Incorporating the Simple Living Review, the Preparedness & Self-Reliance Review, as well as the Outdoor & Survival Review

Happy New Year 2008 to you all

Happy New Year 2008

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers, friends and associates, as well as our enemies, a very happy & prosperous New Year 2008.

Christmas crisis brewing

Apparently there is a Christmas crisis brewing...

According to a UK government think tank, Christmas should be downgraded unless other religious festivals are marked on an even footing.

The Institute of Public Policy Research has suggested various ideas to make the UK more multicultural. It also wants "national culture" barriers to be torn down to help immigrants settle into the UK.

In a report due to be published in coming weeks, the organisation said: "If we are going to continue to mark Christmas - and it would be very hard to expunge it from our national life even if we wanted to - then public organisations should mark other major religious festivals too. Even-handedness dictates that we provide public recognition to minority cultures and traditions."

Duh? I beg pardon! To this one could only say that this is a “predominately” Christian country, though I am not a Christian, and if people have a problem with that then they do have an option; and that is to leave. No one has asked them to be here or to stay here.

You do NOT have the right to never be offended. This society is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone -- not just you as an individual! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc.; but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be. So, if someone says something you don't like either argue it out with them or leave it be.

You do NOT have the right to change our country's history or heritage. You do not have the right to impose Sharia Law on this country in any way, shape or form, or any other law. This country has a legal code and it is valid for all. This country has a freedom of religion, which means you are free, as is everyone else, to worship your God or no God; with no fear of persecution. You are given the freedom, nowadays, it was not always thus, to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all; with no fear of persecution. You are not forced to go to church every Sunday, as once was the case in Britain, not even on Christmas Day are you forced to attend, therefore do not try to impose your rules on us.

Unfortunately, it would seem, that the people of this country are, in general, spineless, and will permit, for the sake of “peace” to allow themselves to be trampled upon by others who do not mean to be peaceful.

© M Smith, December 2007

The story of Sheep with a message...

Not so long ago and in a pasture too uncomfortably close to here, a flock of sheep lived and grazed. They were protected by a dog, who answered to the master, but despite his best efforts from time to time a nearby pack of wolves would prey upon the flock.

One day a group of sheep, more bold than the rest, met to discuss their dilemma. "Our dog is good, and vigilant, but he is one dog and the wolves are many. The wolves he catches are not always killed, and the master judges and releases many to prey again upon us, for no reason we can understand. What can we do? We are sheep, but we do not wish to be food, too!"

One sheep spoke up, saying "It is his teeth and claws that make the wolf so terrible to us. It is his nature to prey, and he would find any way to do it, but it is the tools he wields that make it possible. If we had such teeth, we could fight back, and stop this savagery." The other sheep clamored in agreement, and they went together to the old bones of the dead wolves heaped in the corner of the pasture, and gathered fang and claw and made them into weapons.

That night, when the wolves came, the newly armed sheep sprang up with their weapons and struck at them and cried "Begone! We are not food!" and drove off the wolves, who were astonished. When did sheep become so bold and so dangerous to wolves? When did sheep grow teeth? It was unthinkable!

The next day, flush with victory and waving their weapons, they approached the flock to pronounce their discovery. But as they drew nigh, the flock huddled together and cried out "Baaaaaaaadddd! Baaaaaddd things! You have bad things! We are afraid! You are not sheep!"

The brave sheep stopped, amazed. "But we are your brethren!" they cried, "We are still sheep, but we do not wish to be food. See, our new teeth and claws protect us and have saved us from slaughter. They do not make us into wolves, they make us equal to the wolves, and safe from their viciousness!"

"Baaaaaaaddd!", cried the flock,"the things are bad and will pervert you, and we fear them. You cannot bring them into the flock. They scare us!". So the armed sheep resolved to conceal their weapons, for although they had no desire to panic the flock, they wished to remain in the fold. But they would not return to those nights of terror, waiting for the wolves to come.

In time, the wolves attacked less often and sought easier prey, for they had no stomach for fighting sheep who possessed tooth and claw even as they did. Not knowing which sheep had fangs and which did not, they came to leave sheep out of their diet almost completely except for the occasional raid, from which more than one wolf did not return. Then came the day when, as the flock grazed beside the stream, one sheep's weapon slipped from the folds of her fleece, and the flock cried out in terror again, "Baaaaaaddddd! You still possess these evil things! We must ban you from our presence!".

And so they did. The great chief sheep and his court and council, encouraged by the words of their moneylenders and advisors, placed signs and totems at the edges of the pasture forbidding the presence of hidden weapons there. The armed sheep protested before the council, saying "It is our pasture, too, and we have never harmed you! When can you say we have caused you hurt? It is the wolves, not we, who prey upon you. We are still sheep, but we are not food!". But the flock would not hear, and drowned them out with cries of "Baaaaaaddd! We will not hear your clever words! You and your things are evil and will harm us!".

Saddened by this rejection, the armed sheep moved off and spent their days on the edges of the flock, trying from time to time to speak with their brethren to convince them of the wisdom of having such teeth, but meeting with little success. They found it hard to talk to those who, upon hearing their words, would roll back their eyes and flee, crying "Baaaaddd! Bad things!".

That night, the wolves happened upon the sheep's totems and signs, and said, "Truly, these sheep are fools! They have told us they have no teeth! Brothers, let us feed!". And they set upon the flock, and horrible was the carnage in the midst of the fold. The dog fought like a demon, and often seemed to be in two places at once, but even he could not halt the slaughter. It was only when the other sheep arrived with their weapons that the wolves fled, vowing to each other to remain on the edge of the pasture and wait for the next time they could prey, for if the sheep were so foolish once, they would be so again. This they did, and do still.

In the morning, the armed sheep spoke to the flock, and said, "See? If the wolves know you have no teeth, they will fall upon you. Why be prey? To be a sheep does not mean to be food for wolves!". But the flock cried out, more feebly for their voices were fewer, though with no less terror, "Baaaaaaaadddd! These things are bad! If they were banished, the wolves would not harm us! Baaaaaaaddd!". The other sheep could only hang their heads and sigh. The flock had forgotten that even they possessed teeth; how else could they graze the grasses of the pasture? It was only those who preyed, like the wolves and jackals, who turned their teeth to evil ends. If you pulled their own fangs those beasts would take another's teeth and claws, perhaps even the broad flat teeth of sheep, and turn them to evil purposes.

The bold sheep knew that the fangs and claws they possessed had not changed them. They still grazed like other sheep, and raised their lambs in the spring, and greeted their friend the dog as he walked among them. But they could not quell the terror of the flock, which rose in them like some ancient dark smoky spirit and could not be damped by reason, nor dispelled by the light of day.

So they resolved to retain their weapons, but to conceal them from the flock; to endure their fear and loathing, and even to protect their brethren if the need arose, until the day the flock learned to understand that as long as there were wolves in the night, sheep would need teeth to repel them.

They would still be sheep, but they would not be food!

More Make Do

In the last article I did mention that I could go on. Well, now I am.

This matter of “making do” can get to a passion, which is not a bad thing. If more people were “making do”, there would be less waste in this world.

Save your tin cans. I mentioned in an article some time ago a few things that you could use cans for1. Holding nails and screws, cleaning paint brushes, holding paint while you pretty some things up.2 Punch a hole in the center of the ends of two tin cans, attach a string and you have a boy's primitive telephone. I have two cans, one used to hold minced green chilies, the other is just a little bit bigger. I use them as biscuit cutters. They are just the right size for sourdough or baking powder biscuits.

Scrap wood can be gotten from building sites. Ask the foreman and he will probably tell you that whatever is in the dumpster, you can have. Wooden pallets can be used for everything from firewood to building fences. And same for the nails! You can buy wood such as slabs or tie ends pretty reasonable, also sawdust at sawmills.

The highway department went through this spring and trimmed trees and then ran the branches and such through a chipper. A lot of it was cedar. My wife and I went and got the equivalent of a pickup load and put those chippings around the bases of the trees in our yard.

We have two 100 gallon plastic stock tanks under the porch eaves to catch rainwater. There's room for a couple of more. Beats having to buy salt, not to mention the initial cost of a softener unit. We use it for laundry and baths. Just remember to cover the tanks to keep sunlight out once they are full.

Want to keep your wooden fence posts from rotting but don't want to use chemicals? Do what they did 200 years ago. Char the end that will go into the ground, and put then in small end first. Charred wood lasts for centuries. That's why archaeologists are so happy to find it at a dig. They can date it by scientific means to find out how long ago the site was occupied.

The books by Eric Sloane, “A Museum of Early American Tools”, “A Reverence for Wood” and “Diary of an Early American Boy”, should be on you bookshelf. Our early settlers were masters in making do with wood.

The editor reminded me of this one: save those cardboard tubes from paper towel and toilet tissue. They can be used for storing electric cord or, cut to length, filled with potting medium and used to start bedding plants. When the plants are ready you just put the whole thing into the garden into the ground. You'll have a cutworm collar and the tube will rot down enriching the soil.

The plastic bags that you get from grocery stores nowadays make good wastepaper basket liners. I prefer to ask for paper bags (paper bags are not in option in many countries – Ed.) because I can use them for patterns for making moccasins and other leather goods. They are also good for draining doughnuts and other fried food, after which the oil soaked paper makes a dandy fire starter.

Speaking of paper towels: they can be used to make your own seed tapes. Lay out several sections, spray with water. Place yours seeds down, lay another paper towel on top, spray with water, and roll up. Put in a bread bag or other plastic bag until you lay it out in the garden and cover it with a thin layer of soil. This is especially good for parsnip and carrot seed. We learned this trick from yet another boot that you should have on your shelf; “The Joy of Gardening” by Dick Raymond.

Another idea from “The Joys of Gardening” is to “multi-crop”. For instance, I plant carrots, lettuce and radishes together. They seem to help each other out. The I put trellises over the row and plat cucumbers at each leg. It makes a two-storey garden. Our tomatoes have carrots planted each cage. You can plant winter squash in your sweet corn rows.
There are many books that tell you about “companion planting”. It would not hurt to buy one. You can get two or three times the produce from the same plot.

In our area we have very high humidity in the spring. At least once a month I would have to clean all my leather goods. Years ago I used to shoe harness racing horses. The trainers would rub flax soap into the harnesses to keep them soft and mold free. So I bought some ©Murphy's oil lsoap and tried it. Sure enough, it worked. Now I only have to clean my saddles and boots and other leather goods about once a year only. I have tried other oil soaps but ©Murphy's works the best.

© Owen Newman, 2007