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.

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.

Man Cave During The Pandemic

I imagine that everyone is dealing with life changes during the “Pandemic”. Watching the panic buying, the stocking up of everything, including guns and ammo, has to be taking it’s toll on folks… especially if you live in an urban area.

Out here, things are a bit different. Sure we have a closet full of beer and pretzels for long term food storage and my BB gun ammo chest is full, but it can’t be anywhere near the fear that suburbanites are feeling right now.

Our issue is simply living, in spite the wider society’s psychosis. We are well stocked. Much of our food is still on the foot and hoof. The issue here is simply admission. What do I mean? Admission is an understanding of the dire situation in which we find ourselves. It is the idea that most of the rest of the country has lost it’s mind and that we need to defend against just such mental illness. I am sure that those with young folks having to go to school on-line and are wondering how work will play itself out, is beyond crazy making. I am in no way trying to belittle that point.

What I am saying, is that it didn’t have to be this way. Had we locked down hard, like eastern countries, and not been so infantile to think that a global pandemic was somehow an impediment to our freedumbs, we could have been well past this by now (witness New Zealand).

What I am referring to is the west’s infantile notion of rights and freedumbs. More to the point, the severe and catastrophic mental health issues we will need to deal with because of a world view destroyed. We introverts are weathering this storm very handily. Personally, I am overjoyed that I can use this crisis as a way to make friends and family keep their distance. BUT! For those who have been raised their entire lives to be social and extra-social beings, I am empathetic to the fact that your level of suffering could be monumental. To that end, I wish you all my best.

However, in this situation, life is a bit different. For many years now, I have been pretty much isolated (very well appreciated as I am the quintessential introvert). I LOVE my family, but as a result of the pandemic, I am now in a house with 2 other people and those 2 other people have their own agenda and it DOES NOT include playing Grandma Walton with me. One works full time and the other is a college student taking pandemic classes on line.

So what I have been doing is creating a campground at the far end of the property. I didn’t want to spend the money on building a new cabin out back. We have had this 5th Wheel since 1999. It has served us well on many an adventure. However, it doesn’t seem likely that we will really ever take it out on the road again. After all, farmers don’t really get vacations. So a few weeks back, I pulled it out to the back end of the property. The intension is now to create a campsite on the property where we can go to relax. I will be building a deck on the tree side and a Chiminea for evening campfires. It’s whole purpose is simply to cut the cord on occasion and detach from the world. I truly believe that happiness comes from building a life you don’t need to escape from. While this life is tough, and homesteading can drop you to your knees, I firmly believe that the urbanites have it far worse. We feel very fortunate, not from some blessings from a false god, but from foresight and a lot of determination. JAZFarm is performing admirably. Stay tough ya’ll. This ain’t going away any time soon.

Stay safe. Don’t be stupid. Think about someone other than yourselves for maybe the first time in your lives. Nothing is ever going back to normal. You can either let the corporatists dictate what the new normal is, or you can define it for yourselves. Personally, I know where I stand.

Homestead Sex

It is fall and breeding has commenced. In order to have a dairy, small or large, babies have to be made. In order to raise pork without having to buy babies from somewhere else, breeding has to happen. In order to maintain a healthy flock of chickens for meat and eggs, babies have to be made. This past week we put our lady goats in with the gentlemen. I must say, while bucks are the horniest things on 4 legs, they have been remarkably chivalrous with their girls. Sometimes it is difficult to determine when a doe is in heat. Nigerians come into their cycle monthly, but sometimes it is hard to determine when. Sooooooo, to solve that problem, the girls and boys get put together for 2 months. This pretty much ensures that at some point they will get it right.

On the other hand, it is pretty wise to put the bucks with the does well a part from each other. A couple of years back we put a doe and one of the bucks together and left the other buck out of the fun. Had we not had a chain link fence between them somebody would have gotten hurt. The outrage was impressive

Tank and Paprika
Dozer and Ginger

Last year we acquired a threesome of American Guinea hogs. They are smaller than the pigs you see going to the factory farms. They can also survive virtually on nothing but vegetable scraps and grass. They are now of age, but we have yet to see any signs of romantic flirtation. It isn’t that it might not have happened because we can’t watch every hour either. We will likely wake up later this year to a bunch of piglets hopping around.

Here is Petuia (on the right) and Pablo Pigcasso on the left, lounging in the mud looking cute. These are as friendly as dogs. They can’t get enough of tummy rubs.

And lastly, of course we are always hatching chickens and turkeys. In a month or so the 2020 turkey flock will go to freezer camp. These below are Jersey Giants (chickens). We use these for stew and crock pot meat. In 2 days we are expecting 40 Cornish Crosses. They are the larger meat chickens and will be raised up and processed sometime around November 1st. They grow incredibly fast and are a great and economical way to keep the freezer well stocked.

So there you have it. Farm procreation at it’s finest. No folks, your food does not all come wrapped in cellophane at your huge grocer. You gain a much greater appreciation for your food when you get down and dirty and raise it yourself. The next evolution may include meat goats or even raising a couple of steers. Shhhhhhhh don’t tell Zina.

Finally! A Day Off!!

We are coming up on the 8th anniversary of the JAZ Farm experiment. Since then, most everything else has been put on hold. Don’t get me wrong, this has been a labor of passion, but as anyone knows, when you have nothing but a certain task, it can get very old if you don’t have a diversion.

I was a bowhunter and hiker and lived in ranch country for many many years. I was raised in the Detroit area but most of my adult life has been spent in rural towns and the Rocky Mountain back country. Since my spine surgery, my ability to go off into the nether regions has been severely curtailed. Not to mention the fact that we built a farm from nothing up to the point that it supports vegetables, chickens, eggs, turkeys, dairy and pork.

After the last fence build, I was pretty burned out. I had told Zina that I needed to simply spend a day up in the hills in my old hunting, snow shoeing and stomping grounds. As I would never trust my old carcass to be up there un-aided, I went up with the new ATV. I cannot tell you how freeing that was. It was almost as though I had never left, but this time it was just to go see my mountains (I did try to flip the buggy once, but all is well). My next trip up will be during Aspen color season. I may never hunt again, but just being up there in the beauty amongst the mountain wizards with a camera was enough. Find your peace and be there. There is nothing else that matters. This was in the WAY back over 10,500 ft.. I still gots it.

Harvesting During The Zombiepocalypse

Pandemic, Economic Collapse, Riots, Drought, Fires, Depression and Food Insecurity.

Unemployment, Massive demands on Food Banks, Climate Chaos and a Partridge in a Pear Tree. So here we are in the midst of the most chaotic time of our lives. Here we are on your actual brink. The news is something to be avoided if you are to maintain any semblance of sanity. We have an election that is going to be anything but uncontentious. We have no national plan to combat the bat bug and it appears that this little anomaly had the power to bring down the planet (Especially the U.S.). What does one do when, after years of warning clients, friends and family that this was coming? Answer: Grow a garden just like one has done for years. 95% of Colorado is in a moderate to severe drought. We just went through the hottest August on record and I can attest to how miserable that is. Yo easterners, low humidity doesn’t solve the problem, you can simply dry up and blow away out here and much of our landscape has. A mountain pass that I spent many years around is ablaze as well as places on the Western Slope where I spent a lot of my Jeremiah Johnson years.

Because of supply line disruptions and catastrophic crop failures around the world, plagues of locusts in Africa and floods in China, makes for a time where I should have been growing Popcorn. After all, as Uncle George told us, When you are born you are given a ticket to the freak show. When you are born in the U.S.A. you are given a front row seat. Have you awakened yet or are you still in denial? Not only are we going into a second Great Depression (That will make the first one look like a nice Little House On The Prairie episode) we are going into a complete reset of our way of life (Thank God). We are facing food shortages, supply line disruptions, massive evictions, the lack of metal to make canned goods, and all manner of things that will make life pretty uncomfortable in the coming years. I think, and this is simply my opinion, that our lives will reset to look more like the lives of Appalachian Homesteaders of the 1850’s – without the Civil War one can hope. If there could be a time where every possible problem could come to a head (including World War) this is it. I know that everyone is completely fatigued from 2020, but I am afraid you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

So what does one do? Learn from us. Learn from homesteaders and preppers. The faster you can get over your grieving and get on to the task at hand (survival and adjusting to whatever comes down the pike) the better off you will be. Our old paradigm died this year. There is no “waiting for things to get back to normal”. First of all, normal is what got us into this problem, and second, there is no “new normal”. We are going to have to reinvent EVERYTHING! Plans for you career? Screw that. Plans for your kid’s futures? Screw that too. They are going to be with you forever. Perhaps this is the answer to the lack of people wanting to become farmers. The average age of a farmer in the U.S.A. is 58 – that’s friggin’ ME!! Who do you think is going to grow food for the future? Business majors and computer wonks will be WORTHLESS. If you can’t feed the people, well………

Everything about your existence now needs to be about learning how to provide all of the sustenance for your family and your local community. I am so sorry for you who have been caught in the cities. If you have the ability to get out and onto some land I would highly recommend that you do it right now! My father once said (one of the few things he said that I could actually relate to) that the next depression is going to be so much worse because everyone is dependent on trucking and no one knows how to process a pig or a chicken. Absolutely. Have any of you newbie gardeners and freaked out ‘steaders tried to get ahold of canning supplies lately? How about baby chicks? Flour? Yeast? Bulk anything? You all freaked and bought everything with no idea how to use it. My good friend at our local feed store said he can’t believe how many people have come in to get baby chicks thinking that in a few short weeks they would be knee deep in eggs. It takes 6 months ya’ll. The toilet paper freak out was a joke. You should be WAY more concerned about a dollar collapse and a Venezuela style hyper-inflation poverty. If you hear nothing else, understand that our government gives not one shit about you. They do not care. Food inflation? Remember oil inflation in 2007-08? Same story. We shall see the threshold at which food prices can’t go beyond before everything collapses. Wonder why we have 50 million unemployment claims in the last 20 weeks but Wall Street continues to set new highs? Answer, because they care more about a few billionaires than the 99% of the population that makes this economic abortion run.

Whew. I just felt like I was in a client appointment prior to my retirement. I know some of you follow me and you can attest to the fact that I have been warning about this economy since at least the Dot Com bubble. You can take what I wrote for what it’s worth. To toot my own horn though, when I was still working, I called the 2002 dot com bubble and the 2008 collapse. Be F…… careful!! This will end very badly. We are NOW, CURRENTLY, in the World’s Greatest Depression and it will not end anytime soon. It is time to start hunkering down and protect yourself and those things you hold dear. NO ONE is coming to help you.

Here is our financial plan:

Tomatoes. Diced, sauced, and salsa’d. They are still coming.

Serious quantities of beans. So far we have canned 50 quarts.

The peppers got nailed by hail this year but still have given us enough to dehydrate for the winter. Next year all the peppers and tomatoes go in the greenhouse. They need TLC.

This was one plant of potatoes as a test. If this holds true, we will have about 300 lbs. No potato famine here.

We have the tomato crop nailed. Large slicers don’t do well here but saucing tomatoes and cherry tomatoes will make you say “Uncle” after awhile.

This is a sunflower called “Titan”. It seeded itself this year. We will be keeping the seeds to plant more next year. Oh ya, if you do start gardening during the collapse of civilization, I would highly recommend saving seeds. My favorite seed sources were sold OUT this past spring. We ordered next year’s seed already. We will keep them in a fridge and use them next year while the Zombies all scramble for their little packets.

Next year we should be up to our ears in Asparagus

As usual, our Garlic was epic. We save the largest heads for seeding in for the next season. They will get planted and mulched in October.

We have discovered that we really like Sauerkraut. We have many more heads to deal with, but 15 pounds of cabbage went in to the crock in the past week. We also started making fermented pickles in a crock. They are amazing.

We planted boatloads of Celery this year. It dehydrates well and can go into soups and stews. This is a half gallon jar of it and that was close to 2 bushels before it got dried.

The crops that do the best outside of the greenhouse are the root crops. We have hundreds of row feet of carrots and beets. Looks like we will be canning, storing and dehydrating carrots soon.

Get busy people. This ain’t going to fix itself. I pity those that have no initiative. Find a plot to garden. Find a local farmer’s market. Get out, buy some land and grow your own. Shoot, Detroit is the epicenter of urban farming and roof top gardens are popping up all over places like NYC. If you care and you have the initiative, get after it. Otherwise, look to canned goods, freeze dried food sources, or any way possible to become more self-sufficient. It is coming. Be prepared. Get off of Social Media and deal with reality. Your lives may very well depend on it.

Gardening, Critters and More Fence Building in the Zombipocalypse

So how is everyone doing during the quagmire that is 2020? It has been a while since I got an update written down and posted. Mainly, because we have been pretty busy gettin’ it all done. Other than the fact that Aaron is home from CSU and Zina has been working from home part time, not much in my life has changed. However, I didn’t realize that these people actually think they need to eat every single day! That, plus the fact that I have been hot and heavy getting the outdoor spring projects done, has at times, made meal prep a little tough. I am the family cook and while I have a pretty good repertoire, coming up with new things, especially when going to the grocery store had felt like venturing into a biohazard zone, has been a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, we live pretty rural so much of the no contact and distancing hasn’t really been too bad. I’m afraid, though, given how infantile our fellow citizens are being about this, not distancing, not wearing masks, demanding to be able to go to the bar and restaurants, thinking it is all over, is going to prolong this nuisance for a very long time. I have little hope for rationality in a world of Karens and infants parading as adults. If one has half a brain, it isn’t too much of a stretch to understand that if quarantine and social distancing reduces the number of infections, doing the opposite will do the opposite. Shazam, that is just what we are seeing.

We are pretty self-sufficient out here. We raise our own eggs, meat and dairy, so having to worry about shortages hasn’t been a thing. Shoot! We had months of toilet paper even before this was a problem! As they say, “Two is one and one is none.” We didn’t really bulk up on food items. What groceries I did get were just the usual things you can’t really produce yourself: Orange Juice, Coffee, fresh produce on the off season, etc. I ventured out for these things just to be able to not have to feel like we were having to make major changes and, so far, we have really not noticed much change in our day to day.

While the world burns, crumbles, gets mis-managed and in all other fashions, ripped off during all of this (Never let a good crisis go to waste) I have been outside getting the garden in place and finishing up some last fencing that, for me, will make the place feel balanced. As I have mentioned, we don’t have the equipment to put up our own hay. So I got us out the better part of a year in hay storage for our goats and donkeys. One of the fences is to provide for more grazing area. Instead of having to hay the fields and spend upwards of $100,000.00 for the gear to do it, I am spending far less and fencing in our north field. It will be another 4 acres where we can move the animals to. The donkeys eat the grass, the goats eat the weeds and instead of bringing it to them, we will bring THEM to IT. Being one of those folks that like symmetry and balance, having it fenced off will feel balanced as well. Also, if you will recall from previous posts, we had issues with the new neighbor’s goats. They got loose and did a bunch of damage to our trees and fence netting. The new fence around the gardens is to prevent this from happening again. Lastly, we have put up entrance gates to the farm. Given the current climate, having a deterrent that doesn’t allow for someone to just drive up to the house seems to make sense. It also creates a bit of a sense of security.

I’m getting pretty good at this!

I am happy to report – and also received – that all of the hail and shade cloth additions to the garden have worked great. In addition, in order to make the move to the new gardens complete, I built, filled and planted 3 new 50 foot raised beds. This year they contain potatoes (which have sprung up with a vengeance) Asparagus – a permanent planting as they can live 15 years, and an attempt to grow a passel of sweet potatoes.

The animals continue to entertain. I am in the process of building a couple of breeding pens for the goats. In order to provide the yogurt and cheese we like and need on a more regular basis, we need more than one goat in milk at a time. Folks have asked why we don’t get a cow. It’s a fair question and the answer is that a Jersey cow will give you upwards of 2 -3 gallons of milk a DAY! We don’t drink milk much so that would be a Tsunami of moo juice. We could turn it into cheese, but 2 gallons a day would be a pound or more of cheddar a day. Way too much! So with a couple of our Nigerians in milk we would get around half a gallon. Between yogurt, milk for my coffee and various cheeses, that would be plenty.

Neo just hangin’ out in a water bucket

We raise turkeys for meat. Again, why not a cow? There are two and sometimes three of us. A half a beef is a few hundred pounds of meat. Way too much for us considering we raise our own chickens and pigs for meat as well. Turkeys, while perhaps the dumbest farm animal ever bred, provide a good deal of meat for burger, soup, stews and whatever else comes to mind. This year, we had a few hens go broody so we let them sit their eggs. So far we have had a momma hatch one chick and we have two others sitting on about 20 eggs. We shall see how that turns out. Usually we put the eggs in incubators, it will be fun to see how the mommas fair.

So I hope everyone is dealing with this strange year without too much turmoil. We are doing well and the farm is performing admirably. Here is hoping that we actually all pull together and help one another. Given our current climate, that would be a refreshing change. Farm your yard, help each other and fight the powers that be. Peace ya’ll.

And, Of Course, This Happened

I have been pretty pre-occupied with getting the power restored to the house.  I am happy to say that when you network locally, people will respond.  I can’t thank Bob, Lane and Zeb enough for coming to our rescue.  They pretty much dropped what they were doing and got this thing done.  The skid steer came yesterday and we got the line dug up. The electrician came out today in snow and temperatures in the mid-teens and spliced the line (He’ll even be sending a guy out to do some general electrical repair I’ve wanted to have done).  I am so happy to have the house warmed up.  Have you ever had that feeling when you have been cold for quite awhile and when you are in the warmth again your face feels flushed and warm?  That is where I am now.  Because of the winter cloudy weather I had the furnace cranked way down so it wouldn’t completely drain the batteries.  I also hadn’t had a shower in 3 days for the same reason.  The well pump is a huge draw on the solar system and with the sun in absentia I couldn’t bring up the charge enough to keep everything going.

But all is well now.  The batteries are back to full (This system is remarkable). The furnace is running, I took a long hot shower, got the outdoor electric needs for the animals fired back up and we are back in business for a night that is going down to zero.

Of course, because this is how we roll around here, I went out this morning to the barn to feed (probably 10 degrees).  I brushed the snow off of the solar panels and then proceeded into the barn where we have everyone sequestered from the cold, and as predicted I came in to some new, very tiny, goat voices.  Yep, momma Cumin had her twins last night in the midst of all of this hooplah.  They are doing very well, although a bit chilly.  Now with the heat lamp back up and running, they will be just fine.  Animals are remarkable creatures when it comes to tolerating weather.  After all, these are Nigerian Dwarf Goats, as in African, as in don’t come from winter climates.  Momma is being very attentive.

Now here is the farm stuff.  We cannot have anymore bucks on the farm.  Two is plenty.  They are sweet as the dickens but they smell and carry on and are like they are a different species from the females.  Some ranchers simply drown the bucklings at birth.  I would never be able to do that.  My remedy is a little more “ballistic” in a .22 LR sort of sense.  It appears, although we will need to check again now that the other distractions have been resolved, that Cumin gave birth to two doelings.  That is great news this time because they will be available as an addition to the dairy flock, and I don’t have to be farmer and executioner.

So as usual, if something goes wrong on the farm, you can bet there will be other issues because they always seem to come in clusters.  Thanks again to my contractors that rescued us and thank the genetic random chance that we had two girls this time.  Nothing cuter than baby goats.  They gots baby humans beat hands down.


Happy 7th Anniversary JAZ Farm!


December 4th, 2012…… a date that will live in infamy!  After years of searching for land and over a year of negotiating, losing one bid on another place and the stress and strain of dealing with a bank trying to buy a foreclosure, we got the keys to a dilapidated house and garage and set work to putting it all together.  This blog has been a journaling of all that has transpired in it’s transition.  This was a broken down house in the middle of a massive, 40 acre grass field.  7 years later, it is a comfortable home and a fully functional farm with barns and coops, pastures, vegetable gardens, dairy goats, chickens, pigs, donkeys and turkeys.  This was a huge, all encompassing, project that has consumed us since before we were even given the keys.  You can see all of it here and scroll over the years to see just what went into building a life of Thoreauian self-reliance.  This is, and was then, the most all consuming project of our lives.  Between the sacrifices, the enormous amount of physical work and the vision of what it could be, we are so proud of ourselves and are unapologetic for saying so.  Not many have embarked on such a mission.  Even less so at our age.  JAZ Farm, we hope, is a beacon for others to follow.  It was a life changer for us.  We have loved it and hated it….. many times during the course of just one day!  We went to the plains to live deliberately.  We live the old fashioned ways on purpose – and that has made all the difference.

So instead of going over what we did to build the place (which has been more than compiled on this blog) I thought it more important, now that the build out is completed (except for projects that will help embellish and aren’t necessarily needed for core operations) to go over more of the mental challenges that one goes through when deciding to make a pretty decisive break from modern society.  Many come to the homesteading gig through a desire to get out of the rat race, or grow one’s own food, or have a place for animals.  All are valid reasons; unfortunately, many bite off this quest with inadequate financing and pie in the sky fantasies of it being a virtually utopian existence.  As a result,  plans are made, jobs are quit, animals are acquired and fences built.  After which, the funds run out, the animals escape and the makeshift infrastructure fails.  Also, even when it all does hold up, it is discovered that everything that has been built and all the animals are acquired, require feeding and maintenance.  You are awakened before the sun to the donkeys honking, the chickens crowing, the goats baying and and and…. eyes staring at you…. everywhere, hungry eyes.  Many folks leave.  Many go broke.  Many deal with the depression of feeling like failures when the ideal of making a living from their own land, fall flat.  This is a very rewarding way of life… but it ain’t for the faint of heart, and that is where I’d like to go with this anniversary celebration.  After all, it is a Phoenix and we are still standing, when at several points that was definitely in question.

There are many philosophical and psychological  issues that cause people to seek out a homesteading life.  Ours was trying to find some sense of security and mental health in a world that is decidedly losing it’s mind.  We discovered issues like Peak Oil (peak everything for that matter), Financial fraud after having worked in the industry through the crash of 87,  the dot com crash, the 2008 financial collapse, climate change issues, the perverted food system poisoning the population, not to mention, just the idea of being enslaved to the abusive world of corporate capitalism and the never ending treadmill of running east looking for a sunset.  We made the conscious decision to use our resources to attempt to escape to the maximum degree possible.  We honestly think that the future looks bleak.  Some may call us preppers, we call it being pre-emptive.  After all, just a few generations ago, this was just how one lived.  So many issues seem to be stacking up in front of us that could cause serious survivability issues that it made sense to remove ourselves to a safe distance.  Now we can work in the city (where most live), but use those resources to create and maintain a lifestyle that is more recession, depression and collapse resilient.  Not to mention the fact that the food is sooooooo much better tasting than the grocery store or restaurants.  We didn’t think it made sense, once the realities of our supply systems were exposed for the tissue paper strength that they are, to sit around when we knew we could do something about it.  So we dropped out of the rat race.  We built a farm, we grow virtually all of our own food, we are mostly off grid, and have an extremely quiet existence out on the high eastern Colorado plains.

Despite the hardships along the way (which are enumerable but we’ve decided to keep a lot of those to ourselves so as not to hurt others) lessons about living in a pretty inhospitable part of the world, and trying to keep one foot in the urban rat race while decompressing out here, I’m not so sure we would ever trade this.  I can’t imagine sitting in a suburban home anymore.  What do they do other than work and shop?  This place gives us purpose.  It gives us security.  It makes us feel somewhat unique and that we are living deliberately without depending on the fragility of the momma birds importing resources to the city.  7 years in the making…. what a long strange trip it has been.  I hope that passers by to the blog here may gain some inspiration and move toward their goals.  It takes a spine.  It takes a sacrificed spine….. BUT, there is nothing more satisfying than looking out your window and seeing all of these structures and functionalities and that they all work….. and you built all of them.  7 more years?  What a trip that might be.  JAZ Farm… it’s our own act of rebellion and freedom.  Whoda thunk?  I was supposed to be nothing but the family scapegoat.  This world doesn’t belong to the masters of business and AI and corporate fascism.  It belongs to the like minded who go back to the old ways while the former collapses around them.  Mark my words, it isn’t far away.  Happy 7th anniversary JAZ Farm.  Thank you for your existence.