"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Monday, November 29, 2010

Reading Comprehension

We live in a world where few people like to engage in debate because somebody's feelings might get hurt.  The left has so successfully dumbed down most of society in this regard.  "Political Correctness" is all about not being able to clearly state the truth because it might make someone uncomfortable.  The other side of that coin is that it allows people to say really stupid or completely false (or both) things that make people feel good. Then, if you point out that such things really don't make sense, or are a lie; you are the villian.

For example:  Pointing out that "affirmative action" which creates quotas and in turn puts lesser qualified minorities in positions they don't deserve on merit, or punishes qualified minorities by tainting them with a stain of doubt, will get you dismissed as a racist.  "We don't have to debate the issues, or data, or anything else, you are a racist, end of argument!"  But that's not the point of this post.

I came across this tiny little post by Tam over at View From The Porch, which linked to this very long screed by Mark Ames where he chastises the younger generation of leftists who are dissatisfied (notice I didn't say disillusioned) with the democrat party. 

It makes good sense to try to understand your opposition if for no other reason than to question yourself about what it is that you believe, and if you cannot articulate properly what it is you believe, then you should do some careful analysis to see if what you believe is in error.  

Tam quoted the last paragraph of Ames' lengthy rant to make her point, but it was something a bit before that which got me thinking.  Not about Ames' argument per se, but how in the wide, wide world of sports he could conclude such drivel. Here it is:

Ever read the preamble to the Constitution? There’s nothing about private property there and self-interest. Nothing at all about that. It’s a contract whose purpose is clearly spelled out, and it’s a purpose that’s the very opposite of the purpose driving Stewart’s rally, or the purpose driving the libertarian ideology so dominant over the past few generations. This country, by contract, was founded in order to strive for a “more Perfect Union”—that’s “union,” as in the pairing of the words “perfect” and “union”—not sovereign, not states, not local, not selfish, but “union.” And that other purpose at the end of the Constitution’s contractual obligations: promote the “General Welfare.” That means “welfare.” Not “everyone for himself” but “General Welfare.” That’s what it is to be American: to strive to form the most perfect union with each other, and to promote everyone’s general betterment. That’s it. The definition of an American patriot is anyone promoting the General Welfare of every single American, and anyone helping to form the most perfect Union—that’s “union”, repeat, “Union” you dumb fucks. Now, our problem is that there are a lot of people in this country who have dedicated their entire lives to subverting the stated purpose of this country. We must be prepared to identify those who disrupt and sabotage our national purpose of creating this “more perfect union” identifying those who sabotage our national goal of “promoting the General Welfare”—and calling them by their name: traitors. You who strive to form this Perfect Union and promote General Welfare—You are Patriots.

If you are a Bible scholar, you'll appreciate that this is like talking to a Jehovah's Witness.  They use almost all the same vocabulary that you do, but they have completely different meanings for the words.

In Mark Ames' case, I can only assume that his wacked-out college professors spoon fed him this drivel about what the framers had in mind when they penned the founding documents.  I could take a hundred people who had been educated to read well the English language, but who haven't been polluted by the leftist thought of modern academe and let them read just the Declaration of Independence and then the Constitution, and I doubt that even five percent of them could come to the conclusions of Mark Ames.

It would be one thing if all Mark had to go on was just those two documents for him to come up with this "opposite world" view of what the framers intended, but the framers took several years to hammer out the Constitution, and in the process, there was tremendous debate back and forth on the pros and cons of each and every particular sentence. The war for independence began in 1775 and took 8 years to win. The Constitution was not adopted until 1787.  In that time, there were letters published in the newspapers.  This is how we got the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers. (Yes, there were people even more radically in favor of constraining  government than even those who won out with the Constitution we have.)  The debates in Congress about each aspect of the Constitution  are a matter of public record.

I could regale my reader with quote after quote that makes it quite clear that the founders saw government as a necessary evil that should be kept in very strong chains and with a muzzle over it's fangs.  "A useful tool, but a cruel master."  They wrote much about the dangers of an overreaching government and a natural tendency toward tyranny, all in the name of "what's good for the people."

I think today I should start looking for such quotes and create a new page for such reference.  Until then, let me suggest that you "google" the web for quotes by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Samuel Adams, etc. to read for yourself what animated those men to create the form of government that we USED to enjoy.

What is scary is how many people there are out there who think like Mark Ames.  People who think that the Constitution of the United States was written as if by Karl Marx.

Anyone with enough intelligence to earn better than minimum wage can understand that the general welfare clause in the Preamble of the Constitution meant that, and I paraphrase here: "The rest of the document, that you are about to read, is designed to keep as much government out of your lives as possible, so that you can be free to pursue a life of prosperity and value and happiness."

The founders were highly intelligent, educated men.  Their vocabularies were immense and many of them knew Greek and Latin.  They chose their words very carefully, and as I stated before, there were often lengthy debates on the wording of every sentence in the Constitution.  Notice that the preamble says "promote" the general welfare and not "provide."  There's a reason for that.

If Mr. Ames believes that it is the purpose of government to create a "perfect union," I suggest he go where they are working hard to make that happen.  Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, France, China, etc. The list is long.  I'm sure they would be glad to have such a true believer working side by side with them.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Who Really Pays?

Leftists and statists live in a world of non-reality where they think they can believe in stuff that isn't true until the whole system comes crashing down on them.  The problem is, they want to drag everybody else down with them.

Maybe it's news to you, but corporations or companies, don't pay taxes.  Never have, never will. You can create the illusion that they do on paper, but it's an accounting gimmick that masks the reality of what is actually happening.

Milton Friedman explains it well.  I wish I had the entire lecture.

Best Popcorn

If you didn't have a microwave, how would you pop your popcorn?

I can just imagine a deer in the headlights look on some youngster's face if you asked them that question.  It would be like pointing to a cassette tape deck and asking them if they'd like to hear some music. The reason I didn't use a turntable as an example is because young people recognize that as a noise generating device to go along with other obnoxious noise set to a really loud bass track, along with which some tone-deaf, talentless hack speaks vaguely rhyming words.   But I digress.

I had a microwave for years.  Don't now.  And what I'm about to tell you, will seem like the kind of pseudo-scientific drivel that drives me nuts about the eco-wackos who believe in anthropogenic global warming and are against the cleanest, "greenest," efficient form of energy: nuclear.  In case you didn't know; France, a nation teetering on extinction because of its failed socialist policies is still smart enough to be producing 90% of it's electricity from nuclear energy, and so efficiently re-cycling the material that the waste is negligible.

We don't have a microwave because several years ago, years before we met, Twyla and I both discovered scientific evidence that microwave energy does indeed alter foods at the molecular level in ways that are unhealthy.  I had to laugh recently when I discovered that some pet food manufacturers, specifically dog food, put warning labels on their product telling you not to use a microwave because of how it affects the food. Interesting how you won't find any warning labels on your microwave junk foods for human consumption.  But then, we live in a society that practically demands drawing and quartering for harming an animal, yet condones the murder of inconvenient babies.  But I digress.

I truly enjoy popcorn.  Even back when I had a microwave (still with the first wife), I didn't use the microwave to make popcorn.  That stuff designed for the microwave just wasn't that good.  They seemed to know the formula for making it smell great, but what got to the mouth just didn't satisfy.  Then I discovered the Whirlypop.  Now, I know that this device violates what is probably Alton Brown's number one rule, that any kitchen device should always be a multi-tasker. But I just have to make an exception for this one.  This little gem pops corn better than anything, but more than that, it lets you create specialty popcorn that you cannot get any other way.

Twyla didn't know about this marvel when we got married, but when I described what it did, she went on  hunt to buy one.  I don't know if it is because of the skyrocketing price of metals or because the company cut back production, but the cheapest one she could find on the web was about $60.  But God was smiling on us, because one day I was looking around in the local Ace Hardware (which, in this town, is more like an old time General Store), and there was one on a top shelf in an unopened, undisturbed box with a nice layer of dust on it.  And a price tag of $25.95.

Once we got it home, I introduced Twyla to "kettle corn."  For those of you who haven't gotten this at the county or state fair or such; it's that sweet/salty, or sweet/spicy/salty concoction that they only seem to be able to make in those giant kettles with a big wooden paddle, hence the name.

One time, for a good friend who came for a visit, we made peppermint/marshmallow popcorn.  I prefer the savory, and like to indulge in things like garlic/parmesan, or lemon/pepper/dill popcorn.

The secret of this machines success, is that it copies the design of those commercial theater popcorn poppers. In the open view, you can see that there is a shaft that goes to the bottom with a wire that scrapes the bottom when you crank the handle.  You can see the gears on the top of the lid in the first photo.

It's that wire spinning and scraping the bottom that makes all the difference.  Because of the irregular shape of popped popcorn, when you are cranking this device, there is a chain reaction of tumbling that occurs from the bottom all the way up throughout the pot.  You can see it if you open the one half-lid after the corn is popped and crank the handle.  This accomplishes three things.

 One:  It makes sure that all the un-popped kernels find their way to the bottom of the pot so that they will all pop.  I've tested this between Orville Reddenbacher and the cheapest generic popcorn.  I get the same number of un-popped kernels, about four or five out of a half cup.  That's pretty amazing to pop a six-quart salad bowl full of popcorn and only have five un-popped kernels.

Two: The already popped corn moves vertically as well as spinning around, which doesn't allow it to burn.  I know there are some of you who like some burn on your popcorn, so all you have to do is use maximum heat and stop cranking from time to time.  This means you can customize the amount of char on your corn.  Make sure you remember to re-enable your smoke detector.

Three:  That same homogeneous tumbling action means that the flavorings you put in the pot are going to evenly coat all the pieces of popcorn.  The only other way I know to get that kind of result is to put the popcorn in a plastic or brown paper bag and shake the dickens out of it.  But that only works for savory items and can waste precious butter that gets absorbed into the paper or is attracted to the plastic.  And you can't do anything with sugary coatings because it would melt the plastic or just stick the popcorn to the paper.

Finally, a great feature of this popper is that it's totally manual.  If electricity disappears, we can use it on the propane stove.  When propane is gone, we can use it on a wood fire.  Now all I have to do is try growing some popcorn this summer.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

What Is A Right: Part Two

I guess I couldn't ask for more perfect timing on this one.  I was listening to Inga Barks sitting in for Mark Levin. The show was from Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and the hot topic is the TSA screening.

At least a couple of callers made the statement that flying was not a right, but a privilege, similar to driving.  Inga is a smart lady with her own radio show in Fresno, but even she can't come up with correct responses on the spot like Levin can most of the time.  And I'll admit, unless you've already thought about this one, it would be easy to hear someone make that statement and think, "Yeah, that sounds right."  But it's not.  Why isn't it?  Let's start with driving.

For you to operate a motor vehicle out on the commonly held public roads, everybody else, including yourself would like to be reasonably sure that you know what you are doing.  We don't let young children or people with disabilities that are too severe operate motor vehicles as a right because doing so would unreasonably endanger other people.  Therefore society, and in America that means the State level, our elected legislatures come up with minimum standards for which you can obtain a license in order to operate this potentially fatal piece of machinery.  If you want to buy a large enough parcel of land and have a vehicle delivered there and then want to drive it all over your property without ever getting it registered or insured or getting yourself a license, go ahead.  It's your right.

It's pretty much understood that you have a right to travel in and among the several States. Freedom of movement is and ought to be a right.  If you can't or don't want to obtain a license to drive, you can get someone else to carry you, or you can walk or ride a bicycle or whatever.  If you take a cab or a bus, you've simply entered into a contract (also considered a right) with another private entity to take you where you want to go.  That entity's license to transportation in whatever medium has nothing to do with your right to travel.
However, (and it pains me that I have to state this because somebody reading this doesn't know any better) that private entity that has jumped through all the hoops for the license, is a private entity that has the right to refuse service to anyone for whatever reason.  If you call a cab and then want it to take you into a drug infested, dangerous part of town, the driver can say, "I'll take you this far and no farther."  If Greyhound won't sell you a ticket because you don't know how or won't bathe, I think the other passengers will be grateful.

This is why the American public screwed up royally when they didn't bombard their congress critters to put the kabosh on creating the TSA in the first place.  As well, what would have had a great effect would have been to tell the airlines that they had better lobby against turning over security to the Feds.  Travelers should have threatened a boycott of any airline that supported creating the TSA.  But I understand why they supported it. By transferring the responsibility to the Feds, they absolve themselves of any liability for security.

This whole TSA thing is simply more methods by the political ruling class to condition the populace to accept any and all intrusive and abusive destruction of our rights in the name of security.  My prediction is that before too long, the terrorists will carry out an assault on a large public venue.  Shopping mall, sports arena, concert, mega-church gathering, you name it.  Then expect to see metal detectors and other devices springing up in all those places where they aren't already in place, but then there will be more invasive search procedures.  Just a little bit more, and a little bit more.  All in the name of safety.  Then before too long, you won't be able to travel a single road for more than five miles without being asked, "Your papers, please."

For some other very enlightening commentary on the TSA scandal, I highly recommend reading what Daphne has to say on the matter.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Learning The Hard Way

I have so much to be thankful for.  An awareness of The Almighty God and His salvation, Yeshua.  My wife. This plot of ground and the health to work it.  Relative peace amidst a world of chaos.  Too much to list here.

If there is one thing I have to be thankful for at this time of year, it is the re-appearance of the true stories from this country's history that prove that my reason and epistemology are intact.  What God's Word says about human nature, and the laws of economics, are proven over and over again.  This proof comes in the micro and in the macro.  Scale does not change the outcome.  It can be a group of five survivors on an island or a billion Chinese.  The intentions of the participants, especially the leadership, doesn't matter.  When you work with, and put to use the laws of human nature and economics, you get mostly good results, and when you try to deny those laws and work against them, you get disaster.  John Stossel reminds of this lesson here, and following is the meat of his article.

The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and produce equally.

That's why they nearly all starved.

When people can get the same return with less effort, most people make less effort. Plymouth settlers faked illness rather than working the common property. Some even stole, despite their Puritan convictions. Total production was too meager to support the population, and famine resulted. This went on for two years.

"So as it well appeared that famine must still ensue the next year also, if not some way prevented," wrote Gov. William Bradford in his diary. The colonists, he said, "began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length after much debate of things, (I) (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land."

In other words, the people of Plymouth moved from socialism to private farming. The results were dramatic.

"This had very good success," Bradford wrote, "for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many."  

Capitalism and free enterprise are not perfect, but only because human beings are not perfect.  The reason free enterprise -- which includes private property rights -- works, is because it works with, not against, human nature.  I've debated this issue with believers in communism or some variant thereof.  It always comes down to the fact that any form of collectivism requires force to make people conform to the ideals of that economy, thus enslaving the very people that the idea is supposed to help.  Free enterprise is completely voluntary and requires no one to participate against their will.  Their consequences are entirely of their own making.

Of course, that means they are free to fail.  It is this certainty that drives the left into fits of moonbat madness. Reality has no feelings. The laws of economics have no feelings.  They will be obeyed eventually.  You can work with them and get the most optimal outcome for the greatest average of people, or you can fight against them and end up with a horrific disaster that drags everybody down with it.

You see, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, food pantries, hospitals, The Red Cross, orphanages, and other such institutions are not started, maintained, or supported by governments, or otherwise talented or productive people who have been reduced to being slaves of the state by the "good intentions" of those who believe in socialist utopias or the fantasy of any inherent goodness of mankind.

Believers in socialism can't seem to comprehend that there will always be leaders, and that unchecked power corrupts.  They further don't understand that those who desire and strive to have the positions of power do so for their own self interest, first and foremost. The moment you forget that, you are on your way to being a slave.  The moment you fall for someone who says, "Give me this power, and I will see to it that you get this or that,"  you've begun to lose your dignity, the respect of respectable people, and your freedom.

I do understand Aesop's Fable about the dog in the manger.  I'll bet they don't touch that one in the government schools with a ten foot pole.  There really are people in this society who will gladly suffer under state imposed poverty as long as others are not allowed to become "rich."

Enough for now, I need to work on preparations for the coming economic collapse.  The people of the State of California have proved to me that it is inevitable.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

We Told You So

I remember being laughed at and called an alarmist going back 15 years, when I would say that Social Security was a Ponzi scheme and that the funds weren't really there, meaning that there was no isolated account even remotely called a "trust fund."  Oh sure, there are some ledgers with entries in them that show figures being moved here and there, but there is no real money.

Lo and behold, it has taken about the last five years for mainstream conservatives to find some fortitude to speak up about it in spite of what liberals and leftists might say.

But now, even the left wing NPR has discovered that what true conservatives have always said is actually true, and they are even explaining how it happened and that it's a trainwreck waiting to finally crash.

If a private securities firm, insurance company or stock broker even attempted to do what the SSA has done over the years, they would be tarred and feathered by the media and sentenced to a thousand years in Federal prison.  The house of cards is coming down, and it's coming down soon.

Hat tip to Jaded Haven.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'll Have What She's Having

This is one of the finest rants I've ever read.

It deserves to go "viral" all across the internet.  So here I am, doing my little part to make it so.

It also reminds me of a stupendous lie that the left keeps repeating to this day, namely that "There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)."

I know that's a lie because I saw the news reports and the covers of the periodicals that showed the Kurds in Iraq that Saddam had gassed to death.  I read the reports by the former Iraqi General who escaped Hussein's Iraq to report that, of course there were no WMDs to be found three months after we warned we were coming. The Russians had come in and transported them north into Syria.  The British Intelligence agents stood by their reports on the yellow-cake uranium story.  Other refugees from Iraq stood by their stories of mobile nuclear weapon processing facilities.  When the case was being made in the Congress for going to war with Saddam Hussein, then Senate majority leader Tom Daschle said: "Iraq is not the only nation in the world to possess weapons of mass destruction, but it is the only nation with a leader who has used them against his own people."

Just another of the many lies told by the left and repeated mindlessly by the myrmidons of faithful democrat voters.

But we've been pushed enough, and we're tired of it.

More Funky "Science?"

I don't know where Bayou Renaissance Man gets this stuff, but I'm grateful, er, I think.

I'm grateful because it demonstrates in very shocking and graphic ways the kind of thing I've talked about in other posts regarding logic and reason.  I don't want to copy and paste all of that stuff here, so assuming you've read it now, let me deal with the pertinent parts.

"It is believed the bacteria increases levels of serotonin, reduces anxiety and may also stimulate growth in certain neurons in the brain."

Really?  You believe that because . . . ?  Wow.  There is so much of this kind of nonsense going on in the so-called scientific community these days.  Take a little bit of data and extrapolate to all kinds of bizarre conclusions.  Never mind doing actual controlled experiments, isolating and controlling the variables to determine if your theory is valid or falsifiable.

This is how we get fantastic hoaxes like anthropogenic global warming.  You see, somebody is going to read that, and then when they tell somebody at work or their friends or their family, they are going to leave out the crucial "It is believed . . . " part.  Some will use their God-given common sense to dismiss it until some solid research comes along, but others will just swallow it wholesale and repeat it to others.  The only reason that it won't be pushed through the use of advertising and further press releases is that there is no way to patent dirt and make money off of it.  At least not yet.

Maybe the USDA or the FDA, under the provisions in S 510 will figure out a way to harass the public if they catch anybody letting their kids make mud pies.  

Then there is the second part of BRM's post regarding the Swedish woman:

"After having been administered the enema of her husband's bacteria-free faecal matter, the woman made an rapid recovery and immediately began to regain some of the 27 kilogrammes in weight she had lost over the previous eight months."

Do I deny that the technique worked? No.  Do I understand why it worked? Yes.  But for crying out loud, why do we need to resort to such methods when there are perfectly good, natural nutritional ways of dealing with such a thing?  First you could have had her take copious amounts of spicy food with large amounts of capsaicin to kill the bad bacteria, and then naturally fermented raw cabbage or other such vegetables to restore her own healthy digestive tract.  But no, let's do something uncomfortably invasive that might have resulted in a very bad reaction with her immune system.  And by the way, how do we know that it hasn't happened already?

To be fair, maybe they had tried the food route already and her case was so special or severe that it wasn't producing results fast enough.  Perhaps the heavy antibiotics had so destroyed her good bacteria cultures that there wasn't enough there to regenerate quickly enough.  I just hope that I've learned enough and made enough changes to my own diet to never have to need an enema with somebody else's feces.

Now, go forth and eat better, and try to forget about this story for the rest of the day.

Jerusalem Artichoke

It really isn't an artichoke at all.  It bears no resemblance to the thistle family of which the regular artichoke belongs.  There are probably thousands of people who eradicate this plant as a mere weed and would never think of it as a source of food.  Just like so many other plants.  Dandelion probably being on the top of the list.

Cleverly disguised as tall weeds
So, what is it? Jerusalem artichoke is also known as the sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple or topinambur, is a species of sunflower native to the eastern United States, from Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas. It is also cultivated widely across the temperate zone for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable.  That's according to Wikipedia.

Prior to moving to this part of Georgia, I had only vaguely heard of Jerusalem artichoke, but never had investigated it further. Then in survival preparedness discussions with other people, the item came up again.  One reason being that it is very much like a weed, seeming to grow in just about any conditions, and that if you don't pay attention to it, it can become an invasive nuisance.

I think on our next to last visit to the farmer's market over in Union County, we met a farmer who was selling gallon ziploc bags of the tubers, and Twyla recognized them right away.  They sorta resemble ginger, since they are a tuber, but their skin is thinner and the nodes seem to grow out straighter from the center axis.  Each one of those nodes of the main tuber is a potential new plant.

We bought two bags of them, and I guess each bag weighed a little over six pounds each.  We paid $5 a bag making them .84¢ a pound.  Not the cheapest food, but nowadays, anything under a dollar a pound is good, and we don't intend to ever have to purchase them again, since I plan to plant a fair amount of them in various places.

Jerusalem Artichoke in bloom
I will admit that I like a lot of different food and that I really like bold flavors, but I like this Jerusalem artichoke even though it is about as bland as you can get.  We sampled some raw before we bought it.  It is very crunchy like a firm, fresh apple.  Whatever flavor it might seem to have can only be described as earthy with just a hint of sweetness.  It has so few calories it could probably be compared to celery in that regard, so if you are on a diet and looking for that kind of munchie snack, I highly recommend it.  I think it beats the snot out of those stupid rice cakes.  Now, I know I would rather eat these than rice cakes after reading this excerpt:

Four sets of rats were given special diets. One group received plain whole wheat, water, vitamins and minerals. Anotehr group received Puffed Wheat, water and the same nutrient solution. A third set was given water and white sugar, and a fourth given nothing but water and the chemical nutrients. The rats which received the whole wheat lived for over a year on the diet. The rats who got nothing but water and vitamins lived for about 8 weeks, and the animals on a white sugar and water diet lived for a month. But [the company's] own laboratory study showed that rats given vitamins, water and all the Puffed Wheat they wanted died in two weeks. It wasn't a matter of the rats dying of malnutrition; results like these suggested that there was something actually toxic about the Puffed Wheat itself. Proteins are very similar to certain toxins in molecular structure, and the puffing process of putting the grain under 1500 pounds per square inch of pressure and then releasing it may produce chemical changes which turn a nutritious grain into a poisonous substance . . . I was shocked, so I showed the report to Dr. Clark, who shared my concern. His predecessor, Dr. Graham, had published the report and begged the company not to continue producing Puffed Wheat because of its poisonous effect on animals. Dr. Clark . . . went right to the president . . . "I know people should throw it on brides and grooms at weddings," [the president] cracked, "but if they insist on sticking it in their mouths, can I help it? Besides, we made $9 million on the stuff last year."
Paul Stitt, Fighting the Food Giants

Jerusalem Artichoke flower
Hat tip to this blogger.  One of many sites on healthy eating worth looking at.  If puffing wheat creates such toxicity, why would puffing rice be any different?  Why would I want to risk my body to find out?

It is also a really nice benefit that this plant will fit right in with all the other flowering medicinal and edible plants around the farm.

Could there be any negatives about Jerusalem artichokes? Well, for some people.  Twyla and I are definitely not your average people.  We love to laugh, so one of the side effects of this tuber is the source of constant fun.  I think I'll quote Wikipedia here for the explanation.

"The inulin is not well digested by some people, leading in some cases to flatulence and gastric pain. Gerard's Herbal, printed in 1621, quotes the English planter John Goodyer on Jerusalem artichokes:
"which way soever they be dressed and eaten, they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine than men."[5]

I may post again today if it rains, otherwise, I have a lot to do to get ready to receive our guests for tomorrow's Thanks Giving holiday.  We have so much to be thankful for.  First and foremost for our savior Yeshua (Jesus) for willingly sacrificing Himself for us.  The rest of the list is too long to post here.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Prior to S 510

The assault on freedom to grow, choose and eat healthy food is already here, even without S 510.

Go to this page and watch the little four minute video trailer for Farmageddon.

The government really is out of control and means to control you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

In Pearl Harbor . . .

How about if, in 1950, the Japanese had bought a section of Pearl Harbor, and decided to erect a monument to Emperor Hirohito.  You know, where you could stroll along an observation deck and look down on the USS Arizona and a few other sunken ships.

Oh, but wait.  What if they had gone to a Federal agency and requested several million dollars of taxpayer money to help them build the monument?  Does that sound far-fetched to you?

Then go read this.  If you have a heart condition, you might not want to go there.

Opinion and Authority

In another example of how rational thought is becoming as rare as frog fur, we get this story from the examiner.com regarding a person allowed a position of authority for the purpose of eroding our rights further.

Hat tip to Joe Huffman.

Go read at least the first few paragraphs of this article, and then come back.  Go ahead.  I'll wait.

What I really applaud at Joe's blog is his last commentary on the link, which is so juicy and apropos, I simply must reproduce it here:

Oh! I like this game:
  • Everyone who has ever been in an automobile wreck is now a traffic safety engineer.
  • Everyone who has ever had their computer crash is now a software developer.
  • Everyone who has ever been divorced now is an expert on relationships.
  • Everyone who has ever failed a class is now a professor.
    • Everyone who has ever said something stupid is now a genius.

That last one must explain why Joe Biden is now VPOTUS.
About 20 years ago, I read an essay by a famous newsman (can't remember the name) lamenting the fact that society had gotten to the point where everyone's opinion was somehow sacrosanct. It had gotten to the point where a person could have absolutely no knowledge about a subject, or worse, believe silly and untrue things about the subject and yet nobody is supposed to point out the fact that it's stupid to give any credence to such an opinion.

Today we are reaping the disaster of the seeds or weeds we've allowed to grow unchecked for fear of hurting anyone's feelings.  It's time for this to stop.

Ebony and Ivory and Golden Comets

"Did I say you could lay down there?"
This hasn't happened often, but that's not to say that it won't happen a lot more often in the future.  Caught the four-legged critters almost cozying up to the wood stove on a cold morning.  Typically, they ignore each other.  Moxie would love to play, but CassPurr will have none of it, and I've trained Moxie that she can't chase CassPurr.  The cat just continuing to lay there and tolerate the dog being that close was a real first. Maybe when it starts getting really cold, we might catch them actually touching.

On Sunday evening, I experimented with letting the chickens from Ark I out.  Grass and other greenery is getting scarcer by the day, and the places where it is still growing are not places you would want to try to roll one of the arks.

If you are a flatlander, it is pretty hard to get a feel for what our yard is like just from looking at our pictures.  I know, because I'm a Florida boy and spent most of my life there. But I've been in North Georgia for over 10 years now.  But actually living nestled on the side of a mountain is challenging. We are blessed to be on a south facing slope, even though Twyla wasn't even contemplating that when she bought this place.  This is just one of the many examples of how God directs our steps even though we are not aware of it.

Anyway, yesterday afternoon, I took a bigger step in letting both arks open.  While the golden comets didn't seem shy at all about getting out and seeing the world, the black sexlinks seemed completely baffled or unsure about my offer of some freedom.  I had to lure them out with some dandelion leaves and even then only two of them got out immediately.  Even Brewster wouldn't come out until I had walked about 50 yards away.

At first, the situation drove Moxie nuts.  "Who do I herd first?" seemed to be the question as she paced back and forth between them.  Brewster was ready to fight.  All the hens seemed to care not at all.  Moxie would walk up behind a hen and sniff it's butt and the chicken would act like she wasn't there.

Because the chickens have been separated for so long, they see the other flock as competition to be driven off if they get too close.  That is, among the hens.  Brewster on the other hand, sees the five hens from Ark I as potential additions to his harem in Ark II.  So I had to intervene a couple of times to drive them to their respective sides of the yard.  Brewster tried to herd one of the goldens over to his side, but a hen from Ark II immediately attacked the golden and a fight ensued that I had to break up.  It was only one little incident in a 90 minute period.  I would alternate between cutting wood and looking out every few minutes to see where they were.  For the most part, they stayed in their respective areas of the yard.

"Do these feathers make me look fat?"
 They seemed to like areas where the leaves and debris had remained mostly undisturbed, such as under the azaleas or crepe myrtles, since there seemed to be more grubs or insects.  Which reminds me, I actually had a dragonfly buzz my head in the back yard yesterday.  The day before that there were some butterflies feeding from the tiny blue flowers on the back slope.

Twyla helped me herd the chickens back into their arks.  That was some fun. Because we were trying to get them in before dark was settling in, I knew I would have to lure them back in with food.  They probably would have made their way back to their roosts naturally, but I was impatient. I got Twyla to bring out a can of pellets, and as soon as they saw her walking down the hill with the can, they all came running from both directions.  Territorial rivalries were forgotten at that moment, and as we got all of the Ark I team inside, we now had to get Ark II away from there and moving toward home. During the confusion around Ark I with both groups of hens, Twyla asked how I knew which ones to shove away.  "Look at their backs."  The ones from Brewster's brood have bare spots on the rearward part of their backs where he mounts them.

"Hyaahhh!  Get along little dohggies!"
As I get more comfortable with their behavior and the safety of both the chickens and my garden, I'll see how often I can let them out.  I'll try to give them an hour before roost time when possible.

Maybe by next year I'll have enough experience to drive the herd across the range to the south and down to the market in Atlanta.  Maybe not.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

You Can't Eat That!

Ve vill tell you vaht you can eat, and ven you can eat it.  (German accents don't translate well in typing)

The Federal government can't just be satisfied to be able to dictate what lightbulbs you use, what kind of toilet you can have, what kind of car you can drive, what kind of job you can have. Oh no.  Now they are going to dictate what food is available to you, and how much, which in turn will naturally cause the cost to go up dramatically.

As if the so-called "Health Care" bill wasn't scary enough, which already passed by a purely Democrat vote - a first in history - and the threat of "Cap and Trade" waiting in the wings isn't enough to make you want to flee to some South American banana republic in order get more freedom, now the U.S. Senate is debating passage of a bill that will empower a bureaucracy of unelected, faceless thugs to decide what food you can grow yourself or trade with other Americans.  This is Senate Bill 510, and it is another breathtaking assault on freedom.

And while there are 14 Republicans who voted to allow debate on this bill, most of whom did so for the appearance of "bipartisanship," they probably haven't got a clue what's really in the bill.  I've been sending back letters and mailings from the RNC for over 15 years with replies telling them that they are nothing more than lack-luster, phony opposition to the Socialist Democrat party.  I've often said that the only difference between the Democrats and Republicans is that the Republicans want to drive us over the cliff at a mere 20 miles an hour, while the Democrats want to get us there at 90.

This S 510 bill is outrageous in it's hubris and arrogance.  Par for the course for Democrats.  They insist on controlling every aspect of your life, "for your own good," whether you like it or not.  Grow your own food?  We can't have that!  Buy organic, locally grown food that might not be licensed by Monsanto?  Are you insane?

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
- William Pitt

"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."
- Daniel Webster

 "We are the Federal Government, and we're here to help you. . . . Well, unless of course, there's a minnow or a rat or a worm or something endangered, then you are on your own.  Or unless of course, it interferes with our desire to control the population and enrich ourselves and those we deem worthy.  You see, you are too stupid to know what's good for you.  We created the FDA in order to test the safety and efficacy of drugs that you should be taking, and you people who think that you should be free to use foods and herbs to treat or cure your own conditions, well, that's just crazy, and you need to be stopped."

Yeah, Republicans have their faults.  Some of them have been just as corrupt as anybody else.  But in the last thirty years, as I have observed with my own eyes, it has consistently been the Democrats who lead the way in imposing the most blatantly un-constitutional, dictatorial, totalitarian, statist legislation.  Always in the name of "the greater good."  It's like we are living the novels "Animal Farm" and "Atlas Shrugs" all rolled into one.

Look into this bill, S510.  Ask your Democrat friends what they think about it.  Ask them how they can defend such stuff.  Imagine your home being raided by USDA agents with guns because you didn't first get a license and get inspected before you canned your own vegetables that you grew in your own yard.

It used to be we were in the process of this great republic dying the death of a thousand little cuts with razor blades.  Now the long knives have come out.  What are you prepared to do?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Basic Laws

I was over at Maggie's Farm, not the actual farm, mind you, but the place in cyberspace. And ran across the wonderful little video segment from some kind of educational programme on British television.  Somebody across the Pond has realized that they need to attempt some serious, valid education to wake up the Brits to the fact that the growing socialist, totalitarian state is a disaster in the making.

If there is one thing that conservatives need to understand how to explain, and explain it loudly every chance they get to their friends and family, is that a major law of economics is that wealth can only, ONLY be created in the private sector, and that government (the public sector) can only consume and destroy wealth. The countries that don't understand that, like Spain, Greece, Portugal, Venezuela, Cuba, and Kalifornia, are going bankrupt and will become like Zimbabwe.

One Brit said toward the end of the segment, something to the effect that there is no magic pot of gold behind number 10 Downing Street.  Which is like what I said about there being no magic fairy dust in Washington that we sprinkle on government employees to make them behave like saints and do what is in the citizen's best interest.

If I could be dictator for a year, one of the things I would immediately do is outlaw all unions for government employees. You want to work for the government?  You get promoted based purely on your individual merit and achievement. Any pay increases would be based on the percentage of money you saved your department from spending.  Other than that, people should see working in a government bureaucracy as something you only do because you can't find a well-paying job any place in the private sector. Another requirement would be that you cannot enter a government job unless you are at least forty years of age and all your previous work experience was in "the real world."

Watch the video.  Even if you agree with it, it may help you to explain to your "liberal" friends in small words and concepts why a bloated, over-reaching government kills a society and its economy.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

As Expected

When I posted about the wood stove last time, I told you that Twyla would probably change something in the room, and sure enough, she did.

I'm not kevetching or anything like that.  I love her decorating style. Today it gives me something else to post about.

The "Cozy" as of today
I can't think of a single water color painting of Twyla's that I don't like. The one she picked to go behind the exhaust pipe on the stove is perfect, because it completes the trifecta of her collage set. Writing the caption reminds me that I've decided to call the room, "the Cozy."  Calling it the kitchen, even though it's like part of the kitchen just didn't work for me.  I needed a way to distinguish between it and the main part of the kitchen where we actually prepare food.  We used to eat in there on the tea cart table, because it just made sense then, but ever since we completely re-arranged the other rooms and made the dining room such a grand place, we eat all our meals in there now.

We also got a deal on an old milk can at the thrift store. It's very nice as a decorating piece for the room, but it's also a very functional storage container.  Twyla will probably want to repaint it in the future.  She definitely doesn't like the eagle on the side, so it's just a matter of time and choosing the color.

I wonder how many people look at something like that and think, "I wonder who did that, and what would that person think about where this object is right now?"  More importantly, do you ever make something and think about the fact that somebody, somewhere, is changing it or destroying it?

How many gallons of milk passed through that container?  How long ago was it made?  When did it stop being used for milk?  Why did someone decide to make it a decorative piece?

Are you already bored by my questions?

As you were.

Through The Looking Glass . . .

 . . . or plasma screen.

First of all, we watch absolutely no broadcast TV.  We don't subscribe to cable.  Since there are websites that make complete TV shows available, if the subject matter is important enough, we can watch it, but it's usually limited to news or documentary stuff.

When you surf the web for news, you have to wade through a lot of junk to get to the stuff that's important to you. That means that 95% of what I scan is unimportant. Some of it makes me laugh and then I just skip on to the next thing. Some of the stuff seems bizarre and I just shake my head and move on.  Then occasionally, what has me laughing is how the idiots in the media are so out of touch with the rest of the world that they just don't get it.

This concerns a show that I wouldn't watch unless you paid me about $100.00 per episode:  "Dancing with the Stars."  You really must not have many important things to do if you consider this entertaining.  And I don't say that because I don't like dancing.  I think some of the old musicals are great.  I have very much enjoyed watching  Gene Kelly, Donald O'Conner, Ben Vereen and others do amazing stuff.  This show isn't just about dancing, it's about controversy and ratings, which makes the recent news about it a publicist's dream come true. A Wisconsin man shoots his TV and gets taken down by a SWAT team.

How much do you want to bet that the guy votes NSWDP (National Socialist Worker's Democrat Party), Democrat for short?  The media expresses shock, not over how it demonstrates the level to which such viewers can fall, but rather that the viewing public wants to vote Palin over the better dancer, Brandy.  Which proves my point that the show isn't really about dancing, any more than "Survivor" is about surviving.  Middle America is simply using another avenue to express how much it likes Sarah Palin, albeit vicariously through her daughter, and stick it to the lamestream media who never passes up a chance to take a shot at the former VP candidate, even at the risk of proving themselves to be more stupid than Palin.

Palin has her flaws. Displaying loyalty to McCain in spite of his disloyalty to her and the Constitution is a good example of that. But I have yet to see or hear anything from her that indicates she is not thoroughly qualified to be president.  She has shown more leadership skill and command of the issues than  John McCain, Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, and Mitch McConnell combined.  If you are wondering why I did not list any Democrats, it's not fair to list creatures that have severe cognitive dysfunction.  That would be like using Paul Krugman or Ben Bernanke as examples of people who understand economics.

Cool and Clear

After two dreary, gray days of rain, it was nice to work out in the sunshine. But I'm pretty sure there won't be any more days of doing it without at least a tee shirt on.  Twyla told me that last year when everyone came for Thanksgiving, the colors were beautiful.  Right now, only the most sheltered of trees have any foliage left, as you can see from my first photo. That one is looking south from the top of the driveway.  Pretty much nothing but bare, gray-barked trees of the deciduous variety between here and the next creek. The only green is that lone pine on the left.  The sun is going down to my right; about 16:30.

I had meant to get more pictures of the more beautiful fall scenery a couple of weeks ago, but I let it get away from me.  Today as I was transversing the yard, I spot these two lone leaves, out of what would otherwise be some ugly winter ground.

I am so impressed by the plants that defy the frost. I thank Adonai that he created so many varieties of edible plants that can tolerate temperatures down to 22° F and continue to thrive.  Especially all the varieties of dandelion. I was clearing a new bed in which to plant more garlic and onion yesterday, and in order to do that, I uprooted, cleaned, and chopped up three bowls of such plants and fed them to the chickens.  Around dinner time ("lunch" for you Yankees), I picked a bunch of the yellowing bottom leaves from the broccoli and lettuce plants and chopped them up along with the celery dregs and carrot peels that Twyla had left for me to give to the chickens.  I made a couple of comments to Twyla while doing so.  "Never thought I'd be a salad chef to chickens." and, "You know, it occurs to me that chickens are basically pigs with feathers."  That one really made her laugh. It's because, like pigs, chickens will eat almost anything, and they really like the disgusting stuff.

Oh, before I forget, I've updated the last post about the focaccia bread, with some additional photos.  That was some scrumptious supper last night. The only reason we didn't have salad with it last night was because I had worked hard cutting a lot of wood and we had a lot of salad for the past three days.  I just didn't feel like going back outside and picking a mess of greens and having to strip and chop them. Back to chickens.

I was a bit surprised, but in a good way, that the chickens don't like earthworms.  They love grubs and flies and grasshoppers. Isn't that just like Adonai to program their DNA to not want to eat something that is so beneficial to the farm, and to want to eat the stuff that is detrimental.  I was further surprised to find that they eat their own feathers.  Not the flight, or wing feathers, just the downy body feathers.  I suppose there are a couple of reasons for that; being almost pure protein it makes sense in the winter when bugs and other fauna are extremely rare.  Secondly, it's a good idea not to leave a scent trail for predators.  But notice I said, "idea," meaning it had to come from intelligent design. Observing chicken behavior in general makes it pretty clear that cognitive thought does not exist there.  Brewster the Rooster is proof of that, since after three days he forgets that I'm the one who feeds them every day and decides to attack me for trying to take out the feeder for cleaning.  I can usually ignore the first couple of events, but then I have to show him who's boss.  This is tricky.  His spurs are not well developed yet, but his talons can still draw blood easily, as my arms will attest.  So, in a very fast, arcing motion,  I fake up to the right and when he goes for my hand I sweep up to his neck. The crucial part is snatching him down to the ground so he can't rear back and get his talons up.  Think of it as making a lightning fast "question mark" in the air.  Then I have to hold him for a count of five and then I let him go, to which he squawks to the other end of the ark and doesn't attempt to attack me for at least three days.

In a way, I'm pretty glad he's that way.  It makes me think that if a predator tried to nose into that ark, it would be a very unpleasant experience and the chickens would be fine.  Well, time to feed the dog.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Joy of Baking

Hey, it's another rainy day, so you get the benefit of a second post for today.  Be sure to scroll down to the next post or click here to read that one first.

I had intended to write about the difference in bread making when it comes to freshly ground grain.  Today is a good day to do that. Yesterday, being so rainy, and seeing how I had given my remaining loaf of fresh wheat bread to our guests to take home,  I had ground and made enough dough for a fresh loaf of wheat/rye.  I don't have a precise ratio on the flour.  It's about one cup of rye flour, three cups of red wheat, and a half cup of store bought bread flour to adjust the moisture as needed.  I cook the way Justin Wilson did.  I can measure tablespoons and teaspoons in the palm of my hand.

Whole wheat/rye starting final rise before baking
When I had cable TV, I was a faithful fan of Alton Brown's "Good Eats" on the Food Network. His information was about the science of why food behaved the way it did, even down to the molecular level, so an aspiring chef could understand why recipes work, or don't work, and what to do about it.  One of his episodes was about making your own quality pizza at home.  It's really all about the crust.  It's all about the dough.  When you think about it, he's absolutely right. Assuming that you don't use ketchup for sauce, or leftover hamburger from a McDonald's bag, or some such nonsense, it really is the crust that makes or breaks a pizza.

What in the world did my talking about pizza have to do with making a loaf of wheat bread?  Hang in there. I really do have a point for those of you who like to make your own bread at home.

Dough ball ready for refrigeration
The first thing I learned from Alton is that when it comes to yeast breads, kneading is important.  Whether you use a Kitchenaid mixer or a bread machine or you like to make it a part of your upper body workout, kneading is crucial to the quality of your bread.  This is because of gluten development.  Gluten is a protein that gives bread that elastic, spongy, chewy quality that is so pleasing to the mouth. Some grains have more of these types of protein than others.  The less gluten in a flour, the more you may need to knead it.  When I say "development" I mean stretching out those protein chains instead of leaving them as knotted up balls inside the flour.  It's the combination of water and the kneading that accomplishes this.  Then the gluten gives that elastic quality that creates the tiny balloons which hold the CO2 that is produced by the yeast eating the sugar, and you get a nice fluffy loaf of bread.

The other tip that Alton gave was to refrigerate your dough ball for a few hours at minimum, or overnight at best, right after getting all the wet and dry ingredients kneaded thoroughly.  He didn't really explain this tip, probably due to lack of time, but I understood it intuitively.

When you buy flour from the store, it might have been ground months ago.  You can knead such dough thoroughly and only let it rest for an hour or so before punching down and re-forming your loaf before the final rise before baking.  This will produce a pretty decent loaf.  But when I started making bread from freshly ground flour, I noticed that no matter how much yeast I used, when I tried to do a standard rest and rise period, I ended up with a dense and somewhat crumbly loaf.  Then it came to me.
Our own precious sun-dried tomatoes

I'm grinding my own grain now.  This flour is the freshest you can get, and the proteins are still pretty much alive, albeit dormant.  The secret to denaturing the proteins was going to be in letting the dough rest overnight in the fridge, for at least 12 or more hours.  Let the water and the eating of the yeast on the sugars relax the proteins and prepare it for the final kneading.  Eureka!  The next loaf came out great, without a lot of extra kneading.  I didn't need to work harder, I just needed more patience.

I had made a loaf of focaccia bread a couple of weeks ago, and it was really just a test run.  It came out great. I had cooked it on my pizza stone.  Think of it as a pizza crust, but without any real topping, except for some sprinkled fresh herbs and maybe some sun dried tomato.  I put one thin layer on top of another with the olive oil and herb mix between and on top of the layers.
Sage, Oregano and Parsley from the back yard

Today I ground fresh grain to make the next batch of focaccia. This time I will take photos to share and will update them to this post accordingly.  I decided to experiment with the flour as well.  The ratio is one cup of rye, two and a half cups of red wheat, and a half cup of quinoa.  I think the quinoa has an aroma similar to semolina and I think it will add a nice touch of flavor to the bread.  I went out and snipped some fresh sage, oregano and parsley from the garden.  I'll mince up some fresh garlic. About two-thirds of that will go into the marinara sauce that Twyla wants to make, and the rest will go into some extra virgin olive oil to get layered into the bread before rising to bake.

First two layers with herb mix
UPDATE:  It's delicious.  Thursday, 18 NOV 10, 05:18  We will probably finish it off over the next three days.  Here are the additional pics.  But, darn it all, I forgot to carmelize a bunch of onion to go on it.  Oh well, maybe next time.

Ready for the oven
I split the one big dough ball into three roughly equal balls, about the size of softballs. I don't knead them anymore at this point, and if there are any large air bubbles in the dough it would just give it more character.  I roll out the dough with a rolling pin, just like making a pizza crust, and center it on the pizza stone.

---  I'm telling you, if you like home-made pizza, you GOTTA have a pizza stone.  Mine is so well used and well seasoned that it is as non-stick as teflon.  ---

Then I spread the garlic/herb/olive oil on, then repeat the step with the second dough ball, but then I add the moistened sun-dried tomatoes.  Then I repeat the step again with the third ball of dough and add more tomatoes. And the product that is ready for the oven looks like this:

Yummy focaccia goodness
With the heat off, I leave it in the oven to rise again to just more than double in height, which takes about 45 minutes.  No need to take it out and pre-heat the oven.  I just check to make sure that it has risen according to plan and then fire the oven up to 350° F and set the timer for 35 minutes.

Notice the size difference on the stone?  The space change between the pieces of tomato?  This is a light and fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth masterpiece.

But it's a team effort.  I have to spend a lot of time outside taking care of other chores. Twyla was inside making the wonderful marinara/spaghetti sauce for dipping with this.  That just happened to be what we wanted with it this time. Seeing how we are both amateur chefs we sat at the table enjoying this, but then discussing how many other things would go well with it.  I could make a great Alfredo sauce from scratch.  It would be great just with olive oil and fresh ground pepper and some more herbs.  Because the layers don't really stick together because of the oil/herb mix, you could cut the center into squares and make awesome sandwiches out of it.

If there was a way that I could contain the smell of this bread baking and post it on this blog, it would make your mouth water.

Mountain Rain

Having been a Florida boy for most of my life, rain in the mountains is something different.  There are times when  we are actually in the bottoms of the clouds, which is like being in a thick fog while it's raining.  Something I never experienced in Florida.  A hard rain in the mountains is nothing like a hard rain in Central or South Florida.  I've been in rain on the road that was so hard, you couldn't see the end of your hood.  Wipers on high were merely there to let you know you couldn't see any farther than that.  I was once caught in a downpour on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa that had come down so hard and so fast that the runoff into the storm sewer system was causing manhole covers in the road to dance.  I'm pretty sure there are some people who find that hard to believe, but it's true.  Water was ejecting straight up into the air through the hook hole and around the edges.  Made me think of Noah's flood and the passage that talks about the fountains of the deep breaking open.

I'm glad we don't really get anything like that here. At least I haven't experienced it and haven't heard any of the locals say that it has happened.  Yesterday it rained softly pretty much all day long.  Occasionally the wind picked up a little, which had me going out to straighten or adjust the plastic sheeting over the chicks or on one of the arks.

I moved the chicks to the flat area behind the house, up from the area near the azaleas in the front most part of the yard. They are up against the beginning of the steep rise up to the next road above our house.  After putting the plastic sheeting on, I piled leaves in between the hill and the cage to provide some more insulation and hold the edge of the sheeting down.  They all seem quite content there.  The nice thing is that we can sit at the dining room table and eat or study Torah and look up and see them all there, just beyond the back porch.

We had had five straight days of dry cool weather with mostly sun.  It was quite nice, since it allowed me to be out in the yard cutting firewood wearing nothing but shorts and producing copious amounts of vitamin D.  I  think I'm beginning to see a connection between the vitamin D and sleeping better.  I'm really glad to see that most of that stupid hysteria about tanning is beginning to wane. That bunch of pseudo science and the bunk about salt have always been a thorn to me.

Because of the rain, we didn't let the fire die out in the late morning so we could clean the stove out and start fresh.  The previous three days, I wouldn't even light the fire until after 21:00.  Even CassPurr noticed the chill that becomes more felt from all that moisture in the air.  Several times a day he would end up laying at just the right distance from the stove.

About once an hour, we just toss in one or two small logs or pieces.  You could tell if the stove was hungry just by walking through the kitchen.  When I was cutting wood out in the yard the other day, I looked around our yard and just marveled at the amount of deadfall that I had available, even before I start cutting down any trees.

My winter vegetables really perked up from the soaking rain. With a steady temperature of about 52° F, you could almost see them growing.  We have picked and eaten salad almost every day.  Even gave a bunch away to friends who were visiting.  The Swiss chard has really perked up and grown more.  One of the varieties of that plant is called rhubarb, because the stem and veins of the plant are red.  Actually more like ranging from fucshia to ruby. We also have some that has bright yellow stems.  I guess you could say the Swiss chard tastes like spinach, except the leaves are slightly thicker and crunchier.  Which makes me want to say something to all my readers who might be thinking, "Spinach? Yuck!"

L -R: Broccoli, Iceberg lettuce, Brussel sprouts

I got news for you, fresh, green leafy vegetables right out of the garden don't taste anything like what you buy in the supermarket. That even goes for the fresh produce aisle.  It goes double for the frozen section, and it goes quadruple for the canned goods. Fresh greens out of my garden are as pleasant to eat as Iceberg or Romaine lettuce.  Yes, they have their own distinct flavors, but there is nothing bitter or odd tasting about them.  It's something you have to experience to understand.  Just like when I picked a pea pod right off the vine in front of a guest and had him taste it.  He couldn't believe the sweet deliciousness.  I explained that once it was picked, in four days that flavor would pretty much be gone, which is why you just can't get that kind of quality from a supermarket.

The broccoli is a bit more slow growing than I expected, but it looks beautiful.  The heads are about the size of baseballs now.  I have a dozen more broccoli seedlings on the front porch, along with several other varieties of early spring greens. I still don't see any sign that the little cabbage like heads are going to form on the Brussel sprout plants, but I must be patient.  I'm starting some Salsify once again.  I don't know if it was the grasshoppers or some other insect that likes it so much, but two other attempts at growing it failed because once the sprouts got about 3" high, something would eat it.  I'm sprouting this batch in the porch greenhouse.

I haven't posted to this blog as much as I wanted.  Not because there isn't plenty to blog about, but because I'm extremely busy keeping up with all this stuff.  One of the next projects is to build a mini outside greenhouse over an area of prepared mulch to grow some fresh greens for when the freezes get severe.  I want another mini greenhouse outside somewhere to start my tomato and pepper plants.

It's starting to get light outside, so off I go.   Shalom.