We’re in real trouble

11/28/2008 at 6:38 pm (people)

So the rumor goes that this morning at Wal-Mart there was a lady with the newest X-Box game system in her cart. And some guy comes by and grabs the thing out of her cart.

This intrepid lady — so the story goes — rears back and socks the guy. Who turns around and punches her right back.

This is over a video game system.

Can you imagine what it’ll be like if there’s ever a shortage of something that folks actually need to survive? I don’t want to.

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Cloves

11/27/2008 at 10:15 am (herbs, uncategorized) ()

Noel writes-

Around this time of year, many people are using cloves to stick in their ham to bake for the holidays. Did you know that cloves are good for much more than that? Too many people think that you have to use something expensive or hard to find if you’re feeling out of sorts. With the cold weather settling in, you might find yourself with a sore throat or stuffed up head. I know I was a few months ago. So, that’s when I took out my container of whole cloves and made myself a cup of tea.

Yes, you read right, I drink clove tea! It is delicious.

This is how I make it for our family. I take 1/4- 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves and simmer it in one cup of water for 10 minutes. I make sure to use a tight fitting lid while it simmers. This makes enough for one person. I don’t like to double it for two people, (I just simply make two separate batches) because it’s stronger tasting, more potent than tea. If it does come out darker and stronger, then I simply take 1/4 cup at a time. You can also reuse the cloves a few times for other batches.

I usually sweeten it bit with a few drops of honey, but the other day I made some, and decided to try it unsweetened. It was really good.

So, the next time your throat is feeling sore, or you’ve got a sinus headache, breathe in the steam of the tea as you drink it. I think you’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel. Cloves is good for much more than just what I’ve mentioned. To find out more uses of cloves, read my favorite book.

I like this book because she goes through 10 herbs that are found in most cupboards and the directions are easy to follow with great results. I haven’t tried all the herbs mentioned, just the ones I find every day in my cupboard. I sure like this book very much!

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A study of contrasts

11/25/2008 at 9:35 pm (home, thoughts)

Yesterday was a good day.

I spent the morning finishing up pulling the chicken coop down from our friend’s land. I was very happy that when I pulled the roof down, not a single one of the good studs broke during the fall. The rotted ones did, but that’s no matter.

I took a little break to eat dinner and read a little before heading over to our other friends’ place to help them butcher two of their turkeys.

It was a long hard good day. We accomplished a lot of work that has real value. In both cases work that directly relates to one of the necessities of our lives (i.e.- food).

I got to thinking about this this morning while at my “day job.” And I got to thinking what a contrast it was. Yesterday I did good meaningful work directly related to making a living (in the utterly true sense of the word). But how that today I had to go sell myself to some company to do work that has very little real value.

The reason that we have to do that is because the world has decided that it isn’t enough to just make a living, we have to make “dollars.” And the world has found that it is extremely profitable for them to keep us so busy making “dollars” that we don’t have time to make a living so that we have to purchase a prepackaged “living” from the factory.

Though I am heartened to see that many folks seem to be waking up to the fact that like all the other factory produced junk available this prepackaged “life” is not worth its true cost, I still fear it is too little too late.

We have too many folks completely dependent upon this system. We have too many folks completely addicted to the “comforts.” Too many folks still believe that that way is better.

But there are two things that keep that factory running, cheap “money” and cheap petroleum. And I believe the days of both of those items are gone forever … we just haven’t figured it out yet.

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Abominable straw-man?

11/20/2008 at 4:17 pm (home)

This strange creature was sighted on our property this afternoon.

Has anyone ever seen anything like it before?

haha

Turns out it was just me hauling a load of straw to the hay shed.

makinghayWhile working this afternoon I also had some thoughts I’d like to share with you.

I was cutting the straw with the scythe. For those of you non-farm types that might find the blog it is not hay, it is straw. Straw is dead grass that has no nutritional value at all. Hay is cut when the grass is still young and it will retain its food value in storage for quite some time. It doesn’t matter to us, because we’re using the straw to cover our compost so that it doesn’t stink and attract all manner of unwanted animals.

Anyway, so I was cutting the straw and letting it lie. And it’s very windy here today and I got to the end of a pass and noticed that the wind was blowing the straw all over. So I started brain-storming, “how in the world was I going to carry this stuff to the shed before it all blows away.”

I think it’s real funny how a modern Babylonian will always think of the most difficult (read-mechanized or expensive) way of doing a thing.

Last year when we were cutting the grass I used a gas trimmer I’d bought at a yard sale. I used it for a while till I could stand it no longer. Then I borrowed the neighbor’s riding mower to do the rest. We had a truck at the time, so we forked all the straw into the back of the truck, drove the truck closer to the hay shed and forked the straw into the shed.

We cut just about the entire back half of our acre and it filled the shed.

So then today, I’m standing there with my straw blowing away and I’m wondering how I can move it into the shed without having to move it all fork by fork. And the first thing that comes to mind is how I wished I had one of those nice carts like Lehman’s sells. But they are more than $300 and what’s more, I don’t have one and the straw is blowing away now.

But then I remembered!

John Seymour in his book The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live it describes a way to carry a large amount of straw or hay with only a rope.

You tie a loop in one end of your rope. Lay the rope on the ground. Fork or rake the straw onto the rope. Pick up the two ends of the rope, threading the free end through the loop. Cinch it tight and throw it over your shoulder. Viola! Human hay hauler!

It’s really quite amazing the things you can learn.

But it really saddens me too. How long would have it taken me to figure this out on my own? I probably wouldn’t have. Talking about the Babylonian mindset again, the way my mind thinks I wouldn’t have thought to try that.

But I’m saddened because I know that there are hundreds upon thousands of similar little tips and tricks that were second nature to our forebears but we would never think of.

People are loathe to try the old-fashioned way of doing things because it is more labor. But there’s two problems with that. The first is that we try to do manual labor as if we were machines. The second is that we don’t know how to do the manual labor right in the first place.

How many of you have tried to saw wood with a hand saw? Did you lubricate the blade? I find that sawing with a handsaw is much much easier if you apply a bit of grease or wax to the blade. I learned that tip from paying attention the last time I read Huckleberry Finn. How great is that?

How many other tips and tricks have been lost because no one ever thought it was worth recording? Then everyone quit doing it that way because “progress” came along and don’t you know machines are better? And now no one remembers.

Anyway, I’ll quit rambling for now. See y’all later!

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Chicks outside

11/20/2008 at 11:35 am (home)

The chicks are rapidly outgrowing the little box I made them, but they are not quite ready for full-time outside yet either.

But I decided that I’d put them out in the dog kennel today to start getting them used to the great outdoors also since the chicken coop is not quite ready yet.

They are picking it up just fine I believe.

chicksoutsideI’ve spent the past hour or so just outside watching them. They are really neat.

It was kind of funny. The chicks all squawked in protest at being picked up and hauled outside but most of them hopped off my hands when we got outside.

All but one. She squawked and fought the whole way outside, but when we got to the pen and I tried to put her down, she did not want out of my hands! I kept trying to push her off and she’d just as hard back-pedal right back into my hands. It was funny.

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Leaving Babylon

11/19/2008 at 8:10 pm (thoughts)

Eleutheros calls the ridiculous consumer culture Babylon. You really should read his blog to find out why. But I like the term so I hope he doesn’t mind if I start using it too, it sure is a lot easier to say than “ridiculous consumer culture.”

My wife and I have been working towards living lives as far outside of Babylon as possible. It’s been a long journey but we’ve been making baby steps. Our main problem has been that we get ourselves to a certain point, and then one thing or another will happen and we will plunge headfirst back into Babylon.

Thankfully we always come back to our senses and start working our way out again. This time though, we’ve definitely gotten it through our head that we want nothing to do with it.

Through reading Eleutheros’ blog, and through my own interactions with folks I’ve really been thinking lately about how totally different the mindset is between us and the Babylonian.

A neighbor can’t understand why I’d choose an axe or scythe over their motorized counterparts, I can’t understand why he’d want to have to leave home to earn money in order to operate noisy, smelly machinery.

Noel’s family came for a visit this past weekend. They cannot understand why we have blocked nine-tenths of the house off for the winter. I cannot understand why anyone would want to pay exorbitant amounts of money to heat a gigantic house when a human being can only occupy a couple square feet at a time anyway.

The mindsets needed for the two different lifestyles are complete and polar opposites.

Noel and I have been working on leaving the mindset since just after our marriage, going on 12 years now. As I mentioned we’d make progress then slip back along to where we were before. Eleutheros makes the point that it is very important to make progress and then “tie a knot” to ensure that you do not slip past that point again.

But the transition between the mindsets is not easy. And it is not very pleasant either.

You’ll have friends and family, “why do you do such and such? Why can’t you just be normal?”

You’ll have the world in general looking down upon you and constantly trying to make you into one of its own.

And you’ll battle your own inner demons as well.

In my opinion, one of the most essential steps is also the most hard: Having a clear vision.

It is essential in that you’ve got to have a clear idea of what you’re working towards. It is the hardest in that — at least for me — you don’t necessarily know at first what it is you want to accomplish.

Noel and I started out just trying to live a simpler life and not have to be chasing after money all the time. It has evolved into a deep-seated feeling that there is something wrong and unsustainable about the way the modern world lives.

If we would’ve had the vision that we have now … if we would’ve known then what we know now … if we’d been able to read the writings of the people that we read now … if we’d had the experience we have now — a whole lot of “ifs” — we would’ve been settled on our land living life the way we want.

But we only had the vaguest notions about what we wanted to accomplish. And the worse thing of all was that at some points we thought we could accomplish those things within Babylon’s rules, which is flat not possible.

So it is of prime importance to anyone hoping to leave Babylon behind that you create a set of guidelines. A list of what you want to accomplish and maybe even why. And stick to it! Once you reach one milepost, tie that knot and don’t slip back down again.

So I’m going to take my own advice and I’ll start my list right here:

  • No power tools or machinery
  • Produce all of our own food
  • Disconnect from “the grid”
  • Be water self-sufficient

See, it’s a simple list. But if we’d had that when we started out, we would’ve saved ourselves a lot of grief … maybe.

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Fear not.

11/19/2008 at 9:22 am (uncategorized)

Noel writes-

Proverbs 3:25-26 (new living translation)

You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked,

for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.

Psalm 46:1-3 (Amplified version)

GOD IS our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains be shaken into the midst of the seas,

Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling and tumult. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

The above verse was read in family devotions this morning and I found it very encouraging.

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