Monday, June 30, 2008

Remind anyone of what people do in America today?

We must buy the water we drink; our wood can be had only at a price.
- Lamentations 5:4

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Chicken Plucking Report

This morning I took the plucker over to some friend's house and helped butcher their 30 some odd Cornish Cross birds. I got there just before seven a.m. and then set up (including screwing the cones to the stand thingy) and we were done (including clean up and putting all of the stuff back into the truck) by 11:45 a.m. The plucker worked beautifully. The vote was unanimous that it saved many, many hours in the plucking department. The last time they did chickens they borrowed a table style plucker--it made a real mess and didn't really do a very good job. The birds were plucked once on the machine, two or three times by the eviscerators (sp?) once in the house--where they cut them up and packaged them--and then once before you put them in the pot to cook! With the Whizbang method the machine plucked them once and then the people pulled out a few tail feathers and that was it! It took me a few times to get the scalding down, but once I "mastered" (really I'm no where close) that it was a breeze.

Well I've been getting up at five or six for the past week or so and not going to sleep unitl midnight so I'm kinda tired (slept for two hours on the couch and still feel like I could sleep for a week) so that's it for now.


Friday, June 20, 2008

A Completed Chicken Plucker and a few Other Thoughts

It's quite chilly this morning. We open the windows last night because it's supposed to get up close to 80 degrees today but as I sit here at the computer my fingers are so cold (and slightly numb) that I'm having a hard time typing. Yesterday I could see my breath in the morning. I've had to dig out the flannel shirts and sweat shirts again. ('Course if it was winter I'd be wearing a short sleeved t-shirt--it's only getting down in the low fifty's or high forty's!)

The Amazing and Famous Plucker Project
Well I finally finished it. It's been a kinda long process, I started gathering parts in February, but I took a few breaks too (some longer than others!) --to help some friends with lambing, to wait for more parts to come and to work on other things. However The Whizbang Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker is now complete and ready to try out (I even added a couple of up-grades--one was in the plan book and one I came up with my self.) And so without further ado...(drum roll please)'s a picture:

As y'all can see, it's quite nice, if I do say so myself! You can also see that I added the "Mobile Whizbang" option. Here it is in action:
That blue plastic tub was just the right size to cover up the motor (which must weigh about 50 lb!) This is a sideways picture of the bottom pulley's etc. Right now I have the wrong idler pulley on there-it's a v-grove and I need to replace it with a flat one, but it works....And now for my own innovation.....see if ya can guess what it is from this picture:Here's another clue....
What you are looking at is....A rigged up spray ring (so ya don't have to stand there with the hose for the ten or fifteen seconds it takes to pluck a couple of birds--just flip the lever! Who has time to stand around and wait for ten whole seconds!?! ;-) )

What I did is took an old hose (hard rubbery plasticy stuff) and hooked to the 1/2" ball valve. Then I mounted the ball valve to the plucker frame with plumber's strap, and the hose to the plucker tub with the ever handy zip ties. Finally, I cut little one inch slits in the hose so that is sprays like this:
And then when you flip the power switch as I'm doing in the above picture...I think that the thing might take a few feathers off! I can hardly wait till the broilers are ready now:There they are in the Joel Salatin style chicken tractor. It has three doors--two on the front and one big one on the back which is covered with a PVC roofing material. The pen is fairly light--without the doors on I can stand in the middle and pick it right up and carry it. On the ground though, it drags a lot because of the width (digs into the ground) I cobbled up a dolly for it:
It's made out of an old push lawn mower and a couple of boards. Make it do or do with out! I basically just took the handle and bolted the wheels to it. (that did end up needing some reinforcing to keep the wheel straight--weld a piece of pipe between 'em) Then I took that pesky kill switch handle thingy, and used it to hold the board at the proper angle.

I've also been working on some butchering tables and such (with a lot of help from the gentleman from church that gives me lumbar). I think that it's safe to say that I'm the only one in the county with furniture grade butchering tables! This one holds two (out of three) pieces of slate counter top that another friend gave me. It's about six feet long. Made out of planned ash boards. [He doesn't do plugging and touch sanding though... :( ]Here's a few other things:That would be the Whizbang Garden cart pieces in the bushes, and the two height (sitting or standing) single stand, and the fully adjustable killing cone stand. (plus a few odds and ends!) Here's a close up of the singe stand:And in these two you can see how the cone stand adjustment works:
The guy helping me does very poor work as you can see! (insert extreme sarcasm into that last sentence if ya haven't already) He doesn't have any tools either. For instance the back of the single stand are held together in part by two biscuits (wooden kind--ya wouldn't want to eat 'em!) which were cut out with a nifty little biscuit cutter outer jobber thing. I'm very pleased with how the stuff turned out.

He also has an old cast iron double sink with drain board that he is going to give me. (Did I mention that he's pretty generous?) Then I'll just need to figure out how to rig up the foot operated water switch....

Well I'm out of time this morning. I get to go help worm sheep today :-)

Until next time,

May He who is able to keep you from falling make your way straight, and rescue you from all ungodliness.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Technology, picture update, and politics

Two days of spring left. Temperature has dropped back down into the balmy 60's (as opposed to the scorching 90's, the steamy 80's, and the somewhat satisfying 70's). The house is being reclaimed by the people and animals, pushing the remnants of the pre-garden and some of the larger, hardier house plants outside. Baxter has nearly caught 175 ice cream pail lids (Frisbees) and has jumped almost to eye level--somewhere around six feet in the air. He has the legs of a frog. :) Matthew's plucker is complete (pictures later) and is collecting parts for a garden cart and some other chicken and gardening equipment. The garden is coming up nicely. Most things are doing well around here; the exception being the tomato plants, which look more like small trees but have yet to start producing any tomatos.

As I write this, I'm listening to Chopin's piano concerto #2 in F minor. (ED. it's now after supper, and I'm listening to Beethovens No. 1 and No 3, Eroica) Classical music can be quite relaxing after a hard day. If you want proof, just Google 'the effects of music'. Another good Google seach is for web radio, and the first entry has some good clasical stations. One of these days, I'll have to try to get some classical back on the blog. Of course, the bluegrass would still be there. I've finally (I think) figured out how to change the content of a page by the information after the ? in the url--so you could choose which music you want--but I'm getting ahead of myself.


If you are not technologically inclined and have trouble comprehending terms such as web browser, then feel free to skip this section. Otherwise, here we go! :)

I discovered a cool new website that has some nice color combos, and I've tried one of my favorite on I'd love to hear what you think. Pretty soon, I'll be re-designing this blog away from the standard (three of the people in our blog roll use the same one) to something in close correlation to Also on the agenda is moving the sidebar to the other side, so we can see the entire music player. :)

On the Tuesday of the blackout, I received a new hard drive I'd ordered (it was a day late, but I didn't complain since I had no power to run it with :) Since then, I've been trying to swap that out with my current boot drive (the hard drive that runs your operating system, or in my case two operating systems), but have been having currently insurmountable difficulties with my copied dual booting setup. Now, I'm giving up and am going to use that drive as my secondary data drive. I also have an old third hard drive that I'm going to try to install Linux on. Apparently, Linux needs three partitions, and each hard drive can only support four. You can support more if you use logical partitions instead of primary partitions, but that requires having a dynamic hard drive, which apparently can only boot one operating system. It doesn't make sense to me ether, but that's what the computer is saying. The new hard drive should make backups a lot faster, as well, since I would only have to backup to a drive in the computer rather than to a drive all the way across the network.

Firefox 3 is finally out! It's a worthy upgrade, especially if you already use Firefox. If you use Internet explorer, it's still a worthy upgrade. If you use any other browser; or especially--terror of all terror--a browser provided by your internet service provider, it's definitely an excellent upgrade. I've just finished outfitting mine with the quintessential Google Toolbar, ad-block plus, FlashBlock, Foxmarks (keeps your bookmarks on a server so that you can synchronize them to any computer), IE Tab (which will let you open the few pages that don't render well in Firefox with the Internet Explorer rendering software, but you still don't need to leave Firefox), Fire Ftp (which is a file transfer utility for your Firefox browser, better than the add supported one that I currently use), and Fox Forecast (which gives an forecast for the next four or five days, day and night, as well as a radar and sever weather warning alert). McAffe SiteAdvisor is also an installed must.


A Recient Sunset

Breakfast :)

A Sunrise

Baxter playing with Dad (the shadow)

Baxter Playing with the chicken plucker
We have a bunch more pictures of the plucker, but I'll let Matthew post them.

A tree growing in a tree - not good

The sky and fields looking south

The flag against the sky

A Picture with interesting power lines :)

Two bushes in the new landscaping

Jimmy - one of the roosters that's going to survive butchering time.


First off, let me say that I abhor politics. Politics is just a bunch of men (and now women) in fancy suits slinging verbal mud at each other; politics is fueled by the dirt of hard working taxpayers, and powerful corporations supply water. You and I buy the suits--not by choice, mind you--and still submit to every kind of abuse. The suit-wearers place unrealistic controls on us; they bombard us with propaganda through their servants the media; they even limit the control we have by submitting to an international "consensus" which delegates power to a committee of so-called 'experts.'

Unfortunately, politics is necessary. Not the kind of politics that I just described above; that is the kind we have now. Some statesmen (basically truthful politicians), such as Ron Paul (who sadly dropped his bid for republican nominee), Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr still have a vision for a good government. Not all people follow the first and second commandments: love The Lord your God with all your heart, etc., and love your neighbor as yourself. Early after Israel settled in the promised land, they did not have government by man; they had judges and priests who kept things in order--some of the time at least.

Now, we have no such system. We have republicans and democrats. The republicans are hypocrites and the democrats are lairs. The truth of the matter is that a truthful democrat is ether a fool or ignorant. Republicans who do what they say are really constitutionalists.

The first issue at hand is the move to electing officials by 'popular vote', essentially changing America from a representative republic into a rough hewn democracy. The powers that be plan to do this without the necessary constitutional amendment. Beware the easy road; Take care when politicians make no big deal of something!

Next is an issue on which I don't really have an opinion: whether we are better off with Barrack or Hilary. Obviously, since she dropped out, it isn't something worth considering any longer, bar a government class paper. :)

Is the economy really in a slump now? According to, (I realize the government can't always be trusted, but how political are statisticians?) the 'Real Gross Domestic Product' has been positive since 1991, and has only been negative seven times since 1950. That's in inflation adjusted numbers. For a good report on current inflation head over the the turtle mountain hillbilly. Inflation certainly has an effect on the economy. I know that my faimily (and probably most people reading this) are spending less these days than they have previously. In inflation adjusted dollars, dad's making a lot less now than he did five years ago. I guess that constitutes economic problems. But then, we live in michigan where our wonderful democratic governer managed to pull the state into economic crisis well before anyone else felt anything, then (in my opinion) pulled the rest of the country with us. :)

Concluding thoughts:

"The more you read and observe about this Politics thing you got to admit that each party is worse than the other." - Will Rogers

"A politician is a statesman who approaches every question with an open mouth." - Adlai Stevenson

"You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream -- the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism." - Ronald Regan

"The great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one." - Adolf Hitler

"This is what the king who will reign over you will do:...He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants...He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves." - selections from Samuel 8.

Wow, 10%... we need a king!

"But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh." - Genesis 47:24

20%...We need a pharaoh!

Now To him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!

In his name,


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Stormy Weather and Thoughts on Living Without Power

All I did was water the tomatoes a little bit.

They were getting a little bit dry, and while I knew that if I watered them it would rain--Murphy's Law (works that same way when you cut a bunch of hay down!) -- but I didn't anticipate correctly what would actually happen; but we did need the moisture....There were several major storms that blew through the mid-west after that...Storms which dumped roughly 5 1/2 inches of water in our area in the course of three or four days. I just gave the poor plants a little drink....There were only five or six of them....

Some people we know lost power some time on Friday--the first day of the bad storms. There were even some possible tornadoes reported. They actually only live three and a half miles from us--on what would be our same road--if only the road went through.

Our worst storm was on Saturday night. Black clouds racing ominously towards us. Lighting streaking across the sky. Thunder rumbling menacingly. Then the rain started. Almost gently at first, belying the true force of the storm. But before too long, the water started coming down in sheets. It would let up only a little, and then pour down with even more ferocity.

It wouldn't have been so bad, except that my poor little boiler chicks only had a few layers of plastic tarp between them and the storm and drenching rain. This particular tarp was not supported all that well, thus easily acting as a catch water. With the rain falling at a rate that sometimes exceeded an inch an hour, the tarp caught a lot of water. Dad went out with me at about eleven before he went to bed and helped me bale the water off and stretch the tarp tight again. After that he went to bed but I stayed up a while longer (quite a while longer actually...) spinning (on Mom's new wheel--very nice, fun to use, etc...) and watching the radar on the TV. Jonathan was up too, but Mom had already gone to bed. Well Jonathan went to bed about a quarter to twelve, but I was waiting until the storm let up some to go out and bale the chickens off again....It did slack off down to a drizzle finally about twelve thirty. There were fifteen and twenty gallon pools on top of the tarp. After that I went straight to bed. It was one o'clock. There was another storm that came through at three--it woke me up even though Jonathan had the shades drawn and the A/C running. I didn't get up though. Then the next morning, being Sunday and all, I had to get up fairly early to do the chicken chores and then take a shower etc..... I think I got all of about four and a half hours of sleep that night. (Can't do that on a regular basis.) The edge of the tarp had fallen inside of the pen, and drained a bunch of water in there but the chicks all seem to stay fairly dry somehow.

Sunday afternoon Mom and Dad had to go to an open house, and while they were gone the storms rolled in again. They didn't seem that bad to me, but they caused our power to go out. Mom said that a spruce tree blew over right on the edge of town and blocked both south bound lanes of the main road. It was quite a while before they got home. But they made it safely. I was puttering around in the garage when the power outage happened--had just called the dog in and shut the door, when I looked up and noticed that the lights weren't on any more. So we went in the house and I started spinning again. I got three bobbins spun and plied into yarn in 24 hours--and I'm not that fast, so you can tell that I spent a lot of time at it!

We were now without power, but not without resources allowing us to cope quite well. We had our usual grilled cheese sandwiches (cooked on the burner on the gas grill) and got out the kerosene lamps. We called in to the power company, and their automated service said that they expected the power to be restored on Wednesday at eleven pm. Now that we knew that it was likely to be a while our biggest concern was keeping the freezer cold, and getting enough water. We have roughly 14,000 gallons in the swimming pool, but that is treated with bleach to kill the algae--so it's not drinkable. Fortunately, there is an artesian well just around the corner about two and a half miles away. So I took a 55 gallon drum over there to get water for the chickens to drink. I also took some five gallon buckets to fill the barrel with,
and one gallon pitchers for drinking water.

It took quite a while fill the barrel, but I didn't want to have to do it again. There were several people from church that came to get water while I was there. I had just gone around Sunday afternoon and dumped most of the containers full of rain water so the mosquitoes had fewer breeding grounds, so we had to go to get water. If we had known that we were going to lose power, we could have saved the 100 gallons that I baled off of the chicks tarp. But we obviously didn't know...

While we were without power we used a lot less water, got by with less light and watched no TV (not that we watch all that much anyway--usually just on Sunday nights while we eat our grilled cheese sandwiches). It made me think. It made me think about how dependent we are on "conveniences." It kinda seems to me that perhaps we shouldn't be rely so heavily on conveniences. After all aren't they just supposed to be just that--conveniences, not necessities?

If worst came to worst, how long could we last? No stove to cook on, with a gas stove you'd have a little longer--but the gas won't last forever; no good way to keep perishable food stored; no accessible supply of good water available close at hand....

Lets see how that adds up: No water, not much food, and no way to cook it. I think we'd be in BIG trouble.

Off-grid, self-sustainable, subsistence-oriented farming is sounding better and better....

But now the power is back on (over 24 hours early!) and we are able to resume our regular lives. It's almost too bad that it came back on early...Oh, well, summer's not over yet, there will be more storms, more power outages (probably, anyway) and more reminders not to be so dependent on conveniences.

'Till next time,


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Life here on Tuesday

Well, we're already in the sixth month of the year, and it's getting hot for the summer. Since I'm allergic to pollen, etc., and therefore can't have my bedroom windows open, and since it is on both the east and south sides of the house, making it quite hot up there when it's sunny, dad--the room is on the second floor, and the window is pretty cranky, requiring engineering expertise--installed our air conditioner. We have opened our pool, but it's still pretty cold for us spoiled swimmers; it's only about 65 F. Summer school is going well, only two trig lessons left.

I've done some more composing/arraigning work recently. While sitting at the piano, I just let my fingers have free reign, and they came up with something pretty interesting for a change (as opposed to the nice but normal stuff) so moved to the computer and punched it into Finale Print Music (my music notation software). It came out pretty good, but not as good as it was at first on the piano. If I get a chance, I'll upload a mp3. I rearranged a voice solo part with piano accompaniment into a piano solo for one of mom's piano students--her favorite student--who was graduating and would be discontinuing lessons. Now, I'm working on rearranging Our God Is In Control by Don Wyrtzen from a four part choir piece with piano into a ladies trio with piano accompaniment. The guy who is teaching our Sunday school class in Ecclesiastes thought that this would go well with the book, and requested that we rearrange it. The only problem was that he didn't have anybody to sing it, so I didn't know what to arrange it for. We finally decided to just arrange it for the trio, knowing that we have some talented voices in that area, and hope they will sing it. :)

Our DSL is having some more problems this morning, but apparently it is city wide, so it's messing up everyone in Charlotte who is teaching Koreans English, not just mom. :) I was on the phone with the service providers for about an hour this morning, and spent another half hour trying to contact them. The internet problem also affects the phone lines.

Mom went up to Flint (about two hours away), taking Matthew and me with her, and bought a spinning wheel. For those who know about these things, it is an used Ashford Elizabeth 2. It retails new for about $755 (finished) but she got this one for $405 using a PayPal 10% off coupon. If I wasn't feeling so lazy (and hungry) I would take a picture of it. Maybe next time.

A quote: (I stumbled across this, and thought it was good, if wordy)

"If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves." - Winston Churchill

And a verse:

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." - 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

And just for good measure, another:

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." - Matthew 5:13-16

To go with the last verse, listen to song #5 on the side bar: City on a Hill (if you like bluegrass :)

In His name,


P.S. If you noticed that half of this post is some one else's words, read the end of the fourth paragraph again.