in order to make the change happen, give one determination and to help ensure that it has staying power, one must become so uncomfortable with the current situation that change must happen. I do believe that I we are getting that sort of message.

The next evolution in this great farm adventure is a powering down to a more residential speed limit from the full on throttle of the expressway that has been going on for more than 10 years.

The farm has come along in stages. I have written and spoken with others about the concept of entering “The Last Third” of our lives now that Zina and I have both entered our 60’s. All of the work going forward is now to simplify into our eventual retirement (Zina said I never retired. I just changed jobs). I know from several indications (including my wife’s demeanor – gasp!) that we are entering that phase of our homestead lifestyle. Also, and just as importantly (and it affects my moods as well) is that my body is pretty beat up. I am arthritic from my neck to my ankles. My breakfast friends have named that particular pain inflictor, Arthur (Arthur – itis). It can make life pretty unbearable. The inflammation makes things flair up and all I want to do is sit. Throwing 2000 lbs. of feed bags in a day is getting pretty ridiculous. Therefore, it is time to position ourselves for the phase of enjoyment and contentment in the Shire that we spent so long creating.

Phase 1 of the farm was, of course, to build it. I was compelled by a vision of what it should look like so that it could do almost anything we wished. Check that off the list. Mission accomplished.

Phase 2 was to have all of the rural preps (beyond food and water) available so that we could be safe out here in the sticks from injury, health issues, power outages and storms. Check.

Phase 3 was to use the farm to not only feed us but to feed us into the future. As they say in survivalist parlance, “Stack it to the rafters.” We learned how to dehydrate, can, freeze, ferment, dry pack and freeze dry. The freeze dryer was a game changer. Nothing from the gardens goes to waste anymore. Check. Next was to figure out the best way here to do water catchment. I would still love a below ground cistern, but given that Zina is now in charge of the home renovation projects, the tanks I have will have to suffice. We did find that by putting a livestock water trough heater in the 1000 gallon tank that we were able to keep it from freezing, which could have ruptured the valve that is used as a faucet. There is more to do, but as you will read, we now are to one step at a time and are eliminating the frantic pace of farm construction multitasking. As Tom Brady said after his last game of the season, “I am retiring…. This time for real.”

So now we are on to Phase 4. This stage is the move to simplify, de-clutter and to live at the level of a simmer instead of a full roiling boil; enjoyment instead of prepping and building. This is something I wish I could tell the younger families that have launched out on this homesteading journey. This kind of project can consume you. That isn’t a bad thing considering the screen mesmerized zombies of suburbia, but you MUST be able to see there being an end game to this craziness, or crazy is what it will drive you to become. You need to be able to see where it all ends up eventually so that all the pieces add up to a whole picture instead of a hodgepodge of things that don’t tie together. Planning is as important as having.

Sure, repairs will always be needed and things will need to be maintained, but the build out phase will and must end.

The accumulation phase will also end. If you keep piling things up for different tasks you will never be able to become the master of any of it. You will also have enough and you need to know what that level is. Defensive tools and gates, etc. are finite and will simply need to be maintained. Your pantry will also be filled at some point simply because no one has infinite space. Use it, and when needed, rotate it and replenish it. Use your gardens and buy in bulk to keep things leveled off, but at some point, it will be enough. Use water tank systems to hold water and cycle it out just like the food. Know how to purify it and have filtration systems. We hold around 1100 gallons currently and use the barn roof to catch more. Living in a drought prone area of the country makes this something of a necessity.

This does NOT constitute a complete life – unless of course you lack imagination. If you live this 24/7 I wouldn’t consider you a homesteader or even a simple a hobby farmer, I would classify you as a kind of a first class tinfoil hat wearing prepper. Hyper-vigilance about the crazy state of affairs in the world is one thing, an inability to create, thrive and live contentedly as a result of your efforts is quite another. If you can’t do that… what then is the point?

So our phase 4 then is to focus on the things that give our lives meaning and contentment; to use all of these prepper and homesteading skills (which are, in themselves, significant) to allow for what everyone in this country is always yammering on about: Freedom and Liberty – and I would add even as importantly – creativity and self-expression. Use your off – grid life to do the things in life that you love, without the complete despondence for and complete dependence on, a system that has proven time and time again to not care one bit about you. Use the farmstead, not hide like a scared mouse. Use it to break free of that which Kurt Anderson coined, “The Fantasy Industrial Complex” that you embarked upon all these years ago to escape. Create your safe place, then exploit that safety and self-sufficiency to live a life of purpose and contentment. You get to choose what that is. This is how the creative spirit (or just my receptive brain hating bodily pain) sorted things out for us; taking a roiling boil down to a self-sustaining simmer.

You see, in our case, knowing how to raise and store our own food doesn’t mean that it has to be all consuming in scope. It can be taken back up at any time and for any reason, especially if we see the shelves becoming too thin. It is ok if some of our pastures lay fallow or that the pig pens don’t always have pigs in them. We can do it again in the blink of an eye. It’s not like we will forget how. We are simply choosing to switch to other more creative elements of our lives. So the work this year will still be a LOT of work. It is just to decommission some of it to make way for other things. The turkeys need to be processed along with the stewing birds (all of which got delayed because of this pretty harsh winter we have been in). The layer flock will always need tending (and given the egg shortages is more valuable than the mutual funds I used to utilize)

The pigs, because of the cost of feed now, need to be reduced and then zero’d. BUT, as I say this to the younger of us venturing out, all of these meat and protein sources can be hatched out again or acquired from other breeders whenever we need to. If handled properly, just these sources I mentioned will be a year or more worth of food. I will likely end up freeze drying at least one whole pig. In addition, the greenhouse needs repairing so the gardens will be lighter this year. I do really enjoy having the goats for cheese and soap making so that will be ongoing. The house and the garage need arranging and de-cluttering. But as you can see, all of this is leading to the slow simmer, down from the boiling urgency of the past 10 years. Each subsequent task accomplished should lessen the ongoing tasks overall, thus bringing us down the highway off ramp, feeling the tension release of slowing down and getting back to the residential speed limits of an every day life. Interestingly though, it should still provide us with all the food we need and as such, keep all of this inflation under control. We have the bugs worked out of all of this. Younger homesteaders….. learn from your elders so that you don’t become yet just another flash in the pan.

Zina, WAY more than me, needs more social interaction (Nothing that I can provide). She has also toyed with volunteering, outdoor photography, and seems to have a knack for quilting. Anything hobby-wise works, but it is time to make space for such things. So we are moving to a reduction of some tasks and expenses (pig feed) that once served us so well, but that can now be put on a shelf to be brought back down when needed.

For my part, I need to feel more creative and also feel attentive to the gardens in preference over the livestock for awhile. I toyed with the idea of spinning yarn, but I don’t knit or crochet so I would need to learn how to spin for weaving. That is possible, so we will see if that evolves. In addition to my existing floor loom, I have a curiosity about tapestry weaving – specifically Navajo rugs, so the learning curve here would be never ending. I would also like to produce enough weaving textiles to have inventory to go to local craft fairs. I want to get out my telescopes again. Archery is done I fear. My shoulders hurt too much on an ongoing basis to subject them to that kind of pressure. Cooking and food storage goes without saying. It is one of my talents and it helps to fill the creative spirit niche that we are after here. I will also continue on with my herbalism studies. I have found it to be a lot of fun and quite interesting. I have in my head to build a smokehouse using an old wood stove we have and I love the idea of doing some Permaculture landscaping too. In all of this though, simply going for a walk with the dogs would be enough of a de-stressor to clear my head.

So to those who have asked just how long we think we can keep this up, you were asking the wrong question. The question is, how are you going to “live” at the farm once all the phases have been completed? The answer is that we are here. This new phase – to make the space and physical surroundings for the hobbies and creative endeavors we want in our lives – is here. Right now it is in about a year long transition, but transition it will. Things happen when you develop a plan and then work it. It has been the story of my career and of the farm creation. None of this happened by hook or by crook. If you aim at nothing, nothing is exactly what you will hit.. or worse yet, hit something you didn’t intend. We created a space of safety and self-sufficiency because the writing is sprayed in bright hunter orange all over the walls. Now we can use this behemoth we created to support a contented life in the last third to the highest extent possible. The last phase: Creating Space, is no small task; but it creates a clear vision of what we have been working toward for these strange and adventurous 10 years. After all, if you don’t have an end game to all of this, why bother? 11 years ago we sat on the porch of this dump and Zina said she could really see us retiring here. All of these phases have been the lead up to that point. Far be it for me to let her down.

A Rocky Beginning to 2023

Crisis management seems to be the watchword so far for 2023. We kind of got ripped off with respect to our holiday vacation time. Aaron and I spent about a month prior to Christmas with an absolutely awful case of the flu. According to his test it wasn’t the bat bug, but Influenza A. I don’t really care what you call it, but it came pretty close to landing us up in the hospital. I would have self-diagnosed with a bad case of Bronchitis or even Pneumonia. Zina had time off so she took on the chore tasks and we boys laid around looking and feeling miserable. Before you get all insulting about “Man Flu,” keep in mind that I haven’t been down with any real sickness for 20 years that I can remember. This was pretty awful.

December 31st, 2022 marked the one year anniversary of our puppy, Pepper. I have never been around a dog with more insane energy than she has. She has become quite the sweetie, but OMG is she nuts! She has calmed down somewhat, which is probably that dad’s ferocity is overwhelming her hyper-activity (I’m glad we live out in the country – sailors would be embarrassed). Suffice it to say that she is now a part of the family and has successfully survived her first year here. She absolutely loves to play and gets so excited when we are out feeding that we have to put her in her pen in order to get anything done. However, when one of the boy goats got out of his pasture, Pepper was on the spot and had him back into his proper place in short order.

Leading up to the new year, we had a big ol’ propane delivery truck get stuck in our driveway. We had a big snow and it began to ice up. Of course, they sent him out to us and we got the rookie. 3 hours later, a tow truck capable of pulling a semi, came and got him out. About 5 days later he got in and did his job. Just another of a long list of comedic errors. We even had a visit from the local Sheriff because, well, lets just say, “People. Not a big fan.”

But then it really hit the fan. New Year’s day 2023. Regardless of the season, animals must be fed and cared for. This has been a rough winter weather wise as a result of these “Pineapple Express” snows that have been coming through pretty regularly. It hasn’t gotten very warm so it hasn’t melted away. We have experienced -18 degrees with wind chills of 45 below. The good news is that with the way we have things set up we know that the animals can withstand that cold. All of them, even the pigs, can get out of the elements and hunker down. Many of them naturally huddle together or burrow under straw together so their body heat keeps everyone warm. Farm animals are remarkable critters.

Unfortunately, after all the severe cold was said and done, Zina and Aaron went out to feed on New Year’s day. While I was getting breakfast going, Aaron came in and said that mom said to tell me that Donovan, one of our donkeys, was down in the wet muck in the barn, was shivering and wouldn’t get up. Anyone familiar with equines knows that when an animal is down like that and won’t get up, it isn’t going to be your best day. We initially thought that maybe his feet were frozen, but he had access to clean straw, so why would he lay down in the grunge? We managed to get him up and dried off. He had lost a lot of body heat so everything was kind of a matter of urgency. Zina put a big pile of straw on the floor for him to lay on and down he went again. So that prompted an emergency call to the vet. I could not believe that we got a hold of someone. I guess working with her for 11 years had some pull. Also, she is the lead vet for the donkey shelter we got the boys from 5 years ago. Doctor G got a hold of the shelter and then they all showed up out here! We will forever be grateful that they were around.

The vet and I wrestled Donovan into a stall and proceeded to treat him for what was presenting as Colic….. but, of course, donkeys don’t get colic. The vet went in both ends and then noticed that when he tried to pee, nothing was producing. Which, of course, means a blockage of some kind. She took blood and as the shelter folks had arrived, we took him and his partner Julio, got them on the trailer and evacuated them to the hospital barn at the shelter. The reason Julio went along is because donkeys pair up. If they are separated they can really have adverse reactions. Julio is 25 years old, Donovan was 18. They had been together a long time.

Donovan was under observation over night and in the morning was much, much worse. They had initially gotten him up and eating but that was probably only due to the fact that we had done so much at our place to get him hydrated and a bit more stable. We got the call from the vet that morning. Kathy, the shelter operator, Zina and I were all on the same page, surgery was really not an option. Donovan had to be put down. Of course, because of how sudden this all was, it was quite a shock. Zina and I second guessed ourselves pretty severely struggling to figure out if something we did caused all of this. The kick of it was that not a day before he was up and eating. Until New Year’s day, he looked healthy. Then we got the reprieve. The vet called with the results of the blood work and the numbers indicated severe internal muscle damage and when they put him down he passed a part of a bladder stone (The bladder is a muscle). He must have had many of them. It was something that even if we had known it, there was very little that could be done. Donkeys don’t do well under anesthesia.

This was quite an ordeal and it has left quite a hole here. Donovan’s passing was sad, but I was most worried about how Julio would do after losing his buddy. I guess he kind of knew there was a problem. They said it was almost as if he said his goodbyes, sniffed at him and then wandered out to be with the other senior donkeys in the donkey nursing home. We had to then monitor him because when they get older and lose a partner, they can give up and stop eating and drinking. Not Julio. Buck Owens was a brown mini that had lost his life long partner awhile back (She was another brown mini named Annie Oakley – not kidding). As serendipitous as this was, Julio and Buck took to each other right away. It didn’t take 3 days and they were palling around to the point of being inseparable.


Both Boys – Donovan in the front, Julio, the Guru, behind.

Julio and his new found friend – Buck Owens. Julio is the one mooning you!

The decision, however, had to be made by us as to whether or not to bring them back to the farm. These are old boys and old souls. Given that we are needing to streamline the farm to accommodate us also becoming old farmers and old souls we had to decide if we wanted to continue on knowing that they would require more and more from us as they age. We went out to the shelter and spoke with the owner. She listened to us and let us cry on her shoulder. We decided that this was a chapter that had to close. I never thought it would be this hard. We considered them the Guru’s of the farm. They were such gentle beasts. I like to think that maybe someday we will have donkeys again, but given the way life goes, I doubt that that will be the case. I miss Julio to the moon.

It did us a world of good to see Julio with his new companion. The information we got from the shelter was that donkeys aren’t dogs. Dogs really bond with their masters, donkeys bond with each other. He knew us, came up to us for butt rubs, but he seemed far more interested in hanging with Buck. That created some closure. Over the years of this farm project we had to continually decide what we wanted to bring ON to the place. This is the first time we had to decide what needed to go. It was the right choice. Right choices are always the hardest. They are in impeccably good care. Now we move on.

So 2023 is off to a questionable start. I am going ghost for awhile. Not in the modern sense of suddenly not texting someone, but in becoming more of a recluse in order to focus on the farm’s human livestock. If we don’t take care of ourselves and each other, this place does not function. This is going to be a bit of a different year I fear. I have the huge job of fixing the roof on the greenhouse so it won’t really get planted. It is pretty likely we have 4 pregnant does, so come April will have some little bouncers, and the milking will resume. All in all, we are striving for a more peaceful and calm existence compared to years past. I hope all of this finds you well. If you haven’t taken care of yourself, I hope you do. Things are getting a little weird; which is the reason we built the farm in the first place. Happy New Year. Peace.

Happy 10th Anniversary To The JAZ Farm!! 12-4-12 – 12-4-22!

Greetings Earthlings! How has everyone been!? I hope all is well for everyone during this, the second and greatest depression! This year has been something of a whirlwind for us. Events and exhaustion have all kept me from being my diligent blogging self. However, given this momentous occasion and the fact that I tend to see things in life in milestones, I had to jump on and celebrate a full decade of building, gardening, farming, homesteading and all around saying FU to the man.

Not a whole lot has changed since I last made blogging keystrokes. The homestead is doing what the homestead was intended for and we continue to become more and more self-sufficient every day. So much of our world seems to have lost it’s mind and the farm lets us kind of sit back, munch some popcorn, and watch a show the likes of which was hard to imagine just a few short years ago. I hope all of you following along have stocked up your pantries, gotten the hell out of the crashing economy, haven’t been too badly affected by the inflation and fuel costs and the all around other ways this place seems to use to try to mine you of the contents of your wallets.

We took heed this year to the issues surrounding our meat supply. Given that ranchers are sending cows to market far sooner than usual because of the drought and the newest avian bird flu has forced the culling of 50 million birds (both turkeys and chickens) we can expect to see skyrocketing prices even beyond 2022 levels next year. We have been freeze drying our chicken eggs. We just recently put 50 meat chickens in our freezer, have a dozen turkeys at about slaughter weight, and we buy half a cow from our neighbor up the road. Our goats provide us with the milk we need to make soap, yogurt and cheese, so most of the proteins are pretty well covered.

As with everything on a farm, even if you have been at it for a decade or more, it is a grand experiment. We had been raising up baby pigs over the years with great success. The next evolution of that process was to find pigs that didn’t get so incredibly big like the heritage breeds do and keep a breeding pair and raise our own. We do that with the goats and chickens and used to with the turkeys, so we thought, “What the hell….” We got our pairs and for a couple of years we couldn’t get them to breed. We found out that if the males and females are kept together they put each other in the “friend zone.” Nothing. After a couple of years…. nothing. So as I had posted previously, we built a pasture just for the boy pigs. It is over in what used to be our main gardens. Evidently, nature’s call was pretty alluring and the boys busted through the fencing and got in with the girls. 4 months later…… 2 litters totaling 13 babies. One of our sows had them in a freak snow storm and unfortunately all but 2 died. We then got the privilege of hand bottle feeding the remaining two for two months. Those two have since moved on to our neighbors down the road (I mean, what were we going to do with 13 babies!?) The neighbors also took 1 of the baby boys from the second litter so they can do their own pork raising as well. So now we have 2 -350 lb. boars, 2 full grown sows and 5 babies all trying to eat us out of house and home. Given the ridiculous increase in feed costs (38% since the first of the year) we are rethinking just how wise it is to keep the breeders and having to feed them every single day.

Above: Penny within day of exploding.

So the plan right now is to send a couple of the pigs at a time off to freezer camp. If we did two at a time we have enough pork on the hoof to last us several years. So we won’t be getting rid of them all at once, but by the time we get through these 9, the old fart farmers will be pushing their mid-sixties. This is already butt busting enough work, I don’t think we will be hurting if we scale this operation back. Besides, if we still want to raise pork 4 years from now and the world hasn’t imploded, we can always get babies to raise from other folks that would be happy to sell them. To give you an idea, part of their ration is Alfalfa Pellets. I buy them by the skid (ton). At the beginning of the year, a skid was around $525.00 (we go through 4 a year). The last skid I ordered was $730.00. Now, I don’t care how good the meat is, that is pricey bacon. So you learn to adjust. We have had such good luck raising meat and stew birds that it isn’t as much of a necessity as it used to be. With our freeze dryer, none of it will ever go to waste.

Another reason for being kind of on the quiet side this year was seeing the graduation of our son Aaron from Colorado State. He graduated this past May and low and behold is now a gainfully employed Mechanical Engineer here in Denver. It took about 5 months of arduous application sending to get there. As serendipity happens, he was all set to take a part time position at Lowe’s to bridge him over while applying for a career job. A week later, voila! Good salary, benefits, the whole enchilada. We couldn’t be happier for him. In fact, we are very happy for him and pretty happy for us as well. We all three work as a team. While he may head off on his own at some point, the added contribution he makes certainly is welcome. He really likes what he is doing and the position even holds the possibility of advancement. In any case though, anyone telling you that college isn’t worth the effort probably doesn’t understand the problem. He did the brain thing, his CPA mom and Financial Planner dad, got him through it without the Starbuck’s career inducing student loan payments.

It doesn’t seem possible that this craziness of building and running a farm/homestead has reached a decade. I told Zina that it has gone on for so long now, that it was “just what we do.” Then, this past fall, after pondering the year and Aaron landing a job amidst one of the worst economies of the past same decade, I woke up and discovered, “here we are.””Oh look! A farm! How did that get here?” Then I try to get out of bed and discover that what is also ten years older are all of my joints. I have developed a pretty good case of head to toe arthritis over the years. They say to “listen to your body.” That’s easy because mine mostly screams at the top of its lungs. The other tell tale sign is that those things that will break and need repairing over time have begun to happen. Both of our screen doors were practically ripped off of the house this year because of wind. Also, because of UV degradation and wind, the roof is blowing off of our green house. I have begun trying to source replacement materials and that means that my 10 year older ass will need to get on a ladder for a couple of weeks to reskin that structure.

Zina and I decided when Basil, our eldest lab, died that if we were going to go through puppy-hood again we had best get on it now while we still have some energy. Perhaps we THOUGHT we had the energy. Pepper is turning into quite the lover black lab, but holy Jesus have I been wanting to kill her!! She is insane. I told both Zina and Aaron to keep reminding me what an awful experience the last 7 months have been. She was an AWFUL puppy. I am happy to say that her ears are starting to turn back on, but holy f-ing god has she been a terror. She is our 3rd lab and maybe I blocked the other two’s puppy years from my mind, but you can rest assured I will NEVER go through this again. We love her to pieces at this point, but so far the vet won’t prescribe her any Ritalin. Sage, our now eldest, will put up with her for awhile in the morning, but I think if she knew where my guns were and had opposable thumbs, that she would use them. Oh well, we love the dogs and she is growing on us. I do know that they slow down and they are great intruder alerts. Yes, folks, now that she has survived her first year here, I would indeed miss her. Pepper is an absolute lunatic.

Let’s see…. what else? Oh right, I rebuilt the turkey run this year. We have great luck hatching and raising our own chickens. We have excellent incubators and we keep a pure bred flock of Buff Orpington layers. The turkeys? Not so much. They aren’t like chickens that lay year round. They are seasonal layers (mostly in the spring). They don’t lay an awful lot of eggs and by the time you get enough to put in the incubator, some seem to be beyond viability. With chickens, if we fill both incubators with eggs (a total of 42) we will likely get close to 35 that hatch. If you get, say, 18 turkey eggs the best we have done is around 6. It’s much easier to get them from the hatchery and let them deal with it. In the case of the Zombie apocalypse though, we can easily go back. So I re-jiggered the turkey run to be one full cage instead of a small and medium sized one. They have a 35 x 25 run now. We keep about a dozen at a time and all of them have full access to the outdoors and the feed and water is inside the barn. If the weather is inclement, they have the opportunity to get into the barn (although turkeys are the single dumbest birds on the planet and sometimes it seems like they would rather freeze to death than avail themselves of shelter).

We homesteaders are an independent lot. For whatever life lessons and reasons we tend to be pretty distrustful of anyone that says, “Trust me.” With all of my life experiences, I have a visceral disdain of all things pharmaceutical, industrial ag, etc.. I usually acquiesce to my doctor’s orders but I am quick to start researching whether or not she is full of it. Because of this, and me thinking that mother earth is a far better healer, I have embarked on a quest to become a certified herbalist. I started my first introductory course this year and have since been making salves and balms, tinctures and teas. While an herbal approach might not be as hard hitting as a pill from Walgreens, it certainly can aid in speeding things along. Also, because of the farm, I have the space to grown my own pharmacy. So I am. So far it is very interesting and keeps my attention far better than the continuing education I had to do for finance. All I need now is a pointy wizard’s hat and I’ll be all set!

So milestones. I tend to see things in chapters and milestones. Anniversaries are a big part of it. This year I turned 60 (yes I know all you old farts out there. There is always someone older and uses it to their ego’s advantage. I turned 60. A milestone.). In addition, the farm turned 10. Which means I gave my 50’s to building this place (which was also no spring chicken age). Aaron graduated from college. At the end of the month Zina and I will have been married 29 remarkable years. I am sure she thought that it was one long strange trip. But in addition, we are at the end of the contract with the guy I hand selected to succeed me at work. What does this mean? Well. It means that since grad school (which in itself was a bizarre set of events) I am now completely unaffiliated in anyway with Wall Street and the den of worms that infest so much of the world. I have no ties at all to any financial companies, mutual fund institutions, banks, insurance companies, clients, NOTHING!! I am not licensed, I don’t have to keep up on any of it and because of all the bullshit of the past 4 years or so, we have NOTHING in the markets! Most people worry about diet and exercise but few understand how their lifestyle could be worse than the Big Macs. This 10 year anniversary marks not only a pointer that we ain’t rookies at this, but a freeing of our family team to divorce ourselves even more from an abusive society that has wreaking havoc on us for decades.

I spent this past year in kind of a Meditational awareness. I knew that I had given my 50’s to the last great push of my life. My purpose was to build the farm, get the kid through school, become as self-sufficient as possible and then be able to live a life free from the insanity going on all around us. It has all worked out better than I think we expected. But it came at a cost. 10 years. Now yes, you could say, it was a dream. You’d be right. But I never thought, when we started this that it would become a bunker against some seriously psychotic behavior in our world. The pure intention of the farm was to live a rural life, grow great food and simply have a good time doing it. Since then, we have financial upheaval, supply chain disruptions, bat bug hysteria, food shortages, toilet paper shortages, climate chaos, and a partridge in a pear tree. So as an abused soul would do, he pushed all the enjoyment to the back burner once again and enlisted the great internal warrior and fortified the keep. In therapy we called my inner warrior, The Incredible Hulk. It worked. However, that greater purpose that so many have said, “but now you should enjoy it,” went to the wishful list in the sky. The idyllic farmstead with antiques and beauty and creativity went the way of defense against the dark arts. The pointy hatted wizard set to fend off even more than he did with clients because the shit hadn’t hit the fan so hard yet then. But the warrior is so very tired. The task, Herculean. It is time to become simply the Wise Old Sage.

So what happens now? With this blog? I will probably continue on as the spirit moves me. I am weary of posting garden planting, harvesting, animals and fences. So something else will likely take it’s place. I do know for certain, that I am going to be disappearing for a great deal of this next near. You see, in this past year I was able to really work on some things. I can tell you without a doubt that I know who I am, what I want, and what I will and will not tolerate from anyone. That statement comes from years and years and thousands of dollars of trying to figure it out. If you look at some of the recent videos of the actor Jim Carrey, it is much the same. Awakening. It is thus: After all that the people close to me and then the wider society put me through, I will be living the rest of my life (The Last Third as I have coined it) authentically, without regard to opinion, and unapologetically. As a family, we have done above and beyond the call to get here; but get here we have. I will be working on developing the creative spirit of this place. It was a sad part of my upbringing that happiness was considered selfish. I know it exists, but I am working very hard to understand what it actually is. I am thinking that contentment is a better term. We will always take our responsibility for our animals and the necessary chores here seriously, but it is high time that this place become the Shire we always intended it to be. Animals will be simplified. Gardens prioritized. Crafts will be incorporated, and natural beauty will be the emphasis. After all, we live in a universe where souls get eaten. There comes a time when enough is enough. While yes, age is a contributing factor, so is a past marathon life of full time work coupled with building a place of refuge. If you haven’t done it you don’t get an opinion. As we hit the milestone of 10 years, that is where things will go from here. We are walking away. Ya’ll done fucked everything up. We are going to try to salvage some of reality and peace here and learn the meaning of simplicity and happiness. Happy Anniversary to all the JAZ Farm peeps. May the world just go off and leave us alone.

OMG I Iz Famous!

HAHA! Not really. However, I did have the honor of being interviewed on a podcast that is produced by a friend on Instagram and some of his compatriots. We have known each other for quite a while and have walked in some of the same “Peak Everything” and Climate Change circles. He has often said that his real curiosity is finding out what caused people to actually move their feet when it comes to world and societal issues where others simply complain about them or live in complete denial. Mike lives in a yurt in New Mexico. We share very similar views on life, the universe and everything (42). So when I was invited to be interviewed I was thrilled to be asked. The content is an overview of what got me (more to the point, us) to actually leave everything behind and start a farm out in a sea of grass on the high eastern plains of Colorado. It is my favorite kind of format. It is irreverent, I get to cuss, and we all laugh and share stories about the absurdity of our predicament. Mind you this isn’t roses, rainbows and unicorns. It was fun, however, to get to ramble and pontificate for an hour and a half with people who actually hear with ears that can hear. I have linked both the You Tube version and the Spotify link below. The roots of JAZ Farm come from not being able to turn a blind eye to the direction our world is taking. It was quite an honor and I look forward to coming back at some point. Let the bloviating commence!

As Off-Grid As The Farm Is Ever Likely To Be

Two years ago, we had an unintended test of the farm’s solar system. While drilling post holes for the fence around our garden, I put the tractor’s auger right through the main power lines to the house. It also coincided with one of the coldest days of that winter. The house is all solar, and if the power goes out we have a 48 volt battery back up system to carry us through just as one might use a gas powered generator (We also have one of those). The batteries kick in automatically when the grid goes down. About 2/3’ds of the house is hooked up to it including the well pump (so we don’t lose access to water) and the main turbine on the furnace. During that fiasco, it was also cloudy for a good three days, which is kind of unusual here. Given that the system is solar, that doesn’t bode well for recharging the batteries. As a result, I spent the next two days rationing battery juice and working to make sure we didn’t get into a situation where we could have had frozen pipes.

The lesson learned was that while in sunny conditions, the batteries can carry the day, but it is quite a burden to put on them. For instance, even if the battery bank is fully charged, it can’t power the turbine all night because the charge, of course, is finite. Everything does well during the day and batteries do well for everything else at night, but we discovered a flaw in the system. Heat.

When we still lived in back in Michigan, and also when I lived up in the high country here in Colorado, we heated exclusively with wood. Times have changed, regulations have become more stringent, and our house didn’t have any venting available to hook up any kind of wood stove. Also, because physically I can’t spend all summer going up into the mountains to cut firewood and still expect to be able to farm, we had to figure out some of the pieces. The bottom line though is that we decided that in some fashion, we needed a more self-sufficient way to heat that didn’t involve propane (not to mention the potential for propane to skyrocket in price) and mechanical parts.

I won’t go into the details of trying to get the stove installed using the contractor we signed up with. It was awful ….. just awful. However, once the county got the permits approved and then the stove got installed and the stove got inspected and signed off on, the ridiculous story of installation came to a close. It is a great unit, it was installed well, and it is ours……. all ours.

The biggest issue in the set up was that we decided to have it placed in the basement. As the basement is a big concrete box, we didn’t have to mess around with heat resistant shields and flooring. We just didn’t want the stove pipe to stay in the house so as to reduce fire danger. This meant we had to have a core driller come out and put a big hole in our foundation so the chimney could go up the side of the house outside. It turned out great. Watching the hole get drilled was really fun and nail biting at the same time. If the installation didn’t work, we could have ended up with a big hole in our basement.

The stove itself is a very highly rated Blaze King Princess model. It is all EPA approved so even when the Front Range issues burning restrictions because of air quality, we don’t have to stop using it. In fact, it burns so clean that even with a raging fire in it, there is almost no smoke visible coming out of the stack. We discovered in short order that it can have you removing clothing rather quickly.

So this latest installation makes the farm about as off the grid as she is going to get. Sure, most of the posts about building the place had to do with fencing, barns, garden beds and corrals, but this one filled in a gap. Other than the fact that the solar system is still somewhat tied to the electric utility, we are not dependent upon it and virtually everything else here is self-contained. We have solar electricity, septic instead of a public sewer line, well water and water catchment, a propane tank instead of natural gas lines, gardens for growing food, animals for the same, and multiple ways to preserve our food as well. With our freeze dryer, my goal for as long as it takes is to have about 2 years of just freeze dried meals available. Not only is this easy in a pinch while we are working outside, it makes putting together meals for Zina when she is in the city, a snap.

We could, if we really wanted to get all purist about it all, build a root cellar and a composting toilet and install a solar hot water system; but I think that given how the majority of this country is dependent on grocery stores, for profit utilities and this glorious just in time delivery system that I have been squawking about ever since the world thought out-sourcing was a great idea, we are doing pretty well. We have another wood stove in one of our barns. I have downloaded some plans on how to turn that into a smokehouse. This will give us yet another way to preserve food – not to mention how good smoked meats taste! Should be fun!

We are going into a pretty cold few days next week. So far, the furnace hasn’t even turned on with this thing burning. We still have to tweak things a bit to get the heat to rise upstairs a bit more efficiently, but that is the fun of new projects like this. Just a short while ago, it was just another vision like all the other visions we have had here. Now here it is. As far as we are. concerned, living off-grid is the only way to fly..

A New Little Black Nut Case At The Farm

So look at what we done did! We have a new little pooper at the farm. Meet Pepper. We didn’t quite know what we would do with the sudden loss of Basil last summer. She left a big hole here and we didn’t want to just replace her with just anything. Zina and I did some soul searching and, as one has to face up to the fact that time keeps marching on, that if we were going to endure puppy-hood again, we had best get after it. If Pepper lives the normal 10-12 year lifespan of a Lab, we will be in our 70’s when she is gone. So if we wanted to train another dog, now seemed to be the time to do it. It was a bit of a search to find her as well. All these quarantined folks were buying up dogs hand over fist and were hard to find. Remarkably, when I was just about to start searching out of state, an ad on our local grocery store’s community bulletin board said that a farm not 10 miles from us had litters available. So we got on the list and did the couple of months worth of waiting. We even paid a bit extra to have pick of the females of the litter. While Basil was a great dog, she was an Alpha. She was pretty hard to train. Pepper was born on the 5th of November and we got her New Year’s eve 2021. So, if you have ever had a new born puppy, you understand just how much our lives have changed recently.

As usual with Labs, she is a pretty smart little lady. Watching Sage, she caught on to potty training with almost no effort. She still has the occasional accident but that is usually us missing the cues. It is pretty simple. If something goes in the front, it is going to push it out the back. Last night, for the first time, she made it all the way through the night. She will do the basic commands, sit, stay, come, down, get the hell away from the shoes, etc. Of course, they work the best if you have a hotdog treat as a reward, otherwise, the attention span can be a little short. We have done this a few times now, she is doing great. Big sister Sage has kind of begrudgingly accepted this intrusion into her usually tranquil life. She won’t tolerate her in the house, but will engage in Big Time Wrestling with her outside. Sage has also been a good instructor. What a sight it was to watch her teach Pepper how to go up and down the stairs.

One thing for certain, especially since I don’t bend well at the waist anymore, is that they put puppies a lot lower to the ground than in years past. She has definitely up’d our activity levels. She is crazy entertaining, has the energy of a wound up spring, and has brought back some smiles we seemed to have lost somewhere along the way with all the gloom that seems to be hanging over everyone these days. We will photograph and post as she grows into those floppy ears and over-sized paws. Momma was about 75 lbs. Pepper likely will be as well.


Today is December 4th, 2021. Happy ninth birthday JAZ Farm! What a year this place has seen. I am sure that most of you are feeling some of the exhaustion from the myriad issues that seem to all be converging all at one time in our lives. While yes things have been tumultuous, the farm has continued to provide projects, entertainment, sustenance, and peace in a world that has become certifiably insane. We won’t get into any of that here, but most of you who know me know that I do not ascribe to the common political and economic narratives that get thrown around at each other like so much worthless confetti. We live in a troubling age and we are so thankful that we made the decision to build this place and use it as our own family Shire against all the Orcs and Goblins that seem to inhabit the “civilized” world.


It is hard to believe that 9 years have passed. Not only has the farm changed since its inception as a dilapidated house on 40 acres, the surrounding area has seen massive changes as well. Sure, we can wax poetically that these things happen, but given my propensity to be able to connect dots and come to pretty accurate conclusions, it seems that forces have been set in motion that will see the start of significant exoduses from the urban and suburban world as people see the writing on the wall and understand the need to escape to more rural areas or places that will let them provide for a certain amount of self-sufficiency. For those who have done it here, you have my support. We are now one of the elder statesmen on our road. Because of the insane and meteoric rise of real estate prices, folks are selling out left and right (I guess if I had any sense we might do the same, but that isn’t why we moved here and built the Shire). People who never thought they would see a financial boon like this have been cashing out with hundreds of thousands in profit and moving to cheaper states, where, they say, they can live like they do now but with no mortgage and significantly cheaper costs of living. But what that means, however, is that for every seller there is a buyer and there are buyers in spades. After 9 years of practically no sounds coming from our neighbor to the south we now have loud music, gunfire, and now the introduction of their livestock (I only resent 2 of the 3). This has been a theme throughout the community. We all wish that the city folks that bit the bullet and moved would have left the city behind. Oh well, they will calm down eventually I guess. Interstate 70 is the main artery from us into Denver and the development has been following that corridor like a virus. The concerning issues with this have to do with the availability of water, and the digging up of wheat and cornfields to create this Oasis of suburbs in the countryside. I told Zina that other day that if we keep moving east to escape these Zombies, we will wind up in Kansas. The primary constant of the universe is that nothing stays the same. It is understanding these changes that prompted much of what we did here on the farm this year and is informing how we live here going forward.


The end of fencing

As you know, if you have been following along for any amount of time, the idea that I actually “retired” was a joke. I quit my job for any number of reasons, but at the age of 50 I became a farm construction engineer. Up until just a post or two ago, the physical labor involved with the farm design continued unabated and would have bested some folks half my age. Not only did we complete all the paddocks and pens we hoped to have, my body was there, towards the end, letting me know that it indeed was over and that I best not come up with any more cockamamy ideas. 2021 began with our finishing out our garden fencing, fencing in a second 5 acre grazing pasture, then enclosing the whole place along the back and south side with yet more fence (This last one being a way to feel like it had become a completed enclosure). It also allowed us to let the dogs out without having to wonder where the hell they went. They now have a good 5 acres to run around in.

It was a garden, now it is a pig pasture

As part of our effort to be as self-sufficient as possible we brought in a couple of American Guinea Hogs to breed. They are the most docile of animals, loving ear scratches and tummy rubs. As they will eat most anything, including grass, they are pretty low maintenance. However, it is ironic that if you leave the males and females together, their propensity to breed goes way down! We had two boars and 3 gilts (females) together and they put each other in the “friend zone”. No babies. So upon some advice and research we separated them like we have the bucks and does of our goat herd. We will probably try in early spring to breed them but in the meantime we had to have a place to put the boys. So this prompted the last small fencing project as seen above. You can see in posts from years ago that the space we have used was our original vegetable garden. It was already fenced on three sides so all I had to do was enclose it on the 4th and add a gate. It should have been a piece of cake, except the drought we have been in baked the ground to cement and I had a devil of a time getting the auger into the ground and ended up dulling it and having to replace the corkscrew unit that actually digs the hole. After pounding in the last of the metal posts, I limped away promising myself and Zina that the days of building fences have indeed become a thing of the past. All of it looks spectacular if you have an eye for such things; But one of my to do lists for this winter is to clean and straighten the garage and put all of the banging and clanking devices in their proper places and leave them to gather dust.


To kind of punctuate the completion of all the construction, it was time to clean the place up. 9 years of building and adjusting accumulates a lot of remnants and crap. We called and had a roll off dumpster brought in and loaded the thing to the gills. If any of you have any experience with farms or ranches, you undoubtably have seen the boneyard junk piles that can accumulate on them. Some of them are hideous and show a certain level of slobbery that we didn’t want here. Old rolls of windbreak fencing, fencing remnants, sawed off sections of wood, and all manner of things no longer needed, were bid farewell. While I hate the idea of using the landfill, there were precious few options. We could have burned off a lot of the wood things, but because of the drought there has been a never ending burn ban, so off it went. It will likely be the only time we will need to do this and considering the amount of waste that is generated simply from people buying too much plastic, breakable and unwanted crap, I figure we are still much farther ahead.

The wretched refuse


We value our privacy and security here almost as much as our ability to sustain ourselves. While the fencing was mostly to house and pasture our animals, the last close off to our east gave a feeling of completion. For some additional security (and to close off the last escape avenues for the dogs) Aaron and I installed an automatic gate opener/closer on the entrance gates. It was super easy to install and when it closes, it has something called a “Zombie Lock” that locks the two sections of gates together that can only be opened either with a key or one of the remotes. It is so nice to be able to go in and out and have the gates close behind you without having to get out of the truck and manually latch them. It is much the same as people that have automatic garage door openers. It is secure and very convenient. Well worth the money. If anyone is interested, the company we used is Ghost Controls. They work great even on our oversized ranch gates.


As you know, we lost our oldest lab (Basil) in August, but that was only one of several animal issues. We have been in to the vet and had the vet come out on several occasions. Our youngest lab had bladder issues, we had one of our baby goats break a back leg and we had a pig go lame with arthritis in her front ankles. Sage is fine, Basil died, Rosemary the goat healed up and Petunia the pig became bacon. Life on the farm. Just recently, we had the vet out again to have the donkey’s teeth brushed. This is called a “full float.” They give them some pretty happy drugs to sedate them. This proved to be a rodeo as they didn’t like the idea of being poked. It is intravenous so it is something they really don’t want to be a part of . Donavan, the youngest, had to have a dose for a full sized horse. Once sedated they have their head lifted with a rope, a bit put in their mouths to open it and then the vet uses a cordless drill (DeWalt) with a grinding device on it to smooth out the back teeth and remove any spikes. If the teeth get too rough it can cause abrasions in their mouth and get all infected and all sorts of other happiness. They pulled through without a hitch and it gave the young vet some experience. Fortunately, she had two techs with her and me. We were able to keep them relatively stabile so she could do her magic. Now the boys are good for another couple of years. It was nice to have them compliment us on how good our stalls and pens look. They said they have seen some pretty bad places.

Say ah!

All of the rest of the animals are doing great. We have rethought the way of raising our turkeys so we will be re-arranging their coop. For various reasons, hatching them doesn’t seem to be a good option, so we will just order them from the hatchery every year. We have hatched them before, but the hatch rate is ridiculously low. We have excellent incubators so it appears that the Tom’s just ain’t up to the task. We have hatched more layer chicks and they will fill in the gaps as our current girls are getting along in age. This past molt saw them stop laying altogether. These new ones should be old enough and laying come spring. The pigs are as happy as can be and seriously only care about food and the occasional scratching. We bred three of our goats in September. We should have babies sometime in February. We are getting to the point where we need to look into selling them. Between the bucks and the does, we have 13 head. They are eating machines so we certainly don’t need more. Fortunately, with all the new urban and suburban farming happening because of the pandemic and the economy crumbling, baby Nigerians fetch a pretty good price. Also, 4H is always looking for animals for the kids to raise. Our cheese making has been a fabulous success. We just had some cheddar that had aged 6 months and it was amazing. There are always tweaks to learn, but at this stage, we are impressed. We also built a goat breeding pen and then constructed a playhouse for them to hang out in. We got the idea from a You Tube channel we follow and the goats seem to love it. It is an A frame construction that gives them all manner of ways to jump and play. It also gives the does a way to escape should the buck get a little to aggressive.


Without having to show you yet more pictures of baskets of produce and jars or preserved stuff, suffice it to say that the gardens, yet again, performed admirably. We made a switch to growing both the tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse. The peppers seemed to approve and we ended up having them coming out of our ears. Our Asparagus forest went crazy and again we were able to harvest a few hundred pounds of potatoes.

Because of the faux supply chain crisis and because it seems that everyone learned to can in 2020, Ball canning lids became almost unobtainable. We have a pretty large store of them, but because of not knowing how long the shortage would last, we investigated our options. We had currently been freezing, dehydrating and canning as much as we could. From some videos and articles, we happened upon a company called Harvest Right. They are one of the only manufacturers of household use Freeze Dryers. If you have ever gone backpacking you are undoubtably familiar with freeze dried meals from companies like Mountain House, Legacy, Augustan Farms, Thrive life, etc. They are great food storage options but a freeze dryer lets you store your own. We purchased their medium sized unit and the thing has been running non-stop since we got it. It is absolutely amazing how many things you can freeze dry. If stored properly the vegetables can last for up to 25 years. Because it can all be put through the machine, we have had virtually no waste from spoilage out of the garden. We have freeze dried bushels of beans, eggplant, ground turkey meat, potatoes, onions, cheese, fruit and things I am probably forgetting at the moment. For we homesteaders, this thing is a game changer. Oh yes, tomatoes. I wish I had gotten the larger unit, but this thing is serving us very well.

This is what tomatoes sauce looks like when it is done…. a tomato styrofoam.


That brings us to today, the end of the year. As I write this it is about 70 degrees. I just got back from the store wearing shorts, a T-shirt and Crocs. This weather is insane. Denver broke a record of over 225 days with no measurable snowfall. It is dust bowl era dry here and yet Hawaii is expecting a foot of snow and 100 mph winds. After having been out of the drought for a spell, we are now in an “extreme drought” according to NOAA and the USDA. This is a bit scary. While we have good water with our well, I will be ramping up the creation of our rooftop water catchment system. We had an issue (now resolved) with our solar system and battery back up. Should that system go down, as our well pump is electric, we would not have water. Sure the humans can get water and we have an apartment in the city, but watering the animals would become a significant issue. We have so screwed things up as a species that the north and east are bracing for a very snowy and cold winter and we are wondering if it will ever freeze. I still have Broccoli growing in the gardens and I have had to regularly water the apple trees, Blackberries, Asparagus and Garlic. Our solar guy said that not only did he wish more people had systems like ours, he wished more people would choose to live like we do. I have always been open to teaching these techniques but I largely get silence with just crickets in the background.


As I stated earlier, nothing stays the same. The economy is collapsing, fuel and food prices are sky-rocketing and home heating is supposed to get out of hand. There are predictions of propane and natural gas shortages. The specter of the issues like happened in Texas last year, have the potential to spread everywhere. We are a nation under siege and I wish my giant YAWP into the universe would actually yield some results. But, alas, the Siren’s song of golf, theaters, malls, new cars, fast food, and shiny things, call too loudly and we are indeed screwed. So all we can. do is just live our lives and ignore the noise and criticism of others.

The one dependency I have always wanted to be rid of is propane delivery. While we are not tied to a natural gas line, some shmoe has to come out a couple of times a year and fill our propane tank. Given that we have been warned all over the country that propane shortages could indeed be a thing, and that our furnace runs on it, we decided this needed to be remedied. I am not going to get into the details of the BS we have endured trying to buy and install this thing (same as everything else we have had someone else do here), but we invested in a wood burning stove. It will be our primary heating source and the gas furnace will be set at about 50 degrees just to ensure that we don’t have issues with freezing pipes should there be no fire. We have about 10 cords of wood out back and the final installation (after having to report them to the BBB) will likely happen this coming week. That will be a relief. We found out through experience that while our battery back ups can run the furnace turbine if the power goes out, it can’t do it all night. So this way we will lower our propane consumption, take the burden off of the batteries and allow us the ambience of a fire and its soothing heat. We could probably be completely off of propane if we had a solar hot water system so if you are so inclined to do a Go Fund Me for the farm, we would appreciate it greatly! LOL.

Just need an outside chimney and we are all set


As far as the rest of the world is concerned, it ain’t lookin’ pretty. The economy is in shambles and is only being held up by corporate share buy-backs and insane Fed money printing. People are leaving abusive employment in droves. The pandemic and inflation (being created by the fed) is taxing people’s purchasing ability to the hilt. Food shortages are starting to hit home and all that cheap Chinese crap everyone seems to like to buy at Walmart is languishing in a mathematically unsolvable problem called “The Whiplash Effect;” not to mention the many flying penises being launched into space who’s worth could solve world hunger. There is no way we will ever see pre-2019 “normal” again. Given the droughts and major climactic events, we will be lucky to have anything resembling a functional eco-system ever again. Here, let me just tell you where I am….. There will be precious few humans alive on this rock in about 10 years. You go ahead and live in denial. The data favors me.

So given this rosie news, I simply won’t involve myself in politics and social issues. They are pointless. I will help others as I can but I am not a crusader. If people want help doing what we do they need to seek us out. If not, it is nothing but a circus side show. I have my popcorn and a good seat. Bring on the show.

On a personal and familial note, we are indeed done building. The 10th year of the farm will be transitional, hopefully leading to a whole new life paradigm. We will be living the farm life always looking to de-stress and find peace. In my case, I have bent to the whim and scapegoating of sick people enough in my life. My family owes no one, including other family or anyone else. We did the virtuous thing and the kill ourselves thing to please others long enough. As we move into our sixties, the farm will be our oasis, our Shire, our place of reclusion and peace. The 10th year will help us to transition to this life, hanging up post drivers and screw drivers and hammers and pick up feed bags, hoes and hay. We will live and love and move away from this insane society and culture. In a philosophical/spiritual sense it is a death and rebirth. Personally, I am walking away from our virus of a species. I don’t have many in-person friends anyway and I have no desire to interact with the insanity that this abusive culture is inflicting on it’s citizens. There is peace in reclusion. There is virtue in being a hermit. There is love in being a hobbit. Animals love in a way that humans are incapable of. Nature heals, civilization destroys and if I have to die a hermit refusing to participate in a diagnosably mentally ill society then I am willing to do so either by natural or personally chosen ways. I am saying goodbye to all things except my efforts to heal our little piece of Mother Earth. We are at the toxic end of a badly damaged and corrupt empire. I refuse to participate anymore. I hope that my life not only helps to heal, but that it makes a statement. I hope from a personal note that this will rebalance me after a lifetime of abuse and living in survival mode. I gave enough to everyone. My wife has done the same. We now will work on healing ourselves and loving each other throughout the time we have left. JAZ Farm is our safe haven. She deserves our care and I am sure, she will care for us.

The Great Farmer Reset

It has been some time since I did a musing of something a bit more personal about what is going on out here. Below is simply an unedited version of a journaling I did recently. I gave my 50’s do developing our farm. Most of this blog chronicles the building of the place and how things work. Anyone who has followed this over the years understands the ecological and social issues that made us drop out and build this place. For my part, there was a deeply personal aspect to it as well. That being disillusionment made violently manifest. I turn 59 in less than a week. While ages and dates don’t really mean much to me, there is a part of me that wants to see this farm work of art shine and support us in a way that the previous 58 years were not able to. Sure, I give thanks for the fact that I was a successful business person and yes, there is a certain privilege to being able to say the things I have here – so what? This is raw, unedited and hopefully will give you an idea what happened personally to drive us to go where very few have gone. It is my sincere wish that others can build their Shire and escape the trappings of a completely insane culture. We all deserve it no matter what our sociopathic society says. Peace.



What Is Your Great Reset?

Living on and completely immersed in the farm like an artist or a writer is immersed in their craft.  Leaving the world and going inward.  Finally living without judgment or fear of belittlement.  To transform physically and mentally to let the authentic self have life unapologetically.  

I hate us.  I can’t stand the state of affairs in the world any longer.  Therefore, just like I went no contact awhile back, I am going to become a Hermit or Recluse in my 59th year.  I can’t develop the way I want to as a farmer-artist, painting on my canvas, unless I can slow down, cut myself in half physically, and tune out the insanity of the U.S. We are a certifiably insane species.  The Pandemic illustrated it, exposed people for who they are, and I want no part of it.

I gave my 50’s to creating this farm.  It came out of me like a composition written out by Mozart.  I just kept going and going and, suddenly,  it is all here.  The last piece is to let myself inhabit this canvas and live completely merged with what it can do.  So the last year of my 50s is to restore my health, unleash my true self, and live here as a Hermit would – Cut off from the world, not leaving the Shire, using ordering methods to get things we need, and being the driver or conductor of the farm making this piece of art sing. I guess I am talking about the death of an old self.  “Die before you die and then realize that there is no death.” – Eckhart Tolle.  I deserve to have a life of peace and contemplation.  I earned it.  There is so much about this world in which I was raised and the experiences I have had, to prove it.  Not being wanted, being abused, and the absolute whirlwind of an existence that brought me to this point and still be alive.  This is now on my terms.  The biggest task I have is to “decommission the warrior.”  To let the Hulk go and let the warrior sit by the fire and smoke his pipe.  I don’t need to be armored up like that any more and, as my therapist said, “there is no doubt that if the warrior is needed, you are so good at bringing him up, you will be able to call on him if and when needed.”  I have the battle scars to remind me of it all.  But from now on, the artist, the scientist, the painter, the grower of things, is now in charge.  How that happens is the puzzle, because after 58 years, old survival habits die hard.

To paint on this canvas that I dedicated my life to must be a slow and simple life; A life without the stresses of the outside world;  A life devoted to the simple pleasures that our farm affords us.  It is going no contact with all of society, keeping in touch only to stay abreast of things of normal responsibility.  People make everything up.  They tell themselves stories in order to survive.  In other words, it is all lies and I will not live in lies anymore.  We are a psychopathic, uncaring, lot.  One need only look at the history of the last century, all the wars and brutality and death, to see that humanity is certifiably abusive and insane.  The only way to have a good and peaceful life is to leave.  

Old habits to be rid of:

>Not caring for myself.  Even writing like this feels foreign.  It makes me shake and feel guilty because, after all, this is selfish according to that horrible Calvinist upbringing I was forced to endure.  Priority number one has to be good diet and exercise.  Not powerlifting or biking to god knows where.  Simple stretching, walking and resistance exercises with the TRX Band.  A diet based on JAZ Farm food and the foods we buy in bulk.  

>Drinking wine to calm down.  The substitute for the rev up with coffee and slow down with wine needs to be a complete slow down of my life.  The Thich Nhat Hanh “Just drink your tea” habit applied to everything.  This isn’t a substitute way of doing the same things that caused my pain, it is a complete redevelopment of me.  Thus, I am going full on hermit for my 59th year. It is about controlling my thoughts, stop thinking, moving slowly and deliberately avoiding everything that has caused me such duress in the past.  Calm, Quiet and Slow.  

>As Jennifer Aniston said when asked how she kept in such good shape she replied, “Don’t eat shit.”  That is the foundation of this.  Taking the time to fix healthy food, not drink to escape, and allow myself to isolate and not flee the farm.  After all, I am leaving the farm to eat crap under a tree to try to escape my thoughts and fears….. which, of course, I take with me because they are in my head.  Replace the dopamine hits from fast food and wine with living deliberately, simply and slowly.

So these are the main habits to kick in this year long retreat:  Don’t eat crap.  Don’t drink wine to escape.  Decommission the Warrior and cease the hyper-vigilance.  Don’t neglect yourself.

So conversely then, what are the new habits to develop to allow the farm artist to flourish in the last third of his existence?

> Wake up slowly.  Ease into everything and hurry nothing.  Not even if Zina is raring to go.  Let her do it and follow as you see fit.  After all, you work on the farm every day.  Wake slowly and catch the thoughts that create those awful mountains and make your whole existence seem insurmountable.  Don’t think about all the things that “Have to be done” all at once.  Arise, stretch, go about the morning tasks and chores and let yourself begin the day with a gradual re-entry into the world.  You know that with your back’s side effects you can’t just jump out of bed and get moving anymore.  Take it slow.  You know it can take a couple of hours.  Be accepting of that fact.

> Walk.  Every day.  Walk.  Start slowly and over the course of this year long retreat, become the walker/hiker you used to be.  In other words, embrace the things of your past that give you contentment and jettison the rest.

> Use the TRX Band to rebuild your legs (A TRX Band uses your own body weight as resistance instead of having to use weights or weight machines).


> Cut yourself in half.  Your extra weight is the symbol of all the stress and abuse you have endured and how hard you fought and how much you denied yourself for everyone else.  Lose the weight as the symbolic gesture of not needing the warrior and the armor. See shedding of weight as a victory dance, a giant “fuck you” to everyone that tried to destroy you.   In order for you to paint requires your physical health.  Do not let the world steal this from you any longer – NO fast food.  NO processed food, wheat or sugar.  Eat JAZ Farm food that you cook.  There is no better diet than that.  Stay on the farm and eat real meals and don’t eat snack food thinking that cooking or heating something up is too much work.  All that is an excuse to neglect yourself again.  It is what you did to survive.  Stop self-loathing and your diet will come automatically and sustain you and clear your head.

> Slow your daily life down by an order of magnitude.  While there are the daily chores and gardening, nothing HAS too get done in a hurry.  Those days are over.  Using the current pig pasture changes as an example: it needs to get done to accomplish the pig breeding goals, but it doesn’t need too all be done in a day.  What you used to do in a day, do in a week.  Enjoy the process and take care of your body.  You need a lot of rest after your career and building the farm and overcoming things that should have killed you.  Part of the self-care is doing just that, regardless of whether or not someone else wants to run.  Move slowly and deliberately, doing what you want to do and not destroying yourself in the process.  No one you know has done what you have done.  There is nothing to prove…. Just be the farm artist.  No Hurry.

> Stop thinking.  Stop gluing yourself to the outside world via the news and such.  There is nothing you can do for the world that you aren’t already doing.  If you think of something new, great, then you can explore that, but for daily sanity, devote yourself to your craft.  Drop out of society and thinking you have to stay hyper-informed like you did for work and the need to feel safe.  You are safe here and should an event occur that needs your attention, you will certainly find out about it.  As you have told others, “One could drop out just like not following a soap opera, come back in a year and not have missed a thing.”  It is all awful and insane.  Protect your own sanity and your own path of achieved enlightenment and ignore it.  Pay attention only to those things that further your farm art and self-sufficiency.  You owe no one anything.  You tried that and it burned you for decades.  Quit putting your hand in the fire now that you know it will always be hot.

>Continually walk away and leave the insanity to the outside world.  They are not your concern.

To sum up the new habits:

Walk, stretch and resistance train.

Wake up slowly and ease into the day as you need to, keeping your mind calm so as not to catastrophize and build mountains.

Cut yourself in half and eat right using the foods you so expertly raise and process

Slow your daily life down by half, making life a meditation

Don’t think and stay present

Ignore the outside world and only leave the farm to hunt and gather as necessary (not running  to escape – remember, your head comes with you) Escape comes from controlling your thoughts.)

Stop thinking and staying hyper-informed.  Work methodically and when you don’t feel like it….don’t.

Use this journaling to help keep you focused and help keep your true self from becoming buried.

Don’t speak unless necessary.  Don’t argue points because people and their opinions are usually ignorant and uninformed.  Whether or not you are right…. It doesn’t matter. 

Be reborn in the likeness in your head.  Create yourself unencumbered.  Create yourself in your own image.  You deserve it.

After all, it isn’t that you don’t know who you are.  The real you was just bullied into submission for most of your life.  The time to keep doing that to yourself is over.

So who am I and where is all of this leading?

“Decide what kind of life you really want and then say “no” to everything else.”

I am:

An introvert that really thinks his species is a disgusting viral catastrophe incapable of regulating itself or doing things for the common good.  As a result, I choose not to be with them.

Creative.  After all, look at this place.  There is nothing else to say.

Enlightened.  In my reality, I know that the wider society is completely asleep.  I don’t know everything but I know enough and hope to keep evolving towards my higher self.  My old self was completely for defense.  The self that was imprisoned, is real and awake.

A farmer and rancher

A painter on the earth canvas, a nurturer of the land and a rejector of human “progress” and its destruction of the planet.  I seek to heal the small portion of the earth upon which I dwell.

A Prepper.  The threats from modern society are real.  I and the farm proved we are able to endure during this pandemic.  My only hyper-vigilance is to make sure we continue to prepare for the hell scape that is civilization.  If I have a mission that keeps me tied to staying informed it is that.  Water, food, shelter, medicine, defense……. Repeat.  I enjoy doing it and we are pretty far along that path, so it too, needs to be methodically maintained, not done out of panic.  

A weaver.  I want to create my weaving.  I would love to have a presence where people can buy my wares like a painter sells paintings at fairs.  

A Homesteader.  I love raising animals and have them provide us food.  I love gardening and preserving what we have grown.  I love making cheese and making soap and butter and cooking delicious, healthy food. I love the old ways. I am just not able to work as hard to build things as I used to be at the beginning of this escapade and am completely burned out from it.  

A believer in the here and now issue of catastrophic climate change.  There is no prepping for this.  However, the blinders that people have on regarding it also makes me need to drop out.  Ignorance, without a desire to become educated, is one of the greatest disgusts I have for humans.  They have completely exposed their true colors.  Between denying climate change, the refusal to do anything about it and the stupidity revolving around the pandemic, I am through with humanity.  It is quite likely that when I reinforce these new habits, this year long retreat may very well become permanent.  

A lover of animals.  I would have dozens of goats, chickens, turkeys, pigs, donkeys, dogs and cats.  Human beings are not the most intelligent species on the planet.  The animals are.  If you doubt it, come spend an afternoon with the donkey farm gurus.  They will absolutely set you straight.  Shit, I’d take our goat bucks in rut year round over people in expensive cars and business suits.  With the former, you know where they stand, the latter will stab you in the back when you aren’t looking.  

So for the next year, I will be leaving the farm as little as possible.  I will be working very hard at developing the new habits that I deserve and that the farm was designed specifically to support.  I will still be posting and doing the occasional videos and things, but I created my own Shire after throwing the ring of power into the fiery mountain and I intend to take full advantage of that privilege. This is my promise and birthday gift to myself. It is high time someone lived up to their promises – even if it is me promising me.

There is nothing else I care about.  I have, in my book, done it all.  What I have accomplished and endured would have killed most people.  The warrior, still, refuses to let me die.  For that I am grateful.  

The 2021 JAZ Farm Drone Tour

We received several request for another flyover to show the progress we have made over the past year. It was a little more hastily done as being out in the heat this summer has been pretty stifling. We have been up around 95 degrees or more for most of the summer. That and movie maker Aaron was getting ready to head up for a pretty exciting year at school. His senior design classes started today and so he is back in the thick of it.

In this video you will see the newest fences and pastures, the donkeys in said pasture, the new baby pigs, a couple of chickens fleeing the drone, the completed garden all fenced in, as well as the new goat pens and Rosemary the goat with her broken leg.

You will see Sage the dog doing some photobombing with our Basil conspicuously absent. We all miss her very much.

Because the layout of the place isn’t likely to change much anymore, and because I may very well lose my cinematographer to a new career in the next year, this will probably be the last one of these drone movies for a little while. After all, I would need to learn how to do it! There will be more posts and videos as we go, but considering the ridiculous upheavals of the past two years, we have accomplished an awful lot.

To Win This War, Don’t Fight, Live Like A Hobbit

I ran across two videos today while making breakfast. Both pretty well sum it all up for me. Neither address climate change, which is the ultimate trump card; There is no preparing for extinction. But in the movie, The Lion In Winter, in a confrontation with his father, King Henry, Richard The Lion heart said, when asked if he knew he was going to die, why did how he dies matter, his answer was to the effect, “When falling is all there is, how you fall matters.” I have long asserted that I have no interest in left vs right politics. I think it is nothing but a distraction to keep the masses fighting each other instead of targeting the real enemies of the state. The truth is, in my estimation, that the battle comes from the top down; Master versus slave, sociopaths versus normalcy. To win this war is really to deprive the rich and corporate elite of their power and to keep them afraid and in check. But in the spirit of Chris Hedges, that fight must be waged through massive movements of civil disobedience and a refusal to comply or participate in the corporate state no matter how violent I would like to get at times (and how much they deserve it.) But then, of course, I get torn by also agreeing with Derrick Jensen’s assertion that “we need it all.” So there is the conundrum. Perhaps it is situational. But I really think that living peacefully detached from the system is a powerful weapon. It deprives the oppressors and planet destroyers of their power to control.

The first video below pretty well describes the problem. The second is the solution we choose to follow here. It describes well what it means when I say, “Live like a Hobbit”. Many changes have happened to us here in the last year, and even just in the last couple of weeks. We are doubling down on our chosen lifestyle. If there is to be a future generation, this at the very least, should be how we move forward in order to help them. Deprive the Orcs of their power and live happily without them. Know your community and build resilience. Strive everyday to increase your self-sufficiency. Peace.