Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Minimum Wage Survival Economics

We've been cutting our expenses lately due to the lack of money coming in, and it's got me thinking somewhat on the survival economics of minimum wage.

It costs us around $10-$15 per day to feed ourselves. (We could cut that cost by half if we had a dairy cow or some goats, but we haven't managed that yet this year.) We also don't eat a lot of the noodles and pasta that some poor people eat. Aside from the food allergies, those just seem to make you fat (which brings health problems and an economic issue all of its own).

If you work for the full day at minimum wage, you're probably going to make about $50 and the government's going to take a chunk too.

So say $40 at the end of the day.

That's $40 at the end of the day for what is very low eating. You also lost the whole day to an employer. You couldn't work in the garden or do anything else to try to get ahead.

And normal people have a whole heck of a lot more expenses than we do. Rent/mortgage, utilities, etc.

How do people get by on one income earning minimum wage? I just don't see how the math adds up.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Vastness of Creation

I wonder sometimes why so many Christians seem to have such a strange view of nature. The more I learn of the world around me, the more I see how so little of it is made for me. There are many places on this planet, which some would have us believe is here expressly to house us, which we cannot go. In fact, probably the vast majority of this planet is not hospitable to us. Certainly what we know of the vast universe is not hospitable to us.

In the face of so much of known creation being either inhospitable or inaccessible to humanity, why do we as humans continue to persist in our belief that we are absolutely central to God's story?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Thank Heaven

Our daughter is wandering around the house in a pair of fairy wings from Halloween last year and a little pink dress. She has a dirty face and scabby knees from playing outside rough-and-tumble.

Thank heaven for little angels.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Knife Sale

This weekend only ... knives for sale ...


Use the coupon code "IWANTKNIFE" and get 10% off. Only four knives left so act fast or someone else will beat you to it.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Dead Trees

My friend was building a pond for someone and he had to knock down some elm trees to make room for it. Not a lot of trees, but about 4 of them.

I was invited to cut them up for firewood, which we need pretty desperately for next winter. I want to lay in about 8 cords to make sure we can go the whole winter long.

I finished sawing up the first one and gave a quick glance at the rings. Looked like there were well over 100 there, possibly more than 150.

That tree has been growing alongside that creek since about the time of the Civil War. When this part of Texas was still in Comanche hands, that elm tree was growing there.

It took 2 minutes to knock it down with a bulldozer and push it over to the side for me, and I took about 20 minutes to saw it into logs. It will provide for us probably 2 weeks worth of fuel.

I just can't help feeling like there's something terribly wrong with that. My family needs to be warm in the winter, and we need wood to cook our food. Yet there ought to be some compromise with nature where I don't have to destroy some living thing that's over three times my age.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Grim-Faced Gardening

It seems sort of out-of-perspective to complain about the garden this morning, in the face of all of the other bad events going on, but we had a hard freeze last night and a trip through the garden this morning is just ... apocalyptic.

Even plants that were covered have freeze damage. A wheelbarrow that had water in it was full of ice.

We're TWO weeks past the "guaranteed" last frost date here. I covered everything up, but that doesn't seem to have been enough.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Honduran Rosewood Hunting Knife

Sent this off to a customer yesterday morning. He gave me a list of woods he wanted to use and I had trouble finding good grains in all of them except for this Honduran Rosewood which I special ordered.

I'll be putting this up for sale on my Etsy page as a made-to-order item. Price will be $75.

Frost warning

And late in the season too! A low of 34 degrees tonight and it's very wet out, which is likely to mean frost. I've got a ton of plants in the ground that will keel over and die with frost. Peppers, tomatoes, etc. We're about 2 weeks past the last frost date too.

In the grand scheme of all that is happening in the world lately, losing a tomato plant seems like a very small deal, but it's a big deal in my little world.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On Foraging

On the way to my garden every morning where I slave away in the hot sun, watering and tending delicate vegetables which appear to only have a predilection for dying, I probably step over 8,000 calories of self-renewing, highly nutritious plant matter that could be gathered each day.

All of my books on foraging deal with mainly northern and eastern plants. With a nod to the venerable Euell Gibbons, has nobody lived in these arid lands and written a book on the wild edibles which can be found here?

It takes awhile to learn them anywhere, as you generally have to see them through the entire growing season to properly identify them. Last year my attention was on other things and I'm just now beginning to be able to focus on nature again.

I try to follow what I call the "rule of three". Don't worry about identifying ALL of the wild edibles. Just start with the three most common ones in your area and identify those. Be observant and find out what you have available to you in abundance, and then identify that and find out its uses.

Monday, April 15, 2013


I don't like thinning out plants. I've always had such difficulty getting seeds to sprout (before I learned the secrets of soil temperature) that pulling up a baby plant only to toss it into the compost is a horror to me.

It seems to much like playing God, choosing who will live and who will die.

But thinned the cabbage plants must be. I had 2 year old seed that I put in extra thickly to make sure it sprouted, but it appears the years have been good to it. There's a lush carpet of cabbage sprouts in that bed. So I'm pulling up the baby ones where I don't want them to be (or that look like they might make less of a plant overall) and putting them in a bowl for consumption tonight. I'll wash them off and mix them in with some scrambled eggs and onions for a little green consumption. It's only about half a cup of greens, but every bit of nutrition helps around here. Waste not, want not.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Our Next Enemy

A previously undiscovered tribe is discovered living in the Rain Forest.

They are armed. They are healthy and well-fed and the children are holding weapons.

Clearly they constitute a threat to our way of life and our government is plotting an invasion.

On "Sustainability"

I do not know why this is such a dirty word amongst conservatives. Yes, the United Nations and many liberal governments are using it to try and seize control over you, but let's talk about a few points here:

1. Our current civilization is not sustainable. Not by any stretch of the imagination. We depend entirely upon a limited resource which we must fight wars to obtain. Everyone willing to sell it to us has already sold us theirs. So now it's time to kill to keep our civilization going.

2. Corporations have demonstrated that, if allowed, they will pollute, clearcut, or stripmine an entire region and then move on elsewhere. They are not local mom and pop shops that live in the areas they exploit.

3. There will have to be many initiatives in order to even begin to try and bake in enough "sustainability" to keep even a remnant of our civilization alive once we run out of fuel and run out of the military might to go out and acquire more.

Corporate shills like Glenn Beck have been telling you all about the evil "Agenda 21". In fact, they wrote books to sell you about how evil it is. Don't get me wrong, the United Nations cannot be trusted to any degree.

But just because your local town wants to open a recycling center doesn't mean you need to storm your local government angrily and scream about how they've fallen to Agenda 21.

Do you WANT to live in a polluted wasteland? Do you want to have your lands and property, and the places where your children will live, destroyed by corporations by profit?

No? Then you may just have to step forward and take some actions to stop this, even if it means that your speech and actions resemble that of a liberal environmentalist wacko.

Living in freedom does NOT mean we have to let bad neighbors destroy the land.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Morning Routine

We wake up these days mostly when we feel like it, which seems to be between 7 and 8am. It's the morning sun coming in through the windows that gets us up and moving. I used to think that every farmer should get up an hour before dawn. Where did I get such a goofy idea?

In an off-grid life, there's no real reason to get up before daylight. You can't see to do anything anyway. Take the extra hour of sleep and enjoy it.

When we wake up, the good wife starts fixing breakfast. I will sit and check the email, internet news, and other assorted time-wasters until the coffee is ready. Then I'll take my cup and begin morning rounds.

I start with the garden. Let's see how much the young plants grew last night and if any other things popped up through the soil. Later in the summer, morning is also a good time to see bugs on your plants before they hide from the heat of the day.

Then lately I go check on Janis, a quirky-looking bantam hen who has decided to go broody on 4 eggs up between some empty beehives behind the cabin. It's a terribly exposed place and I've moved her three times, but she returns to it every day. So I've left her to her own devices and I'll just spend the next 21 days worrying about her.

While I'm out looking at things, our cat named Jade is prowling about too. She stays inside these nights since she had kittens a few days ago, but of an early morning she needs a break and heads outside. She'll be there for a bit and then return to her babies.

Finally, I'll let the dogs loose to run and play for a bit before I begin my day. Usually I get started with the real work around 10am unless there's absolutely something pressing to be done. And usually there is not.

Life is good!


Do you really think the state is going to give you permission to build a better society?

Sunday, April 7, 2013


So the potatoes appear to have survived through TWO hard frosts. Some are having a hard time bouncing back, but they still have some green on them so I'm hopeful. I don't want to replant all of that. Since it means doing without taters this year if I'm wrong, I may plant a "necessity patch" somewhere else.

Across the farm there are hundreds of different types of wild plants coming up, many blooming with beautiful flowers. I wish I had the ability to identify them all and know their purposes. I'm certain that many would serve me no real use, but perhaps others might. What blessings am I passing by each day, taking in no more than its beauty?

My boys and I are building a fence for a barn pasture. After we build the fence for the barn pasture, I suppose we shall also have to build the barn.

This place was such a blank slate when we got here. It was just a big empty wildland. It looks like a farm now. Sometimes I wish though that there was still some more wildland left.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sheep in the fence

I don't know what it is with the mindset of sheep, but I've seen them get their head stuck in a fence and then just lay down to wait for death. They don't pull back, they don't holler for help. They just lay there.

Seems to me there are a lot of people like that too. The first big obstacle that seems impossible to overcome and they lay down to die.

Friday, April 5, 2013


Killing frost last night. Our last frost date around here is April 8, but of course I tried to sneak some stuff in early.

Potatoes are frozen and will all die back. Tomato plants were mostly frozen. One might live. Don't know about the cabbage yet. It's just now gotten it's true leaves. Might be some survives.

Frustrating gardening time. In fits and starts.

Monday, April 1, 2013