The Great Northern Experiment (and Homesteading & Farming General Discussion)
interestingly enough just following this video being recorded we've run into additional hardships which have been pressing more and more in, but i continue to be absolutely astounded by my willpower and the majesty of a well considered perspective on happenings as they occur. this will not be long as my head hurts but i felt inspired to write this in my current state

one of our two available cars stopped working and will unlikely be fixed soon. the car that remains does not have working heat and the cold is miserable. our first goat, a billy i have fond memories of sleeping beside when he was still young in the virgin meadows of our property, died suddenly of a blood infection resulting from a botched dehorning done by the farmer we purchased him from three years ago. due to a series of misfortunes i wont be able to see my family this christmas, and with only having one vehicle that gabe and co are using to go south will have to walk into town for the church's christmas services. this wouldnt be a big deal as it's only a ten mile walk but ive also come down with an illness over the last two days which has made me very weak. additionally, my gas stove has suddenly stopped working and i'm still trying to figure out what's wrong with it

this may all seem like a lot, a crushing load, but even given all of this i still take great pleasure and rejoice in those brief moments of comfort to allow as a reminder of the golden future lying ahead, the handiwork of my sacrifices and efforts to create something of any worth

i just returned from work which moved much slower due to the sickness. my head was splitting and it was excruciating, and i also had to fill several gas cans so that i can have electricity while without a vehicle, but after returning home and walking back to my cabin, the release of laying down under blankets and being warm fills me with a relief that far exceeds any pains preceding it. the room is cold and the stove unfired but so long as i have the roof, a place to sleep, and some blankets, it really doesn't matter. it's a sublime warmth, a perfect warmth that is never uncomfortable nor overbearing, but always just right. even weakened and unable to effectively regulate its own temperature in the freezing winter cold, returning to the bed renews my spirits and contents me like eating a great feast. even while doing my chores and working today while weakened and in pain, the thought of my inviting bed gave me strength and the will required to do what i must do

i am aware that it is easy for an outsider looking in at this may think it is absolutely miserable, and from their perspective they very well may be right. however, in doing everything that i have done up to this point, the most important realization i've come to truly internalize is this: you deserve nothing. not comfort, not lodging, not food, not water. not even life itself. every moment of your life no matter how agonizing it is in the instant is preferable to death, and even the bestial fear of death itself is conquered by the will and of work, of the philosophy which guides you to do good for others even in your death. when you do not expect to live or have lodging one day to the next you rejoice and make the most of all small comforts and reliefs that are available in the present

the true power and weight of philosophy, as i have come to understand it, is to be in absolute physical misery even unto death and still seeing a bright future before you, whether you are present for it or not

i will sleep now. i hope you all have a wonderful christmas and spend time reflecting on what is important in life

short story type video about some change in opportunities, a little bit of reflection on the value of time and money like the previous one
This winter has been exceeding brutal and has tried both man and beast alike. Even for the great white north, the temperatures have been exceptionally low and many night pressing near -30f with days scantly reaching 0f for many a week, a lapse of time which has honestly felt like an eternity; however, mercy has washed over come three days ago when all of the sudden mighty gusts of wind washed over the endless plains of snow, bringing with it a great warmth raising daytime temperatures to freezing, even above freezing at some times. I write this post basking in the wonderful warmth these foreign winds have welcomed, being renewed in spirit and having my soul rejoice loudly, filled with the joy of a hope for spring.

I write this post having recently meditated much on suffering and contentment, on the faltering nature of the soul, and on life and death; especially, I was invigorated in speaking briefly to Matthew about the fear of death. The discussion was brief, almost nonexistent, lasting only a few lines but it kept me thinking for many hours after speaking my brief piece in response. I have spent a great deal of time in the winters considering how a mortal man may triumph over death, conquering his natural fear for the preservation of the self and supplanting it with an undying hope which stretches far into the future, beyond his mere life which is as a shadow. After walking backwards and looking at the question from the eyes of someone who has not seen what I have seen, it inspired me greatly to write some form of epistle regarding my perspective on this matter.

During my first winter here, when the land was hardly anything more than untamed wilderness with a cabin on one side and a small fenced pasture on the other, I lived ascetically both intentionally and unintentionally: not having the resources or time to do better, but also seeking the hidden wisdom that is only revealed to a man by those tribulations that vex his very soul. In so doing, for long periods I closed myself off from speaking to others and ate very plain foods, mostly unseasoned rice, potatoes, and bread, or canned vegetables without salt or savor. I had a bag of sweet potatoes that I kept as a sort of treat which I would roast in the wood stove and eat once per week. I did not have much in the way of food nor did I have money to spend at the time, so each meal was a blessing regardless of substance or seasoning; each time I ate, I raised psalms of thanksgiving even over a morsel of bread.

It was that winter I was tried, I was tested. In all things I was pressed and was forced to see those things that most do not see, and I was forced to consider many things most dare not to consider. Everything culminated in a life changing event, an event where I finally skirted so finely along the border of life that I was forced to stare death in the face and answer for my actions: during a cold spell I went out, as usual, to draw water for the flock. This may not seem so big a deal, but even to this day we have no well to draw water for the goats, sheep, and birds that live in the wintering paddock. All their water must be drawn from the pond, and given the hard winters in this area, the best areas to draw from are spots where the water runs, where the ice is very thin. About a quarter mile out from the paddock there is a spot in the vast marsh that runs, and it was easy to tell from the icy bald spot apart from the tall bluffs of snow that blow here and there in the open air. I approached the frozen water with a roped bucket weighted with a field stone as well as a hatchet bound to a long pine bough hewed for this purpose; first, I struck through the thin ice with the lengthened axe, and second, I cast out the weighted bucket on the rope which plunged deep into the water.

As I pulled the rope up to retrieve the bucket, the ridge of the snow drift I was standing on gave way and I fell head-first five feet down into the freezing water; fortunately, the waters are deep in this spot otherwise I would have likely slammed my head into a rock or submerged tree and perished immediately, but unfortunately, I was forced to tread water to stay afloat as my feet found no ground to support them. As I reoriented myself and raised my head from the water I was immediately seized with a terror unlike anything I had ever felt before, the deadly situation I was now facing actualizing in my mind as I immediately began searching for a way out. I swam to the face of the bluff and tried pulling myself up the snow, but it would just loosen and fall into my face. Desperate and unsure, I began punching my arms into the snow hoping that I might be able to climb out that way, and fortunately the deep snow held my weight. I was able to slowly wrench myself out of the water, and after what felt like an eternity (but in actuality probably occurred in a minute or less) I rolled myself up onto the bluff. I lay there a time, breathless, heart racing, staring at the clear sky and bright sun which seemed there only to mock me, as I felt no warmth from the heavens this day. It was just below 0f.

My heart stilled and my breath returned to me, but before I could feel any sort of relief the bitter cold began pressing on my soaked clothing and wet skin. It was then it occurred to me that the nearest building with heat was a mile away, as we did not have a kerosene heater in the hay barn at this time. Getting up, I began walking the quarter mile back to the paddock hoping that I might be able to undress and dry myself off some way. My mind raced with endless thoughts trying to figure out how I might warm myself, all while the soaked, freezing clothing tormented me. I considered beginning to take my clothes off even before I got to the paddock but I really wasn't certain if it would be better or worse to be half naked in this weather, and on the pond the wind was blowing hard as there were no trees to block it. Getting up to the line of trees composing the enterance to the forest, I began to notice my feet were getting exceptionally heavy. It was as if I was wearing concrete blocks for shoes, and it only kept getting heavier and heavier. My vision began to tunnel, the fringes of my sight blackening slightly as I slowly lost my perception. My mind which was so busy with worry only minutes ago was disturbingly silent, a thick inner fog obscuring any and all thought that might try to occur.

Suddenly I was very, very tired. It felt as if I hadn't slept in years.

The frozen clothing seemed no longer there, my body numb to the pain at this point. A perverse warmth began to come up from my core, from my skin, and my head began to feel like a boiler running far too hot. I was drawing close to the paddock, though not seeing it as my head was a boulder at this point. All I could do was stare at my feet and concentrate as hard as possible on putting one foot in front of the other, each step beginning to feel as though I was a tree uprooting itself from the ground. At first, I was slapping myself hard to resist the very tempting urge to collapse on the ground and sleep, but this too became impossible as my hands were slowly replaced with dumbbells. Shambling up to the gate I use what little strength I have to slam my body into it, falling to the ground in the process. The only thing I could see or think about was the pasture house directly in front of me and I dragged myself on hand and knee to get into it. At long last I draw near and see my savior:

The old black milk goat was laying in the straw, chewing cud. She looked at me curiously.

Dragging myself next to her, I manage to unbutton my shirt and pull up my undershirts so that my bare chest and stomach was pressed up against her. At first it felt as though I was pressing myself against a fiery furnace, exceeding hot, and it was extremely painful. So painful in fact that it seemed better at that moment to freeze to death than to press against this goat; however, it quickly became bearable so I wrapped my still-clothed arms around her neck and hugged her for dear life. In the condition I was at starting of, the most difficult thing to deal with was resisting the temptation to fall asleep: it felt as though I was lying on the comfiest, fluffiest featherbed arrayed with silk sheets and stuffed pillows. My eyelids had the weight of life itself pressing on them, but as some of my strength began to trickle back to me I began slamming my head backwards against the wooden slats lining the inside of the pasture house, desperate to stay awake. This drew blood which still stains the slats to this day.

Uncountable time passed, imperceptible, and slowly my sense and reason returned to me. The pain of wearing frozen clothing for all this time began vexing my soul and it tormented me greatly, as did the pain from my bleeding, battered head. I began again to think thoughts, to wonder and reason, and consider. Immediately I began to consider my own mortality, and considered my life. It is those thoughts I had in that time which I told this whole story to tell you, that you might understand the weight of meaning they had to me, that you may better understand my philosophy.

I cared not for myself. In that time, I was as nothing like the worm, hardly deserving the gift of life let alone the preservation of it. What I cared for in that time was all those I loved, all those I cared about, and all those I might come to love and care about if I were given more time on this earth. I worried for my great friend Gabe, and his family, and what may happen to them if I were to perish. I worried for my family, already tried by the changing winds of life and being weak altogether by many trials, hearing the word of my death and wishing in their hearts to perish themselves. I worried for the disparate friend and fairweather companion that still knew of me, hearing of my death and considering it a byword, not knowing the depth of my thought and reason for doing what I have done these years. I worried for all the lives that I may have been a blessing to and edified had I more time. I worried for all flesh but my own, laying in the cold wearing frozen clothes atop sodden straw, cuddling a milk goat as my life depended on it.

After much time my strength returned to me and I got up and returned to my cabin, even at that point afraid to sleep to the point I stayed awake for two whole days. There were many residual issues that came from brushing that close to death, but that is not important in this writing. What is important I shall now tell one by one, that you may determine the account of my words and of my works.

Recall how I wrote earlier that I lived very basely that first winter, not speaking to many and being wholly withdrawn from the world. Already by the point this event occurred to me I had doubt of the nature of the self, and having endured this my doubts were confirmed in full. This is an hard saying, and few will hear it and understand, but I shall testify to the end of my life that such is true: there is no self, it is a well crafted lie. What a man considers his 'self' is rather a complex amalgam of those he loves and respects, of those he cares about, of the written words and polemics he has taken and considered deeply, of them and that he has regarded beginning from the day of his birth. From this realization there is many a conclusion to draw, but for the sake of this writing I shall leave it merely at this profound truth and a few surface reasonings that come from it.

There is no glory in the self, nor is there purpose. The lusts of a man's mind press on him, but in fulfilling them there is no satisfaction save that of the most base. Furthermore, the lusts of one's mind are never ending and shall devour all that it can encompass in its grasp; if a man were given the whole world, he would consume it as an morsel of bread and be not filled, looking to the heavens what else he may devour in his insatiable hunger. He burns those whom he ought to love in the fire of his desires and leaves naught but a blazed trail behind him, there is no meaning nor hope in his actions. In the end of his days, when his hunger is forcefully quenched by the unforgiving machinations of life, there is no answer that he may give regarding his actions but that he lived to continue in persistence. If he is a polite man, he shall omit the painful truth that it was of his own lusts that he devoured, but in these wicked times you shall even see those who have destroyed much and spoiled many speak in pride that they were righteous their whole time.

Love, when properly understood, is the cure to this base and despicable nature of man. Many claim love and speak of it and yet they do not know what it is, thinking their selfish desires being fulfilled is somehow an expression of love. In truth, love has absolutely nothing to do with desires of the self, nor of base pleasures and the satisfaction thereof. When you truly love another, be it friend, family, or spouse, the act is that of sacrificing the self. In loving another, you empathize with them in such a way that a portion of your 'self' becomes them, in such a way that they become an integral part of your own soul. A man properly exercising love has no self, but rather he lives as a vessel for those whom he loves and cares about, and his thoughts and actions are driven by their needs, being filled with joy in seeing them fulfilled.

At this notion the pessimist may say, "Truly you are but a footstool, a doormat to be tread upon by others." Without proper discernment the pessimist may indeed be correct, but the greatest work of wisdom is to weigh the souls of others, to determine if they live for the sake of others rather than feeding the insatiable beast of the 'self'. Of those unrepentant, miserable beasts that only desire the gratification of the self you can not expect reciprocation, and truly some shall die in their dungheap of sins not ever realizing their greater calling; however, those that are confused and gratify the self not knowing any other way or what love truly means, those are the souls you must love unceasingly and edify, so that they may one day understand the purpose of all things and of life itself, and shall glorify others in their life rather than their 'self'. Of course, above all things you must love those who understand the proper meaning of love, as in so doing your soul shall be filled with contentment and purpose, but it is very rare in these times to encounter such a person with this understanding.

At long last I conclude. To answer the question posed earlier about the fear of death, I say that the perfection of love and of the soul is the cure to such a fear. If you allow your soul to be filled with the love for others, when you are tried there shall be no concern for your 'self', but rather the consideration of others and of the goodness of their lives. You shall not worry about the mere perception which you experience inwardly, which is as a shadow, but rather the fulfillment of those you love and care about, and all that shall come after which you may never know. You shall structure your life and conduct in such a way that blesses and glorifies all that you meet, even for a moment, and an inspiration for all those around to behave in such a way. In so doing, you shall end your life not worrying about your own works and trials, but rather pleased in knowing that in your little time on this earth you have glorified so many. This is the true purpose of man, above all other trifling things.

a short video to encourage You! to grow some food this year. its finally teto's turn lads lets take advantage of it

if any of you are interested in starting some plants or animals but are intimidated about where or how to start feel free to ask me in this thread or in the chat. love talking about this stuff and you WILL NOT be bothering me. hope you guys give it a little bit of thought at least

take advantage of the opportunity and make this a great year
Which animals have you ever taken care of in your farm? Just mention them and tell something cool about them if you can think of anything, nothing really elaborate since you've taken care of tons of animals so I don't want to make you spend lots of time.

If you have some pics in your phone that you can post now that would be really cool. I'm not requesting a pic of each type of animal, just two or three random pics that you have in your gallery, I don't really see animals often haha.

in seriousness i will go through my photos later and reply in detail, this is a good question and i'd like to write about it
i'm very disappointed to report that after being closed for several weeks, the local pump house now has a DO NOT DRINK YOU DUMMY sign on it, ending an era. i have fond memories of biking here to get water before we had any wells dug

fortunately i've had a well at my cabin for some time now, and soon i'll be digging the electric well over at gabe's house which will be our first source of running water on the property. i'm very excited to begin this project but unfortunately time isn't exactly on my side right now

i haven't forgotten about your question sword, i just have a lot to say and need to find the time to sit down and write about it

figured i would do a mid-year post on what larger livestock we're running currently. as i've written we had an incredibly brutal winter and half of our goats died in february during the month-long cold spell that was more wretched than any i have ever seen in my life, leaving two bucks and two does seen in the first image. the black doe is nine years old and barren as of this year, which means this will be her last summer before being culled in the fall. we're also considering culling one of the bucks but we haven't decided on which or if to do so yet

recently we purchased three icelandic ewes, in the back of the second image, running with the shetland we've had for years now and her ram lamb, in the front of the second image. we're looking to shift the flock primarily to sheep as they're much easier to keep fenced in, we can run more of them at once, and they have fattier meat as well as wool

we're hoping to get a milk cow once the barn is up and if she puts out well we may stop raising goats completely, as cow's milk is much fattier and overall more useful than goat's milk and i've become good friends with an old cattle rancher that's been giving me a whole lot of tips regarding the practice. i do really like the goats and think they look cool but functionally i think we have much better options to consider. this should be our resting flock number for this season unless we do get a calf in the fall, i will post about it if so

purchased a heifer calf on monday, gabe's wife has been keeping an eye on craigslist and there was one for sale down near eau claire and i drove there to purchase it immediately when i heard about it. we've tried three times before this point and each time we've been too slow so it's nice to finally lock one in

i'm planning on recording a video discussing sword's question about my experience raising and breeding different kinds of livestock, i figured that format would be easier than writing a long post with images since i can demonstrate behaviors on camera while discussing it, and i think it would be useful for people who don't use this forum as well.

hopefully it'll happen in the next few days but i have a lot that needs to get done and we're already in mid july so it may happen later, and i also want to continue my study of ecclesiastes because i keep putting it off. so much to do so little time @w@