Once upon a time there was a little robin. Every morning she’d wake up early and go find worms for her chicks in the nest. She had three very hungry chicks, and her husband had been eaten by a cat, so this little robin had to feed not only herself, but all three of her young chicks.
I’ve been getting more into permaculture and how it can reverse desertification. Much of the world has experienced expanding deserts while losing grasslands and forests. The Great Basin has experienced desertification on a massive scale over thousands of years. The Great Basin contained one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, surrounded by forests filled with wildlife. Lake Bonneville, as the lake is called, was bigger than many modern countries. Now all that remains is the Great Salt Lake, salt flats, deserts, and some forested mountains.
Crude Oil just dropped into the 20’s. That’s $29 per barrel. Don’t think it’s hit bottom. The real value currently is around $17, so the trading value is likely to come down to at least that if not overcorrect and go to $16 or lower.
Why is cheap oil a bad thing?
I can’t wait to visit Dove Ranch next spring. I already have tons of work I want to do, and every weekend that I have an extra eight hours, I wish I could go up there. However, Dove Creek Road that runs through my ranch is unmaintained even though it is a county road. That means there is zero snow removal. Also, it means there are plenty of places you can get a vehicle stuck for months on end in the winter without anyone coming by to give you any help. Still, I just can’t wait to get up there when the snow melts, and the road dries enough to be passable.
My dilemma, … I have to drive a six-hour round trip in the spring just to find out if the snow has melted enough that I can get to my ranch. I’m a pretty busy guy between working on my fiction blog, my shogi app, and my writing app. Oh yeah, and don’t forget 40+ hours per week on that pesky day job. Six hours for a wasted trip to find out Dove Creek Road is still unpassable is not my idea of a great Saturday outing.
Spring snow melt isn’t the only time snow is an issue. In the autumn, I base my last trip to Dove Ranch by whether the snow has come down to 5000 feet in Rosette, Utah. But, I can’t know about the snow in and around Rosette without doing the six-hour round trip drive. I don’t know anyone in the area that I can call up and ask for snow totals and weather updates.
I recently read a posting by a survivor of Hurricane Sandy. He described half-mile long lines for fuel, power outages, and fear. He learned like never before how close we civilized people are to the same primal life our ancestors lived. He expressed the fear he and his neighbors had that if the utilities had not been restored before winter, that they would have suffered severely with no way to heat their houses.
Times are good here in the USA. We have a good infrastructure, and good support networks for families that fall on hard times. History shows us that bad things happen, sometimes to entire countries, and often you can’t see them coming until they do. For anyone living in a place with severe winters, a disaster of country-wide scale could be deadly.
I don’t believe in magic, and I rarely believe in the improbable.
Growing up, I used to hear the question, “If there was an explosion at a printing company, is it possible for that explosion to result in a perfectly printed and bound copy of the Bible being created?”
The answer of course is “no”. No sane person would claim a fully printed and bound copy of the Bible could be created from a random explosion. The speaker then would continue on to point out that a person needs to create a Bible for it to exist. In the same way, a human being could not have been created by chance of evolution. Humans must have a creator if something much less complex, like a Bible, needs a creator.
I would take this analogy a step further.
Secular Pagans religiously demand absolution from religion. Secular Paganism’s first tenet is:
Thou shalt not declare thyself a religion.
This is the most powerful tenet of Secular Paganism. Liberating themselves from the label of religion frees Secular Paganists to demand state sponsorship of their religion while simultaneously demanding the repression of other religions on the ironic grounds that no one religion should be given preference over other religions.
Not having formal or informal recognition as a religion, Secular Paganism has managed to embed itself as the state sponsored religion of a majority of first-world nations and possibly the majority of all nations. The awarding of tax breaks, grants, and government contracts often revolve around institutional and individual adherence to the tenants of Secular Paganism.
I set up my trail cam for two months in the wash at Dove Ranch hoping to capture some really cool pictures of rushing water. The best flood came and went with a single raindrop (or maybe splashed drop) in the center of my trail cam’s lens. I can see some really nice water levels at the edge of the pictures, but nothing in the center except the blur of a water droplet.
There were two other good rain storms, but one happened at night and the other happened with my camera facing the wrong way. So all-in-all, my trail cam earned its nickname of “The Bunny Cam” by capturing twenty really nice pictures of jackrabbits.
I nearly walked through two massive spiderwebs at Dove Ranch on my latest visit. Grant, my eight-year-old son, kept saying over and over, I’m glad you’re leading the way. I would have walked right into those spiders.”
I don’t blame him for worrying about the spiders. The spiders were as big as his nose, and probably would have ended up on his chest if I hadn’t warned him.
I’ve watched Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus twice. I liked it and give it five stars. Tim Mahoney, the director, does a wonderful job of presenting current archeological thought on why the Exodus did not happen, while at the same time showing overwhelming proof that it did. I recommend renting or buying it.
I thought the coyotes were large birds of prey swooping along the landscape. The coyotes moved so smoothly and fast across the landscape—up and down the slopes of the wash—that I had no idea they were coyotes until one of them stopped to watch me.
I respect coyotes. They are beautiful, intelligent, and powerful.
I want trees on the ranch. Obviously, a ranch that was described in the real estate listing as “good for nothing but sagebrush” is a challenging environment for trees. I’ve done a lot of work investigating the most hardy pioneer trees that can survive in the drier areas of Utah.
But I’ll get back to pioneer trees in a moment.
My wife and I just celebrated our 21st anniversary. We took a trip up to Brigham City for dinner and a little sightseeing. We both love Brigham City, and might even move there in the next few years.
I’ve nicknamed my trail cam, the “Bunny Cam”. It is unbelievable how many rabbits are in the sagebrush by the Dove Hills. You can’t walk a straight line without stepping on one every three hundred feet.
I recently retrieved my trail cam from its second stint documenting the events that pass on my ranch while I’m not there. I shouldn’t have been too surprised, … rabbits happen. It took pictures of rabbits running; rabbits sitting; rabbits eating; rabbits socializing, and rabbits drinking after the rains. Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits.
Yup. Lots of rabbits up at the ranch.
We have a plague of rabbits at Dove Ranch. I’ve spent lots of time figuring out how to get rid of rabbits that destroy anything I plant on my land. Seriously, the rabbits look like cuddly bunnies, but there are so many of them that nothing green is safe from the rabbits. That leads to erosion, and a lack of trees and grasses.
Many people walk around in the sagebrush out near my ranch and shoot rabbits for sport. I don’t like the idea of killing a rabbit and then wasting the meat. However, these rabbit likely have parasites and disease, so it wouldn’t be safe to eat them. So, taking up rabbit hunting is out of the question.
When most people think of desert, they think of Death Valley, where it doesn’t rain during some years. These same people refer to the Wasatch Front, where I make my home, as desert. We get 20 inches of rain per year. That’s about half as much as most places that are covered in thick forests.
I’m always impressed by the amount of rain and snow we get even in our dry years in this area. Still, most people call it a desert. It is true that we have to manage our water more than areas with higher rainfall, but we also pipe tons of water to other states. So, we as a state obviously have more water than we need.
I finally downloaded the 2500 pictures my trail cam took in the wash on my ranch in northwestern Utah, so I can give some updates and more information about those kestrel chicks nesting at my ranch. In fact, I’ll show the entire kestrel nestling experience.
I first noticed the nest was occupied back around May 30, 2015 at 9:09 AM. I was fist positioning my trail cam to look out over part of the wash on Dove Ranch, and noticed a kestrel fly out of a hole in the cliff face. The trail cam timestamps pictures. That’s why I know the exact time.
My daughter and I started this visit to Dove Ranch by checking on the trail cam I left up there on my last visit. I had pointed the trail cam down into the wash at a small cliff with a nesting falcon.
The first thing I noticed was that the cliff face had collapsed. The rains earlier this year undercut the cliff by a couple of feet, so I wasn’t surprised to see soil fell into the runoff area.
My big question was, What happened to the nest?
With cattle grazing and extreme weather across the area, I was prepared to find a mess on my latest visit to Dove Ranch. Once I’ve fenced off the seven acres I plan to improve, it will be easier to control some of the damage that goes on up there. Fencing off the land is still a few years off, though.
I’ve planned a trip up to Dove Ranch ever since my wife and I did some van camping up there back at the end of March, but right after that trip, it started raining. And, it kept on raining. We’ve had increbibly wet weather for Utah, so visiting the ranch just hasn’t happened.
I finally broke down and bought a Bushnell Trophy Cam. Decent trail cams are a little on the pricy side (for me anyway), so I had to wait almost a year to buy mine. Even waiting a year, I still had to buy a two-year-old model, … used.
Before dropping the camera somewhere on my ranch for a few weeks, I want to learn to use it. It makes no sense to set up the camera, spend two or three weeks getting all excited to see what I can see, and not have any pictures to show for it. That would be a huge disappointment.
So, I picked my first victim, … Honeydew—the cat that stalks me constantly. Wouldn’t we all like to know the secret life of Honeydew? I placed my trail cam near my office door, knowing that that is her favorite place to wait for me.
I had a conversation with a friend, a few years ago, about storing a little extra food around the house in case of emergencies. We both agreed that emergencies happen that prevent us from getting food from the store. Earthquakes and hurricanes are big, grandiose examples of emergencies that shut down access to stores, but smaller emergencies like blizzards, or an identity thief emptying your bank account also happen all the time. As I said, she and I completely agreed that stuff happens.
I have a good variety of food on-hand, including everything from 45 pound pails of hard white wheat and popcorn, to canned soups and chilis. She knew I had a good variety, and said, “I’ll be fine, too, if there is an emergency. I have five pounds of roasted peanuts. I’ll just snack on those until I can get to the store.”
It couldn’t happen here. That’s all in the past.
Most people alive don’t remember famine, war, or disease in the United States of America wiping out large swaths of US peoples. War, plagues, famines, and food shortages are things that happen across the oceans, or at least across the borders.
In 1816, Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted pushing massive amounts of ash into the air. The global weather turned so cold that crops across the US died due to frost in June. Pennsylvania had river ice in July and August that year. Many people starved to death the next winter. Luckily, that could never happen again in the USA because Indonesia no longer has volcanos.
With the drought in California reaching critical status, we could see much higher prices for all kinds of products. Believe it or not, a shutdown of food production in California could lead to shortages of many food products across all of North America.
In the last half century, California has become the agricultural giant of North America. Most of the vegetables, nuts, and fruit consumed in America come from California. Milk, grapes, and almonds are among California’s lead exports. California grows nearly all of the America’s olives, kiwi, pistachios, prunes, raisins, and walnuts, among other products. Even the majority of our strawberries—1,400,000,000 pounds of strawberries—come from California.
Currently, much of that food production is grinding to a dusty halt. News anchors gleefully talk of “potentially higher prices,” while the reality of potentially empty shelves, gets swept under the newsroom rug.
The first few years I grew tomatoes, the plants got big enough that the little tomatoes formed, and then the hottest days of summer hit. When it gets into the 90’s and 100’s in Utah, tomatoes stop growing. They don’t start growing again until the weather drops to the 80’s in the late summer and early fall. As a result, tomatoes don’t ripen until just about the first tomato-killing frost.
Having no tomatoes until just before the frost doesn’t put food on the table for an entire summer. I might as when just use freeze dried tomatoes if I can’t get a longer harvest season.
I thought about jumpstarting my tomatoes by sprouting them inside under grow lights in late winter or early spring. However, growing plants under electric lights seems to be against all my prepping instincts. Grow lights don’t work when there is no power.
My second option was buying or building a small greenhouse. We have strong winds in Woods Cross, so I’d need to spend some money to have a greenhouse that wouldn’t collapse or blow away. The price was just too much for me.
Finally, I learned about cold frames. Cold frames are mini knee-high greenhouses. I realized that Cold frames were the tomato seedling growing tool I needed.
Potatoes require less water than most plants in a typical garden. You really need to make sure that you don’t rot the potatoes or cause fungus on the plants. I like keeping the watering down to about once per week. However, doing so when planted with water hungry plants is nearly impossible.
My solution is growing potatoes in tall sturdy buckets. Potato buckets allow complete control over water, sun and weather. And, repurposing buckets as potato buckets is a great use for old pales left over from grinding wheat into flour.
Today’s news highlights the reasons I garden, grow fruit trees, bought a ranch to build a house on, and spend my little spare time learning prepping skills. No one believes in an actual zombie apocalypse, but every terrorist organization in the world (and several nuclear-capable countries) repeatedly state their objective as “death to America”.
I think they mean it. No matter how much we ignore them, they are at war with us. “Death to America” is not just rhetoric to appease their constituency.
Now for a few words about pruning fruit trees.
What’s a prepper without his/her fruit trees? I try to grow fruit trees that stagger their fruit production over the summer and fall months, so I don’t have to deal with all our fruit ripening at once. One of our favorite trees is our peach tree.
I finally got around to pruning my peach tree and other fruit trees. Last year, I didn’t make time for them until they already had leaves and fruit growing on them. This year, I was determined to show them more attention.
I have a peach, two pears, two apples, and a cherry tree. The peach is my most productive tree, so I try to take good care of it. You can see the massive amount of fruit I get off my peach tree in an earlier post.
I’ve heard peach trees don’t need as much pruning after they mature, but my peach gets bushy every year. Maybe when it’s older it will call down. Believe it or not, I prune it back severely every winter or spring and it still comes out looking like the above photo by autumn.
I’m a prepper. I previously posted, First 10 Signs You Might Be a Prepper. I’m at it again with 22 more signs you might be a prepper.
“Prepper” sounds like such a harsh word. It took me many years to come out of the pantry and admit I was a prepper. Coming out of the pantry helped me find tons of people with similar interests. It’s been very liberating.
Preppers look at the world differently than other people. This unique outlook lends itself to plenty of humor. Yes, people point the finger of ridicule at us now-and-then, but that doesn’t mean we can’t smile at ourselves, too. I hope you share a smile or a laugh.
I’ve mentioned financial prepping before. By financial prepping, I don’t mean planning for retirement. Retirement planning may be integrated into financial prepping plans, but it isn’t the same thing. By financial prepping, I mean getting prepared for financial difficulty in your own life. Financial difficulty can come in the form of a lost job, identity theft, a debilitating injury, or the more glamorous zombie appocolypse induced world wide financial collapse. (Yes, I say the last one with tongue firmly in cheek, but life’s strange. Who knows?)
A key skill for any prepper is growing and then preserving your own food. One of the most common results of manmade and natural disasters is an interruption in supply lines that fill those handy grocery stores. However, if you grow and store at least some of your own food, supply-line interruptions don’t have to be a concern.
Years ago, I planted a fruit cocktail tree—one of those trees that grows lots of different types of fruits. I managed to kill it off, except the roots. The roots shot up a beautiful peach tree. This last fall it finally had a full crop of peaches.
You might be a prepper, if …
1) You look at your neighbor’s dandelion filled lawn and think,
2) While visiting Cape Canaveral, you spot astronaut ice cream in the gift shop and ask, “What’s the shelf life?”
3) You look for wood stoves at the department store.
4) You see a wood stove and want to know if you can cook on it.
5) You end up not buying the wood stove of your dreams, because your rocket stove is more fuel efficient.
Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor. This article merely states my opinions and views as a non-professional. If you’re looking for professional advice, contact an actual professional advisor.
One of the most commonly overlooked preps is financial security. Obviously, most people are aware of 401k’s and retirement planning. I’m not talking about these.
In late 2008, the US Fed, Congress, and President all signed on to the first Quantitative Easing. The purpose? The financial markets were in so much trouble that in reality, most US businesses might have lost access to their credit lines. The trickle-down affect would have been much of America going home without a paycheck for a month or more.
This description comes from Republicans and Democrats. I didn’t believe it at the time, but having learned a lot more about how businesses and financial markets work, I agree with their description now, even if I don’t like their “solution.” Continue reading Financial Prepping
I love shows that relate to homesteading and prepping. Unfortunately, there isn’t a genre selection on Netflix or Hulu for prepping and homesteading enthusiasts. They’re all ready for you if you want to browse Disney flicks or find Broke Back Mountain, but nothing for people with a little bit of pioneer in their souls. Let’s be honest though, I’d probably hate their selection even if they had a genre for us.
So, here are a few shows I’ve found fun, that I’d put in the Preppers and Homesteaders genre if I was in charge. I’ll see if I can come up with a few more for future posts, but this selection will be a good place to start.
The musty smell of our basement surrounded me on the wooden steps down to our cupboard containing glass jars of garden vegetables my mother canned months earlier. Home canned pickles, tomatoes, and yellow beans among other garden goods spread out over several shelves of our large cupboard.
In those days, I never heard the term homesteader or prepper. People still practiced canning food from their gardens, because their parents and grandparents had. Simple country living happened because we lived in the country, and while this lifestyle was becoming less common, it was still common enough that no one thought twice about growing or raising their own food. I knew many kids growing up that had similar lifestyles to the one we lived.
As I lay in bed last night, I heard a loud crinkling sound going on for what seemed like 15 minutes. My first thought was, “What is Honeydew doing this time?” I couldn’t keep my eyes open, so I figured I’d deal with it in the morning.
Morning came and I found the cause of all the loud crinkling. My cat, who is a Maine Coon Siamese mix, had attacked and successfully killed an entire flat of bottled water. Many of the bottles had been completely crushed. Others bled purified water from claw and canine punctures they sustained.