Spring House

I was going to post today about the excellent progress we’re making on doubling the size of the garden but I’ve been asked by several people to write a post about the spring house. All this work predates this blog which is why it’s not already written about.

First some pics:

These are the plants that indicated I had a year-round deep rock spring:

My masonry work I’m pretty proud of:

Where the lid I cast joins my masonry work:

From the front, (I haven’t finished the rock entryway yet):

The overflow/clean-out, I might someday build a rock cool house here for milk and butter:

The 48V DC positive displacement piston pump / pressure switch and surge tank:

A close up of the overflow/clean-out. In this picture, below the 4″ overflow the threaded clean-out can be seen. Also pictured is the garden hose length I use to suction up any silt, the DC fuses for the pump and light, the waterproof junction box, and the lightning arrestor .

Published in: on April 27, 2010 at 12:49 am  Comments (1)  
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Mycelium Rampaging

Those of you looking to read some more of my political agitation or short stories, will now need to wait like those who have been waiting for my self-sufficiency posts all winter. I will say happy Patriots day to all! This is the best freedom day; long before any statesmen of orators decided it was safe to declare independence collectively (July Fourth a year later), people just like you and me heard about the British coming to take their guns and plugged those bastards full of lead…but I digress.

Our family likes mushrooms and even though a lot of the gourmet types are sometimes to expensive for us too grow, I came up with a solution. I happen to own a huge wet root cellar and because of that I already have a perfect place to grown ‘shrooms.Here is the beginnings of our path to ‘shroom self-sufficiency:

One of six starters of Oysters:

Enokitake getting ready to button:


Blue Oysters flushing:


Inoculating with “plug spawn:”


About 30% of the plugs (half of my Phoenix and Chicken of the Woods) are done and here the lengths are on the way to their home:


Here they are waiting to grow:


Published in: on April 20, 2010 at 12:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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Free Beer….Today?

Almost seventy seven years ago on December 5th, 1933 the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was ratified and Prohibition was abolished in the United States. However the writing was on the wall before that. On April 7, 1933, eight months prior to the official repeal of Prohibition the Cullen-Harrison Bill, permitting the resumption of the manufacture and sale of beer and light wines was passed. This date is often (mistakenly) celebrated as the end of prohibition. However, the real story begins long before even that piece of legislation.

“Because of the high acquittal rate in prohibition cases during the 1920s and early 1930s, prohibition laws could not be enforced. The repeal of these laws is traceable to the refusal of juries to convict those accused [and clearly guilty] of alcohol traffic.”
Alan Scheflin and Jon Van Dyke, Jury Nullification: The Contours of a Controversy, Law and Contemporary Problems 43, No.4, 71 (1980).

We as a people used one of our most powerful rights to end Prohibition long before the government gave up forcing it upon us. This is a power we all have, though few know about it. Today, just speaking about this Right to those who most need to know can result in incarceration. This right is the fact that every juror has the duty to judge not only the facts of the case but also the law that brought the case before them. Judges and prosecutors will deny this right, and have instigated a procedure to separate any possible jurors who know about it, called Voir Dire. The government is afraid of this right and has taken drastic (unconstitutional) actions to limit it as much as they can by forming “special” tax, divorce, custody, social services courts, and secret tribunals. They have also denied the right to a jury trial to all petty offenses, most misdemeanors and some felony charges. However, the right to be judged by our neighbors and have this country’s laws likewise judged remains where it always has; with the people.

The Right for a person to be tried by his peers (neighbors) instead of a government or church official(s) is debatably the most fundamental right of a free person. This right predated our “Bill of Rights”; it was one of the first Rights of an Individual enumerated in the Constitution (Art. III Sec. 2.) It was so important to the founders of this country they enumerated it again in “The Bill of Rights” in two separate amendments (VI, VII.) However, the enumeration of this Right predates even the founding of this country. It was first written about in an ancient Greek play called The Eumenides (500BC), and was undoubtedly the method used by most primitive tribes even before written history, in judging possible morally questionable behavior. The fact that this country is attempting to (unconstitutionally) subvert this right with juror-less trials and tribunals should have the people of this country very worried. The violation of this Right allows the government to harm, or even kill, anyone at anytime for any reason with impunity.

Today I will be deadening the pain of our government’s betrayal of this Right by hefting a few beers at one of our local saloons, which is celebrating the end of Prohibition by giving everyone a free alcoholic beverage. I’ll be the guy explaining to the other patrons that Jurors knowing their Rights and acting upon them is what is allowing them to enjoy their beverage of choice. As you drink your next alcoholic beverage I’d like you to ponder the following quotes about Jury Nullification:

JOHN ADAMS (1771): It’s not only ….(the juror’s) right, but his duty, in that case, to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgement, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.

JOHN JAY (1794): The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1804): Jurors should acquit even against the judge’s instruction….”if exercising their judgement with discretion and honesty they have a clear conviction that the charge of the court is wrong.”

SAMUEL CHASE (1804): The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts.

OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES (1920): The jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both the law and the facts.

U.S. vs. DOUGHERTY (1972) [D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals]: The jury has….”unreviewable and irreversible power…to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge.”

Much more information, including how this Right of Jury Nullification helped end slavery can be found at The Fully Informed Jury Association website.

Published in: on April 7, 2010 at 8:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Shifting Gears

Summer and building season is nearing. I will be shifting gears from my winter political activism posts to my summer self-sufficiency posts very soon. This is because in the summer all my spare time goes towards improving The Gulch and I have very little time to write. Speaking of self-sufficiency, I’ve been slacking in posting about that front. I did my yearly canning of Corned Beef and Cabbage when it was on sale over St. Pat’s. This year’s yield was eighty pounds. We had what should be the last kidding of the “spring”:



The kid was another Buckling, we are finally getting our odds evened out after all the years of mostly Doelings. I should get over 150# of processed nine month old goat chevon (meat) this fall. I’m processing 21 quarts of Scottish Cock-a-Leeky soup tonight (chicken quarters $.59/#), and will be running seventy pounds of ham ($.99/#)in the next couple of days.

Published in: on April 2, 2010 at 8:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A friend of mine once told me a person doesn’t really qualify as a Montanan until they’ve got twenty winters under their belt. He said there was a fifty percent reduction if those winters were spent in what we call “West Dakota” or “The Flats”. I’ve traveled though that area twice and I’d have to say I agree with him. I’ve considered petitioning for a reduction for myself since we live off-grid on the side of a mountain. I haven’t because I doubt that would impress a man who lives off-grid in a seven by seven foot shack. People up here are a tough bunch. My favorite bartender here spent her first two winters in a wall tent. It doesn’t take long for a person to learn to tell the difference between a real Montanan and someone who just has a summer place. A real Montanan will look you in the eye and not rush anything while you talk with them. They don’t use wishy-washy phrases like “I believe” or “I think” or “I hope”. This is a land of absolutes. Hoping doesn’t save the life of a stuck calf at 3:00AM on a subzero February morning. A real Montanan doesn’t “think” a tree will fall in a direction that won’t kill those men sawing around him; he knows. A real Montana doesn’t “believe” the elk will be bedding down during a blizzard, he knows because he’s spent the time to learn the ways of this country, and this country won’t accept excuses.

I have lived here in Montana for five years. I wasn’t lucky enough to have been born here but at least I was lucky enough to have been born in the Rocky Mountains. I came from what I thought of as the sparsely populated corner of Colorado. I didn’t really understand what sparsely populated meant until I got here. There are places here that a person looking hard will get eyestrain before they find any people.

“The Last Best Place” is a phrase often used to describe this state. Some people will add “to Hide” to that also. We have a reputation for having “unusual” people here. I never met Ted Kaczynski or “Uncle Teddy” as he’s called up here, but I know people who have. The same goes for the Trochmanns who founded The Militia of Montana. I never met Elizabeth Clare Prophet, or any of The Freemen but I understand how all these people came to call Montana home.

Ever since people formed clans and tribes there have always been those of us who haven’t belonged. Until recently this wasn’t problem. We would just strike out for “parts unknown” maybe after flipping a bird in the direction we left behind. The places beyond the edge of the maps were where we couldn’t be found. We embodied the wilderness we called home and it shaped us at least as much as we shaped it.

There are no places left for a person to disappear to in this modern world. I fanaticize about a day that private colony ships can leave for astral bodies but I doubt I will live to see it. Those of us stuck here have to make do the best we can. We are, generally speaking, peaceful people who just want to be left alone. If given the option we will relocate to find what we seek before attempting to force our views on others. This just makes sense because having others views forced on us is what we are trying to escape.

Montana is one of the few States left in this union that still has a remnant of the freedom to be different this country was founded on. Our politics and laws reflect this sense of freedom; we have waged more state sovereignty battles than any other state. We have drafted a secession bill, twice, we said “hell no” to the national I.D. plan, we were the first state to declared we could make any firearms we want no matter what the federal government thought, we were the only state to abolish speed limits, anybody can conceal carry without a permit in over ninety nine percent of the state, we told the feds we wouldn’t enforce any laws contrary to our medical marijuana law, our open contain law is a zero point/fifty dollar fine that can be paid on the side of the road while you’re still holding your beer as long as you aren’t drunk, every citizen in this state is issued a de-facto license to have guns within the federal gun free school zones outside of schools, and I know there are even more pro-freedom laws that I’m forgetting.

I like to envision the population of this country like the wine in a brandy distiller’s equipment: the more volatile elements are released as the federal government turns up the heat and we all collect here where it’s cooler. Left behind is an off-flavored inert residue in the rest of the country, and a intoxicating but dangerous mixture here. With the growing number of Rights violating laws being passed at the federal level I expect the exodus of freedom seeking individuals from the other states to continue here for some time. I expect in the near future we will see a show down with the federal government. It is my dearest wish that this is a bloodless revolution that leads to the sovereign country of Montana being formed. However, I also know how dangerous a cornered animal can be and that’s basically what us here in Montana have become.