Category Archives: Homesteading

Clean Underwear and Couscous – One Dose Addictions

Clean Underwear and Hard Times

Hi readers.  Thanks for the visit.

It’s been almost a year since that old Kenmore dropped into my life. 

I hate to think I’m becoming addicted to modern conveniences, but here’s my back yard today.  It’s been and is still a blessing I have to stop and take a deep breath when allow myself to appreciate it fully, the gestalt, I mean.

I never found a wringer, so there are tricks to it I’ve gradually learned, and will gladly unlearn sometime if I ever locate a wringer at the right price.

In some ways that qualifies as a blessing associated with the whole hauling-water experience.  A person finds himself experimenting with all manner approaches to personal cleanliness honing down the amount of water required.  For instance, it’s actually about 1/3 gallon less water than the pump-up insecticide sprayer to shower using one-gallon orange juice jugs left out in the sun.  Just pouring enough to wet down, scrub down, and rinse.

I’d actually be about a gallon cheaper if I cut my hair, which I’ve considered because the water required to rinse shampoo out afterward.  But my hair hasn’t been cut since Y2K and I hate to bust into a winning streak taking chances of that sort.

But I wanted to tell you about couscous.  I’d never heard of the stuff, but at the HEB store they offered a package coupon deal including it.  Bought a bag of farm raised fish filets imported Vietnam, got all manner of other things free.

Got out my magnifying glass to make sure it didn’t have MSG in it, then eventually made myself fix it.  Herbal chicken couscous.  Doctored it up with ginger and curry, chopped some onion into it, added chopped jalapeno.

Sheeeeeeeze that stuff’s good.

Instant addiction.  Next time I’m in town I’m going to see what it costs.  If it’s reasonable I think I might find myself chowing down on couscous a couple of times a week.

Old dog, new tricks, instant addiction.

So it goes.

Old Jules

Controlling Complications with Simpler Opinions

“However, we must not save humanity from the future right now. It is simply too soon for such a drastic measure. We should wait a while first. We can always save humanity from the future later.”
 Me:  “So, what to do today.  Any suggestions, Ms. Shiva?”
Shiva:  “You might consider doing something about that damned well.  You’ve been hauling water eighteen months now. “
Me:  “That would have been an operable approach fifteen, sixteen months ago.  Right now I’m holding it in abeyance.  That future took an exit back at mile marker 2011.5, roughly.”
Shiva:  “Okay.  I suppose that makes sense.  No point dragging anything off the shelf to fill in the gaps of what you aren’t going to be doing today.  Plenty of other, more immediate stuff not to do.”
Me:  “I’ve got some fairly complicated near-certainties I’ll be plugging away at if I can’t find some reason not to.  But the reason needs to be something that holds up under scrutiny.  Something I probably might have done, needed doing.  Not just a rabbit I pulled out of a hat to use as an excuse not to follow the mandates of my compulsions, my daily complication rituals.  Damn I have a hard time not making myself do that some days.”
Shiva:  “You’re definitely showing signs of breaking down under the strain.”
Me:  “Yeah, I know.   I’ve got all this crap to do and don’t even know how much time I have to get it done.  Hell, I could die just about any time from now until some other time.  If I had a better idea when I’m going to kick I could plan better.”
Shiva:  “We cats would feel better about that, too.  If you’re going to outlast us we’re all agreed the chances would be improved if you could keep a clear head about things.  It’s a concern to all of us.”
Me:  “Okay.  I’ll think about it.  Maybe I’ll spend the day planning.”
 Old Jules

1977 C60 School Bus – Idle Musings

Morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Some of you made some good, helpful comments about the last post, and although that bus might never come into my life, my mind’s insisting on playing with the associated problems.

Insofar as the matter of cooling for summer driving, I’m thinking ram-air venturi.  A hole cut at the question-mark, flange installed with a megaphone-like air-catcher-compressor expanding inside the bus.  Water misted from a pressurized pump-up insecticide sprayer as the air expands as it’s released inside the bus.  Rear windows open to pull the cooler air backward through the length of the bus.

I’m thinking for cooling the bus as a dwelling, a thermal syphon arrangement pulling air from the shaded area under the bus, releasing it along the floor, the hole for the venturi open and the windows cracked at the top to pull the cooler air upward from the floor. 

Maybe some sort of misting device inside the bus, also.

I use those pump-up insecticide sprayers anyway for showering now, today, and that one would serve that use when the bus is parked as living quarters.  I’d cap the hole with a PVC cap when the venturi wasn’t in use, weather was cold, or it was raining.

As for heating it winters, I’ve got a number of ideas, some as strange and unlikely as these.  But the cats and I are used to living cold and hard.  What’s bare minimum for us isn’t likely to be much warmer than our ancestors spent their lives living with, uncomplaining.

For cooking meals while driving down the highway I’ll install one of those enclosed propane grilles to sit atop the engine, use waste-heat from the engine to do the cooking, pull it out when I’m ready, slow-cooker-like.  There’s plenty of room under the hood for a cooker capable of handling a banquet.

There’s an old propane refrigerator from a camper I gave Gale 30-40 years ago stored up there I posted a picture of here on an earlier entry, which I’d install.  Those AC shelves will work well, I thinks, as a means of running water lines, gas lines, and electrical wiring.  Out of sight, out of the way, but accessible.

A couple of propane burners on a platform and a Coleman stove oven might be the solution for somewhere to prepare food while camped if I don’t cook outdoors.

I’m thinking LED lighting, assuming I can find it at the right price.

Those pump-up insecticide sprayers are surprisingly useful for all manner of unlikely purposes.  Good for washing dishes, rinsing dishes, showering, all in a severely water-saving mode.  Heat the water, fill one with soapy water, another with clear water, you’re in business.

Thanks for your interest and comments.

Gracias, Jules

Real Smart Cookies, Hermits and Shadow Cats

I’m having a rough time gearing up to do any outside work and my brain’s too fuzzy to try sorting out the maze of computations and comparisons on the offline comp.  I’ll be able to clear my conscience in a little while by waving the bloody flag at some other shadows, but for the moment I’m at loose ends.

A couple of days ago I was sitting in the swing bench hanging out of a dead tree when I heard a vehicle approaching down the hill.  Almost never happens, this is maybe the second time in several years, except Gale, who honks at the top of the hill as he approaches.  Simple country courtesy to a guy who’s made no secret of the fact he often runs around buckassed naked except for a pair of shoes during hot weather.

Me, since summer’s not hardened into anything desparate yet, sitting on that swing in a pair of jockey short skivvies and tennis shoes.  Naturally the sound of an approaching vehicle made me want to dress up a bit for who the hell ever it might be.

If this were December, no problem.  I’d have been spiffy as hell, ready with a joyful tapdance.  Or if they came by air later in the summer, maybe an orange jump suit.

So, I ran indoors, threw on my cleanest pair of work-dirty britches, hoisted up my galluses and re-emerged on the porch in time to see the new neighbor pull up in front of the cabin.  Likely just bored and felt like talking to someone a while.  He’s not used to living in a place where people don’t necessarily seek out company with any frequency, don’t yearn to fill the gaps of self-conversation with answers to the question, “What is this thing?” referring to a maze of wires, coils, magnets connected to a solar collector, a parabolic dish and radioesque antenna stretched across the meadow.

And not knowing what to make of the answer, “I ain’t saying!”

But we sat a couple of hours, anyway, pleasant hours, talking about this and that.  Heavy equipment.  Land.  Animals.  How many different big machines he’s got up there and how well they do the jobs.  How it was in Korea when he was there in 1959 compared to how it was when I was there in 1963.

During which time his dog slinked in, hair standing on end, bristling.  The dog got loose up at his place and  followed him down here, turned out.  He got up, scolded it gently and put it in the cab of the truck.  I didn’t learn until later during the head count when I put the chickens in the fortress that one was missing.  The Communist Americauna hen.

He’d come down here once before, you might recall, immediately after he bought the place, and we talked briefly.

Fact is, he and I are both so hard of hearing it’s fairly obvious each of us is mostly only hearing our own half of the conversation.  Which is probably why he came to visit, I reckons.  More personable than talking to a television set or radio.

Old Jules

Cunning, Intelligence and Free Ranging Chickens

I don’t think this applies to caged chickens, but my experience with caged birds is limited.  All I can actually tell you is that free ranging chickens are some of the most cunning, cagy, calculating, communist creatures on the planet.

A free ranging hen can calculate to the second how long it takes my eyes to narrow, my jaw to clamp, pause listening, and spring out of my chair when I’m trying to do something on the comp and I hear a chicken on the porch.

A free ranging hen can judge almost to the inch how far and hard a person can throw a rock with any accuracy.  A free ranging hen can predict almost exactly how far and how fast a 70 year old man can run swinging a stick before he gives out.

A free ranging hen is able to predict within a few seconds how long and how loud it can cackle and raise hell just outside the window before it needs to start dodging rocks or running into the bushes.

A free ranging chicken recognizes a slingshot and knows the difference between a slingshot stretched as an empty threat, and a slingshot with just about a bellyfull of chicken games.

A free ranging chicken usually won’t eat ants unless it thinks a person would rather it didn’t, in which case it will.  The whole flock will stand on a red ant bed pecking, so long as the ants aren’t carrying off their feed to the ant bed.

A free ranging chicken will ignore hard cat food scattered around on the ground away from the porch, but it will sneak around trying to find some on the porch everytime it thinks a person’s in the middle of something needs concentration.

I subscribe to the philosophy the reason the chicken crossed the road was for practice.  Training dodging cars.  And motivated by some human being not wanting it to cross the road.  Try to get a chicken to cross the road and it’s going to stay home cackling under the window or crapping on the porch.

Old Jules

Fans, Compromises and Drowning in Over-My-Head Math

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.  I see people continue to read here, or at least visit here, and I’m dazzled by some internal response I can’t put a name to.  But reading the posts Jeanne’s added I’m also reminded that being me is a fairly weird experience for a human being to spend a life doing.

Whatever it is brings you here to read these fragments of my life, thank you for the interest. 

Last year I spang wore out seven [7] garage sale, thrift store and auction fans.   This, despite spending hours on each before it crapped out, taking it apart, oiling, cleaning.   I concluded there’s meaning to the word false economy occasionally. 

So I visited the Big Lot store in Kerrville, studied the assortment of fans, and picked out a few to hopefully carry me through the summer.  The box fans and window fan are for me and any cats willing to suffer sultry nights indoors during the coming oven-nights.  The two smaller, clamp-on fans are for the computers, hopefully to give them something to hope for.

But there must have been someone else doing the same thing in the Big Lot at the same time I was.  As I was waiting in line to pay I kept hearing people behind me talking about ‘the old fart buying all the fans’.  I didn’t want to be obvious, but I searched out of the corner of my eye for him.  Never did locate him.

Likely he’d had problems keeping his fans running, same as me.  I’d sure like to have all his old throwaway fans.  I love pulling the damned things apart trying to figure out what I can salvage out of them.

Meanwhile I’m spending as many hours every day as my mind allows following the tracks of whatever it is running this Universe, or this phenomenon we think is reality, sniffing down trails of obscure facts and barking up trees of complex math puzzlements.  Gaining new understanding daily, unwinding the warp and weave.

Clearing my head at intervals lopping cedar, placing it in a hundred places where drainage water attempts to go Communist by channelizing, forcing it back into sheet flow.  Forcing it to drop its silt loading.  Robbing it of the energy to carry the land away with it.

Last time in town I did something I’ve  never done before.  Took my poor old chainsaw to town and handed it to a real person  to work on.  Some things in this life are worth compromising.

Thanks again for coming by.  Live long and prosper if that’s what you have in mind for yourselves.

Old Jules

Wokkyjawed repairs

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

If you’ll take a close look at that ladder I climbed a dozen times, or more, you’ll see a person might wish to study on the design a few moments before he puts his weight on it.  Luckily, I’m the luckiest man in the world and even noticing what I’d done after the fact didn’t leave me with a broken ladder, broken head, worse for the wear in any way.

Seems to me I’ve observed at one time or another that plenty of ways of a man ruining his day present themselves on a job of this sort.  And almost no ways exist to come out of it feeling a lot better than he did going in.

The tree trunk was exerting a lot of social pressure on everything trying to hold it up.  At the base it was unstable, something awful.  I had my heart set on it not coming down and crushing my rooster containment center if I could help it. 

I tried to insure against the possibility by lifting the base of the trunk with a bar and slipping in a couple of chunks of historical tree. 

But even with all my precautions the trunk dropped a few feet when I finally made the last cut breaking it free of the building.

Tough day, everything else being equal.

Old Jules

Today on Ask Old Jules:  Psychometry?

Old Jules, what do you know about psychometry? I would love to know how to get started.

Cautiously Optimistic Concerning Various Pessimisms

Good morning readers.  Thanks for you and me coming back for a read this morning.  You, because you’re managing to stay alive in this hostile reality we’ve selected to submerge ourselves in, and me, because I managed to put the chickens up and let them out without getting struck by lightning.  Which seemed a definite possibility while I did it.


I don’t mind getting struck by lightning so much, but it seems a bit of an anti-climax, everything else being equal.  I don’t care for the notion of leaving a lot of loose ends lying around for someone else to have to deal with.

For instance, I’d hate to get fried by lightining without telling you about the taurine Jeanne sent me and I’ve been taking.  My thought was that it might replace the blood-pressure meds I have to order from India.  I’m not evangelical about it, and I’m not going to do a complete switch without watching it closely a while longer.  But I’m cautiously optimistic.

Then there’s the Invader Cat.  It vanished around here for a few days and I was cautiously optimistic I’d seen the last of it, but it’s back this morning.  So I’m cautiously optimistic some other way about it, but not so much you’d notice.

The minor erosion mitigation measures I took recently performed well during this deluge and moved things forward a lot further and faster than I’d have dared cautiously optimistically predict.  Just saying, for any of you considering such projects.

Finally, for those relatively few readers who check in here because we used to correspond about the non-randomness phenomenon.  If you’ve got enough RAM on your computers, I’m cautiously optimistic you’ll find it was worth your while to track them every which way and compare the results with anything else you’ve ever tested.  It doesn’t nail things down on all the corners, but it goes a longish way in the right direction.

As for everything else, I think there’s reason to abandon caution and just say to hell with it and be optimistic.

Old Jules

Today on Ask Old Jules: Benefits of Reconstruction?

Old Jules, how did the North and South benefit from reconstruction?

Guard Cats – In the Interest of Harmony

In the pic they’re patrolling in Placitas, New Mexico.  But it’s the same here.

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

There’s a rich-people kind of house up the hill, a quarter-mile south of me.  It sits on 90-odd acres of land, has a barn worthy of the name, and it’s been sitting vacant during all the years I’ve been here.  Vacant, but for sale.

But a couple of weeks ago a couple of strangers pulled up in front of the cabin on a four-wheeler with side-by-side seats.  It’s the first time I’ve ever had an unexpected visitor here except Gale or Gale and Kay.  Naturally I scrambled out to find out what they wanted.

Turned out he’d just bought the place and wanted to introduce himself to his nearest neighbor.  That done, he left saying they’d be moving in soon.  Friendly exchange.

Then yesterday I went up to Gale’s and he was there.  They’d just done their moving into their new home.  He and Gale were discussing things and I sat down for a quick cup of coffee before going on about my business.

I’m hoping you won’t shoot my dog.”

Is it a chicken killer?”  Thinking whatever danger there was to his dog probably came in the form of dead chickens.

“It’s never been around chickens.  It’s a mutt, a rescued dog, part lab, part herder, part pit-bull.  What killing it’s done was cats.  I had a lot of feral cats on the last place I lived.”  He paused.  “I know you have cats down there.”

That gave me pause for thought.  While I was thinking, he added, “If you see him, he’s gun shy.  Just fire into the air and he’ll run away.”

I’m a man who has a huge respect for how badly neighbor problems can intrude and make life a hell for both neighbors.  But I’m also aware that animals can cause neighbor problems lightning-fast.  Quicker than almost anything else.  For instance, there’s almost nothing that will piss a man off worse than killing his dog, no matter what the dog was doing at the time of demise.

“Tell you what.  I’ll make sure my cats don’t come up here killing your dog if you’ll make sure your dog doesn’t come down here killing my cats.”  Seemed a fair enough proposition to me.  I pretty much figure if my cats go up there attacking his dog, anything on his place, he’s welcome to shoot them, but it would be more fitting if he came down here and put a bullet between my eyes.

He expressed a concern that his dog might mistake me for a cat, saying that since I’m around them I’d have their scent on me, but I assured him that wasn’t a concern.  I’ve never met a dog I couldn’t stand off.  And I shouldn’t have any reason to be around this one.  During my years here I’ve only set foot on that place a couple of times.  Once because of cows, and once challenging some people who were up there loading things into a truck.  I just politely asked if they had permission, and noted the license number of the vehicle.

The man’s 74 years old, seems a nice guy.  Ex-pilot.  And if we need to talk we  probably will enjoy most things we might discuss.

I surely hope my cats don’t go up there attacking his dog, though, because I’d expect him to shoot them. 

Old Jules


A Bit More About What’s Not Happening

First off, The Invader Cat’s not becoming a fixture around here.  It’s just hanging around getting meals and paying the fare by being bullied by chickens and the other cats.  It has a home somewhere.  I’m certain of it because sometimes it vanishes for a couple of days.

But it’s not a fixture and it’s not becoming a fixture.  Even though when I was putting the piece of the can of feed I’d saved for it down last night, it came within a couple of feet of me scratching it behind the ears.

Secondly, if you’re among those trying to figure out what’s not happening by tracking Ganymede, you’re a day late and a dollar short.  Ganymede looks great at first, but the further you hone things down the more you’ll conclude something’s missing.  I’d suggest doing some dizzying calculations correlating Ganymede positions with with the position of Mercury.  Which, if you run through enough ways of measuring where they are, will give you a lot clearer view of what’s not happening.

Thirdly, I worked a lot on the brush dams in the ruts on the road coming down here yesterday in hopes of further rainfall runoff forcing the hill to give up more of the dirt it’s been bringing down from above.  Over the years it’s gradually been filling the worst blow-out-a-tire, high-centering ruts.  Now if we can keep getting a few of these male rains I think this will finish it off. 

Which is to say, spectacular erosion won’t be happening and past erosion will have reversed itself somewhat.

Lastly, despite your hardheadedness on the issue if you’ve got any, cold weather isn’t happening.

If you’re going to be a part of what’s happening you’re going to have to switch from felt to straw.  If you try to hang on to your outdated good-times idea about felt you’re going to have sweat running down around your eyelids and getting into your ears next time you go to town.  And you won’t be happening.

Just saying.

Old Jules

Edit 8:37 am:  I neglected to mention earlier while talking about Mercury and Ganymede that Saturn seems to be happening a little bit.  Even though it’s way to hell and gone off the other side of things where you’d expect it to have to be.