Before The Flames, The Harvest

The annual July wheat harvest is well underway. Farmers keep their fingers crossed as this staple crop approaches maturity and then dries itself out. Hail storms can knock entire fields down in minutes. Too much moisture and they can’t get the combines in the fields. Or this year, when it is so dry that I can dry our clothes on the line faster than a drier can dry them…. the world can go up in flames. The parade of grain trucks usually begins around the 4th of July. The harvesting will proceed day and night until completed. This year was a close one. The fields are bone dry but the heads are mature. Almost a perfect scenario. However, the drought has made things almost too dry. Up north of us a few miles, a 100 acre field (about 2.5 times the size of our place) caught fire and caused evacuations. So far the local elevator is filling up…. Diabetic White Bread and Wheat thins are safe again for another year! We lease out 30 acres to the farmer across the road from us. Evidently we are getting either Milo or Millet put in after he recovers from the marathon tractor session.

Grass fire:

Amber Waves Of Grain

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.

Re-Stocking The Aisles

IMG_3002

I had a strange feeling this past New Year.  It felt like the twenty teens were somehow the last “normal” decade we were ever going to see.  Forces have been arising that seemed to have enough clout to really rock our world through the 2020’s.  The markets were too long in the tooth, being held up by rubber bands and paper clips as well as massive amounts of money being fed into the system by the fed and companies doing the same thing that helped cause the Great Depression (Buying back their stock).  This, and the fact that over half of this country didn’t participate in the recovery from 2008 and are incapable of handling an emergency that would require them to come up with $400.00.  If you have read this blog for any time, I think Climate Change is the ultimate trump card.  There is no escaping it and if the IPCC is correct, the talking points say that we only have this decade to turn things around (I am not of that camp.  I don’t think it can be turned around at all).  So the clock is ticking and the doomsday clock was pushed closer to midnight than it has ever been.  I just didn’t think we would see it all happen in the first quarter of the first year of the new decade!  I had been calling out warnings for a couple of years now that a life changing event was coming.  I just didn’t know the catalyst was going to come from a bat.  Welcome to the jungle.  And you thought Mother Nature could be controlled and wasn’t in charge.  Baaaa, baaaa, says the sheep.

(As an aside, it is remarkable to me that we could mobilize all of these logistics globally to fight a bug because it is killing and maiming people, but human extinction due to climate change?  Virtually nothing.  Save ourselves from the bat bug, so we can die from accelerated habitat loss.  Humanity, if nothing else, is certainly a conundrum.  But I digress).

IMG_0781

Vacuum sealed and stored Black Beans.

We, like everyone, have been pretty scope locked on this infernal virus.  But, because we live the way we live, we have been prepared for just about everything for many years.  As I have some pretty hyper-vigilant situational awareness senses, we were out ahead of this thing.  We filled in the gaps (Not Toilet Paper – because of where we live, you ALWAYS have extra) and instead of having to freak and scramble for basic daily rations, I went out and filled in the more comfort items:  snacks, drinks, chips, etc.  For any of the more long-term food storage items we simply add to it as a matter of course.  My spidey senses told me that the window was closing fast to get prepared, so I went when all the others still seemed to think all was normal.  Friends, relatives, neighbors at the cafe’, as usual, poo poo’d it because that thing we call media, was convincing everyone it was “over there” and it was just a bad case of the “flu” and those bad government doobies were just trying to scare us.  We in the prepper and homesteader – verse were not convinced for a minute.  Most of those I follow and are friends with were on the same page we were.  The mantra was “get prepared now before everyone else suddenly realizes how serious this is.”  And, of course, here we are.

It was the week after I did all of this that the hoards descended en-masse like the pictures and videos everyone is now familiar with (maybe you were even featured in them).  We have always had some masks and gloves around (we use the masks to clean the chicken coop).  We have always had an extensive first-aid supply so all I really did was pick up a bunch of cold, flu, nausea and cough meds for possible first response needs (Oh ya, and a new thermometer and finger mounted Pulse Oximeter).  The weekend AFTER the first feeding frenzy was entertaining.  I went to Costco to get some meat I needed for some canning I’m doing.  I got to joke around with the staff amidst the empty shelves and cardboard boxes.  They said that past weekend was worse than Christmas.  The photo below is a clerk at our closest grocery store.  She is a friend.  She and I had gone to physical therapy together.  The woman she is checking out had 3 carts loaded to over-flowing, and every check out aisle was similar.  All I was after was some whole milk that we make yogurt for our pigs with!

IMG_5043

Keep in mind this is a full size grocery store out in the sticks in a town of 2500 people.  They did this to the shelves in 2 days:

IMG_0360

Because we produce so much of our own food and because we always keep the things we don’t grow stocked up in the pantry or freezers, we were fortunate not to have to go out into the freak show for very much.

Our virus prepping was quite a bit different from the norm.  Some of our food walks around and eats grain.  In addition to this little pandemic surprise we are now confronting, climate change hasn’t gone away.  Last year, for the blissfully unaware, was a terrible year for grain crops.  Severe flooding prevented many farmers from planting.  Many had their grain stores ruined or washed away and the freak freezes in the mid-west this past fall made harvesting a challenge.  As a result, there have been warnings about possible grain shortages (potatoes too).  We are expecting an El-Nino this coming summer which, at least here, usually means drought conditions and heat.  Should we experience another poor growing season for crops, animal feed will get expensive.  So in order to withstand this virus shindig and to get out ahead of potential grain price increases, we prepped for our critters more than we prepped for ourselves.  For us, feed means a continuous source of eggs (a re-producing breakfast supply), feed means pork (we have breeding stock now so our pork will beget more pork).  Hay means milk, cheese and yogurt from our goats. They all make compost and that means vegetables.  We feed a lot of our eggs to our pigs as a protein source, so, in essence, the chicken feed gets used twice!  Our goal is to have a year each of chicken and pig feed and a year or more of stacked hay (In a drought, hay gets ridiculously hard to find and, as a result, expensive).  So while the citiots were out mobbing Costco, Sams, Walmart and Target, we were just up the road ordering skids of feed.  With the eggs, pork, chicken and dairy taken care of, we are well situated, and it will help stretch the stored goods for quite some time.

IMG_4184

Other preps have included, butchering 125 lbs. of turkey and grinding it up and putting it in the freezer; making gallons of turkey and chicken soup along with the ingredients to can loads of other meals.   Now that the weather is turning for the better, we will be collecting our Jersey Giant meat bird eggs and hatching them out.  We have Cornish Cross chicks due in in a month and they will add to the freezer in short order (they grow very fast).  We have one goat in milk right now and will be breeding the others.  They will kid in the fall and the milk faucet will continue on unabated.

IMG_1132

We only milk once a day so we are getting about a quart per morning.  Plenty for us.

IMG_0266

We WEALLY Likes to Play!

IMG_3014

The Single Dumbest Farm Animal In Existence…. and one of the tastiest.  Both For Meat And Eggs

Like so many people who are privileged to be able to, Zina has been ordered to work from home for the foreseeable future.  We are very grateful to her company to be out ahead of the problem as well.  Aaron came home for spring break and it has turned into a year ending affair.  He will be taking the remainder of his classes on line this semester and then he will be home for the summer.  It remains to be seen if school starts back up in the fall.  Given the blundering way the powers that be are handling this, don’t hold your breath.  For those who can’t work from home, we certainly hope for the best.  Too bad we can’t count on those living off of our tax dollars to do anything important.  Isn’t it ironic that those who have the low “skill”, low wage jobs are now considered indispensable?  Quite frankly, I think this bat virus is exposing “capitalism” for the two tiered sociopathic farce that it is.

IMG_2995

So after getting hunkered down at the farm (which didn’t change much except that I’m not alone for most of the week now), we started looking to the long term.  You see, it is my contention that if we are to survive not only through this virus, or if there are others (which there are sure to be), and the changing living conditions in which we find ourselves, there is going to be a re-ruralization – or at least a massive re-structuring of urban settings.  The supply lines will become more localized.  Globalism will be seen for the failure that it is (Who’da thunk that a virus from a poor wet market in Asia could get on a plane and kill people all the way around the world.  Globalism….. the perfect model.).  Knowing this, it makes sense to get out ahead of that curve as well.  In World War II they were called “Victory Gardens”.  Due to food rationing and military mobilization, people were called upon to farm their yards.  It is currently going on in Russia and it is a large part of how Cuba has survived its sanctions and horrendous treatment at our hands.  It is a remarkable thing, abundance.  If you have the means and some space it is time to start growing a garden.  It is great exercise, the taste of the food is without equal, and if you do it with your neighbors, the bartering and sharing (gasp!) creates community.  Hey!  You are locked up anyway, its something to do instead of shooting zombies on the PS4 and produces an actual result!  If the supply lines get disrupted because of this, you will be ever thankful for taking this advice.  We do save our seed every year, but for those we can’t we are even getting a supply ordered for 2021 ahead of time (seeds can last for several years in a fridge – we have a little one just for that purpose).

We are calling this year’s garden planting, “re-stocking the produce aisle”. While it hasn’t changed from what we normally do and because the building projects here are largely done, I have been able to give it more attention than years past.  This is an aisle restocking for the late summer and fall.  The seedlings are up and loving the basement “suns” as they get set to go into their pre-garden grow out pots.  Later this week I am expecting 20 tons of planting soil to be delivered so that I can finish my last 2 48 x 6 foot row crop beds.  Then the composting and amending begins in earnest for the planting to begin in the next 6-8 weeks.

IMG_3410IMG_6767IMG_7039IMG_7185IMG_9156IMG_9766

I have also begun making tinctures.  For those who don’t know what these are, they are extracts made by soaking an herb or spice in grain alcohol or vodka for about a month.  The resulting filtered liquid can be used for many medicinal situations.  For instance, our garlic tincture is great for regulating blood pressure, can act as a blood thinner, and has strong anti-viral properties (hint).  Considering that 97% of our antibiotics come from China, learning the old medicinal ways only makes sense.  Get ahead of the curve!

So, personally, I think all those that are acting like my eldest Lab when we put her out in her pen and then just stands there staring at the house like we have locked her in prison, lack creativity.  This should be used to learn, to experiment, to develop new skills to adapt to a life that is certainly going to be different.

IMG_3837

Learn to bake, cook, sew, knit, crochet, can, wood work, weld, garden…. anything!  Get off yer butts!

I assert again that the twenty teens were the last “normal” decade.  The new normal will be something akin to living like an Amish Hobbit in the 1850’s.  You can prepare for it, or you can sit around like baby birds in a nest waiting for momma Robin to come stuff a worm down your gullet.  Of course, that makes one dependent upon the same government they claim to hate.  Hey, I just call em like I see ’em.  As I learned to affirm in therapy, “I wasn’t wrong then, I’m not wrong now.”  Given how many people are now contacting me about what to do, I get to feel a little smug.  The days of insulting or dismissing homesteaders and preppers are over.  We don’t engage in Schadenfreude, but there is some shaking of our heads.  A certain amount of “I told you so” is well deserved.  We earned it.  We in the community do hope that there can be a civilized transition to the new normal and not Mad Max. But rest assured there is preparedness for that too. We are at a crossroads and where it goes from here and how it goes from here is destined to be incredibly entertaining.  Keep your wits about you.  Don’t believe any rosie short term forecasts, this is going to be with us for a very long time to come.

Hunker down.  My favorite meme from this:

IMG_2999

 

Imagine That. Don’t Think I’ve Ever Said THIS Before.

It Wasn’t the Cows After All

While the cattle industry is repeatedly accused of being the main culprit for increased global methane emissions (and a leading cause for climate change), a new study shows that the fertilizer industry is the root cause.

The report by researchers from Cornell and the Environmental Defense Fund, published in Elementa, shows that emissions of methane from the industrial fertilizer industry have been ridiculously underestimated (and, it turns out, based on self-reporting) and the production of ammonia for fertilizer may result in up to 100 times more emissions than previously estimated for this sector. What’s worse is that these newly calculated emission amounts from the industrial fertilizer industry are actually more than the total amount the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated for all industries to emit across the U.S.

Researchers used a Google Street View car equipped with a high-precision methane sensor to measure the emissions of six fertilizer plants for this study. They drove the car on public roads, downwind from the facilities to record the methane levels in the air. The study reveals an enormous disparity between EPA estimates and actual emissions levels. The team discovered that on average 0.34 percent of the gas used in the plants is emitted to the atmosphere. Scaling this emission rate from the six plants to the entire industry suggests total annual methane emissions of 28 gigagrams, which is 100 times higher than the fertilizer industry’s self-reported estimate of 0.2 gigagrams per year. In addition, this figure far exceeds the EPA’s estimate that all industrial processes in the United States produce only 8 gigagrams of methane emissions per year.

The fertilizer industry uses natural gas both as the fuel for its operations and as one of the main ingredients for ammonia and urea products (aka the world’s most commonly used nitrogen fertilizers). Since natural gas is largely methane, it has serious potential to be a significant contributor to climate change, and the fact that use of natural gas has grown in recent years has previously raised questions on who’s to blame for rising methane emissions. If it’s been no surprise that natural gas can contribute to climate change, and these facilities rely so heavily on natural gas for production, how could these numbers have been so egregiously underestimated in the first place? It seems this billion-dollar industry made it a point to direct the finger of blame elsewhere.

Now that the fertilizer industry numbers are in, and there is further evidence disproving the widely held assumption that cattle are solely to blame for the spike in global methane emissions, will we stop blaming the product and instead blame the system? If we only move from condemning one product to another, we’ll never make meaningful change. Instead, if we think systemically, there are solutions that can start making a change right now. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: When it comes to livestock production, well-managed grazing animals will not only help feed the world sustainably by using pasture, rain and sunshine to make high-quality food, but can even help to mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration. This is a system that works, positively benefitting us and the earth.

It is abundantly clear that agriculture as a whole is still a major contributor to global GHG emissions, and many of its climate change-contributing factors need to come to an immediate end. But suggesting that people go vegan, or limit consumption to a single forkful of meat per day, will not stop global warming. Plants are not the be-all and end-all of a sustainable diet. As it turns out, the chemical fertilizer being used for large-scale vegetable production (or even your backyard garden) has more serious consequences than we ever thought. Choosing products from pasture-based systems can truly impact our world for the better, and with eyes wide open to the facts in front of us, demanding a change to the system itself is the only way forward.

Those of you know me will recognize my constant refrain around “unintended consequences.” We are now in a scenario where advocates have been pushing chicken and veganism to save the world, and have just learned that all the “data” behind this push is wrong. All of the environmental footprint studies need a re-do. Once cattle — raised on grass without synthetic fertilizer — are accurately assessed, I predict we will be left with chicken and some plant products as top line polluters. As we always say, it’s complicated. But we have to get it right.

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.

ZoSep+JKSsGkhmZUVwIFbgsHdi9cVYQLeTZlJj9lZKtgfd%uP2+9TD2CvsRhjfZicA7JuiY0bNSGavPO1jtwd03AA5tjlHrwTzaeseVBdQyPUwf2RtD2KMRpWqAlSAbcZcwALv4wDN9uSP+9g%uXAjJQOQVgRScsvtQACkj41OEV6EGwCVwzpk8bQdK%Q3TB0q0lLA

Kremmling Revisited

IMG_0145

When I was still working, even my housing while I was traveling was pretty much off the grid.  I had an office in Boulder, but my main office was up in Frisco near the big Colorado ski resorts.  The office itself was at 9200 feet above sea level.  If you are familiar with Breckenridge, A-Basin, Keystone and Copper Mountain, that’s where it was (About 20 minutes east of Vail).  For many years when I was up there I stayed overnight in my “Hotel Room”.  My hotel room was my 24 foot fifth wheel camper.  I kept it parked full time about 40 minutes north of there in a small hunting town called Kremmling.  During the summer, things were fine.  I had the usual full hook ups of electricity and sewer and could use the shower in the trailer.  Winter, however, was a different sort of duck.  As Kremmling was about 7500 feet above sea level instead of Frisco’s 9200, the coldest air from the high country would come rushing down and settle in that basin.  This rendered water hook ups impossible.  It is February 2nd 2020 right now as I write this, back then during a February in the mid-2000’s, I ran out of propane in the middle of the night up at the trailer.  I got schooled right quick about what it must be like to live in a deep freeze.  I piled every sleeping bag and blanket I could find on top of me along with my sweat pants and sweat shirt.  That morning, as with every morning, I had to get up and head over to the showering facilities to get ready for work.  The thermometer at the main building showed 35 below zero F.  I took my shower and after the 50 yard walk back to the camper, my hair was frozen.  The memories of my life would scare most people.  It has certainly not been ordinary.

Which leads me to this current SHTF fiasco (When the Excrement Hits The Revolving Oscillator).  I would have never dreamed this scenario up if I was playing for money.  Ok, so I’m not the first person to attempt suicide via digging into a cable or gas line.  It’s getting fixed, and all will be well.  In fact, I just got a call from the electrician and he will be coming out tomorrow!  Something about a “Butt Joint” – an unfortunate name in any case.  Anyway, this whole episode reminded me of living in my trailer in Kremmling during that cold February.  This cable severing couldn’t have happened at a worse time.  I was out working in 70 degree weather when it happened.  That night the temperatures plunged into the 20’s and tonight will go into the single digits.  As I have described before, the power grid is our back up.  Should the solar not produce enough because it is CLOUDY! The grid fills in the gaps.  The next day (today) the forecast is 5 inches of snow, single digits, and no sun!  I have been playing the power conservation game all day!  Because it is cloudy and everything is covered with ice, the solar panels aren’t charging the batteries like they should.  So to combat the problem, I’ve shut down the water pump, turned off any and all vampires, turned the thermostat down to 55, put on layers of clothes, am proud that this winter’s weaving project has been blankets, got a propane heater for the basement to keep the water pipes from freezing, hooked my sleep machine to a separate deep cycle battery, cooked on a propane stove and hunkered down.  It might not be 35 below like Kremmling, but the years up there taught me a lot of tricks.  Hopefully, it is only one more night if this guy shows up.  Otherwise, Tuesday night will be down to 1 degree F and I will NOT have the battery power for that.  “Well, Jon, why don’t you use a generator as a bridge??  &*^%$#$%^&%$#@$%^%$!!!  I DO have a generator!  When I realized what I was up against I tried to fire it up and found out that the carburetor is gunked up!  It might be time to replace it.  The generator WAS supposed to be a redundant back up (The one we have is more powerful than the panels and is supposed to run on gas or propane.). Doesn’t anyone make anything reliable anymore?  So as with the food challenge I took in November, this has exposed some big gaps in the farm’s sustainability and self-reliance capabilities.  Namely, if the grid is down (In this case it is because of a severed cable) and it is winter and snow-storming, we have some serious adjustments to make.  My first take is that we MUST have a non-electricity dependent source of heat.  If I didn’t have to worry about running the furnace turbine on the batteries and we had a pellet or wood stove, this would have been a piece of cake.

So the moral of this story is that you can find yourself stranded for any number of ridiculous reasons – especially this one that we shall call, “Head Up Your Ass-itis.”  Prepare to improvise.  There WILL be things you can’t imagine.  Now if we can just keep our goat from kidding until AFTER the power is restored that would be fabulous.  Stay lucid ya’ll.  Dementia comes in all forms!

ASKXhypbRrKgj7HYyCGnLQc9U94Fh4Q9WZ9bRmn3AXzHs8lZyTyKhAR2mzdyKkA

 

Emergencies and Setbacks. 2020 starts with a ….. bang?

86D19923-4646-4B51-892B-1AB882ABCA1D

I guess being prepared for the unforeseen also means those things you do to yourself.  We are expecting very cold temperatures on Monday and Tuesday, then returning to the forties thereafter.  At the same time, however, it is forecast to be in the high sixties, perhaps even hitting seventy today.  When the temperatures drop tomorrow, they are saying to expect a few inches of snow as well.  This would be about right as we have a goat expecting to kid around Tuesday, and Tuesday night is expected to go down to zero.

Now, of course, that alone would present its challenges, but it couldn’t stay that  simple.  Noooooo, Jon has to up the challenge ante because, well, I don’t know why, I just do.  We are putting up a permanent fence around our gardens.  The last 3 long beds for potatoes and Asparagus are going in (6 feet wide x 48 feet long) and then it gets buttoned up to keep out rabbits, dogs, the neighbor’s goats, etc., and be able to graze our own goats and chickens in there during the fall to provide fertilizer and weed control.

90DF3C7F-6A10-4887-977B-E239CD31445B

So I decided, during the nice weather, to get the holes drilled for the wooden posts.  Makes sense.  Do the outdoor construction stuff when the weather is good.  Of course, though,  I needed a near brush with death to go along with it all.   It didn’t even cross my mind that there might be an issue. At the main corner I dropped the auger to drill the hole and put it right through the main power line to the house! Evidently I was well insulated on the tractor. It could have gone badly right quick. I’m still alive, the solar and batteries kicked in so we still have power where we need it except for the water troughs and if we need a heat lamp should our goat kid in the next day or two. I can move the generator out to the barn to supply the critters should the need arise. All I wanted to do is put in the posts today. Emergencies and mental shocks suck. Fortunately, it wasn’t another kind of shock. Looks like we might have a guy that will fix it. The question, of course, is when?

Ok, yes I feel pretty stupid.  He who is without sin and all that. This is why farmers have a high rate of injury. We’ve discovered that potential mis-haps increase proportionately to the amount of work being done.  7 years of projects increases the rate of trips and falls, cuts, bruises, broken things, sick animals, versus having done no projects at all.  When we had our barn and greenhouse hydrants installed, the contractor put an auger through our main waterline.  Yesterday, I drilled through the power cable.  There aren’t any others, so I guess it’s out of our system now.  Although, I did go through a pretty good panic attack later when the realization struck that I could have gotten myself pretty dead.

So now we are waiting for a guy to come and dig up and splice the cable.  It is Super-bowl Sunday, so no one is coming for awhile.  Snow and cold is coming for the next two days, so no one will come then either.  As a result of my remarkable post hole placement, we are now completely off grid and will be relying on the solar system and batteries to get us through.  Instead of putting in posts, I will now be changing the generator oil and making sure it runs so we have an additional electricity source (After all, solar panels don’t produce if they are covered with snow, or if it’s really cloudy).  We are going into town to see if Tractor Supply still has kerosene heaters.  If the batteries don’t get charged up for some reason, the furnace won’t come on and then we risk frozen waterlines.  The generator can power space heaters as well.

Of course, while all this is going on, it is likely that one of our dairy goats will give birth as well.  We also will be hauling water because the trough heaters won’t have power.  All this, because the invisible gremlins on the farm decided that Farmer Juan needed to be screwed with yet again.  Like there isn’t enough going on right now.

So an SHTF or grid-down situation can come in many forms.  Never thought it would be one that was self-inflicted.  Oh well, now I get to play with all the secondary outdoor kitchen toys.  It’s always something.

Happy 7th Anniversary JAZ Farm!

IMG_1931IMG_1935IMG_2569IMG_2449

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.