Friday, May 31, 2024

Today was a recovery day...yeah, right...

One key to having longevity as a blogger is to share the struggles as well as the triumphs. Success is boring. Spectacular failures are...mesmerizing. Besides, we know that the people who claim to vault from one success to the next without a single misstep are liars.

Today's weather was spectacular. My plan was to catch-up to my planting plan, but it was not to be.

At least half of my sweetcorn and "field" corn had disappeared. Deer tracks and plants that were uprooted suggest that whitetail deer were the primary culprits. Deer are ruminants and most ruminants don't have incisors (cutting teeth) on their upper-jaw. They rely on their lower teeth and their tongue to grip and tear shoots and leaves from the plant.

So today's main task involved replanting the gaps in the rows. I added some pole-beans to most of the rows. Two rows were absolutely hammered, one on the south edge and one in the middle. I planted those to squash.

The good news is that the deer have been ignoring the potatoes, tomatoes and peppers.

I let some turnips go to seed and the pods are shattering. I bet that canola has not only been selected for low erucic acid (C22:1) but also for pods that don't shatter so easily.

I put in stakes to support Handsome Hombre's tomato plants.

I planted two-and-a-half rows of Sweet Sorghum (about 75 feet of row).

O.D. of hose quick-connect on motor

I bought an outboard motor. It is a 5hp Gamefisher (Sears) manufactured by Mercury Marine and I am trying to figure out what kind of hose I need between the fuel tank and the motor. Any guidance from readers regarding the kind of hose I need will be much appreciated.

I already changed the lower-unit grease and ordered spark-plugs and purchased a 3 gallon gas tank on-line.

Did I NEED an outboard motor? No. But it was $100 and it came with two spare props, a stand and "muffs" that hook up to a hose to cool if I want to run it while on the stand and don't want to bother with a five gallon bucket. The rope pulled like it had decent compression. It is pretty hard to kill a water-cooled, two-stroke engine as long as you feed it clean gasoline with the correct oil and gas-oil ratio.


One of the side conversations that happened while I was moving "the kid" was about loyalty and leadership.

You might have a boss who looks like warthog, is of a different race and religion and (is rumored) to have bizarre habits behind closed, bedroom doors: But if he/she/it puts the mission first and takes care of the team (and defends them from zhitstorms generated elsewhere), that boss will have a loyal team.

Conversely, you might have a boss who is handsome/beautiful and is an Elder of the church you attend and be Mister Straight-Arrow: But if he compromises the mission for political or career-advancement reasons, if he leaves team-members dangling and refuses to adjust "rules" in family emergencies, then that boss will NOT have a loyal team.

THose outcomes are the opposite of what advocates of Identity Politics believe will happen. It doesn't matter if a black, gay-dude is working for a red-neck or vice-versa. Demonstrate leadership and take care of the team and the team will be loyal to the leader. Exploit the team's good-will for anything other than The Mission or helping a fellow team-member through a rough patch and the loyalty will evaporate.

That is not to say that teams are loyal to "leaders" who let members shirk the mission. The mission does not go away. It gets shifted to the non-shirkers. That is a case of robbing Peter and rewarding Paul. But bad things happen and everybody needs a break SOMETIME.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

A "Dad" joke and a day full of miscellaneous activity

I went to my dentist for my semi-annual cleaning and I heard a joke.

Did you hear about the dentist who invented licorice-flavored toothpaste?

It was a horrible flop in the market-place.

Apparently, all of the on-line reviews said it tasted like anise.

The joys of truck ownership

I was volunteered to help somebody move.

It was somebody that I have a hard time saying "No" to. Family, dontchya know.

The new apartment is on the third floor. There are no elevators. The toughest thing to move was the very-floppy, king-size mattress in the polyethylene mattress bag. It was like wrestling a greasy, passed-out-drunk walrus up a hill.

But...we got it done. We got it done about 8" at a time. I was the man-on-top and the dead-lifting exercises I have been doing came in handy.

The maintenance guy showed up to address various issues and he was a bit stand-offish at the start. I learned that he loved fishing and was limiting out on bluegills (they are on their beds) and he was interested in the bullheads hitting in the channel that runs beside the Subway in Eaton Rapids. I learned that he drinks Diet Mountain Dew. By the end of the day he was letting us borrow his Allen wrenches to take the legs off the table, for instance.

That led to a side conversation between my kid and me. "Are psychopaths better at reading people?" Psychopaths have to STUDY people to figure out how they tick. They don't have the props of empathy and intuition. I am not a psychopath but my basic opinion of people who I don't know is that they are diapers. Some are clean. Some are wet. Some are full of fecal material. You can't always tell in advance. It is in your best interest to be able to handle all types of diapers with skill and poise and class. A diaper changed quickly and without drama, regardless of its contents, is the very best outcome.

The humidity was very low by Michigan standards. There weren't even popcorn clouds at mid-afternoon. Four-and-a-half hours of humping loads of "stuff" up two flights of stairs and only one bottle of water was not a recipe for a peppy, old man.

I did score some modular shelving out of the deal, so that is a bonus.

Irregular hours

Southern Belle, who we helped move from Miami to Michigan 13 months ago, is jetting down to Miami on this evening for a weekend-long commitment she made a year earlier. That stretches out our child-care hours because Handsome Hombre is working 10 hours a day with an hour commute on each end.

Garden frustrations

Something is pulling up my tree seedlings and/or eating the first, primitive leaves.

I brought the tray of persimmon seedlings into the house and put it under lights and on top of a warming mat. They were the hardest hit. At one point it looked like I might net 50 seedlings this year but optimism faded and I might only get 10.

I put the other trays inside of a dog-crate (cage) and whatever beast that does it is small enough to slip through the mesh and I am continuing to lose seedlings.

At a different location, the property I am managing has a small orchard. Scratch that, it has three small orchards: an old one, a young one and a dead one. The young orchard has a lot of gaps. 40% of the trees are dead. I have a lot of extra tomato plants.

I didn't do anything crazy. I planted eight plants. Two of the neighbors are the best people you could ever hope to meet. One is pretty decent. Two are...well...the kind of people my mama taught me to not say anything about.

The three good neighbors will probably enjoy the tomatoes and it cost me nothing but a few minutes of my time.

BOLO Calves

Apparently, there are still three, 300-pound Angus-cross calves on the lam in Eaton Rapids.

If you happen to know where they are, and if you are willing to share that, leave a comment and I will forward it to a sad cowboy.

Was the $320M Floating Pier for Gaza wasted money?

Maybe not.

It lasted 12 days. It was attacked with a mortar barrage by the people it was intended to help. At least one US serviceman was injured during the attack.

It detached from the shore during a seasonal storm and the weather deposited the pier on the Israeli shoreline. Maybe mooring cables were damaged in the attack?  Maybe it was enthusiasm over-running competence and good construction practices.

Maybe it was the Hand of God.

Information is not free

A fact that is rarely given enough consideration is that "information" comes with a cost. There are lessons to be found in that $320M. Is that information worth more than $320M?

Lesson One: There are enough Palestinians in Gaza who will perversely go out of their way to bite the hand that feeds them. That should be a crystal-clear signal that "helping them" or allowing them into our own country is an incredibly stupid proposition.

Lesson Two: Whoever is in control of the US Federal Government is more concerned about "optics, sound-bites and photo-ops" than in actually helping people.

Lesson Three: If/when we find ourselves in direct, military conflict with Russia, China or any other near-peer adversary, we better kick the current micro-managers into a soundproof room and let the adults drive the bus. The current men-behind-the-curtain are bedazzled by ideas and have proven incapable of seeing reality.

You can draw your own conclusions about the political side of things. Nothing I write about THAT will change anybody's mind.

I don't think the $320M was wasted if we harvest the information created by the misadventure and incorporate that information into future decisions. I do, however, deeply regret the spilling of American blood. That makes it expensive.

Note: Reports of the mortar attack have mostly been scrubbed from search engine results or pushed down to page three. Here is one account that is still find-able.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Wednesday Fishing Report

The bluegills are on the beds.

I wasn't fishing for bluegills. I was fishing for dogfish/bowfin. I did not catch anything. Not even a nibble from a turtle.

The excitement was on the way home. A mile from where I live a honest-to-goodness cowgirl riding a horse and wearing working-cowboy regalia popped out in front of my Silverado not 30 yards ahead of me. I locked up all four wheels and skidded to a halt.

I looked down the hill in the direction she had come from and she had two cowboy buddies (hats, horses lariats and the whole nine-yards) helping her round up four Angus-cross steers.

I got to watch them for about twenty minutes as they moved them down the road. Calves don't move in straight lines.

I followed about 100 yards behind them with my hazards flashing. I wasn't about to pass them and spook the critters.

I got to watch a rodeo and didn't have to pay admission. I call that a win.

Self-Care in Stressful Environments

Regardless of how the 2024 elections turn out, there are going to be very large numbers of stressed-out, anxious, and depressed people.

Even if "your guy" wins there will be "issues". Consider our accelerating national debt and its inevitable impact on prices and our quality life. Even if that were the ONLY thing happening, it will impact every person in America regardless of political affiliation or which champion wins the contest.

Emotional Health Self-Care List

This is not medical advice. I am not a doctor and cannot legally give medical advice.

This is a list of common-sense, easily researched, commonly recommended self-care actions that are likely to have a positive influence on your emotional health.

If you DO find yourself seeking medical help, they are likely to ask you what changes you made in your life before visiting a doctor. If you have exhausted most of this list then they will accelerate the escalation of the treatment.

1: Exercise. Stress generates fight/flight neurotransmitters. Exercising mimics fight/flight and allows your body to progress to the next stage, the cool-down neurotransmitters. Exercise seems to regulate the generation of cortisol, the stress hormone. Exercise can be as simple as walking the dog around the block or pushing a vacuum cleaner around the house or doing five push-ups and five sit-ups. Do SOMETHING physical.

2: Stop eating crap. Our microbiome (the bacteria in our guts) live on what we put in our mouth. Play around with your diet in increments and keep a log. Your personal microbiome is unique and may not respond like anybody else's. However, MOST people are happier when they are blessed with generous, easy bowel movements and most microbiomes thrive when you eat green vegetables (starting with moderate amounts). The Mediterranean Diet is a good starting place for many people.

3: Stabilize your sleep cycle. Have core sleep hours.

3.5: Manage your light environment. Bright lights through mid-day with high "K" numbers that provide enough blue content. Early in the morning and in the evening, dump the blue light content (and most TV and Computer screens) and go with light richer in reds and yellows. Our circadian rhythms are optimized for the light generated by the sun. Low in blue near sun-rise and sun-set, high in blue-light through mid-day.

4: If you drink caffeine, cut down especially later in the day. If you drink alcohol, reduce the amount or eliminate the habit. If you use weed (cannabis), reduce the amount or eliminate the habit.

5: Manage the people in your life. Avoid the people who create toxic situations. Seek people who are joyful and intellectually stimulating. That includes people you meet on-line or through e-media.

6: Make a list of things that give you joy. Spend time doing at least one thing on that list each day.

7: There are some peer-reviewed clinical trials that support St Johns Wort and Fish Oils as easing the symptoms of depression/anxiety. Anecdotally, Vitamin D helps some people.

Executive Summary

Make a modest lunch with whole-grain breads and plenty of fruits and vegetables and then going outside for a few hours tags a lot of these bases.

Exercise, good food, sunlight, maybe getting away from people and programming that is driving you nuts. Surely there is something you can do outside that gives you joy.

Please feel free to add suggestions in the comments.

How badly is Chicago hemorhaging population?

An outlet for a national chain of rental trucks has a sign along Waverly Road in Lansing telling passers-by that they are leasing trucks returned in Chicago for "ONLY $16.99".

Lansing is 216 miles from Chicago.

Pretty soon they will be PAYING renters to return them there.

...and what manner of Sorcery is this?*

This post will be a change-of-pace.

One of my readers/friends asked me about my opinions on "sorcery". He referenced Revelations 18:23

“And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.”

Furthermore, he went on to show various translations of the original Greek that the most likely kind of "merchants" were compounders of drugs, that is Pharmicists and the sorcery they were engaged in were poisons, hallucinogens, abortifacients and so on.

Puzzling out why God hates sorcery

Heinlein reportedly Arthur C. Clarke wrote that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. We use technologies EVERY DAY that would have been considered magic 200 years ago. Does that mean that we are committing evil in the eyes of the only One who matters?

I think one risk of technology/magic is that it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking "I don't need God because my surgeon is the best". That is one reason why God doesn't like it. He is, after all, a jealous God.

Another risk of "sorcery" is that it creates an asymmetry of information and power that can be used in predatory ways. To quote Ben Parker from Spiderman "With great power comes great responsibility." Those asymmetries can be used for the betterment of all or they can be used for personal enrichment or gratification. Falsely claiming to be a member of a favored-group to gain tenure at Harvard, using AI to ace an term-paper (while actually learning nothing about the subject) and so on.

Really, isn't that what pops into your mind at the word "sorcery"? Using a love-potion to gain the affection of somebody who is out-of-your-league or to call down a curse on a rival out of personal animus.

A final risk involves "occult". Occult means "blood" and even the ancients knew that the fastest way to kill somebody was to drain the animal's blood by cutting a major artery. Blood is life. To dabble in the "occult" was to drain the essence of life away from somebody. Today, that has the potential to happen at an unimaginably large industrial-scale with Social Credit Scores and with the personal data packed into data farms around the globe. Santa (who knows when you've been bad or good) has been replaced by Google and thousands of mysterious apps that anonymously skim your data and will cheerfully ruin your life for a fraction of a penny of gain.

My take is that "sorcery" is not dead as you can deduce from the examples I gave. in its latest incarnation certainly used "asymmetry" and "coercive and predatory" practices for their personal gains.

So, to my friend who wishes to remain anonymous, I agree...there is nothing new under the sun and God's wisdom as revealed in the Bible is never to be ignored. 

*From Macbeth by Shakespeare

Life is struggle (Cumberland Saga)

Miss Shannon and her elderly mom were the last two refugees to show up that week. The two had made it into their safe-room before their back door was battered in. The cell towers were down and Shannon could not drill through to 9-1-1.

The invaders were primarily after Miss Shannon’s mother’s pain drugs but stayed to loot and vandalized. Miss Shannon and her mother made a break for freedom just before first light when the sounds of looting died down. She pushed her mother’s wheelchair out into the misty darkness and they spent hours in the sassafras thicket by the paved road. Miss Shannon texted Sally who retrieved them. The two of them were able to lift Miss Shannon’s mother into the passenger side of the wheezy, old pickup. Miss Shannon rode in back with her mother’s wheelchair.

Miss Shannon was not the crying type but her mom’s prognosis was grim without her blood pressure meds and her Tramadol. She blamed the wind for her tears when they disembarked at Copperhead Cove.
Bob was "Miss" Shannon's husband and he was a travel nurse. The last Shannon knew, he was still reporting for working at his current assignment in the Emergency Room in Tulsa.

Amira was helping Sarah prepare breakfast when Sarah bolted out the door and started throwing up.

Ruefully wiping her mouth on the back of her sleeve when she came back into the kitchen, she washed her hands and started preparing more food.

“I don’t think you should be preparing food if you are sick” Amira pointed out.

“I ain’t sick. At least not the contagious kind” Sarah said, tersely.

After a couple of heartbeats, enlightenment. “Are you pregnant?” Amira asked. It was the only thing that made sense.

“Don’t tell Blain” Sarah said. “He don’t need to know...yet. I don’t always...well, carry them well the first three months.”

Reading between the lines, Amira surmised that Sarah had miscarried in the first trimester and didn’t want to raise Blain’s hopes. And here she was knocking herself out. Getting up early. Preparing for the first day of canning chickens.

Amira felt something inside of her come unleashed. She was needed.

“Walter. Come in here for a few minutes” she said after sticking her head out of the door.

When he ambled back into the house, Amira said “Miss Sarah is beating herself to a frazzle and we are going to take over most of the heavy work of canning the chicken and let her just be the boss.”

Sarah started to open her mouth but then realized that she would really founder if she had to stay awake for another 19 hours. If she just got the ball rolling, maybe she could take a nap?

“What do you want me to do?” Walter asked.

“First thing I want you to do is to swing by our house and pick up a bottle of multi-vitamins to give to Sarah. Then I want you to ask around. See if any of the newcomers brought some LP fired turkey-fryers” Amira said.

Turning to Sarah, she asked “How many are we going to need?”

Mind fuzzy, Sarah had trouble coming up with a number “...well, one to keep the scalding water hot. Maybe one to pre-heat the chicken-n-juice for hot-pack. Maybe one for the canning jars…”

Thinking back to her years in Bosnia and realizing where the likely bottlenecks were she told Walter “Get five of them if can. And ask about any camp-stoves. They have better control of the heat.”

Amira would not need 55k BTU/hr once the canning kettle was up to a boil and she would struggle to keep the scalding pot at the precise temperature needed to loosen the feathers without cooking the skin.

She almost suggested skinning the chickens but stopped herself. Back in Bosnia, they WANTED the fat in the meat, both for energy and for flavor. That, and the fact that they used the chicken feathers for various things even when duck-down was immeasurably superior.

Walter went wandering off. He had a mission.

Amira told Sarah to sit down and to sip on some “lemonade” while she took over the lion’s share of the work, asking Sarah’s advice as she went.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Presented without comment

Communication Part II (What if you are wrong?)

So what are some of the "tells" of communicating in the Adult ===> Adult mode?

Adults acknowledge that there is a real possibility that they might be "wrong". Work done by Fischoff, Slovic and Lichtenstein in the mid-1970s showed that nearly all humans are fairly well calibrated for when we are 50% likely to be right. But nearly all humans are grossly miscalibrated when the actual likelihood is 80% or higher. That miscalibration manifests as Absolute (but inappropriate) Certainty that we are right.

80% certainty implies that one-time-in-five when we think we are right, we will actually be wrong. The feeling that you are 100% SURE you are right is a systemic error and the prudent negotiator will hedge his bets and not burn the bridges behind him...because there is a one-chance-in-five* that he will need to use them.


If I join two 96" long 2-by-4s together, end-to-end, how far apart will the opposite ends be?

A: 192"

B: 185"

C: 135"

D: None of the above

E: Any of the above


What certainty do you assign to your answer:

99.99% (One chance in 10,000 that you are wrong)

95% (One chance in 20)

90% (One in 10)

80% (One in 5)

Fine Art Tuesday

Barbecue Guns

"Barbecue Guns" are a genre of fine art that is common in Texas and in states near Texas.

A typical Barbecue Gun is a firearm based on older technologies that often have nostalgic connotations. Single-action revolvers and 1911 Colts are common but not mandatory. In fifty years we will probably see Glocks and other "modern-utility" guns showing up on the hips of grandpas barbecuing grasshoppers and crickets.

Most people would not be able to carry this one on their hip, but I have seen some people....


The connection between ornamentation and older-technology firearms is not unique to Texas or to handguns.


Just because they are old and "pretty" doesn't mean they are no longer capable of putting the hurt on somebody who needs that kind of attention.

Monday, May 27, 2024


"Communication" has been a topic of conversation at Casa ERJ this past week.

Communication is hard and the biggest roadblock to better communication might be our pride.

Looking at "Communication" at the level of Assembly Language

Person One desires that Person Two be informed of something.

Person One collects a bunch of universal building blocks called "words". For the purpose of this portion of the blog-post, let's call them LEGO blocks. Person One collects them in a basket and then heaves them into the air in the direction of Person Two.

As they fly through the air they collect other words from other conversations. Then they fly through a pinball-machine where they are energized by bumpers and flippers called emotions, recent events, and recent injuries before tumbling onto a moving sidewalk with little bumps-and-depressions that can accept LEGO blocks. Some of them stick.

Person Two infers from the smear of words stuck to the moving sidewalk the trajectory of Person One and mirrors their action, pitching their basket of LEGOs in the direction they guess Person One is moving.

Like naval ships in the age of cannon, Person One and Person Two circle each other trading broadsides and mostly shooting past each other.

Some cannonballs connect and feelings are hurt.

A better way?

Person One's first step is the same as above.

Person Two's response is much different. They have awareness that words are imperfect vessels of information. They realize that the message is tainted, polarized, biased, rotated, bent, folded, mutilated and spindled on its path from sender-to-receiver.

So they CHECK what they think they heard. They describe, in their own words what the smear of LEGOs on their moving sidewalk looks like. More times than not the sender will affirm "Yeah, that is close enough."

The thing about errors in recursive processes (like conversation) is not that they are additive but that they are multiplicative. Sometimes the sender will say "That might be what I said or what you heard, but that is not what I meant."

Emotion and Logic are Orthogonal

In plain English, orthogonal means you cannot get to one by moving along the other. Consider a cold drink sitting on the table beside you. You are thirsty. You cannot reach the cold drink by reaching upward. You have to stretch your arm out sideways. Sideways is "orthogonal" to "Up".

It is pointless to try to solve emotion-driven issues with logic. You cannot get there that way. No matter how long your arm is, you will not be able to reach the cold drink if you stretch it upward.

Needs are emotional. They cannot be "logicked away". If Person One needs physical intimacy after a long absence and Person Two needs a long, soulful conversation then both people are right and both needs need to be addressed with all seemly haste. Note to the younger adults: Conversation is usually the safer choice in the cab-ride from the airport.


Every person carries within them the ability to interact with the outside world as a "Parent", or as an "Adult" or as a "Child'.

Communication is relatively conflict free when the arrows don't cross. That is, when one person is speaking from their "parent" to the other person's "child" and the other person speaks from their "child" to the other's "parent". This is not a pejorative situation. It happens all of the time in line-organizations in time-urgent situations. The coordinator directs the operator what to do. That is the time-and-place for P==>C and C==>P communication.

Communication fails when the arrows DO cross. Person One gives Person Two and order and Person Two wants to discuss it. How can you tell if somebody is talking from their "parent"?

Listen to Mustn'ts, child, listen to the Don'ts.
Listen to the Shouldn'ts, the Impossibles, the Won'ts.
Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.
      Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.  

-Shel Silverstein

While we would all LIKE to think we speak from our "adult" all the time, often we are channeling the first adults whose persona we absorbed: Our parents' persona as projected toward us when we were young children. It can be devilishly difficult to know when we are channeling our parent and when we are really speaking as an "adult".

One tell is the use of words like "Should", "Not", "Must", "Ridiculous" and so on.

Speaking from the "child"

One of the tells that you (or the other person) is speaking from their child is the use of exaggeration. The "child" feels unheard and not powerful. "Always", "Never", "Huge", "Existential Threat" are words that the powerless "child" uses.

The PAC model is not perfect but it is simple enough to be usable without a spread-sheet and quick enough to be able to use in real-time to redirect conversations that are going into the ditch.


Pride often prevents us from checking the fidelity of the message that we THINK we heard (or think we sent). Often, we get into the habit showing-off our quick-wit by making snappy responses at the cost of high quality communication.

Pride can prevent us from acknowledging when we have regressed and are speaking from our "parent" and not our "adult". Parent==>Child has the potential to cut a lot of arrows and destroy communication.

If you are interested in the PAC communication model, look up "Transaction analysis" in your favorite search engine.

Memorial Day

I think Old NFO and his cousin knocked it out the park.

Read this one first.

Then grab a box of tissues (allergy alert), put on your headphones and then listen to this one.

There is nothing I can add that can improve those two posts.

Whack-a-mole (Cumberland Saga)

NOT I-80 or I-271...but typical of many US Interstates
Governor Brian Higgins had been chronically short on sleep for the last three weeks. Riots in Ohio cities had been ramping up and then the terrorism had started. He had been playing whack-a-mole with little effect. Moving resources and reconfiguring to new threats seemed to leave his state even more vulnerable to even newer ones.

Ohio had been hit particularly hard. Lake Erie was a natural obstacle and huge amounts of freight traveled parallel to its southern shore. Furthermore, the geography of eastern-Ohio had enough wrinkles that much of the freight passed over countless bridges that spanned modest but steep valleys.

Stir in decaying, Rust-belt cities, uber-liberal University towns and various meccas for immigrants and you had a recipe for disaster.

Higgins had been awakened at 2 in the morning. I-80 and I-271 had three of the four spans dropped where they crossed the Cuyahoga river. He had been bunking in a room that had been cleared out next to his office and living on fast-food his staff brought in and showering in the facilities set up for security. His wife of 51 years was NOT happy.

He knew that he had about four hours before he got ANOTHER call from the President. Not the actual President. The man was a moron. It would be a second assistant to some minor director who would lecture him as if he were a child. Appearances of power-structure had to be maintained, even when the Country was in a crisis.
Since when had securing national assets like the Interstate system become a State function? Why the hell had he been paying the IRS all of those taxes? Short of sleep, Higgans had a difficult time disciplining his mind and keeping to a single thought-track.

Higgans walked into the “war-room” wearing sweat-pants and a University-of-Akron tee-shirt. Higgans was the consummate politician and never missed a trick to show he was just a regular guy; he rotated through all of Ohio's universities wearing a different jersey or tee-shirt each day. He was carrying a cup of high-test, instant coffee as he crisply barked out “What do we know?” even before he sat down.

He wrinkled his nose as he reached for the tray with cellophane-wrapped pastries on it. He picked out what looked to be a cheese-danish. He looked at the wrapper and saw that it had been baked in Illinois and had an expiration date a month in the future. A quick glance showed him that his bottle of Tums was still next to his place at the table. Weeks of three-hours-of-sleep a night and excessive amounts of caffeine were playing hob with his stomach. That, and the crap they had for food.

Waiting for the presenter to order his papers, Brian heard a minor official complaining about the potato chips he had just bought from the vending machine. Clearly, the peon didn’t know the Governor could hear him.

“Fucking corporations” the man groused. “They ship bags of air with about five potato chips in it.”

“If you don’t like them, then why did you buy them?” Higgins snapped.

Realizing he had stepped into it, the man said “That is all that is left in the machines.”

Higgins’ mind ran down two separate tracks as he sat through the briefing. At the top level, he was absorbing how the terrorists had eluded the road-blocks and manipulated how he would present it to the President’s staff who, in turn, would massage and spin it to make it less embarrassing to the President's administration.

At a deeper level, his mind was grappling with two bits of information: The vending machines were nearly empty and that trucks delivering bags of air and cheezy-danish-food-like abominations were bogging down roadblocks.

An hour later, Higgins asked “Where is the list of probable targets that somebody ginned up a couple of weeks ago?”

It took a couple of minutes for the technician running the projection TV to find the requested graphic. Nobody was running at 100%.

“Which of those targets have been hit and in what order?” Higgins asked.

The tech opened up a sketch-pad function and the Commander of the Ohio State Police started reading off the major attacks in the order they happened and the tech Xed-out each target that had been attacked. There was a lot of overlap. There was a LOT of overlap.

“No surprise there” the Governor said. “A precocious 6th grader can see where we are vulnerable.”

“Does anybody have a plan?” Higgins asked.

The Commander of the OSP elbowed the slightly-built, ferret-faced man standing next to him.

“I have a plan” the man said, sounding almost timid.

“Do I know you?” Higgins asked.

“Johns. Ohio State Police. I am an analyst in the Counter-Terrorism Department” Johns said. Yeah, Counter-Terrorism Department, all six of us. At least our other responsibilities (to keep us busy) had been shifted to other officers.

“Well?” Higgins prompted him.

Johns gave the Governor a quick run-down on the “approaches” to the bridges and above-ground portions of large natural gas pipelines that had to be secured. He covered recommended manpower requirements and what was available. The latest attacks had been from beneath the bridges.
"The cupboard is bare" Johns said. So into his presentation, he had forgotten who is audience was, "The Federalization has been a complete goat-festival. We sent them complete, cohesive units and when it became clear Ohio was home to many major targets they sent back a dogs-breakfast of random individuals from a dozen different states...and no quick way to integrate them."
“The only way to make it work is to flatten the organization, expand exclusion zones, authorize lethal force, to simplify the rules-of-engagement and “go hot” with the Identification Friend-or-Foe smart-scopes.” Johns ended his 7 minute presentation.

“Do it” was all the Governor said. "Write it up and I will sign it."

As the meeting was breaking up the Governor looked in disgust at the balled up potato-chip bag where one of his aides had been sitting. “Brigham!” the Governor hailed his Transportation Secretary. “I don’t want you to run around like a chicken with your head cut off, but is there any way we can fast-track semis carrying full loads of frozen lasagna ahead of 8000 pound trucks carrying 800 pounds of potato chips?”

Brigham scratched a note on his spiral pad. He knew just the intern to take on that problem.


“I know its late and I know you are dog-tired. We all are” Roger told Adam and Evan.

“Blain told me that you both deserve your own plot to fool around with. He said you were thinking of growing melons and other sweet stuff?” Roger posed it as a question.

Evan slowly nodded his head in agreement. That seemed to have been a long time ago.

“Well, Alice and me got this plot we ain’t plannin’ on using this summer. You and Adam are welcome to it...with a few conditions” Roger said.

“What are the conditions?” Adam asked.

“You gotta get it planted and you gotta keep it weeded. When the time comes to share the harvest, I git two of the first four melons off each vine and after that I git one out of every four” Roger said.

“The other condition is that you will only plant half the plot to melons. You will plant the other half to sweet sorghum. We will split the sorghum 25:75 with me getting 75%” Roger said.

“That seems fair with the melons but it don’t seem fair, you taking most of the sorghum” Evan said. He knew how much work it was to till and plant and weed.

“Thing about sweet sorghum is that most of the work is on the back end. You gotta harvest it and crush it and boil it. That takes equipment and boiling pans firewood. I will supply that ‘cause you can’t. I think that entitles me to more than a 50:50 split” Roger explained.

Evan morosely shook his head. “I don’t think I will have time” he said, voice heavy with regret.

“Why not?” Roger asked.

“I gotta full plate” Evan shrugged. “I am responsible for teaching all of these newcomers to farm.”

“Any reason you can’t use this garden-plot as part of your school room?” Roger queried, craftily.

“Is that allowed?” Evan asked. “Don’t seem right.”

“Look-it this way” Roger pontificated. “How old are the people you are training. ‘Bout your age?”

Evan nodded his head in agreement.

“Now picture you and them standing around in the middle of August on a hot afternoon and one of them says “Dang, I’d give a million dollars for a cold slice of watermelon” and you say “I was gonna grow a bunch of melons but I didn't because thought I thought you would think I was takin' advantage of you.”

“You figure they are gonna say “Thanky Mr Evan. I do appreciate not having a cold slice of watermelon on this hot, August afternoon thanks to you being so fair and all.” Or do you think they are gonna give you the rough edge of their tongue?”

“So you think it would be OK?” Evan asked, a little bit shocked at the idea.

Roger responded “As long as you and Abe are straight-up with them from the beginning and you ain’t too stingy on sharing some of them later on, I reckon it will be fine."
 "Just like I am being straight-up on what I expect in terms of how many melons I git and the share of sorghum I figure is rightfully due for providing the land and the seeds and ‘quipment and firewood.”
"Maybe you keep track of who helps you out and you give them the first melon from your share. Somethin' like that, that they can take home is better than money an' it shows them you are somebody they can trust."

Sunday, May 26, 2024

More tomatoes!

Handsome Hombre indicated that he wants to grow BIG tomatoes.

Stupice (the size of golf-balls), Golden Icicle (the size of a computer mouse) and Sweet Baby Girl (cherry tomatoes) do not meet the specification.

Since he authorized me to help get seeds and plants for his venture (HH works a lot of hours) Mrs ERJ and I will swing by the local greenhouse to see what they still have.

A week ago they had Big Boy hybrid, Celebrity Plus and Black Krim.

Big Boy

Big Boy is one of the first generation, hybrid tomatoes. Many people still consider it unsurpassed for flavor. It is large, does not crack or get green shoulders (in most places), and the slices have the optimum combination of seeds and flesh to hold together as slices.  The vine is productive. The breeders in the 1950's and 60's had firm memories of the Great Depression and that formed their breeding priorities.   ---Follow up--- The inexpensive three-cell packs were gone. I bought on, 6" pot with a 24" tall plant in it.

Celebrity Plus

Celebrity Plus hybrid is a very recent introduction. It has a  broad package of disease resistance winnowed from a broad swath of tomato ancestors. It is productive and it tastes good, but maybe not as good as the Big Boy and not as big. The first release of Celebrity (i.e., Not Plus) was a great favorite of market gardeners because diseases build up when you grow tomatoes without enough 'gap years' between them. ---Follow up--- The inexpensive three-cell packs were gone. I bought on, 6" pot with a 24" tall plant in it.

Black Krim

Black Krim is an open-pollinated "heirloom" tomato that originated behind the Iron Curtain. The color is unattractive to most people and it is subject to cracks. The disease resistance is unremarkable. The upside is that Black Krim scores very well in many taste-tests. ---Follow up--- All Black Krim were gone but "Carbon" was still available in the 3-cell packs. I bought one pack. From the descriptions and pictures, "Black Krim" and "Carbon" could be identical twins. Have any of you grown both of them side-by-side?

To finish the row I bought a 3-cell pack of Big Beef. One very nice thing about a smart phone is that I can pop on the internet and do a quick search.

Anyway, HH will get at least three four varieties that will produce very different-but-large tomatoes and he will probably have a favorite and a not-next-year choices.


Do any of you readers have any opinions or recommendations for mustard greens? Varieties that produce reliably and don't bolt quickly in a dry spell?


Rosa multiflora hit peak bloom about three days ago, 550 GDD b50 F.

Let not your heart be troubled

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where [I] am going you know the way.”  -John Chapter 14 (Last Supper Discourses) NAB translation

I am walking on egg-shells here because Faith is a personal thing and I DO NOT want to challenge anybody's Faith. A very hot corner of Hell is reserved for those who cause believers to doubt and then leave the faith.*

Nevertheless, the solemn holiday (a word derived from Holy day) of Memorial Day makes me think about stuff.

Modern usage of the language has "House", "Name" and "Family" meaning very specific and very different things that have very little overlap. In ancient times, the ideas were blurred and that caused challenges to translators of the Scripture. The earliest translators of the earliest Greek texts into "modern" language were brilliant men and took their task very seriously.

If you attend many funerals (and sadly, at our age that seems to be ever more frequent) you have probably heard that passage from John 14 although probably from a different translation. Given the timing of when Jesus said this (Last Supper) and the general context, it is clear that the primary meaning is about the after-life. But...(and here I tippy-toe) the first part of the passage is written in the present-tense while the last two-thirds of the text is expressed as future tense.

It is possible to argue that Jesus was reminding us that The Father's House is NOW and our place and the expectations that go with that place are NOW. We are not assets who are planted incognito for future activation. Our roles and responsibilities in the Family of God are active NOW.

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.  -KJV translation

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”  -NIV translation

*One of the primary differences between "a religion" and "a cult" is that the cult strongly discourages questioning because conformance is the primary objective

A bona fide religion encourages questioning because God (not man) has the answers and the primary objective is to give followers the tools they need to fulfill God's mission.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Before and After


From the northeast corner looking south after going through by hand and chopping down the taller burdock, nettles and marestail weeds with a bill-hook.

From the same corner looking west


2-1/2 hours later, a 30' by 30' square of it ready for planting

Handsome Hombre told me he wanted a patch of his own to garden. Power equipment is a wonderful thing! The "weed" along the right side of the image was an oregano plant that I spared.

Two passes with the mower, one high and one to scalp it. Then two passes with the tiller. One clockwise and the second in the other direction.

I have three more 30' squares to bring to plant-ready condition.

Friday, May 24, 2024


Clostridia botulinum is a bacteria that is intolerant of oxygen, is motile (can swim) and whose spores can withstand heat in excess of 212 degrees F. During the process of producing spores, it also produces an extraordinarily potent neurotoxin. C. botulinum loves protein and was first isolated from densely packed sausages (botellus in Latin).

Botulism is a grave condition...not just a case of johnny-trots. It has a high mortality rate.

The spores' high tolerance for heat means that it will survive the typical canning process. C. botulinum will not grow in low pH foods (below 4.2pH) so vinegar or another edible acid is added to canned foods to lower the pH. Summer sausage is inoculated with a bacterial culture that rapidly produces lactic acid. Other foods that are preserved by lactic acids include cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi and fermented pickles.

The presence  of nitrates/nitrites serves two functions in cured meats. It gives meat a pink tint which is desired by consumers in such products as hams, corned beef and hotdogs. It also prevents C. botulinum from reproducing. The amount of nitrates required is minute. As a convenience, it is typically supplied diluted with common table salt (6.25% Sodium Nitrite) and the blend is used at a rate of 0.2%, by weight. That pencils out to 1 ounce of pink-salt per 30 pounds of meat + juice. Even that is a minute amount. A common way to handle that is to prepare a "stock solution" of one ounce of pink salt in fifteen ounces of water and then add one ounce of the stock solution to every 32 oz (two pounds) of meat. That is, every quart jar.

Saltpeter (potassium nitrate) was commonly used for the purpose because potassium nitrate was relatively easy to separate from other, similar salts that might lack the ability to suppress C. botulinum.

If one were to fill a wooden tub with chicken manure and then were to water the manure to produce a past, potassium nitrate crystals will grow like whiskers or needles from the rim of the tub as the solution wicks upward and the water evaporates out of the solution.

Don't trust my math. Pencil it out yourself.

Presented without comment


Don't look a gift chicken in the mouth (Cumberland Saga)

Like a freight-train taking off from a dead-stop on a level piece of track, the afternoon progressed with crashes-and-bangs, groaning and much smoke. But by the end of the afternoon the train was moving.

The first challenge after lunch was that the three trainers who were men (and supposed to be learning about construction) had to walk the teenagers through the expectations about planting corn.

Then there was AnnMarie: She had five children all under the age of nine. Who was going to plant their corn?

Blain and Evan were hard-pressed to stake-out the 75’ square plots AND lead the planting. A further complication was that the plots ended when the grade exceeded 10% (ten-feet-vertical-in-one-hundred-feet-horizontal). That made for some plots that were not a full 5600 square-feet.

They simplified the plotting by using a 75’ length of baling twine to tie the belt-loops of their pants together and then pacing out 30 paces. Whether it was 75’ or 90’ was less significant than the time-urgency. They carried stakes in their aprons and a maul in their hands. Every couple of plots they swapped sides lest the one with the longer stride take them too far out of square.
"Campers" were already quibbling about who got which plots and they didn't even know which cabin they would be permanently occupying.

Fortunately, the teenagers who were in Blain’s algebra class stepped up. This wasn’t their first rodeo. They respected Blain. They led by example. The new teenagers fell in line behind them.

Blain and Evan plotted out ten parcels to start the process. The swirling and mutating process and crew planted a stunning three plots in the first, partial afternoon. Stunning because the process was 80% training and 20% wheels-not-spinning work.

AnnMarie was able to single-handedly cross-train all of the other mothers in the group of newcomers. The only fly in the ointment was that Alice and Sarah wanted to know when THEY would get one of the new, sweet-smelling latrines.

The next morning there were three additional families at breakfast. By modern standards, the Schwertler Swabians were incredibly fertile. They averaged over 3.5 kids per family unit. Including Amira and Walter’s family and Samson’s family, the influx of new residents exceeded Sig’s initial estimate by 150%.

During breakfast, the newcomers updated the community on recent events.

Over 20 bridges had been destroyed in the last 24 hours, including the Robert F. Kennedy suspension bridge in NYC. The terrorists had bypassed the roadblocks by driving in the “wrong direction. The authorities had only placed roadblocks on the entrances and it had never occurred to them that the exits were totally unguarded.

The explosives had destroyed the cable-saddles and the vertical elements of the towers and dumped the entire span into the East River. Has only one cable-saddle or one-side of a tower been compromised, there would not have been a catastrophic failure. There is a lot of redundant structure built into most bridges. But the terrorists had executed coordinated attacks on several of the critical, structural elements of the bridges and destroyed them.

Authorities responded by putting road-blocks on each end of EVERY strategically important bridge in the eastern US and only allowing one vehicle to be crossing at a time. Dump-trucks filled with gravel choked off the flow so there was only one lane that was passible at each end of the bridge.

Traffic was stacked-up for 70 miles behind some bridges. Vehicles ran out of fuel waiting for the massive traffic stoppage to resolve. They were pushed to the side of the road.

The newcomers shook their heads in dismay. “If anymore people show up, they will probably be walk-ins.”

Sally showed up mid-morning, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. “Anybody here want some chickens?”

Sarah squinted at him. “What kind? Egg-layers or broilers? Pullets or straight run?”
Sarah was running on fumes after nearly 48 hours with just occasional cat-naps. She was running on empty.

If the chickens were pullet (female) broilers or cockerel (male) egg-breeds, she didn’t have any use for them. They ate too much for the return on investment. In fact, given the recent growth in the human population, she wasn’t sure that she wanted ANY meat chickens.

“Straight run, broilers” Sally replied.

“What are they asking for them?” Sarah wanted to know.

“They are giving them away” Sally replied.

Sarah asked “What’s wrong with them? They have been running $4 a chick.”

“Nothing wrong with them” Sally insisted, feelings hurt. “The broiler farm up the road just got a call from the slaughter-house cancelling their order. The slaughter-house can't ship finished product so they stopped receiving. McCloskey's would rather give the chickens away than have to pay a certified hauler to dispose of them. I guess chicken carcasses are considered a bio-hazard and have to be incinerated.”

“Wait just a minute. Are you telling me that these are fully grown, ready-to-slaughter birds that they are just GIVING away?” Sarah asked, amazed. “Mister Salisbury….have you been drinking before lunch?”

“No ma’am!” Sally said, crossing his heart with his right hand and wearing his most solumn expression. “What I told you is a true fact.”

“How many they got?” Sarah asked.

“How many you want?” Sally parried. “Last I heard they had over 5000 birds ready-to-ship.”

Sarah did some quick calculations in her head. She could pack two pounds per quart and get four pounds of meat per bird. If she added saltpeter (sodium nitrate) she could avoid pressure canning and really crank them out. Since there were so many hungry mouths to feed, many of the quart jars would be empty when the tomatoes came in.

“Gimme five minutes” she told Sally.

Ellie, Sig’s wife, had 150 quart jars she could spare. Alice had 200 and Sarah had another 200. On a whim, Sarah trotted over to Walter and Amira's house and learned that they had found almost 400 ready-to-go quart jars in Constanze's pantry, many of them still new in their plastic and cardboard boxes.

Catching up with Sally, Sarah told him “We can take 500.”

The nice thing about commercial broilers is that they don’t need a fence to keep them from running away. Just put out food and water and they won’t move from the spot. Keeping the birds alive would give them the breathing room of processing them over the next several days.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

News flash: I am not the only dumbbell on the property


It weighs somewhere between 200 and 210 pounds. Enough weight that I have to mind my Ps-and-Qs when deadlifting but light enough that I can knock-out sets of six repetitions.

My muscles are sore this morning.

Caitlin Clarke

Caitlin Clarke is  professional basketball player in the Women's NBA. The league's  viewership and revenues went up when she started playing. That means that teams have more revenue and can raise the pay of all players, 70% of whom are black.

Race-hustlers are angry about this situation because Miss Clarke is white, even though 70% of the people who will benefit are black.

Perhaps their anger is misplaced. Maybe they are angry because their divisive strategy has only resulted in businesses fleeing cities and causing poverty among black people. They should be angry at themselves but admitting you are wrong doesn't seem to be something they are good at. Perhaps because they would have to get a real job and be accountable.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Beans, beans, the magical (musical) fruit....

From north-to-south

One, 16' foot row of Blue Lake FM-1K pole bean.

16' of Musica Romano pole bean.

16' of Blauhilda Romano pole bean.

32' of Turkey Craw pole bean (Thanks Lucky!!!)

32' of Cherokee Cornfield pole bean.

16' of Red Greasy pole beans.

Total of 560 square-feet planted.

Native-American agriculture centered on large-seeded plants. Squash/pumpkins, maize, beans. Large seeds, large and vigorous plants that were able to duke-it-out with weeds and the wide seed-spacing was economical from a labor stand-point, especially given that Native-Americans did not have very many tools with metal edges.

Potatoes were rumored to have been grown as far north as Vancouver on the west coast circa 1800. Same deal about large and vigorous plants bursting out of the ground.

Not a bad thing to keep in mind if things get sporty. Gardens may have to be stealthy and rarely cared for. It is good to have plants that can fend for themselves (mostly).

WOKE groomers targeting preschoolers in videos?

Part of my morning routine is to watch a half-hour of educational kiddy video with Quicksilver when she first arrives.

Unfortunately, LGBT content seems to be seeping into most of them.

For example, Miss Rachel who has a low-budget, high-content channel on Youtube has a frequent contributor who has they/them pronouns. Another character is "Mr Blippi"

They/them looking angry and giving the kiddies a wonderful view of her boxer shorts and her...well, never mind.


Mr Blippli and innuendo (pun intended)

Apparently, Ms Rachel was stunned when parents were unhappy with the casual inclusion and the risque way they were allowed to present. I guess that is one of the risks of living in the NYC bubble.

Cocomelon is a Netflix production and it is wallpapered with rainbows. It is almost as if LGBT people don't believe in God but want to keep reminding Him to not destroy the world again like He did in the time of Noah.

Cocomelon's producers generated push-back when they had a family with two "daddies" and a cross-dressing boy.

You know, it would be pretty easy for Ms Rachel to include just a little bit more information in the titles and she could have her cake and eat it too. She could write "Ms Rachel goes to the Aquarium featuring They/Them" for the WOKE version. The dozens and dozens of gay parents who seek that kind of validation will click on that title. The same collection of skits, less They/Them can be put on the channel with the title "Ms Rachel goes to the Aquarium". Better yet, include a green border around the "straight" version and a pink border around the WOKE version.

Another approach would be to split the channel into two separate channels: Traditional content and With WOKE content.

Informed choices are good.

In-processing, Second half (Cumberland Series)

Roger walked to the front of the group and said “I am going to talk about something that is going to make some of you uncomfortable: Discipline."

Then Roger’s talk meandered a bit. He gave them a rambling history of where their sect had been and the various, oppressive regimes it had endured and how they had managed.

The picture that popped into Fred’s head was of the tiny plants that grew in the cracks between the sidewalk slabs. Too small and inconspicuous to bother anybody or even get their attention. Resilient enough to withstand trampling.

Finally, Roger got back on track.

“This “campground” is our life-boat. It ain’t big. Nobody else wanted it so it was cheap. But one of Satan’s strongest tools is “coveting”. Adam and Eve coveted the knowledge of good-and-evil. Cain coveted the favor that God showed Abel. Even though this campground isn’t much, Satan is angry that it exists.” Roger said

“Even now Satan is sowing the seeds of discord and anger and envy among us knowing that it is a small life-boat, and fragile. He targets us because we are a Godly people.”

“I've been here a really long time and seen this every time this happened. Bad behavior doesn’t fix itself.” Roger continued.

“We will tell you how things have to be done. Then we will show you how things have to be done. Then we will work with you while you do things to ensure that you are doing them in the best possible way. But some people are going to test, and more than likely its gonna be one of your kids.” 

Fred looked around at his fellow trainers. Yeah, they already knew which kids were going to test them just like he knew.

“The first time it happens you get a chance to discipline your kid. We recommend cutting firewood. We got hand-saws and a mountain of wood that needs to be cut and split into 15” long stove-wood.”

“But after that, if the issue is repeated the community board will issue the discipline and ensure it is carried out. No exceptions so don’t ask for any.”

“One reason we didn’t have you unpack your vehicles and trailers is that this is a deal-breaker for some families. If you cannot abide by this, LEAVE NOW.” 

None of the trainers made a move back toward where the vehicles were staged.

The second potty break was held after the segment on Discipline.

Snakes and spiders and biting insects and nettles and Poison Oak

“We got two kinds of snakes you gotta watch out for. Copperhead can be anywhere but they are invisible in the woods when they burrow-up under dead leaves. Timber rattlers like to set up ambushes where they hunt chipmunks and squirrels running the length of downed logs. You are most likely to get bit by a rattler stepping over a log." Lliam told them.

“We keep the grass short and you won’t run into too many Copperheads or Timber Rattlers where the grass is short. Where you gotta be really careful is stepping over a log. Rattlers can see heat and they might mistake your leg for a ground squirrel and nail-ya.”

“The poisonous spider are usually hiding in wood piles. You will be fine if you always wear gloves when you get kindlin’ and if you bang the sticks together before bringin’ them into the house.”

“By the way, the plan is to have outdoor kitchens through the summer to keep the heat outside.” Alice piped up.

Then Alice continued “Most folks tend to wear long sleeve shirts and pants. Keeps the sun off ya and slows down the mosquitoes and other biting bugs.”

“Now, we are going to take a quick walk-about and Alice and I can show you prime Copperhead, Timber Rattler habitat and show you what nettles look like (and you will get to brush them to see what they feel like) an what Poison Oak looks like...but you ain’t gonna touch that.” Lliam concluded.


Blain took the stage and informed the new trainers “We will be supplying the first three days of food cafeteria-style so families can focus on settling in. One person from each family to help with dish and pot washing at each meal. It does not need to be an adult but it must be somebody who knows how to scrub pots and pans and how to dry dishes.”

“Most of this segment will be about planting corn.”

“Based on historic yields, you need to plant at least 2000 kernels of corn, 200 hills of potatoes and proportionate amounts of turnips and onions and carrots per person to make it through a year” Blain told them.

“In one of our prepared garden plots, that would be about 2000 feet of row of corn and another 200 feet of potatoes. But we don’t have any more prepared plots. You will be planting in soil that until this spring was in timber. There are too many roots in the ground to till it, so Evan and I will teach you how to plant in hills” Blain said, indicating who Evan was with a nod of his head.

He had been wondering why he was here.

"Wait a minute. I gotta question" one of the men said. "How much do we plant for each kid?"

"Don't matter how old the kid is. You have to plant at-a-minimum 2000 kernels of corn and 200 hills of potatoes per person" Blain reiterated.

"That seems like a lot" the man said, questioningly.

"Are you gonna feed your kids any eggs or milk?" Blain asked. "Five laying hens eat as much as a man. Maybe you can get by on corn, beans and potatoes and such, but growin' kids need a little bit higher quality food. That comes at a price. Hens can rustle up some of their own grub in the warm weather but then need to be fed in the cold months."

“We are going to plant in hills roughly three feet apart in each direction. Can anybody tell me why I used the word “roughly”?” Blain asked. 

Fred helped him out “Tree roots?”

“Yup. Tree roots and rocks. That, and it takes time to measure. The smart money is to put a few wraps of tape on the handle of the grub-hoe” Blain said holding up the tool “that marks out 3’. Doing that will keep the person making the hills from drifting too much.”

“I am going to make the hill with the hoe and Evan is going to put in three seeds, roughly in a triangle 6” on a side” Blain said as he walked the group to some newly cleared ground. “If you are struggling with branches, stack them in a pile to burn later.”

After demonstrating about 30 feet of row with Evan pressing the seeds into the soft soil and scuffing dirt over them with the side of his shoe, Blain handed the grub-hoe to Fred and told Evan to give his seed apron to AnnMarie. “Your turn. Plant ten hills then switch tools so you have both done it.”

It only took ten minutes for all of the trainers to get familiarity with the tools.

“When do you want us to start planting?” one of the men asked. 

“You will be planting this afternoon right after lunch” Sig responded.

“But I thought we were building cabins?” he protested.

Blain spoke up. “Every kid between the ages of 10 and 16 who isn’t watching kids will be planting. Evan is 14 and he can plant just as fast and just as accurately as I can...maybe even faster and more accurate.”

Sig confirmed Blain’s pronouncement. “Men and boys over 16 will be split into two crews. We have too many men for one crew and we will be tripping over each other so we might as well be building two cabins at a time. I will ramrod one crew. Gregor will ramrod the other.”

“Children between 10-and-16 will be planting. Blain and Evan will be ramrodding them. Mothers and older sisters will help as they are able.”

Mothers have the option of pooling their younger kids and taking turns watching them or of having an older, responsible kid watch them. 

"Last thing we are going to do before we break for lunch is draw lots to set up the order for who gets to sleep in the cabins" Sig said. "After lunch, we all roll up our sleeves and get back to work. As we work we will sort out which family is gonna get which Big Brother or Big Sister."