Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our life in Pictures

They say a picture is worth a thousand words....

My nightstand - I thought it summed
me up in a nutshell

I know, you really wanted to
see a close up of the handgun!

Canning cheese

Hand-dipping turtles

Ready to pass out to neighbors

Singing Christmas Carols with our
dear friends
What your preparedness minded
daughter brings home from
her day job at the grocery store!
Our Dragon Snack

Thank you for visiting our life in pictures!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Great Men of History

It should have been a simple repair.  Generally, when our water pipes freeze, I just heat them up with the blow drier for a couple of minutes, and, wallah - running water.  But not this time.  The pipes just wouldn't thaw.  I wasn't too concerned.  It was just a minor inconvenience.  We did have cold running water at the bathtub, so I could keep things running fairly smoothly.  I was hoping for Sir Knight to get home, because he seems to have the magic touch with the hair dryer.  He always puts it in just the right spot and miraculously, water starts flowing almost immediately.  But not this time.

Sir Knight got home from a day slaying dragons, to a wife saying "before you get too comfortable...."  I told him that I had been unable to get the pipes thawed and that I had been at it off and on all day.  I also informed him that using the generator to run the hair dryer was not working because the dryer kept flipping the circuit breaker.  Maid Elizabeth and I had a system.  She would run out to the generator, make it back into the shouse just in time for me to yell "go flip the circuit breaker", run outside again and, well, you see were this is going!  It had been nothing short of frustrating.  By the time Sir Knight got home, I really didn't care if we had running water at the present, I just wanted to be done messing with the pipes.

Riding to my rescue, Sir Knight rolled up his sleeves, and humming a little tune (I think it might be his theme song) went to work on the pipes.  He cheated though, and used a torch (now why hadn't I thought of that?).  But still, the pipes wouldn't thaw.  What in the world? And then he saw it - the pipe was not only frozen, it had completely split at a seam!  Had any of my efforts, or the early efforts of Sir Knight worked, our entire bathroom would have been flooded.  And so, Sir Knight went to work.  Still humming his theme song, he dug through the tool box, found a little of this, a little of that and a hose clamp (don't ask) and fixed that broken pipe.

After his great success with the pipes, he was ready for a cup of tea.  But before he sat down to enjoy the evening, he decided to head out and start the generator so that we could charge batteries as we enjoyed our afternoon cuppa.  The generator started with one pull and Sir Knight came into our cozy shouse ready to put his feet up.  And then the breaker flipped.  Yes, you read that correctly.  After having tripped the breaker a gazillion times trying to run the hair dryer, it would no longer "hold".  There truly is no rest for the weary.  We really had to charge batteries, so it was back into the dark night for Sir Knight.  He had yet another dragon to slay.  With a flashlight held between his teeth, blowing on his hands from time to time to keep the frostbite at bay, Sir Knight re-wired the generator.

As Sir Knight lay on his back in the snow, in sub-zero temperatures (with a wind chill), holding a flashlight between his teeth, fixing the generator yet again, I started thinking about great men.  I don't mean wealthy men or successful men or powerful men, but GREAT men.  Men that persevere in the midst of crushing adversity, men that fail only to dust themselves off and start again, men that rise from the ashes like a Phoenix taking flight.  Men like my husband - the slayer of my dragons.

The great men of history have not been formed in the halls of academia or the nurseries of grand homes.  They have not been chiseled from the boardrooms of commerce or the venerable marbled columns of congress. They have been hewn out of adversity.  The stoic men that built our country held fast the British and overcame the British and Hessian armies through sheer grit, determination.  They met adversity as Great Men.

"To compound Washington's problems, the enlistments of the majority of the Militias under his command were due to expire at the end of the month and the troops return to their homes.  Washington had to do something, and quickly.

His decision was to attack the British.  The target was the Hessian-held town of Trenton just across the Delaware River.

During the night of December 25, Washington led his troops across the ice-swollen Delaware about 9 miles north of Trenton.  The weather was horrendous and the river treacherous.  Raging winds combined with snow, sleet and rain to produce almost impossible conditions.  To add to the difficulties, a significant number of Washington's force marched through the snow without shoes. 

The next morning, they attacked to the south, taking the Hessian garrison by surprise and over-running the town.  After fierce fighting, and the loss of their commander, the Hessian's surrendered.  

Washington's victory was complete, but his situation precarious.  The violent weather continued - making a strike toward Princeton problematic.  Washington and his commanding officers decided to retrace their steps across the Delaware River, taking their Hessian prisoners with them.  

The news of the American victory spread rapidly through the colonies reinvigorating the failing spirit of the revolution.  The battle's outcome also gave Washington and his officers the confidence to mount another campaign.  On December 30, they again crossed the Delaware, attacked and won another victory at Trenton on January 2, and then pushed on to Princeton defeating the British there on January 3.

Although not apparent at the time, these battles were a decisive turning point in the Revolution.  The victories pulled the languishing Revolution out of the depths of despair, galvanized colonial support, shocked the British and convinced potential allies, such as France, Holland and Spain, that the Continental Army was a force to be reckoned with."
                                            EyeWitness to

The list of great men is long, but, I'm afraid, not current.  I do not see Great Men leading our country, standing in the gap between good and evil.  I do not see Great Men being hewn in the school of adversity.

Our country longs for a Great Man.  We long for a leader that will stand for truth and righteousness regardless of the personal cost.  If a Great Man were to lead us, we would follow.

Our family is lead by a Great Man.  That is a beginning.  If many Great Men were to rise in families, more Great Men would follow in their footsteps.  If we embraced adversity and allowed it to form our boys into Great Men, our country would experience a revival unparalleled.

And behind every Great Man, there is a woman, quietly, humbly, encouraging, serving, helping her man become a Great Man.

Maid Elizabeth

Oh, how the family of God humbles me so!  So many people have emailed or left comments on my post about Maid Elizabeth getting ready to head to the Philippines to serve in a Missionary compound as a midwife that we have been overwhelmed.  The generosity of God's children is amazing and we feel so undeserving - but His plan is perfect, and Maid Elizabeth will humbly accept the blessings you have offered.

If any of you feel called to help Maid Elizabeth reach her goals (and please, don't feel compelled unless God lays it upon your heart!) please email me privately so that we can touch bases.  Maid Elizabeth would like to have a chance to thank each of you personally, and write you to tell you how God is using you and her to serve His children in the Philippines.

My email is located by clicking on my "About Me" section on the left-hand side of my blog.    Please know that your kindness has so encouraged Maid Elizabeth and has ministered greatly to this young lady.

Thank you, dear friends.

Enola Gay

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Your Station in life

A number of years back (actually, it was when I was expecting Miss Calamity), some friends came to us and asked Sir Knight to consider hiring a woman who lived with them that originally hailed from Honduras.  She (along with her three year old daughter) was displaced due to Hurricane Mitch and, through various circumstances, ended up at our friend's front door.  They had taken her and her child in, provided them with food and shelter and where helping them through the mire of emigrating to a new country, but they really needed a break.  They were requesting that we hire her a day or two a week to perform general housekeeping duties.

I rebelled!  I didn't want a housekeeper.  I was in charge of my household, thank you very much, and I didn't want anyone else invading my space.  Besides, only useless, wealthy people had housekeepers, not homesteaders with a limited budget!

Sir Knight and I discussed the situation at length.  The reasons for hiring this young woman were many.  It would provide our dear friends with two evenings a week that they could have dinner as a family without guests.  It would provide them with two days a week that they were free to take care of family business without interruption.  But most importantly, if would give them a break.

Sir Knight thought it would be a wonderful opportunity, not only to give our friends respite, but also to lessen the workload for his very pregnant wife.  Still, I had a hard time with the concept.  I had a hard time, that is, until I thought of my Great-Grandmother.

My Great-Grandmother was a lady of station (my Great-Grandfather was an accountant) in Seattle during the Great Depression.  They employed help (for kitchen duties, along with sometimes being a Nurse for my Grandpa and my Great-Aunt).  The Great Depression brought reduced circumstances, even to my financially comfortable Great-Grandparents.  The logical solution to their economic distress would have been to let their help go, but that is not what my grandparent did.  You see, they believed that their station in life dictate that they help those in greater need than themselves.  Rather than let their household help go, my Great-Grandmother, along with her little boy (my grandpa) scoured the hills and vales in the Capital Hill section of  Seattle picking the plentiful blackberries that grow there with wild abandon.  Pails in hand, they dirtied their hands with berry juice and blood, with the intent purpose of providing for their hired help.  My Grandmother would take the berries home, wash and pick through them, package them attractively in pails, put her best gloves on and take the berries to the local bakeries. These bakeries would buy the berries for their pies, and my Great-Grandmother would use the money she earned, to pay her hired help.  It was her duty.  It was her station.

As I thought about hiring this young lady from Honduras, I realized that it was my duty.  It was my station that dictated that I help provide for someone less fortunate.  It was the right decision.  Mary, as our housemaid was called, was a wonder.  She was sweet lady, with a great desire to please.  She was eager to learn all she could about life in America and was a willing student of our culture.  Amazingly, she saved every cent that we paid her (which wasn't much, believe me!) and sent it home to her mother and father.  She sent the money with specific instructions.  Her father was to build a house with a CEMENT floor (only the very wealthy had a cement floor) and buy chickens.  Not for eating, mind you, but for egg production.  She wanted her parents to have a viable business, that would see them through the hard times, and she wanted them to have hygienic living conditions. And all of that, she provided with a few dollars from us!  Isn't that amazing?

As Christians or preppers or Shoestring Survivalists or whatever you want to call us, we have a station in life. We have a duty.  Charity is non-optional.  We must plan and prepare for those less fortunate than ourselves.  We don't get to say "I told you so" or "you got what you had coming".  Because our eyes have been opened, we get to rise to the occasion.  We may have to get our hands dirty.  We may have to go without or work extra hard to provide for those of reduced circumstances, but, as human beings, it is our station in life.  When the financial collapse comes, it will be us, not the government that must stand in the gap.  It will be our chance.  It will be our duty.  It will be our station.

Monday, December 27, 2010

And so, we let go....

Maid Elizabeth is leaving us.  Not forever, just for now.  She has been training to be a midwife of and on for the last four years.  Last spring, she was given the opportunity to apply to a missionary group in the Philippines that serves the local population with prenatal and birth care free of charge.  She, along with a group of other apprentice midwives applied in September and just last week, were notified of their acceptance.

What should have been a day of great celebration turned into a day of mixed emotions and frustration.  Maid Elizabeth, with a great desire to go and serve, had to make decisions regarding her willingness to deal with airport security, and being out of country with such uncertainty surrounding our country and the rest of the world.  After praying and crying and ultimately talking to her daddy, she decided that she would plan on pursuing what she believe God has called her to.  Maid Elizabeth is going to the Philippines.

She will be gone for three months (leaving May 31st and returning August 31st).  She will be taking shifts giving prenatal care and birth care.  She should be present at between 25 and 30 births a week, some as an assistant and some as primary caregiver.  She will live in a dormitory with the other apprentice midwives and will usually work about 60 to 80 hours a week.

At this point, Maid Elizabeth is in "hurry up and get everything done" mode.  She has money to raise (airfare, lodging and in-country expenses) and skills to learn (suturing, taking blood, setting IV's....) and certifications to keep current (EMT, neonatal resuscitation) before she leaves.  She is excited, scared, thrilled and terrified all at once.

As her parents, Sir Knight and I are very proud of her.  We have also realized how hard it is to let our little girl go.  We know that she is God's, and that He has always held her in the palm of his hand, but to actually let her go is something else entirely.  Our faith will grow, as will her's.

And so, we let go....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Another article in Backwoods Home!

NoCal Gal, this is for you!  I just received my new issue of Backwoods Home Magazine, and the article I wrote on canning bacon is in it!  But what's more, the Backwood Home website has the article, in its entirety on their website!  I am so excited to be published that I wanted to share it with all of you!

You might be a Redneck if....

This is not your typical "You might be a Redneck" joke, however, my Grandpa forwarded it to me, and I thought you might enjoy it!

You  might be a redneck if:  It  never occurred to you to 
be offended by the phrase,  'One nation, under God..'

You might be a redneck  if:  You've never  protested about seeing 
the 10 Commandments  posted in public places.

You might be a redneck  if:  You still  say ' Christmas' 
instead of 'Winter  Festival.'

You might be a redneck  if:  You bow your  head when 
someone  prays. 

You might be a redneck  if:
  You stand  and place your 
hand over your heart when they  play the National Anthem

You might be a  redneck if:  You treat  our armed forces 
veterans with great respect,  and always have.

You might be a redneck  if:  You've never  burned an 
American flag, nor intend  to.

You might be a redneck if:  You  know what you believe 
and you aren't afraid to say  so, no matter who is listening.

You might be a redneck  if:  You respect  your elders and 
raised your kids to do the  same.

You might be a redneck  if:  You'd give  your last dollar to
a friend.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lambs to the slaughter

There is no excuse.  We may call it a culture gone bad, or place the blame on inadequate parenting, but really, each individual is ultimately responsible for their own actions.

Recently, a horrific series of stories ran in an area newspaper detailing the squalid living conditions and unmentionable abuses suffered by one year old twin girls, at the hands of the one person on earth designed to be their protector - their mother.  It seems, that the baby girls were a "handful", so rather than deal with the daily ins and outs of parenting, this mother just disconnected.  She put earbuds in her ears, plugged into her video games and lost hours to selfish indulgence, while her infant daughters screamed, scratched at the door and smeared fecal material all over the walls and floors.  On the occasion that she wasn't plugged into her games and she (and her mother, the children's Grandmother, who lived with them) was forced to listen to their pitiful wailings and pounding on the walls, she devised a clever solution to lessen the noise.  She simply hung couch cushions at one year old arm reach, so that their little fists were at least muffled.

The police had been called many times, with reports of children screaming, however, they were never able to anything from an apparent lack of evidence.  Not until a passerby saw the two little naked girls cuddled up next to each other in a fecal strewn room and called the police that the girls were finally removed from their home.  When the police arrived at the apartment, the stench was so horrible that one of the officers left the room to wretch.  The mother, in an attempt to tell the identical twins apart from one another, lifted their shirts and identified them through their injuries.

My heart was rent for these helpless little girls.  To be hurt by the people God put in your life to protect you in unconscionable.  But the more I thought about these little girls, the more I thought about bummer lambs.

Bummer lambs are lambs that have been orphaned or their mother has rejected them for one reason or another.  They actually have a very good survivability rate when properly cared for, but there is one insurmountable obstacle for them to overcome in adulthood.  They have no idea how to mother.  If you are raising a bummer lamb for meat, this is never an issue, however, if you intend to breed the lamb and raise little lambs, you will have your work cut out for you.  The bummer lamb (now a sheep) will give birth and just walk away.  They won't care for their newborn - they will just leave it there to die.  They have no natural instincts.  Having no mother to care for them, they have no concept of caring for their lamb.  Teaching these new mothers to care for their young requires constant, intense instruction and intervention.  And even then, sometimes it doesn't "take".

As I look at our current culture, I see we now have generation after generation of motherless lambs. Sure, there may be a physical mother present, but are the mothers truly mothering?  Many mothers, for one reason or another, send their little lambs off to daycare, Head Start or preschool for their earliest introduction to this world as we know it.  Can a teacher or "daytime care provider" take the place of a mother?  Does a "daytime care provider" have the time or the propensity to teach a child how to respectfully address and adult or settle a conflict with another child?  Will a tiny baby be able to be snuggled and reassured at the breast of its mother while in daycare?  Will a day care provider take the time to champion every small accomplishment of a child's earliest years?  Of course not, only a mother can do that!  Children need a mother - not a "daytime care giver".

When mothers get in the habit of foisting their children off on some care giver or another, society as a whole begins to lose entire generations.  Mothers, never having mothered, have no idea how to care for children.  Those children grow and become mothers themselves.  They have even less of an idea than their mothers before them.  Little girls have replaced baby dolls and tea parties with laptops and cell phones.  No longer do they play "house" - getting things ready for "daddy", they play corporate executive getting ready for the big presentation.  Schools fill up with troubled children, diagnosed with various attention and psychological disorders, ER's fill up injuries and illnesses that were, a generation or two ago, taken care of by mom, at home.  Families become disconnected, girls become pregnant and boys become lazy and angry.  Why - because we have bought the lie that mothering is "beneath" us.  We have forsaken our high calling as wives and mothers and swallowed, hook, line and sinker, the notion that our highest calling is that of serving men other than our husbands and mentoring people other than our children.

We have been like sheep, heeding the voice of an impostor Shepard and our children have paid the price.  As we abdicate our blessed call as mothers, we have sacrificed our children like lambs to the slaughter.

The little lambs, cold, crying and naked - lying on the floor of their fecal strewn apartment are victims of a society that no longer values mothers, father or families.  They are our tragic future - unless we reclaim our rightful throne in the heart of the family.

Lunar Eclipse

Don't forget to look outside tonight and see a once-in-an-372 year event!  The eclipse is reported to begin tonight at or around 1:15 a.m. Eastern Time (Dec. 21) or 10:15 p.m. Pacific Time (Dec. 20).  The eclipse should take about 72 minutes.

Happy viewing!

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's as plain as the nose on your face!

Recently, I was trying to explain to one of my children, the error of her ways.  She did not seem to understand the point that I was trying to make and in frustration I said, "Why can't you understand this?  It is as plain on the nose on your face!"

And then it hit me - she can't see the nose on her face!  At least, she can't see her nose without looking in a mirror.  At that moment, I realized that I am my children's mirror.

My beautiful daughter had a wart on her nose.  It was quite evident to anyone who saw her, but she herself had no idea that it was there.  I had seen it growing for quite some time, but because it was on her nose, I assumed that she would see it and take care of it herself.  Instead, it just kept growing.  It wasn't until it grew big and ugly that I decided to intervene.  I told her about her wart, but I didn't do it gently or lovingly.  I merely said, "why don't you do something about that ugly thing?  You can't leave it there - it repulses everyone who sees it!"  She reacted with disbelief.  "I don't have a wart.  I don't know what you are talking about!"  And then came my frustrated response - "What do you mean you can't see it, it is as plain as the nose on your face!"

In that instant, I had complete clarity of thought.  You can't see your own nose.  Try it!  Look down, look sideways, look cross-eyed.  You won't see your own nose, much less anything as uncomely as a wart.  And yet, your nose and everything on it will be perfectly obvious to everyone else.  In that moment, I realized that in order to see our nose, we need a mirror.  What is obvious to everyone else, requires reflection in order for us to see it clearly.

As I stood looking at my daughter, I saw that she needed me to be her mirror.  She needed me to gently lead her to her refection and say, "honey, you have a wart that is growing on your nose.  I know some ways to make it smaller and eventually clear it up.  The sooner we start treating it, the sooner you will have your clear, beautiful complexion back."  I had expected the impossible.  I had expected my daughter to see something that, to her, was invisible.  I had not only expected her to see it, but then to treat it, without proper training.

As I regrouped and gently led my daughter to her reflection, God gently led me to mine.  As I read His word, I began to see warts on my nose.  Not just one wart, but many.  Some were small and easily treatable, but some had been growing for a long time.  They were plain to everyone around me, but I had no idea they were there.  They were as plain as the nose on my face, yet I had never seen them.  I needed my loving Father to gently lead me to my reflection and then teach me how to treat the ugly growths on my face.

Now, as I see people walking around with huge warts on their nose, I realize that they have no idea that they are there.  I see, that although my warts are obvious to them, they are unable to see their own.  I see that maybe your nose isn't so plain after all.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A plea for help

I recently received this email from a reader in Brazil.  He had emailed me previously and asked for permission to print and hand out copies of my blog post entitled "Angry Young Men".

I sometimes forget how blessed we are, even in the face of our current social uncertainty, to live in the United States.  This young fathers email laid me low.  I have been called to action - and that action is prayer!


God bless you, my sister in Christ Jesus. I enjoyed your message and the kindness with which I answered. But today, I am very sad and my heart be disturbed. I come to you today to ask for advice. This, here in Brazil, by law MUST parents put their children in public schools. Though public school is violent, pornographic and immoral, parents SHOULD, anyway, put their children in those schools. This is a "right" that our government requires us to accept. I ask you: should I take my children from these schools and educate them at home even though I may be arrested? What do I do? Frankly, I'm wanting to do that. WhyLet me explain.Now Read an excerpt from a story that tells what our government intends to do (please read) with our children:

Homophobia kit: booklet will teen transvestite (HOMOSEXUA

"Six thousand schools will receive a kit of educational materials consist of videos, booklets and newsletters approach to the universe of gay youths. In the video Finding Bianca, a teenager of 15 years is presented as José Ricardo, the name given by his father, who was a football fan. The boy, however, appears characterized as a girl, as an example of a young transvestite. In his report, the boy says he likes to be called Bianca, because it is the name of your favorite actress and complains that teachers insist on calling him Ricardo José in time for the call.".  source:

Now see this video:

the man speaking is a great defender of Christian principles. And he was the one that condemned the government's willingness to distribute the kits called gay. Please find someone who speaks Portuguese or try to translate the message.

Please Help me and help us, brazilians. I question: 
and now what do I do? Need to protect my children.
I hope your news.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Essential Preparedness Tools of the Trade Part VI - A Milk Cow

This is one Essential Preparedness Tool of the Trade that I do not currently have - much to my chagrin.  A milk cow is a provider of so many good things that their value can not be underestimated!

Sir Knight and I bought our first cow 13 years ago, after our daughter was stillborn.  For months after our daughters birth, I found it difficult to get out of bed in the morning.  I really just wanted to hibernate and wallow in my grief.  I had two other children to take care of, and did manage to feed them and teach school, but beyond that, I was so wrapped up in my own feelings that I found it difficult to do much else.  And then we bought a cow.  Having a cow gave me a reason to get out of bed every morning.  The early mornings spent tucked under the warm belly of my milk cow, listening to the rhythmic ping, ping of milk hitting the bucket proved cathartic to my wounded heart.  My arms grew stronger as joy was returned to my soul.

My first cow's name was Ginger and she had only two working "quarters".  She was a Jersey with huge brown eyes and a docile countenance.  She had just freshened when we bought her, so we were thrust into the duty of milking rather unceremoniously.  Sir Knight and I had never milked a cow before, but we had armed ourselves with a good book and a willing spirit.  Five o'clock rolled around (she was used to being milked at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.) and we mustered up our courage, grabbed our brand new stainless steel milking bucket and headed to the barn.  We were pathetic!  After about 5 minutes of milking, our forearms and hands were aching, so we had to trade off and on until we finally squeezed the last little bit of milk from our patient cow.

Gathering what little strength we had left in our arms, we hauled the 2 1/2 gallons of milk that Ginger gave us into the house to strain and cool.  Our very dear friends had had a milk cow briefly and during that time, they had shown us how to properly care for the milk.  First, we strained the milk through a stainless steel strainer into sterilized glass gallon jars, then we put the jars into a sink full of ice water in order to cool them quickly. We never topped the jars off until they had fully cooled, so that any off flavors were able to dissipate and not collect on the top of the lid and drip back into the milk.  After the milk was cool, we would cover the jar top with plastic wrap and cap off with a lid.  Then we would put a piece of tape on the jar lid and I would write the date and whether the milk was from the morning milking or the evening milking.  After that, we would put the milk in the refrigerator, always using the oldest milk first.

To this day, I am a hawk about how my milk is taken care of.  I insist that everything from the milk bucket to the strainer to the jars be sterilized.  I wash everything with Super Washing Soda, which is the only thing that will completely cleanse milking implements of their sour smell.  The benefits of properly caring for your milk and milking implements are well worth the time it takes.  The milk will last longer, taste better and you won't worry about unfortunate food born illnesses.

Milk cows provide so many good things that I can scarcely mention them all.  First, they provide a beef calf every year.  As long as you have a milk cow, you will always have beef to put in the freezer or to can.  Then, of course, there is the obvious - milk.  Milk alone is wonderful, but what you can make with milk, now that is divine!  I got my start in dairy products with yogurt.  The first recipe I tried was from my "More with Less" cookbook, and I have used it ever since.  I made yogurt a gallon at a time (in four, one liter jars) and would sweeten it slightly with honey!  Oh, yummm!  The kids love to put a little jam in their yogurt and stir it up.  I like my yogurt a bit on the thick side, so I always add a little gelatin to the hot milk mixture.  When the yogurt has set and cooled, it is almost as thick as custard - just the way I like it.

After trying yogurt, Cottage Cheese was the natural progression.  It too, turned out wonderfully, so, of course, I had to try my hand at hard cheese.  Sir Knight bought a Wheeler cheese press (Made in England) for me for Mother's Day one year, and it has been put through it's paces ever since.  I started out with Farmhouse Cheddar, then moved on to Gouda, Caerphilly and eventually Parmesan.  I LOVE making cheese.  I always have such a sense of accomplishment when a round of cheese comes out of the cheese press!

When we have had too much milk, or when our cow has been sick and we have had to medically treat her, we would pour the milk into a 5 gallon bucket and clabber it with some vinegar or lemon juice.  Pigs love this treat and chickens gobble it up.  We also like to save and freeze Colostrum when our cow first freshens so that we are able to nurse any other sick animals that might find their way into our farmyard.

We currently are surviving without a milk cow.  Our last cow died within a few months of calving, stuck down by Grass Tetney.  So many times, we have seriously contemplated getting another cow, but we keep waiting.  We don't have the proper facilities where we are and have high hopes of moving - and so we wait.

Milk cows are a vital part of any homestead.  They are what preppers dreams are made of.  They are fresh meat, milk, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, ice cream, whipped cream and butter.  If you have a milk cow, you will not only survive, you will survive in style!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Father's Hands

As a child, one of my favorite things to do was to hold my daddy's hand.  It was strong and calloused and enveloped my pudgy little girl hand.  I always felt safe and loved when I held my daddy's hand.  Many Sunday morning sermons were back-ground music to my exploration of every nook and cranny of my father's hands.  My father's hands were the physical manifestation of love.  They spoke love through acts of service to his family and those he felt called to provide for and protect.  My father's hands spoke volumes.

As a young woman, I looked at a mans hands before deciding if he was worthy of my time. Lilly white, manicured digits with soft, pink undertones left me with a vague uneasiness that I couldn't quite explain.  Strong, calloused, slightly dirty hands with scars and character drew me like a moth to flame.  I had to know the man behind the hands!

The man I married, my Slayer of Dragons, has working mans hands.  They are strong and rough, but can become velvet in an instant.  My husbands hands are the hands of a useful man.  They are used to doing.  They are used to working.  They are the hands of a man that can provide and protect.  They are the hands of a Dragon Slayer.  And so Sir Knight uses his hands to slay dragons for me every day. His love for his family is made evident through his hands.

I watch my daughters.  They love to hold their daddy's hand.  They all have spent many a Sunday exploring every nook and cranny of their father's hands.  And not so surprisingly, they are drawn to working hands.  Just the other day, Maid Elizabeth told me that she loves the hands of a working man.  One of the first things she sees when she meets a man is his hands.  Are they like her daddy's?  Are they strong?  Can they protect and provide?  Do they speak of love when the lips are silent? She is drawn, as was my mother, as was I, to a mans hands.

My son's hands are strong.  He has an iron grip.  They are calloused and scarred. They are the hands of a provider and protector.  They are the hands of a man.  And so the next generation rises to take his place among the men.  I believe that my son, just like my husband, will have my father's hands.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It is well....

I write this with tears rolling down my face.  As I read the news headlines, I am overwhelmed.  Each headlines  feels like a physical blow.....Oil tipped to bubble over $100 per barrel; US Treasuries hit by biggest selloff since Lehmans;  Food stamps rolls continue to rise;  Walmart joins with DHS in "If you see something, say somthing";  and the list just goes on and on.  My country is falling apart.

Am I weeping for my creature comforts and my lost dreams?  Maybe, a little.  But what I am really weeping for is the greed, the pride, the sin that brought us to this point.  I weep for the very integrity of a country bent on destruction.  We have put our own needs before the needs of others.  We have forgotten to stand in the gap between evil and good.  We have followed the crowd and been lead like sheep to the slaughter.

As my mind reels, as I struggle to understand where we are as a nation - one song keeps rolling through the forefront of my soul...."It is well".  It reminds me that this life is but a vapor, a poor reflection of eternity.  My only concern is to see that it is well with my soul.

It is Well

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well, with my soul.
    • Refrain:
      It is well, with my soul,
      It is well, it is well, with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  4. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  5. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  6. And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Yes, you can make candy on your Wood Cookstove!

We have been busy in the kitchen, getting ready for the Christmas Season.  Every year, the girls and I make candy and cookies to pass out to neighbors, the mail lady and the numerous truck drivers that deliver packages.  We take trays to friends, to employers and to the local gas station.

Making goodies together has become a wonderful family tradition.  We put on our favorite Christmas music (Amy Grant's Tennessee Christmas) push up our sleeves and have a blast.  This year, we found that we could make our treats as easily on our wood cookstove as we could on the gas and electric stoves of our past.  The work is a little hotter (the wood stove has to be REALLY hot to get that candy to 300 degrees!), but we just take turns stirring and then stepping outside in the sub-freezing temperature to cool off.

We have made a couple of our favorites.  We will make numerous batches throughout the month so this is only the beginning!

Enola Gay's Peanut Brittle

1.5 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Water
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1.5 C Sugar
1 C Water
1 C Caro (corn) Syrup
3 T. Butter
2 C Raw Peanuts (I used cocktail peanuts)

  • Butter 2 cookie sheets and warm in oven (at about 250 degrees).  
  • Combine baking soda, water and vanilla in a small bowl - set aside.  
  • In pot, combine sugar, water and corn syrup.  
  • Heat to 240 degrees.  
  • Stir in butter and peanuts.  
  • Stir constantly until 300 degrees. 
  • Take off heat.  
  • Pour previously combined mixture into the pot with peanut mixture.  Stir vigorously.  
  • Quickly pour onto cookie sheets.  
  • Let cool.  Break into pieces.

Heating the Peanut Brittle to 240 degrees
Pouring in the peanuts and butter.  We just
plop the butter on top of the nuts and
pour them in at once.
Vigorously stirring in the baking soda, water
and vanilla extract (off the heat)
Pouring onto cookie sheets
Breaking it into pieces

Better-than-York Peppermint Patties

1 Egg White
4 C Powdered Sugar
1/2 C Light Corn Syrup
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. Peppermint Extract (to taste)

Cornstarch for dusting
1 12oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • Beat egg till frothy, but not stiff.
  • Slowly add powdered sugar.
  • Add corn syrup and peppermint extract.  Knead until it has the consistency of dough.  Add more sugar if necessary, until mixture is no longer sticky.
  • Roll out peppermint dough with cornstarch dusted rolling pin to 1/4 inch.
  • Cut out rounds with cookie cutter.
  • Put on cookie sheet in fridge for 45 minutes.
  • Melt chocolate chips (thinned with a little Crisco).
  • Dip patties in chocolate, turn to coat.
  • Chill patties until firm (30 minutes).
I keep these peppermint patties in the refrigerator and serve chilled.  Yummm!

Peppermint Patty dough dusted
with cornstarch
Miss Calamity cutting peppermint circles
Melting the chocolate chips with Crisco
Peppermint dough swimming in a sea of chocolate
I put them on tin foil to chill (on a cookie sheet)
Ready to serve!

One of the beautiful things about candy, is generally, it is made without fresh ingredients (I would add more corn syrup and ditch the egg white in the peppermint patties in a survival situation).  Although, not the best use of resources, making candy for Holidays would be a wonderful gift to those enduring life after the balloon goes up.  It would provide a moment of normalcy in an entirely non-normal world!

And yes, you can make candy on your wood cookstove!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Biblical Principle of OPSEC

This morning, as I read my Bible, I made a startling discovery.  The Bible, in the book of Isaiah, makes a case for Operational Security.

Now, in my feeble thinking, I always equated OPSEC with military maneuvers.  Little did I know this concept had its origins in the Old Testament.

I was reading the account of King Hezekiah in Isaiah 38.  He had suffered an illness unto death and Isaiah went to him and told him to put his house in order because he would die.  But Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall and began to pray.  He reminded God that he had walked before Him with a perfect heart and had done that which was good in God's sight and he wept sore.  God then spoke to Isaiah, saying that He had heard Hezekiah's prayer and seen his tears and would add 15 years unto his days!  What an incredible story!

Now for Chapter 39:

At that time Merodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letter and a present to Hezekiah: for he had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered.

And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all him dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.

Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee?  And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon.

Then said he, What have they seen in thine house?  And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them. 

Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts:

Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord.

And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.

Wow.  I was stunned to say the least.  Here, good king Hezekiah made the mistake of showing the sons of the Babylon king his treasures, his stores of goods.  He blew is operational security.  He lost his kingdom over this one indiscretion!  Not only were all of his treasures carried away, his sons were taken to become eunuchs in the palace at Babylon!

If there ever was a call to be discreet about what you have in your storehouse and what your armouries contain - this is it.  Use wisdom when talking about your preparedness efforts.  In your desire to help others prepare, maintain a healthy level of security regarding the state of your own house.  Don't blow your OPSEC.  Both you and your children may pay the consequences!

Beware of the sons of Babylon bearing gifts!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Canning cheese and other things....

NOTE:  Canning dairy products is not FDA approved.  These are my own experiments and not recommended for anyone else.  Do not try this in your own kitchen.

As most of you know, I have been talking about canning cheese for quite some time.  Today, as I was planning to can a whole bunch of other things anyway, I thought it would be the perfect time to can cheese as well.

I have never canned hard cheeses before, however, we have quite a supply of commercially canned cheese.  It was much different than I had originally expected.  I thought the canned cheese would be more like a very thick cheese sauce, really only good for spreading on crackers or using in sauces.  Much to my surprise, it wasn't like that at all!  When we opened a can and tipped it upside down, a thick chunk of cheese popped out.  It sliced easily and had absolutely wonderful flavor.  We could easily slice the cheese  or use it in cooking.  I was really impressed.

Of course, I thought if cheese could be canned commercially, I should be able to can it at home.  And so I can.

The method is actually very simple.  You melt the cheese, put it into jars and water bath can for 40 minutes (40 minutes seem to be the magic number for canning dairy products).  I grated (or, rather, Maid Elizabeth grated) the cheese and we put it in a large pot on the wood cookstove to melt.  It melted quite nicely, other than the fact that it separated slightly.  I just scooped up big spoonfuls of cheese and packed them into my prepared jars and then poured the oil evenly over all of the jars.  In retrospect, I would have put the grated cheese in jars and put the jars in boiling water and allowed the cheese to melt in the jars, adding additional cheese as the cheese melted, but the method I used seemed to turn out quite well in spite of me!

Maid Elizabeth grating cheese
Melting the cheese
Cheddar cheese straight out of the canner
The key to canning hard cheeses is canning them in wide mouth jars. I prefer wide mouth half-pints because I think the cheese will just pop out.  I didn't have all wide mouth half-pints, so I used a number of different jars, although they were all wide mouth.

I also cleaned out my freezer and canned a whole bunch of other things, just to see how they turned out.  I browned the Italian Sausage that we use on Pizza and packed it into pint jars.  I sliced cooked Italian Sausage to use in soups, pasta  sauce and casseroles and I  diced Kielbasa Sausage to use in various dishes.  I canned all of the meat in my pressure canner at 10 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes (I canned pints - If I were canning quarts, I would have canned for 90 minutes).  I didn't add water to any of them, just dry packed them.  When they came out of the canner, there was about a half a jar of liquid in all of the jars.  The girls and I also canned up (in the water bath canner) 14 liters of Grape Juice Concentrate to either drink or make into jelly at a later date.

Slicing Italian Sausage
Dicing Kielbasa
Miss Calamity removing the casings from
the pizza sausage
Browning sausage and melting cheese
Cheese, meat and juice almost ready to go
into the canner!
My goal with all of this canning, was to find ways other than freezing to preserve our food.  If the grid goes down, I want to rest assured that all of our food is safely preserved.  I also love the convenience of not having to thaw meat on the spur of the moment when guests arrive or when we have been away from home and have to throw a meal together quickly. If things can well, I will be changing the way I take care of perishable when we get home from a shopping trip.  No longer will I repackage and freeze all of our meats and cheeses, but I will dice, slice and grate and put into jars!

As we use our canned goods, I will give you reports on our successes and failures, as well as recipes to go along with them.  In the meantime, I will be canning cheese and other things!