A Time of Transition

Yesterday I had planned on replacing a fuel line on my big plow truck and an actuation cable on my small plow truck, but a friend stopped by with his kids riding their 4-wheelers

He talked me into putting off my maintenance chores and go riding with them. To be honest it wasn’t that hard for him to do.

We rode for several hours and were nearing a small community (less than 100 people, our whole county has a population of 3000) when a wheel flew off one of the kids ATVs.

Using our rural “do it yourself” traits which typify people here we removed the other wheel and set the wheel-less end of the incapacitated ATV on the cargo rack of one of the other ATVs and started heading back.

On the way back I ran across a patch of wild Shaggy Mane mushrooms and picked a bunch. After arriving home I realized I didn’t have any beef streak and decided to go to town to purchase some and give away the extra mushrooms I wouldn’t be using.

At my first stop I was informed that my friends there don’t like any type of mushrooms, and people keep giving them to them. I left with my original bag of Shaggy Manes and three more bags of Morels which they didn’t want. Not wanting to risk quadrupling my mushrooms again I picked a friend who I knew liked wild mushrooms and sneaked the bag of Manes onto his porch and went home. I wrapped up the day by cooking a white wine, butter, baby (homegrown) shallot and wild mushroom sauce for my steak.

Now that The Gulch Home is nearing completion I figured I’d pick up some part-time work to help keep me busy this winter. I had heard the local mill was looking to start running on weekends so I stopped by. It’s kind of funny how being in that chair hasn’t changed. I totally forgot I didn’t really need the work, that I had my own business at one time, and that I wasn’t a teenage kid anymore. Sweaty palm and the whole works. Like an old friend of mine use to say: “It’s all chemical.”

Published in: on September 27, 2010 at 6:42 pm  Comments (3)  
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Fall Nears

Berry week didn’t work as well as I had hoped. We ended up getting about a half gallon more of raspberries and these five quarts of Elderberries for wine I’ll make this winter.


The low temperatures have been in the thirties for almost a week now. Luckily we haven’t had any hard freezes yet, and have lost only the squash, corn, and peppers.

The Boy and I have been taking advantage of the cooler temps to put up firewood. We have about half what we need so far:


I discovered our hot water system was thermosiphoning BTUs into our floor anytime a flow check valve I installed was open. I also discovered check valves (at least the brass ones I’ve been using) don’t really work reliably. Thermosiphoning is a truly amazing and much more efficient process than I previously believed. Three hundred more dollars to Granger, two solenoid valve bodies, two 110V 60Hz actuator coils and I fixed the problem :

Photobucket The tank temps shown are about 10 degrees below normal since I had taken a shower right before taking the pic.

Some of the girls are taking getting ready for winter more seriously than me:


Published in: on September 1, 2010 at 11:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Still Busy

Here are some pics of a couple of the projects I’ve been trying to get wrapped up. Some of these were started four/five years ago.






Published in: on July 23, 2010 at 12:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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Man Cave

The man cave I built over ten years ago, commonly called the “Man Shack”, “Shop” or “Poker Shed” (sometimes bastardized to Poke Her Shed) will be mine again soon.

I let my new neighbor stay in it (he only slept in it and spent all the rest of his time in our house) over the winter. I went down today to do one of my winter projects that I usually do on “shop night” and couldn’t even find my “shop night project box”…..but I’ll get it set back up soon. I didn’t realize how much my sanity relied upon those 120 square feet of my space until I didn’t have access to them this winter.

Published in: on June 8, 2010 at 11:45 pm  Comments (3)  
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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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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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I Lost a Friend

I lost a friend the other day. Not a flesh and blood friend but a whole internet community. I joined a writer’s forum when I decided to start writing again. This was a neat little community composed of members from all over the world. I made several flesh and blood friends there who I’m sure will be reading this, so I better say “Hi” to at least Penny, Link, and Jon before going any further. Right off the bat I had some problems with the moderation policy but chose to voluntarily censor myself in order to be part of the community. It was private property and I understood (and respected) exactly what that meant. I thought everything was going smoothly until I posted a picture of a couple of firearms I own. This picture was in a thread specifically for the purpose of off topic (non-writer related) pictures. It was deleted and one of the moderators posted a tirade (In thirty point red characters) about how “heavy weaponry” was inappropriate. I went and reread the contract I agreed to (the rules) and couldn’t find anything that could possibly backup that statement. I decided I needed to explain myself, since I was getting the feeling that he and possibly others had an incorrect view of who I was. I also wanted to get to the root of the rabid anti-gun sentiment. So I made the following “blog” post there:

I very rarely explain myself, so anyone reading this should feel very privileged. I feel if someone makes false assumptions they will eventually get what they deserve. However, since I felt so at ease here maybe I didn’t explain my position as fully as I should have before voicing some of my more radical views (or “offensive” pictures.)….
….I believe every single person on the face of this planet has the same rights. More specifically I believe any person can do whatever they want as long as those actions don’t interfere with anyone else’s ability to do the same. Because of this I argue with religious fundamentalists (Christian/Jewish/Muslim) about their church’s policies of religious persecution against other religions. I argue with liberals about their belief they can deprive people of methods of self-defense (gun laws.) I argue with conservatives about their belief they can tell others what they can ingest (drug laws.) I argue with both liberals and conservatives about the theft of other’s labors (taxes.) I argue with conservatives about this country’s neo-imperialism (the war in Iraq). I argue with liberals about property rights (environmental laws.) I argue with conservatives about civil rights (The 1984esque Big Bother surveillance state.)I argue with liberals about “affirmative action”. I argue with conservatives about their opinions about homosexuals. I argue with anyone who thinks zoning/planning is not a violation of property rights. I argue with everyone about immigration laws (there shouldn’t be any.) However, in this case I’m not arguing for any actions on the recent event but feel I have a right to explain myself.

I don’t believe anybody can deprive another person of any of their Rights. My writing and posts will almost always reflect this. If this poses an insurmountable problem for members here I will stop sharing my work and opinions.

I know I followed the rules for the picture thread in “The Lounge” that ****** had posted just a few pages prior to my post e.g. It was a picture that I had taken. Even though it didn’t violate the board rules by being pornographic, racist, spam, illegal (I legally own all the items*that were in the picture) etc. I apologize for missing the rule stating nothing could be considered scary by anyone at anytime for any reason. In my defense I hadn’t expected to find such a rule in a forum that should encourage creativity, and that must be why I missed it.

*The pictured items in question were firearms. These tools of equalization should not be feared by anyone. The smallest one pictured my wife carries everyday and because of that I never worry about her being raped or murdered just because someone is physically stronger than her. The middle sized one is a MBR (Main Battle Rifle) this is a semi-auto version of the current U.S. military infantryman’s weapon. I have used that weapon to kill only once; when a bear that had killed several of my baby goats attacked one of our nannies in her goat house. The largest weapon is a .50BMG it is the largest firearm most Americans can legally own. I say most because ownership is illegal in some states like California and New York, but here in Montana it is commonly owned. (Even larger weapons can be legally owned in this country if an individual pays a fifty dollar tax.) That weapon is capable of easily killing beyond 1000 yards (1 Kilometer.) However it has never be shot at anything besides lifeless targets. I love guns. I love the thrill of shooting them. I love the beauty of the craftsmanship that is required to make them, but most of all I love the freedom they guarantee. A fact that should be better known is that all genocides in history were preceded by government imposed firearm restrictions. Millions of Russians Stalin murdered (including a fair number of writers), the Cambodians (also including a large number of writers) that were sent to “The Killing Fields”, and the Jews in Warsaw in 1943 all should have taken firearm ownership more seriously. If they had they would have had a better chance of not being murdered.

The following are some thoughts on this topic by the founders of my country:

Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.
—Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (Philadelphia 1787).

Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man gainst his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American…[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.
—Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.

[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually…I ask, who are the militia? They consist of now of the whole people, except a few public officers. But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day. If that paper on the table gets no alteration, the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor…
—George Mason

Because of this post I was able to engage the two moderators in a discussion about what happened. They claimed it (the picture) violated the rules because it wasn’t writer related. I then asked one of them how a picture of his dog he had just posted in that same thread was “writer related” and he backtracked and said the picture was “offensive”. I argued quite successfully (I believe) against this point. I was successful if measured by the fact they stopped debating it. I took the high road and didn’t even need to point out that that same thread had pictures a member had taken of herself half-naked, bound in handcuffs and gagged, (which incidentally I liked even more than my gun picture.)

I thought that was the end of it, and was quite proud of being able to dispel some common misconceptions about firearm ownership. However, the next day three members that a friend of mine would classify as “Euro-pussies” except for the surprising “Aussie-pussy” posted emotional based arguments about how guns are “vulgar barbaric killing machines”. I tried to get these members to put aside emotions and try some logical debate but to no avail. I doubt they even looked at the excellent JPFO (Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership) genocide and gun laws correlation chart I linked:


I eventual got them to, if not reevaluate their positions, to at least shut up with the following post:

“So you three would support a blanket ban of all Israeli and Swiss members here since they must be barbaric killers because they are required by their laws to own and know how to use firearms.”

The next day when I logged in I found out I had been banned with no type of explanation. They also Memory Holed almost all of my substantial posts. The exceptions to the purge were every single short story I had shared there. I suspect they kept these to lend a sense of credibility to the board. Oh well, good bye. Sometimes it takes a little while to discover someone you thought was your friend really isn’t.

Thankfully I still have, if not my oldest, my dearest internet forum. Ironically enough I suspect the percentage of members who have been published there is higher than at the writer’s forum I was banned from. It’s a place where all the rules can be summed up in ten words; nothing illegal, no spam, and no disclosure of other’s personal information. Only once were moderator actions used there (for a death threat) and even that was debated by all the board’s members including the member who made the threat. It’s the kind of place where an original member of the CPC (Certain Persons Cabal) like me can feel free and write whatever I want without worry of censorship. Sometimes posts are not made in the best place, or a thread might be “jacked” way beyond recognition, or a booby picture might be posted but I can live with that. Like Benjamin Franklin said:

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Since I believe in all forms of freedom including the freedom of expression, I welcome anyone who disagrees with any of this post to share their opinions as a comment. I do not moderate and I promise any comments will not be edited as long as they comply with the very loose rules of my favorite forum; nothing illegal, no spam, and no disclosure of other’s personal information.

The “horribly offensive, vulgar, barbaric, killing machines” picture:
See the malicious twinkle in the eyepiece of the scope? Can’t you just sense them plotting to murder babies as they sit there?


The man went by many names. He wasn’t sure which he would use when he sent his current work out into the world, or even where it might end up. Of course he wasn’t thinking about this now. He was running his fingers through his thick beard. He was proud of his beard and rightly so, not many people could grow such luxurious facial hair. He found that this action helped him put his thoughts in order. He was struggling to start a story. The blinking curser seemed to mock him like an impatient driver waiting in a car in front of a house honking the horn.

“How does a person sum up such a full life in five hundred words?” He mumbled. The logs that he had shaped with his own hands into the home surrounding him offered no answers. Then his eyes widened, his posture straightened and his fingers sought the keys in front of him. Using three fingers of each hand in a way that would send any typing teacher into fits, he started writing.

He typed: “The boy sat in the Junior High school library. A book titled Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains lay open if front of him. He had started spending his recesses in the library studying to be a mountain man ever since the suspension. He was suspended for selling bubblegum filled suckers on the school grounds. Last week when he was sitting in front of the principle he was too ashamed to admit his family’s poverty as the reason for selling the candy. He had wrongly believed the fact that the exact same candy was sold by the school store would save him. His arguments about capitalism and the American dream had no effect… ”

The man shook his head and pressing the backspace key erased all he had written. “Screw this,” he said as he closed the laptop and pulled some papers out of a manila folder next to him. The sharp lines on the sheets showed his building projects for the coming summer. He shuffled through the blueprints for the attached greenhouse, the third floor writing room, and the mine adit to his root cellar. His face brightened as he reached the sheet with the mechanical engineering diagram for the complicated power dump to water heating schematic. He pulled a drafting pencil out of the same manila folder the plans had come from. With the pencil poised over the sheet he studied it for several minutes. With a sigh he realized that all the planning that could be done was already done. He placed the plans and the pencil back in the folder and reopened the laptop.

He typed: “The man had arrived an hour early to smuggle in the protest signs. These signs were now safely hid behind his chair in the back of the room. He fidgeted, the rest of his group wouldn’t arrive for some time and he was getting bored. He spotted a piece of chalk on the table at the front of the room where the planning commission would be giving the press conference. With a huge smile on his face he walked to the front of the room and wrote “6:00PM- Fascism in Action” on the chalkboard behind the podium. He had just returned to his seat when the local access TV station crew showed up and started setting up their equipment….”

“It’s all crap” The man said as he once again erased all the words he had just typed. He rose from where he was typing and walked downstairs to the huge pantry. The pantry had originally been designed to be a dining room but his wife had persuaded him to convert it into a cool room to store their long term food storage. He told friends it was so large in case they ever got snowed in for the winter. He didn’t ever mention the times when they were so poor that they couldn’t afford to buy food for weeks and these provisions kept his family from going hungry. He walked the thirteen feet down the aisle looking at the thousands of pounds of food most resting safely on shelves in canning jars he had processed himself. He wasn’t really hungry and nothing appealed to him. Closing the insulated door he returned to his writing area and once again opened the computer.

He typed: “The sun shone off the vintage Airstream, blinding the drivers of the trucks that occasionally thundered past. Dry rolling hills with sparse clumps of sage and cheat grass lay beyond a large rectangular sign. The sign was old splintered wood with flaking brown paint. Carved deeply into the ancient wood were the words “Welcome to Montana”. A man was rubbing the sign in a way that was almost a caress. A woman was walking a dog along the fence behind the sign. A boy ran up to the man with a deer horn that was bleached to a ghostly white.
“Look what I found dad,” the boy said.
“Yup…. Well, we finally made it. Get your mother, sister and the dogs over here. I want a picture.”
After the boy ran off the man felt himself holding back tears. Years of planning had led to this moment. “A new life,” he thought to himself. Then he thought of the six figure cashier check locked safely in the fireproof safe hidden in the camper and smiled. It was a smile that advertised hope and freedom….”

“I can’t write that, there’s no ending. I haven’t finished that story in my life yet.” The man said as he deleted it. “Screw it. It’s just a stupid writing contest. It’s not like there is even a cash prize.” He shut off the computer and wandered downstairs. While feeding the woodstove decided to go check for eggs, feed the goats and water his new mushroom spawn.

Published in: on March 26, 2010 at 12:18 am  Comments (15)  
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House Finish Work / Done Kidding

I all but got done with the sheet rock in the house prior to the Last Log Party so I’ve moved on to finish work. We found a huge set of used cabinets at Restore in Missoula a little while back for $200. These are a darkish finish on Maple and when purchased new were top of the line, judging by the hardware and joinery. The lil’ lady wants to paint the kitchen cabs, and in fact the first set in the peninsula we bought new with a white primer finish. Unfortunately she has come to like the finish on these so I guess I’ll need to learn to do faux wood finish now. We got all the cabs in the pic, 3 other uppers for the kitchen (not in the picture but installed), a whole set of uppers for the utility/laundry room, and even had an extra upper I installed in the bath.



Before anyone asks the flag in the pics is the Bunker Hill Flag. I extended the ends of the Last Log in the railing an extra 4.5′ on either side to hang flags, garlands, hides, trophy heads, etc. The other side sports a Gadsden flag for now. The counter top (like the last one) is Gin-u-wine Colorado Pondarosa Pine (AKA Bull Pine here in MT) I and a friend milled these (and butt-loads more) from timber I bought from another friends dad. I did a hand-rubbed finish with Boiled Linseed oil (same as the other).

I finished all the shelving in the master closet this week and tomorrow we are going to finally get to the last boxes.



I think we are done with the unplanned kidding for this winter. We had 9 kids and didn’t lose a single one, even with the sub-zero temps right after they were born.



Published in: on January 14, 2010 at 1:34 am  Comments (4)  
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Look What Santa Brought

One of these guys will lead a charmed life as our new billy, the other will be less fortunate and will go in the freezer. The short list of names is Feed and Seed or Heir and Spare.

Also in current news we hosted a combined New Years and Last Log party.I invited everyone up the mountain that helped me build the house, everyone but three people made it. The Boy and I could have hung this log on the railing last week but figured everyone earned a chance to help.


Published in: on January 2, 2010 at 8:22 pm  Comments (6)  
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