Friday, October 12, 2007

Giving thanks

Reading another blog a few days ago left me in deep thought. Subject was the things a man really needs. On top of the list was "A good woman". I'm lucky in that respect. I was a bachelor for many years. I knew alot of people that needed to be in a relationship. I found myself on occasion the subject of ridicule because of my hard nosed unwillingness to settle for less than the woman I truly wanted to spend my life with. I'm old fashioned, too old fashioned in the eyes of most modern women. My fondest childhood memories were time spent with my grandma. A devout christian woman, A wife, a homemaker, and a moral compass for her family. My hardnosed ideal was, I wouldn't settle for less. My children if there would ever be any deserved the best I could find them. Well it took me until after my fourtieth birthday, but, I found her. The amazing thing. For much of our lives we were only the next town away from each other. At one point we were only blocks from each other. And these were relatively small town, not large metropolitan areas. I know it was god's will we would find each other. But, his plans weren't immediate. We had to learn enough from life to be ready for each other. I know I have come as close as I ever could when it comes to finding my soul mate. She blogs also. Here's our life from her viewpoint. Thank you my love. I can't recall what life was like without you. Thank you god. My prayers were answered. My bride brought three children with her. Learning to be a dad was alot harder than learning to be a traditional husband. It would have been easier had I been with these kids from the start. Still the experience has been a great one. I know I can be difficult at times. I just hope they keep understanding I'm on a learning curve here. Thank you again god. The other things I don't give thanks for enough. I have a roof over my head, it keeps me dry and warm. I have a soft pillow in a warm bed to rest when I'm tired. I have the fruits of the earth to nourish me. I have work to keep me feeling productive. I have an active productive mind, and the ability to make my hands do my minds will. Thank you god, I have all that I need. Woods

Saving seeds part two.

A pepper is a bit easier than a tomato. Here we have a pepper that was found hidden in a corner of the countertop behind some other stuff. These things happen when you have kids. As you can see it's way past it's prime and inedible at this point. Good thing is we forgot to save seeds from this variety, so, even though it is half rotten and moldy, it's a perfect candidate for seed saving.
Cut the core out of your pepper. Carefully remove as much of the meat as possible. Set the core on a sunny window sill for a couple days. By then the seeds will be dry enough to rub off with your thumb. If your pepper is of the hot type you may want to wear gloves. Definately do not touch your eyes or any mucus membranes while handling hot pepper seeds. They often hold the most caspation.
Rub your seeds out into a bowl and set in a dry place for a couple weeks. Store in paper envelopes to prevent mold formation. Because this pepper had mold inside it. I will be washing these seeds before redrying them on a piece of screening, then I will put them in a paper envelope for storage.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

How to save a seed

For generations farmers saved their own seeds. Yes, the seed houses have been around almost as long. But, when agriculture was still human sized it made more sense to save your own. First of all you can adapt your crop to your conditions. Have damp clay soil and a wilt or fungus problem to go with it? Hey, that plant over there was barely touched by it. Save the seeds from that one, maybe it will pass on it's resistance to the next generation. Got dry drought conditions? WOW, that plant looks better than the rest! Save the seeds! Hey, this tomato tastes so much better than the rest. Well, save the seeds fool. You get the idea. Tonight I saved some seeds. I took some pics. I'll show them to you, and you can do the same.

First thing you need to know. You need to have an open pollinated plant to begin with. That's a plant whose both parents were the same variety. Why, you may ask. It's in the genes my child, it's in the genes. If your plant in the seed catalog had "hybred", "hybrid", F1, F2, or F anything in it'd description, it had parents of two different varieties. The problem is, when you cross two varieties, you do so in the hopes of getting the best qualities of both in their offspring. You also sometimes get something referred to as "hybrid vigor". But, those genes, they want to do funny things in the third generation. Say for example you crossed a small yellow tomato that grew very fast, with a big tasty red tomato. The second generation you might get a big, fast growing, yellow tomato, that had the most awesome taste ever. The third generation, you might get a tiny, slow growing, low yielding, red tomato, with the flavor of corrugated cardboard. It's all in them silly genes, and some of them can hide for a generation or two.

So start by finding yourself a seed or two from either a commercial seed house or seed savers exchange. Make sure the description says "open pollinated" or "heirloom" in it. Grow those out. Watch everything as it grows the first year. Take notes. Now if you're like us, you picked half a dozen varieties to play with. And hopefully for your first try, you picked a plant that self pollinates like tomatoes. Plants that wind or insect pollinate, are a tad more difficult. Mainly because it's very easy to create a hybrid with wind or insects. Such plants take a little more work. So start with tomatoes. Save the corn and cucumbers for next year.

Ok, You have your 6 seed packets. Plant maybe ten plants of each. Label them well, there is nothing worse than wondering what it's name is later on when telling people about it. Now, when transplanting time comes, pick four of each to keep and give the rest away. Give each plant a number. Makes it easier to keep a log that way. Does one plant set fruit a little earlier than the other three. If you have a short growing season it helps to know that. Maybe one gives you 8lbs of tomatoes and the other three only give you 4lbs. Handy thing to know if you only have a small garden. Does one get sick? Write it in your log. You get the idea. Your giving yourself a reference point. Later you will pick fruit from the plants that best suit your growing requirements. Don't be surprised if at the end of the season, you only have one or two varieties that did well for you. That's fine, you will save seeds from those and next year you will grow those two plus four new ones.

Here we have a tomato called "Yellow Pear". A small salad type tomato, not your typical red cherry type. We grew these this year for the first time. Due to a few family things and a tight work schedule, we didn't get our plants in until just after memorial day this year. We were harvesting these in mid July in spite of the late start. We've had them several times a week since then. Today I picked nearly three gallons of ripe or nearly ripe fruit off two plants. They were still loaded with blossoms and setting fruit. If tonight wasn't going to be our first frost, I wouldn't be surprised if we had gotten another several gallons of fruit from them. On top of that they have excellent flavor. To start with you need fruit and a strainer of some sorts.

Squeeze the fruit until the seeds pop into your strainer. With meatier tomatoes, you will need to slice them and scrape out the seeds.

Rinse away as much of the pulp as you can. Again meatier tomatoes require more effort. With those it helps to push the pulp through with your fingers. You don't have to get it all. And remember if pushing the pulp through, those seeds can be delicate before they are dried.

Add the seeds to a jar filled half way with water. This varieties seeds are very small. So, I actually turned the strainer upside down over the jar, then filled the water through the strainer, washing the seeds into the jar. A tight fitting lid is wise to prevent spillage.

These will stay here for a week to a month. When a layer of white or black nasty stuff starts floating on them. They are ready for the next step.

No photo for this step. Set your jar in the sink. Remove the lid and slowly trickle water in until that layer of scum washes over the side. You don't want to stir the seeds up off the bottom. There may be seeds floating in the scum. Let them wash away, they are dead seeds and won't grow.

After you get the scum off. Drain your seeds through your strainer again. Spread them out so they aren't touching on a piece of wax paper. Put the wax paper in an out of the way place for several weeks until they have a chance to dry out. A fan place well away from the seeds is o.k.. Just keep it on low and as far away as possible. You just want to help evaporate the water. You don't want to blow them away, or blow the paper over, dumping your hard earned seeds. Store the dried seeds in a paper envelope. Paper envelpes breathe and mold won't form on your seeds. As you can see, these are a different variety. This tomato called "Bloody Butcher" is an old favorite of mine. I've been growing it for almost 10 years now.

So, there you have it. Not rocket science. But, for the pre industrial age farmer, a skill that was a necessity

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My second favorite time of the year.

I was born to be a farmer.

Too bad I was born into a family that stopped farming two generations before I was born. I would have gladly taken over one of the family homesteads in Ohio and PA. But, those farms being sold long ago, I make do for now on a 35'x90' city lot. Actually my wife is more the farmer on this plot. My last big garden was just before we married. Still I'm here to help with the bullwork and to be the creative mechanic. That being the creative mechanic is part of what makes you a farmer rather than just an ordinary gardener. Spring planting time is the favorite of all farmers. The smell of fresh turned soil, the chilly air, and the sun warming you. The minute signs of new life. New life created by you. All this can only bring you closer to god and his creation.
But, harvest time is a close second favorite. Knowing that your resting time is right around the corner. The larder is filling fast. All will be well for another year.

Today the final harvest push was on. All hands were brought in . Time to bring in the last of the tomatoes, peppers, Basil, dill, celery, and a small harvest of huckleberries. Pelenaka fired up the wood burner and started on picking the huckleberries, and turning them into juice. I pulled the basil as seen at right. After dinner tonight the leaves were trimmed from the stems and put in a dehydrator. After they dry they will be vacuum sealed in an old mason jar for later use.

Here we have a tray of celery ready to go to the dehydrator. With a heavy harvest of celery this year, we will be spending the next 5 or so days cutting up and dehydrating celery. They trays are lined with screening to keep the pieces from falling through. Celery shrinks quite alot when dehydrated. Two plants can fill seven trays. When they are dry they won't even fill a pint canning jar. The dehydrators are old Ronco units purchased from the thrift store. Cheap, simple, easy to fix and keep going. We have half a dozen of them and they work great. We also have the solar dryer I built last spring. It works great on a hot day with low humidity. The creative mechanic needs to do some even more creative engineering on it.

Here's the result of drying down two decent sized celery plants. Barely two handfulls now. A pinch or two added to a soup or stew goes along way. Tonight I experimented a little. The batch in the bowl at left was dried in a dehydrator without screens added. Thus the pieces were cut fairly large. The pieces shown above are closer to the size you would expect to find in your tuna sandwich. We'll see later on if they will rehydrate in a batch of tuna or chicken salad. When the celery is done the peppers will get thier turn in the dehydrator. I may try and dry a few of the paste tomatoes this year. I'll then grind them up in our grain mill. The powder to be added to bread dough, also to be used for thickening soups.

Maybe a bushel of various types of tomatoes finished my workload for the day. We grow alot of tomatoes. So many it makes an effective crop rotation difficult. If any of my readers knows of a vacant lot that can be rented in or very near Batavia, NY, for the purpose of gardening, please let me know.

Here the editor in chief, Hunter the cat gives me that stern look. I can read his mind. It's saying, "Isn't a vacant lot like a field?" "Isn't a field part of a farm?" "You silly fool, you'll always be a farmer in your heart!"
Either that or he just wants me to feed him!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The unintended collection

WOW! It's been almost two months since I last checked in. Summer is our busy time. I should have taken time to post, but, didn't.

Last time I posted I was showing off one of my custom cheese presses. I also make/restore presses of a different flavor. These are rapidly becoming favorites. This summer I tackled two restoration projects between working on our 105 yr old home, gardening, foraging, and working at a job.

That large cider press on the left looked like this when my DW Pelenaka dragged it home from a yard sale last fall. She paid a whopping $20.00 for it. There wasn't a good stick of wood in it. The big acme screw was siezed into the cast iron crossbar. With winter closing in I didn't get much done last year. As soon as it was out of the car I started soaking it liberally with KROIL penetrant. Best stuff ever made as far as I'm concerned. On the second day I started gently playing a propane torch over the area where the screw passed through the casting. Every day I followed the torch with another shot of KROIL as soon as the metal cooled. After about a week the screw would move back and forth maybe 1/8 of an inch. Then the rawhide mallet came out to tap the screw back and forth. After half an hour it would turn just as it was designed to do. It turns out the previous owner greased it with lard before leaving it out in the weather for the next 20 years. The KROIL broke the rust loose and the heat melted the old grease out. Now the screw has some pitting where it was stuck inside the casting. Not enough to affect operation though. With snow and foul weather on the horizon the old press was greased up and tarped until nicer weather could arrive. When july rolled around and I finally got back to it. I laminated a bunch of fir 1x4's to make a new frame. You may ask why I didn't just make it from maple like it was to begin with. The answer, as it sits today this press weighs close to 100lbs. Using the fir gave me strength, but saved many pounds of weight. Three coats of Krylon white make for easy cleanup. The old basket bands were from a different press and were so oversize you had to fight to get them in and out of the press. So, new ones were made from nice no rust aluminum. All the fasteners that might come if contact with juice are stainless steel. Slata sre red oak treated with Boo's Mystery Oil. Good stuff a bit pricey at $16 a pint, but well worth the price. A new press disk was made from a plastic cutting board. All this effort was made in an attempt to simplify cleanup. It's nice being able to just spray it down with a hose when you're done pressing.

The black press looked worse than this when we found it on somebodies lawn 2 years ago. Covered top to bottom with rust at least it was functional. I shot the red paint and cleaned the loose rust away so we could make our first three gallons of home made cider. Pelenaka hated the red, so when I finally got serious about doing the rebuild last year, I scrounged up some food safe black paint. New red oak slats and a bunch of stainless fasteners really made a difference. I did make one concession to technology when it came to the press disk. That was cut out from a heavy duty resaurant cutting board. When we're done pressing we just spray it down with a hose and wipe some oil on the slats to preserve them until next year. Last year we finally aquired a proper fruit grinder to prepare pomace. Prior to this we used a food processor. This brought a doubling of production and we could have done more if the wind hadn't knocked down all the wild apples before we could get to them.

The little green wine press was another of this summers projects. Found burried in a pile of junk next to an antique shop. It had somebodies version of a home made basket, made from galvanized pipe hanging strap and some entirly too small pine slats. A little grinding to smooth out the casting was all it needed before a coat of food grade paint was applied. Some new aluminum basket bands and some maple slats held in place with stainless screws finished the project.

The big white one is available if somebody wants it. The same for the green wine press. The black one isn't for sale. $300.00 takes the white one and $100.00 takes the little green one. I'll consider taking an anvil, forge , or hand cranked drill press in trade. I am also willing to buy more old presses to fix up. I can fix up your press if you have one needing restoration.


Thursday, July 5, 2007

The home dairy part1

Our first christmas together I made my wife a cheese press. Having seen one in a catalog I figured I could do much better quality for alot less than the $140.00 they wanted. Now I've made several the latest version can be seen at right. Up until this point my dearest had only made ricotta style cheeses. Such cheeses are fairly easy only requiring some milk and an acid such as lemon juice. At one point we had a family member that worked in a convenience store. She had struck up a friendship with the milk truck driver. This friendship netted us many gallons of just out of date milk. Usually in quantities we couldn't consume before spoilage set in. That is when the cheese press came along. Now we can press the whey from the curds and make hard cheeses like cheddar. To date all our batches have come out pretty much like monterey jack. Which is just fine with me. Recently we found a new source of milk. Not quite free like before, but, cheap enough to be making our own butter and cheese again. Right now there is a cheese press sitting in the sink full of curds. I have a gut feeling this will be our best batch yet. My fingers are crossed. My DW loves her cheese press so much she thinks I should start making them to sell. I do occasionally make one to barter for services we can't do ourselves or for things we can't grow.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

multi tasking

Sometimes your life has strange moments when you live the life of a modern homesteader. I sit here today able to surf the net, because I'm multi tasking. I have to wonder how many other people have sat in front of a computer while rocking a jar of cream/butter on thier laps.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Old Friends

There is nothing like objects that are what I call "old friends". A well worn, but, reliable tool. A bit from the past that makes you wonder where it's been and whose hands have touched it. Maybe it's some thing that reminds you as Henry Ford once said "change is not progress".

All through my youth I and other budding outdoorsmen my age all lusted for a Garcia Mitchell 300 fishing reel. Usually seen in the possession of our elders, almost always attached to the requisite blue fiberglass rod. Alas, Lust is not reality for most money strapped teenagers. I settled for a green open faced Zebco, attached to a blue fiberglass rod of course. The Zebco gave several years of reliable service. Still it wasn't as smooth as the Mitchell 300. Time found the Zebco replaced by a Daiwa ultralight rig. After about 8 years of light duty the Daiwa graphite rod just exploded right at the molded in ferrule. The always reliable Zebco had been passed on to my stepdaughter for her use. This left me without a fishing rig. Or, did it? About 3 years ago my paternal grandfather started giving me stuff. In this stuff was a old gunny sack full of ratty fishing rods and an old tacklebox. I never paid much attention to the sack contents beyond the bamboo flyrod that stuck out of it. The flyrod went into my gunsafe for future restoration, the gunny sack went into a corner of the garage, kept out of respect for grandpa. A year after the gift, grandpa much to our suprize suddenly passed from this world. At that time the gunny sack was checked out a bit closer. An old white with red trim fiberglass rod with an odd french open faced spinning reel. The reel was beyond repair. A pair of old blue fiberglass rods, guides seriously rusted, but, holding the holy grail of our youths. Yup! Garcia Mitchell 300's. Dusty and making a strange noise no longer smooth operators. Two weeks ago I decided to try and clean up one of the old Mitchell's. A bit of windex on a toothbrush, some flitz to polish the chrome bail, a few drops of Balistol for lube. After an hour the old girl was back to her former glory. That white and red rod, well it's guides were still nearly perfect. I took the windex and toothbrush to it too. Before I knew it I held the perfect fishing rig. Took it fishing that weekend. Threw casts much further than that ultralight rig ever did. Put those casts just where I wanted them too. Caught my first fish on it a couple days ago. A little bluegill too little to eat. Coulda swore I heard grandpa's laugh behind me as I threw the fish back. Just the wind, or was it a new old friend trying to tell me it's story?

Another old friend. Back in those same teenage years, I bought myself a good axe and a good bowsaw. A country boy can always make pocket change cutting firewood and selling it roadside. The axe a "Craftsman" purchsed from Sears was a true workhorse for many years. Cut I don't know how many christmas trees and face cords of firewood with it. Cutting firewood is a rough way to make money though. Only got to keep and sell half of what I cut, the other half going to the guy that owned the woodlot. After my lumberjack experience I started hitching rides with a friend and his dad. His dad had a couple ancient dumptrucks, that he would drive down into NY's "southern tier", or when in a bootlegging mood into PA. A trip with them would net me $25.00 and lunch. Stacking wood inside a dump truck is a much easier gig than cutting wood. It took a week to make $25.00 cutting wood. After a few trips riding down I showed up one morning to find a 56 Ford F600 sitting in thier driveway beside the even older Dodges we had been using. Suddenly I found myself being taught how to back one of the old Dodges into tight spots. More lessons on how two speed rear ends work in hilly country and soon I was making $50.00-$75.00 a day driving. Trucks with 26,000lb GVW's aren't exactly compact things when driven in the woods. Sometimes things need to be moved so you can get where you need to be. Soon my trusty axe was riding with me, it's handle bobbed to a convenient if not efficient 24 inches.
Several years later found me moving away and storing a bunch of my tools in dad's garage. When mom and dad moved a few years ago My old trusty friend was found in a corner, missing it's handle. A handle was purchased, but never installed. A little incident with a former girlfriend found my car with a broken window. Seems she thought she'd make a point with an axe handle she found in the backseat. Needless to say, I never again dated a redhead. A few weeks ago found me in a little country hardware store buying bits for my ancient yankee style drill. While there I wandered around and window shopped. Lo and behold one dusty corner held three double bit axe handles. All three dead nutz straight, one fire tempered hickory. I didn't even know you could still get fired hickory handles. Today I went back and dropped a whopping eight bucks, then spent 45 minutes fitting it. Soon I'll sand off the varnish and give it a dose of linseed oil. Then I'll sharpen the old girl up in preparation for the next big snowstorms downed limbs. Hefting her I hear a voice, a husky drawling country girls voice. She say's "What took you so long".

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The bad part about being a stepdad

For the most part I have found being a stepparent a rewarding experience. Even though they have been in my life a mere 2 years, I consider these three kids my own. They spend summers and holidays with thier dad, half a country away in Texas. This year my stepson's summer visit is going to be a permanant move. For the most part with the exception of an occasional camping trip he isn't much for the great outdoors. His sisters on the other hand will go shooting or fishing every chance they get. Last sunday at his suggestion we took a day for the shooting range. For the past couple years there has been 2 .50 caliber muzzleloaders residing in my gunsafe. They'd never been shot in the time I had them. Ever since we sat and wached the movie "Jeramiah Johnson" he's been wanting to shoot these babies. He has a favorite of the two so he shot that one and I shot the other. First I loaded mine and shot it. Then I loaded his while he watched. He took aim and squeezed off his first shot. At this time I noticed the biggest grin I'd ever seen on his face. At that he reloaded while I watched and he was off and shooting. After what was probably the best afternoon we had ever spent together we headed home. He even cleaned the gun with no arguments, he was actually happy to do it. Today I had the day off. DW worked an overnight shift last night, so I figured it best to get the kids away from home so she could sleep. Off we went to a different sporstmans club. This one a little less primitive, and much more family friendly. Also closer to home. This club has a 35 acre lake built back at the turn of the last century built by the late great New York Central railroad. Origionaly built to assure a constant supply of water for a large mainline water tower in the era of steam power. It now just provides a constant supply of recreation for 900 of Genesee counties families. We spent a great day fishing. And in my case getting completely sunburned. Only one fish was caught, we had more fun feeding our left over worms to the fingerling bluegills under the dock than we did fishing for thier parents. Saturday they hop on a plane for Houston. While mom and I could use a short break just for us, the break will be too long in the end. I wonder if these kids realize just how much they mean to me. I wonder if they know just how much I love them. I wonder if they understand the effect they've had on me. They may not call me dad, but, they are my kids. Just as much as they are his kids. I love you kids. And Christopher, I will miss you more than you will ever know. woodss

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Birthday darling!

My wife loves to put up our food. Knowing what is in it is a major factor. Her preferred methods are canning and dehydrating. But, she hates the power company more than she loves putting up food. Thus there is an old wood stove set up in the yard. The kind grandma used to do the laundry on. This is where we do our canning. Her next preferred method is drying. The problem is our 5 Ronco dehydrators all use electricity. So, in her war against the meter reader she often unplugs then and sets them in a sunny window. When this happens we usually lose part of the food we are trying to preserve. With her birthday fast approaching I was at a loss for what to give her. She likes store bought OK, but would much rather have something that wasn't bought. For several weeks I have had a thought running through my head. This started shortly after finding a dehydrator on a window ledge. The food on the sunny side was fine, but, the food on the far side was growing some funky mold. So thursday I grab a dehydrator tray and hide in the depths of my 1920's vintage garage. FYI, most garages from that era don't have electricity. As a vintage tool collector that's just fine with me. In my little treasure trove you will find piles of stuff salvaged from the trash. Don't let me see a pallet made of planed boards in a junk heap. It will soon be a pile of planed boards stacked in my shop. So a few furring strips, a piece of quarter inch plywood, some 5"x30" pieces of plexiglass, and a almost full can of flat black auto primer are soon sitting on my bench. Then I dive into a drawer full of vintage Stanley "Handyman" tools. After two hours I come out for a lunch break and a trip to the hardware emporium for .97 cents worth of white paint. After lunch another hour and a halfs work turns out this. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket As I set it up in the yard for a test run she walks up and says "now that's neat". I just stick my hand over it and feel the warm stream come off it. Then I turn to her and say "HAPPY BIRTHDAY". In return I get a big hug and kiss. When she asks the question most men dread, I answer "about a buck". Her response is an even bigger hug and a kiss. I guess my 40 yr search for a bride was worth it. She really is a keeper! Woods

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Little did I know how prophetic my last post would be. Within a week we were hearing about tainted pet foods. Since then the list has grown to include pig, chicken and fish feeds. Now we are left to wonder if the human food supply could be indirectly contaminated. It could have been much worse, or as time passes may prove to be much worse. The problem is other countries don't regulate the same way we do. Just remember, the guy next door is alot less likely to poison you, than some magacorporation on the other side of the globe.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Peanut butter, spinach, mad cow and national security

I find it amazing how ignorant we can be about our food supply. It seems almost daily we hear about a new threat that is going to kill us all. We never stop to consider the problem just may be our way of processing it. Am I the only person alive that can see this fool hardiness ? We gather crops from all over the country or world to one place for processing. We then scatter them back all over the place for consumption. One contaminated batch is spread from one end of the country to the other. In the old days crops were processed near the area they were grown, then for the most part consumed regionally. The local populace was employed. They were employed making food that would likely be consumed by thier friends and family. The growers were local. The managers of the processing plants were local. Crap happens and we all know it. In the old days when crap happened there was a stigmastism attached to it. There was no potential national catastrophy. Big business will tell you the economy of scale makes the current way better. Sure it does.(sarcasm here) They will well you how great it is for the GDP. Yeah right. And it isn't just limited to plant crops either. The USDA branch of big brother will tell you how the current system can be made more secure, and safer than the old system. see Yeah OK sure it is. (still hearing that sarcasm?) Problem, the small producers are expected to come up with a larger financial burden that large ones. Small producers are being expected to microchip thier animals, while large producers can continue with the current system of tattoos and ear tags. All must register thier premises. So, let me get this straight. Large producers cram animals into living quarters too small for health, force feed large quantities of antibiotics and hormones, then distribute thier product from one end of the planet to the other. The small producer usually growing under much healthier conditions, only using medications when really nessasary and marketing to a local clientele is to be considered the same. This doesn't work logically to me. The current system of local inspectors at slaughter houses and processing plants works fine for safety with the small producers product. I can see a real problem making food from the large producers safe under any conditions. I have heard terrorism being one of the justifications for the NAIS being put in place. I can see terrorists using the large scale producers as a target. But, how are they gonna use me producing a steer every year or two, having it butchered by a local processor, and selling it to people in my home town? Get real, this will only force the small producers to lose money in compliance or raise thier prices out of the market place. I think it's more like this. Somebody who invented the microchips for animals figured it would be a real profitable idea if animals were required to have the chips. They Lobbied somebody somewhere and now it's proposed law. Somebody in the USDA figured it would be great job security for them by inventing a non crises, they picked up on the idea of the chips and premises registration. Now they know the USDA will have plenty of work being the food gestapo. Yes I envision this eventually evolving into real farmers being jailed over minor infractions of a do nothing law. If the US government wanted to do something about food safety, they should be looking into food imports . But, that is a discussion for next time.


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Hmmm..... What can I say.

Here I am. A 40 something year old white guy. A confirmed bachelor until just under a year ago. Raised in a less than typical 60's/70's family setting.  Both parents with gypsy spirit would pack bags and move half way accross the country on a whim. A brother and a sister both younger than me. Spent much of my youth being babysat by mom's 7 brothers and sisters. That bunch consisted of hippies, poets, drug addicts and alcoholics, and very young vets screwed up by tours of duty in asian countries where they didn't want to be, and usually weren't wanted. When I was really lucky I was babysat by my paternal grandmother. She was a blessing. A devout christian and traditional home maker. She filled my childhood with memories of warmth, of lunches being prepared while humming hymns, of safety. The other side of the family filled me with memories also. Only now that I find myself a stepfather, getting drunk a week before my 15th birthday, on a beach in massachusetts, with my uncle isn't held with the same fondness.

As you can imagine such a diverse background as a child led to a just as diverse trip to adulthood. While I was growing up one of those aunts and uncles did the "back to the land" thing. Well sorta at least. Raising a pig and chickens with the garden, reading "The Mother Earth News" and driving a volkswagon bug made them the closest thing I had to homesteaders. Part of a summer spent with them was a catalyst of sorts in my life. Around this same time, dad decided he was getting back into hunting. He also discovered competitve pistol shooting. Now take a young teenage boy. stick a copy of John Shuttleworths "Mother Earth News" in his hand. Next stick a copy of "Guns and Ammo" in his hand. Let him find in that G&A a guy named Mel Tappan. At the same time put him at odds with his left wing mother. Then he discovers a guy named Kurt Saxon and starts reading.

After high school I passed on college. Got a good union job in a glass factory. Nothing like living home and making two bucks an hour more than your dad at 18. Needless to say such causes a little stress between a father and son. That job didn't last long, place went out of business along with many places like it in the early 80's. By then I was 20. Just as well, at that age having that kind of money was a waste. I just bought toys and drank what was left. The event of that plant closing did confirm to me my beliefs in modern homesteading and survivalism were on the right path. The decision then was made to learn as may skills as I could. I've had more jobs than I care to count. Thought it would be cool if I could build a house if I wanted. Did construction enough that I probably could. And with luck in the next few years I plan on doing just that. Worked as a machinist,even built a few prototypes in one place. Spent four years in a plumbing supply house, did side work with many of the plumbers that came in. Also worked part time as a bouncer in a seedy bar during those four years. Learned how to kick a few butts during those four years. Also learned how easy it is to get your butt kicked. Most importantly, learned how to get my butt kicked and still walk away from it. These days I find myself working part time in a small "home center"(We used to call them building supply houses) also doing odd jobs and handyman work.

Last may found me getting married. Having a wife and three stepchildren is an adjustment to say the least. We live on a urban homestead in a small western NY city. We raise, hunt or forage much of our food. Firewood for heat is gathered after storms or from our cities yard waste dump. We make cider both sweet and hard, make cordials, hand crank ice cream, bake bread and garden our entire yard property line to property line.

I use the name woodsrunner online. The term goes back to the era of the fur trade. It has several meanings. Generally it refers to somebody who makes his living and life from the woods or land. Woodsrunner's trail is the journal of my life. If you choose to be a regular visitor here, be prepared to think. Be prepared to be offended. I'm very good at offending people. If you're the person that thinks Al Gore is going to save the world from mankind, we're gonna talk and you're gonna be offended. If you're one of the blind followers of GWB and the war on terror, we're gonna talk and you're gonna be offended. As a matter of fact if you're the type that thinks big government, big business, or big anything is going to save anyone or anything, face it, you're gonna be offended. I'll leave you with a picture taken along my trail of life.


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