Saturday, December 29, 2012

A look back

Last night I wrote a piece considering the condition of our condition and deleted the whole thing. It looked a lot like this one from The Burning Platform .

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day one of the new epoch

Sabbath morn, December 22, 2012

6:30 AM, first day of the new epoch according to the Maya. Also, the shortest day of the year, meaning the darkest as well, if you live in the Northern hemisphere. Many guffawed and hawhawd at the notion of epochal change and will now continue on with the party as though nothing has changed. I’d warn that history is best judged in hindsight.

For me personally, 2012 proved a rough year. I lost close friends, nearly lost others, struggled to keep bills paid on the farm. I damaged those I love with reckless and selfish ways. My health is not what it once was. Not to say however, that I don’t have a lot to be thankful for; I am acutely aware that events could have been worse, and were for others.

Many fail to recognize that we have already suffered what may prove fatal wounds, most self-inflicted by our behavior over the last thirty years; some will argue a longer time frame, but insanity comes in waves and the last intense bout has lasted precisely thirty years.

In the world of finance, those in power first stole, through fraud, manipulation and war. Dissatisfied with the gains, they devised plans not only to steal what was available today, but also to steal projected income from the future. Then, like most thieves, they burned through the bulk of their ill-gotten gains.

We are left with a world, as Nicole Foss from The Automatic Earth would say, where claims on wealth, in whatever form they may be made, far exceed the value of real underlying assets on which they are based. You may think you have money in the bank. You may think you have a retirement fund. Money in stocks or a mutual fund. A pension plan. Social Security checks for life, socialized health care benefits. A clear title to land or property….

You assume that military might and a constant onslaught of potential enemies, the development of greater, more powerful, more complex systems of death and destruction keep us safe from the rest of the world, that only those that live in the third world must fear death from a drone.

You assume that certain liberties and rights belong to those born into the United States.

That your home is impervious to damages from an increasingly hostile environment.

That a plentiful supply of cheap, healthy food and fuel is a given, that the pumps will always have gas and diesel, the grocery store aisles will be perpetually stocked, lights come on with the flick of a switch and water pours forth with the turn of a valve.

Take none of this for granted.

While we slept some or all of these things were stolen from you.

An honest accounting has not been done to date.

It will be interesting to see what is left once that happens.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

My slice of paradise

Sunday morning, November 25, 2012

I neither believe nor disbelieve the Mayan prophecy of the arrival of a new epoch come December of this year. I do however, try not to take for granted that I personally have more time on this planet, or will somehow avoid strife and difficulties when such events come along. Each of us will have our own Waterloos, usually at times not of our own making.

This notion was furthered by the passing Friday night of Mathew Walker, a former smoking buddy and friend of mine from a past life in the tiny West Texas town of Balmorhea. Mathew was a big burly man with a booming laugh and a big smile, spiritual, a philosopher, a magnificent story teller of exceptional recall. My life is better for having known him.

I am sure he will be missed by many.

Back at the farm, our budded pecan crop has moved from being poor to a near-total failure. We quit the harvest about halfway through when it became apparent that yields weren’t going to cover the cost of gathering.

However, we continue gathering native pecans from river bottoms with some success and I am thankful to have them. I postulate that insects are at fault. With all the spraying and care we could offer, the thin skins of paper shell pecans proved no match, while natives with their smaller nuts and tough rinds made a crop with no help whatsoever.

We haven’t yet had a killing frost and our garden continues to produce a decent crop of fall tomatoes and peppers. We’ve eaten our first broccoli, spinach and Swiss chard is ready to pick; cabbages are forming heads. Carrots, turnips, beets continue to grow. Onions, shallots and garlic look good so far. We recently harvested a modest crop of sweet potatoes. Leah canned a huge batch of salsa, and hogs continue to get a share of the produce we can’t keep up with, not an insignificant amount.

As if we didn’t have enough already, I bought four more young Jersey cows. They were cheap and headed to slaughter for no good reason. I continue to milk two cows and Leah continues making cheese from the excess milk. Hogs also score on the milk whey produced as a byproduct of cheese making. The possibility/probability of a flood of calves and wet cows looms in our near future. We’ll cross that bridge if and when the time comes, good Lord willing.

I also agreed to purchase two more Percheron draft mares, one with foal, another expecting. The deal includes a set of driving harness.

I haven’t done particularly well at the horse races of late. Two well intentioned trainers told me the key to being successful as a trainer: keep yourself in the best company possible and your horses in the worst company possible. This thinking is contrary to my nature, evidenced by the silks any jockey riding one of my horses has to wear: horizontal black and white stripes. I detest the company of most rich people; my goal is to steal big money races with horses discarded from their game.

If you go down, go down in flames.

The sun is coming up, another day of hard labor waits.

My slice of paradise.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hard times ahead

Sabbath eve, November 23, 2012

We’re saved! Or so says the TV anchor. Americans flocked to Wal-Mart and other similar stores on black Friday to buy and haul away semi-disposable plastic items by the cartful. If only it were so easy.

Meanwhile, a front passed through, dry again, the third in succession to defy prognoses of rain. We’re not terribly dry. Yet. But a look at the national drought monitor map reveals something disconcerting. Over 60% of the country is in some stage of drought, and among the driest regions are the Midwest states of Kansas and Nebraska, where significant amounts of grains for human consumption happen to be grown. Don’t ask me how I know, because I can’t tell you. I feel it in the air. We’re headed back into severe drought.

The Eagle Ford shale play just south of my home continues full-bore, pumping money into the local economy, but a surprisingly large number of people seem not to enjoy the benefits of this activity. It’s as though those that have lease and royalty money are fearful and socking away what they have rather than investing into businesses close to home. The money to drill and produce these wells comes from somewhere else; the money produced by these wells goes back where it came from.

Furthermore, the cost of producing shale oil is high, and activity will likely come to a halt should oil fall below $80/barrel, while anything above $80 oil seems to kill the rest of the country’s economy. We succeed at the failure of others, or visa-versa.

I’ve heard the depression of the 30’s described a want in a time of plenty. Version 2.0 will be more like want in a time of scarcity. (The words are not original, but I don’t know who coined the phrase.) Either you’ll have worthless money and expensive goods, or cheap goods and no money to buy them.

Tensions continue to brew worldwide. Supposed fixes to the economy address symptoms while ignoring the underlying disease. It took thirty years of theft and fraud to get where we are; those that committed these heinous acts remain in power. There will be no solution until these grievances are addressed, and even then the damage done is irreparable.

It’s easy to call for a debt jubilee until you consider that each unpaid debt has at least one counterparty, and many holding the notes are not those responsible for the fraud, but instead are pensioners and innocent investors that socked away life savings into what they thought were safe investments for retirement years. When it comes down to it, even deposits in banks will be in jeopardy once the daisy chain begins to fail.

I don’t know exactly how this mess ends, but I can tell you we have fixed nothing and that we remain in critically dangerous territory on so many fronts it’s hard to keep up.

I’d say plant a garden, but it may be too late for that. Perhaps you’d be better off stocking a panty with canned and dried goods. While you’re at it, get to know your neighbor.

Hard times lie ahead.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Eating humble pie

Friday and Saturday night, Leah and I drove to San Antonio to watch our horses run. We’d only recently acquired Badness, a five year old mare, through a claiming race. She had previously run at higher levels, even winning a stakes race in January of this year, but had dropped in class of late. Figuring to take at least one shot at a valuable allowance race, we entered her to see if she could return to past glory and earn a dollar or ten in the process.

Badness drew outside post position, not good, considering her running style. Badness runs best on the lead, with an uncontested pace. Away from the gate she got into a speed duel with another horse and was carried wide through the first turn. Badness hit the home stretch after the second turn, battling for the lead, and got caught by closers. The outcome, though not to be unexpected, left me a bit pensive, but still hopeful. I had another shot the following day.

Lazy Boot Lady was entered into an allowance race Saturday night. According to form, she should have been considered one of the race favorites. Our filly broke a touch slow but made up ground and was in perfect stalking position just off the lead coming into home stretch. A hole opened on the rail, the jockey pointed her to it and….

She backed out of contention.

After the race, we discovered she had injured a knee and retired her from racing.

The pecan crop I had such high hopes for a few weeks back is failing to deliver. The nuts are large but yields are low, just barely enough to justify harvesting in places. Insects, disease and climate issues figure into the equation. We’ve had one mechanical set-back after another. Harvesting by modern methods requires an array of equipment; any one piece that fails sidelines the entire operation and damn near everything we own has broken, some multiple times.

I’ve had personal issues of late, some of my own making, some the work of others. Living with myself has never been easy, getting older doesn’t seem to help much.

As I young man I thought I’d maintain strength through exercise. A few months back, I tore a tendon or a ligament in my left knee and it’s not going to repair short of surgery. You can’t exercise muscles attached to worn out joints. There was a time, not so long ago, when I did squats with hundreds of pounds on my back; nowadays getting down to and back up from the toilet has become a painful chore.

As I smile at my predicament, realizing full well the issues I face are minor, you may notice I’m missing two front teeth.

I suppose I should be thankful. I can still smile.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Notes on the election

I must confess: I no longer believe in Democracy.

I didn’t arrive at this conclusion in one fell swoop but instead under a prolonged barrage of compelling evidence.

I won’t bother you with a laundry list, but a few recent encounters may serve to defend the logic:

The current meme among the Limbaugh crowd is that Barak Obama, being a Muslim, won’t kill other Muslims. Evidence espoused says Obama issued orders to stand down so that Muslims could kill our ambassador to Libya in Benghazi.

Ignored is the fact that Obama has trebled the number of drone attacks since Bush’s day, nearly all of which are directed at Muslims, killing not only suspects, but also innocents. To add insult to injury, under Obama’s administration, our military has instituted the practice of double tap—that is shooting missiles at the original target site shortly after the first attack to kill any first responders that may be, (or conversely, may not be), sympathetic to the intended target. Considering the surroundings, the one sure bet is that these first responders are Muslims.

Night before last I watched a show on National Geographic TV called Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden, which describes in detail the plan that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. I suspect it’s an accurate portrayal; it’d be hard to tell such a tale in false light without a number of participants jumping up to deny the story. Obama and his administration are depicted as judicious Muslim terrorist killers, albeit, killers intent on not harming innocents in the process of killing the bad guys.

Yesterday I wandered into the Luling City Market, my favorite barbecue establishment. While at the bean counter (not to be confused with those that count money), I asked a woman behind the counter who she liked in the election. She said she would vote for Obama.

An older black man waiting alongside chimed in as well. Me too, he said. We don’t need those Bushes back in charge.

The woman then proceeded to explain that Romney was going to take our tax money away. Or something like that, she added.

I haven’t a clue what that means, but the evidence was strong enough to convince her.

Nevertheless, I am told I have no right to bitch unless I cast a ballot. So I plan to go to the nearby polling booth in Belmont, Texas, where I will cast a ballot on a real piece of paper (as opposed to a voting machine that may be fraudulent) where I will vote for Gary Johnson.

I hope like hell he loses so I can maintain my right to bitch about the outcome.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Too big to fail will fail

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What passes for a cold front nowadays went through my neck of the woods day before yesterday, bringing relief from late season heat. Pecan harvest season looms.

We’ve been preparing harvest machines, picking up limbs and mowing river bottoms in preparation. Tomorrow, we begin shaking trees and gathering nuts, good Lord willing, that is. I take nothing for granted in this world (and when I do, I shouldn’t).

The native pecan crop is decent; the budded nuts a mixed bag, with some varieties looking good and others almost non-existent. I am told we were in danger of nuts sprouting in the trees due to the unusually warm fall weather. I for one was glad to see cooler days arrive.

The Chinese have developed an affinity for pecans over the last couple of years and a good portion of what we produce may well end up crossing the pond to that market. There was a time when I felt a twinge of resentment about that arrangement, considering many Americans can’t afford to buy what we produce, but in the end, the common man in China should not be blamed for the powerful elite that control his or her life, any more than poor working folks in this country can be blamed for those that steal their labor.

Lord knows we benefit from the hard work they all do for very little money.

I’ve felt unease lately with all the political talk surrounding the upcoming election. In Texas I hear people say that electing Romney is going to somehow save the day. In so-called liberal bastions like Austin, keeping Obama in office somehow saves our skin. Are any of these people actually watching and listening to the same debates I heard?

The troubling part: I know and interact with people from both camps. They’re decent folk, as people go (the argument can be made than none are decent). But I think most are deceived by propaganda, unwitting vassals in someone else’s grand game.

Consider this: if the plan calls for privatizing profits and socializing costs, implementation requires allowing one side in for a time—those that believe strongly in private property rights, low taxation, etc. When things go bad and all that accumulated wealth, by capitalist rules of operation, should be lost or redistributed through bankruptcy proceedings to more viable entities, the other side comes in to save the day with bailouts and stimulus plans which, in effect, socializes losses, thereby allowing the rich and powerful corporate interests to remain rich and powerful. A bone gets tossed to the poor and dispossessed in the form of limited social programs, requiring at some point, higher taxation. Unfortunately that taxation is applied to wage earners rather than those that derive their wealth from ill-gotten gains like theft, fraud, the selling of unnecessary wars, market manipulation and outsourcing, (modern version of slavery). The fucking is complete.

No one goes to jail from the elite class, except perhaps for some token scapegoat. They keep the goddamned money, regardless of how it was acquired. And we who work for a living get to pay for it.

This is precisely why so few bother voting. Most that do vote are afraid to rock the boat, because they derive their somewhat comfortable existence from the system, not unlike inmates in a minimum security federal prison camp. Piss off the jailers; they’ll reduce recreation time or send us to a hard core joint.

Real change will require something quite a bit more painful than casting a ballot in a rigged election. I think things will have to get quite a bit worse before people become desperate enough to take those risks. Don’t worry (or should I say, do worry). Things will get worse; people will rise up.

When they do, they’ll be punished.

The plan calls for bigger and bigger, regardless of the popular political flag you wave.

The law of entropy demands otherwise; the two forces are in direct violent conflict.

Too big to fail ain’t too big to fail. So it will.

When and how remain the only two unanswered questions.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Matt King—Apples and Orphans

Matt King is a modern nomad. A scribe, recording, describing whom and what he sees as he roams. Like Samuel Clemens, Matt captures the landscape, the irony of a world gone mad, only done with fewer words and music, for greater effect. His visions are strained through Appalachian roots, sung with the voice of and hewn by the hands of a modern day mountain man, where such is no longer allowed.

He’s not a prophet; his words are delivered without expressed ideology or judgment, but the pictures they paint go a long way toward verifying prophecies of others. Some make me smile, because smiling is more fun than crying, but the ground between the two emotions is scant. We live in tragic times.

His songs remind me of a trip through some old vaudeville traveling circus, complete with whores, card sharps, thieves, snake-oil salesmen. A juggler tosses balls, another guy rides a big wheel bike in circles, a monkey grinds a hand organ with one hand and jacks off with the other, when he’s not picking your pocket. There’s incest, murder, polluted landscapes, con-artists; bizarre sounds lure you in and then in the next minute scare hell out of you. Moonshine can be had, maybe even a line of white powder or psychedelic smoke, though Matt no longer imbibes. Painted Gypsy women lay you down, read your fortune or caste a spell if you prefer; junk men wait to haul off anything not nailed down or that won’t start; passing trains ferry hoboes through abandoned farms populated by shotgun toting squatters that by-God want to be left the hell alone.

If by chance any part of this menagerie creates a twinge of guilt, well, there’s a snake-charming preacher ready and willing to sell you a dose of comfort for the right price.

The tracks wind through dying factories and wastelands that once kept us alive and continue killing the earth in some sort of psychotic dance of daredevils. Wars abound. There’s mercury in the water, acid in the air. Atlas shrugs, Jesus weeps. There’s hell in the hen house, blood in the barn. Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Sister Theresa kindly die and shut the fuck up; in so doing, become heroes.

Elsewhere children cry; a young woman ends her own life at thirty-three. But the cars keep rolling, mama bakes her biscuits and daddy plants a seed.

Despite all, life goes on. Hope refuses to succumb and from amongst the ruins, people find a way to sing, play and dance to good songs.

Matt King has created a wonderful album, a wide-sweeping vision of our times, set to music.

This will last a long, long time.

The CD is not yet available, but a digital album can be had through Matt's web-site.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ryan Bingham--Guess who's knockin at the door

I wanted not to like Ryan Bingham’s latest, Tomorrowland. Dude quit answering my emails a couple years back. I figured he got too big to speak to common folk like myself after the major record deal and the Oscar.

I also figured Ryan landed in a soft spot after moving to Los Angeles and would likely be spouting worthless shit by now to make more money to pay for the all the bling.

I was wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Dead fucking wrong.

Bingham sings from the street—hell, not even the street—from the gutter, the land of the lost, the forsaken, the forgotten. The feral.

It’s a poke in the eye, a knee to the gut, a kick to the balls.

Once again, the rhyme is awkward at first, but there’s method to the madness, and after a few times through it couldn’t be any other way. There’s soul in the words, big time soul.

It’s art of the deranged, like a Van Gogh painting, strokes of genius from a man that probably couldn’t construct a sentence to satisfy a seventh grade English teacher if his life depended on it.

Bingham’s Tomorrowland is produced by Axster Bingham records. Axter is Ryan’s wife. The CD is recorded at Fred and Anouk’s house in Los Angeles.

I don’t know what happened to the Lost Highway deal or the big shot T Bone Burnett.

But I know damn well that this record is the kind that makes editors and music executives cringe and run for the door. No way they’re hanging their balls out on something like this.

This is going to scare the hell out of folks.

My hat’s off to Ryan Bingham.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sabbath eve diary

September 28, 2012

Rain has begun to fall. We finished baling and hauling hay from the fields just in time. A friend called to tell me we could have deluges of up to 10”. In Texas, where rain is concerned, it’s either feast or famine. On a hunch, one of my ranch hands moved cattle from the pecan bottom at the Dos Rios Ranch. It’s there the Guadalupe and San Marcos Rivers merge and cattle may become trapped and washed away by flood waters.

Leah and I watched End of watch last night. Her review of the film can be summed up in two words. Don’t go!

But that’d be like someone telling you not to ride the baddest roller coaster in the land.

The film is gruesome as hell.

Unfortunately, it does a good job of showing what it’s like to be an inner-city cop in these trying times. I say unfortunately. By that I mean that it’s unfortunate that our society has devolved into such a dangerous and awful condition. Sodom and Gomorrah pale by comparison.

Coupled with the recent shooting at our farm, my utopia is quickly becoming a dystopia, a less than secure refuge in a world gone mad.

I remember a scene from No country for old men, where two old time cops reflect on their lack of preparedness for the changing world in which they live.

I can relate.


Link to this article at the Agonist where a few lively comments matisized.

Don't guess you can please everyone....

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gary Johnson for president

Did you know there's a third-party candidate running for president? I didn't until a few minutes ago. I did however notice that Republicans culled him from debates early on and I like his message far better than the two pieces of work the primary parties profer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Say goodbye to Tiny

Someone shot my dog.

Tiny was born on this place. A Great Pyrenees, daughter of Chiquita. She was the runt of the litter, hence the name.

Sometimes I have to go out at night to check on an irrigation pivot. I drive when I do. Invariably when I’d get to the pivot, I’d see a white object slip quietly from the dark. My protector.

Tiny wanted little out of life. She never killed chickens, to the contrary, she protected them from coyotes and other predators, all night long, every night. She also guarded goats and cats. And us.

She’d wait to eat until the rest were done, as though she were shy about eating while others watched.

She had one litter of pups, only three. We gave two away and kept a single daughter, Pinky, due to the pink nose. Tiny got neutered after the pregnancy, so she wasn’t one to attract the attention of male dogs.

Three days ago, early in the morning, I saw Tiny walking as if in a daze, her soft white fur bathed in crimson from the neck down.

Manuel told me that a neighbor dog had been out in the front pasture, that perhaps she had been mauled.

I tracked Tiny to a farm implement where she laid down. Blood and saliva flowed from her mouth and a conspicuous small hole leered from a spot to one side of her nose.

Her breathing passages appeared obstructed. Her eyes showed signs of pain and shock.

I carried her to the house.

Tiny rarely went inside. She was an outdoor dog and like being an outdoor dog.

She spent the day laying around, bleeding. And for the first time ever, she spent a night in our home.

The next day she wandered out. I found her in a stall where she had raised her pups that night, I suppose a place of comfort for her. When I first spotted her I thought she was dead, but when I called her name, her eyes opened and she wagged her tail a bit, lifting one leg ever so slightly, as though to invite me to pet her.

I obliged.

Tiny survived another night.

The next day, Manuel pointed out that she could not drink, so I got a syringe and tried to squirt milk down her throat. She refused to swallow; the milk drizzled out of the sides of her mouth pink, mixed with blood and spit.

I took her to the vet, an aberration for me.

Vets charge too much money when it comes to dogs.

I held Tiny on a table in an observation room while we waited. She slid down slowly, relaxing even though afraid, trusting me. Finally the vet came in.

He looked into her mouth and showed me a groove in her lower jaw where teeth had once been. He told me he needed to sedate her to get a better look.

I left Tiny in his care, figuring I would come back in a couple of days to pick her up.

Ten minutes later, my cell phone rang.

The vet told me that a bullet had destroyed her lower jaw and the base of her tongue. He had nothing to work with.

I asked him to put her down.

A few minutes later I paid him a hundred and some odd dollars and walked out with an empty collar.

Although I never found his body, I’m pretty sure someone shot Fuzz.

I know someone shot Tiny. And I can’t understand, for the life of me, why.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Once again...

Kunstler is precient.

Read it at the link.

Drug wars- a success story

Usually, when I see a reference to drug wars, the word failure appears in the narrative. That would imply that the idea of the war on drugs is to stop the production and useage of illegal drugs.

Not so, says this man.


LS: You are arguing in your book that the war on drugs is no failure at all, but a success. How do you come to that conclusion?

OV: I come to that conclusion because what do we know so far about the war on drugs? Well, the US has spent about US$1 trillion throughout the globe. Can we simply say it has failed? Has it failed the drug money-laundering banks? No. Has it failed the key Western financial centers? No. Has it failed the narco-bourgeoisie in Colombia - or in Afghanistan, where we can see similar patterns emerging? No. Is it a success in maintaining that political economy? Absolutely.

So I have to say when we are looking at it from that political economy / class basis approach with this emphasis on imperialism and the state rather than simply crime, it has been a success because what it is actually doing is allowing that political economy to thrive.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lawless--the movie

Finally, a movie maker with balls, willing to break the rules.

The story is bloody and violent. True to the subject. Catches the flavor of the depression era south.

If you're like Pavlov's dog, ready for all your standard  buttons to be pushed, well this one's not for you.

But if you want an engrossing film you can't take your eyes off of, that drags you unpredictably from one emotion to the next, I dare you.

Watch Lawless.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pre-election blues

Sunday, September 02, 2012

I hear and read pundits of the two remaining presidential candidates, all but rolling on the floor, slashing themselves with sharp razors, wailing and gnashing teeth to nubs, essentially offering the same message: if the other guy wins, the country as you knew it will be no more.

I’m of the opinion they’re right, in either case.

James Howard Kunstler voices similar sentiments here.

I cannot in good conscience cast a vote for either of the two remaining candidates. So, I won’t.

Manuel showed up looking for work this week. I hired him.

We went to the room where he was shot and he recounted events as he remembers. He speaks through a broken mouth that won’t quite close. Occasionally saliva drips from a corner. His jaw remains swollen and the huge scar under his chin grins approval from ear to ear.

He seems befuddled.

Manuel does not protest innocence, but his words do. I don’t know what happened but I believe Manuel is telling the truth to the best of his recollection.

Which brings up two rather disturbing possibilities. One, that Jesus lied, and not only killed, (or tried to kill), Manuel but now is trying to finish the job with lies, or, either he or Manuel (or both) operated in a state of temporary insanity and is unable to remember the event as it actually took place, a la Angel Heart.

Manuel got charged in the shooting; the shooter did not.

I bailed him out.

In other news, I got stung by another scorpion, the fourth this year.

Satan reigns.

For a time.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Too much magic

I'm almost finished reading James Howard Kunstler's Too Much Magic. The book is good reading in places, but in no way approaches the grade of his previous best, The Long Emergency.

A pertinent observation, postscript to the sixth chapter, going broke the hard way.


...The United States became the economic engine of the developed world in the past century not just because of its abundance of mineral wealth, it amber waves of grain, and its fantastic endowment of oil, but largely because the rule of law was so firmly established here that people knew where they stood with things they'd worked for all their lives. Property and contract law in the United States unambiguously spelled out what they owned free and clear, how they could dispose of these things, and what their obligations were. These rights and responsibilities were enforced with more than the usual rigor found in other parts of the world. They enabled business to be conducted freely and mostly fairly. The confidence that people all over the world felt for the rule of law in American financial matters was expressed in their respect for our money and the moneylike instruments issued by our companies and banks, the stocks and bonds, et cetera. We threw it all away; our honor, our faith in ourselves, our credibility with others, and the legitimacy of our institutions.

Fair dealing in a bounteous land was apparently not enough for us, who had established it and cultivated it. We became greedy and craven and decided that lying to ourselves incessantly was the same as telling the truth. And all the wreckage that remains to be sorted out is testimony to that tragic change of heart.

As go the people so goes the nation.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fast and Furious

Take another look. Fast and Furious may not be what you think it is.

I've seen so many incarnations of this bull-shit it makes me sick to think about it.

Fool me two hundred and one times, shame on you....

Friday, August 17, 2012

Home sweet home

Sabbath eve, August 17, 2012

Another work week, come and gone. Such is not to be taken for granted.

This week we baled iron and clay pea plants. To my delight, all our farm animals seem to like the resulting product. I am told the hay is high in protein and other nutrients and being a legume, the peas fix nitrogen into the soil. No one I know has planted peas for hay in these parts, but the practice was documented by farmers in the 1930’s and appears to have merit.

With the advent of cheap chemical fertilizers such practices became obsolete. The decline in availability and increases in the price of those substances have just begun and will progressively get worse. Or so I am led to believe.

The weather has been hot, but hot is to be expected in a Texas August. We’re a bit dry, but much better off than last year; apparently those states to our North are getting a taste of what we recently endured.

The consequences of this drought will be much greater, considering the affected region is the breadbasket of our nation.

We also planted three acres of peas for green harvest: an acre of black-eyed peas, an acre of purple hulls, and an acre of zipper creams. At some point we lost the battle when it came to keeping the peas harvested; a combination of heat, other work that needed to be done, (the kind that pays the bills), and one big ass rattle snake that avoided getting killed a couple of times after scaring shit out of a field hand saw to that. So this week we pulled whole plants, pods and all, allowed them to dry in piles, and gathered the piles to be thrashed by hand when time permits.

None of this makes sense from an economic standpoint, but these methods kept humans fed for centuries before being discarded in our recent history. I feel compelled to learn them and preserve the knowledge.

I’ve made it a practice for a few years now to keep a store of essential grains and dried beans on hand from one year to the next, both for planting and for feed. Most of this ends up fed to farm animals, but not until the next crop is harvested to take its place. There probably won’t be advance warning of a catastrophic event if and when it comes, other than that you are receiving right now as you read my words and those of others of a like mind.

Consider yourself warned.

I got stung by a scorpion for the third time this year. It’s been years since I was stung previously and those incidents also came in a group (four as I recall, and that’s not something easily forgotten). Most times I feel no side effects other than the intense pain at the site of the sting. However this last sting made my arm tingle all the way to the elbow and I also felt it in my tongue (I was stung on the finger).

We have an abundance of black widow spiders this year. Somehow I have managed to avoid learning what the sting of one of these bitches is like. I’ve seen what the bite of a brown recluse can and will do to human flesh, but I don’t know anyone that has been bitten by a black widow. I’d just as soon it stayed that way.

One of my Great Pyrenees dogs came up missing. Don’t know what happened but I’m relatively certain he’s dead. Brings me down to 8. Been thinking I need a male Anatolian to cross with my Pyres. (When exactly did I become white trash?)

Manuel’s out and about, but still not ready to resume work. Bullets play hell on a body.

This is a hard land in which I live.

But it’s home. And I it’s where I’m supposed to be.

Til the day I die.

Continued--Saturday morning.

We've rain in the forecast. Thanks to Martin and Lindemann Fertilzer from nearby Cost, Texas we have chicken shit and chemical fertilizer spread respectively on two hay fields. Hay for sale is still scarce in Texas, particularly in small squares;  feed prices are prohibitively high and getting higher. I'm hoping to get in at least one more good cutting. A barn full of hay is my version of a bank account.

Cattle remain expensive but are well off from highs of six months ago. I suppose the droughts to our North have caused sell-offs, and then there's the cost of feed.

I still suffer horse mania--Gaff's offspring are hitting the tracks around the land and so far are performing well. Abraham takes care of my stock and fights the good fight with his own brand of mental and spiritual ills. I think Gaff has given him a reason. Abraham loves race horses.

Keith the hitchhiker came by for a spell, but can't seem to stay put, even when he has a place to stay. I've noticed a growing number of wanderers, reminiscent of depression era hoboes.

We've been watering pecan bottoms and remain hopeful there'll be a crop this year.

The garden is an afterthought, although I do have a nice patch of sweet potatoes and a start on fall tomatoes. We have peas tucked away in freezers, refridgerators and jars; the sweet corn was wonderful this year and that too has been put away.

Hogs, chickens, goats and cats make up the rest of the barnyard menagerie.

I still milk cows in the morning and Leah continues making cheese.

Despite the trials, life is good.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hat tip to Rafael Correa

Full disclosure: I am not a leftist. Or a rightest. But I call things as I see them, and I respect Ecuador's president for standing up to western powers out on a witch hunt to bury Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks.

Make no mistake about it: the charges against Assange, while having some basis, nominally, I suspect, are being used to punish the man, to make an example for others that would do the same: Tell the truth, expose the lies and you will be eliminated.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Devil's Right Hand

Yesterday I saw Manuel for the first time since he was shot. His face was grotesquely swollen, a huge scar extended from ear to ear where surgeons reconstructed his jaw. His mouth was partially wired shut. A plastic breathing tube stared at me from his neck. His eyes still smile. Somehow he is able to speak, nonetheless.

Manuel told me doctors removed a bullet from his jaw bone, another remains lodged in his collarbone and a third passed through his right forearm, breaking the bone in the process.

His account of the event differed remarkably from that of Jesus.

I still don't know what happened.

What I do know is that a very dear friend came close to losing his life and remains disfigured for no good reason.

Monday, July 23, 2012

La violencia llega

Demons ran wild at our farm last night. I sit, drained. Exhausted. It began, I suppose, when three young Mexican men arrived at our farm.

I was working, as usual on a Sunday, the first day of the week according to my calendar. I saw Manuel and Jesus and a few unknowns sitting around a picnic table behind the trailer they share as I drove by. Smoke rose from the grill; the umpah beat of NorteƱo music blared from speakers of an unfamiliar car.

Later, while in the garden transplanting tomato plants, Manuel approached me with a few young men, introduced as nephews from Houston. They wanted to buy a hog or a goat, kill it, and take the meat back to Houston.

I told them I was too busy. Because I was.

They left, disappointed, or so I thought.

Around 10 pm my dogs began to bark incessantly. Leah and I were watching television. I heard a frantic knock at my back door.

I opened the door. Jesus stood in a pair of jeans and socks, bathed in blood. There was a hole in his abdomen and one leg of his jeans was soaked. Blood on both arms, his torso. His face drained white. Sweating.

In Spanish he said, “They tried to kill me with a knife. I killed Manuel, but the rest of them are still over there and I have no more bullets.”

Manuel is a beloved friend of twenty years. A brother, of sorts.

“Do what?”

Jesus began showing me where he’d been stabbed.

“You killed Manuel?”

“Yes, but just Manuel. The rest are still over there. What should I do?”

“Stand right here. I’m going to call the cops.”

The next few hours I count among the most difficult I have faced in this life.

It took about fifteen minutes for the cops to arrive but I couldn’t go to my friend’s aid, (or dead body, if what Jesus had said was correct), for fear of getting caught in the fray.

Being a convicted felon I’d be the only guy in a gun fight without a gun. I suppose I could have wielded a garden hoe or some such…

But I am not made of such stuff.

The rest is a blur of cops, ambulances, well-meaning volunteer firemen and rescue workers, and finally the helicopter that flew away with Manuel’s body.

I did not learn until midmorning today that Manuel survived his wounds, despite being shot in the face from point blank range with a .38.

Will violence jump the Mexican border?

It already has in my back yard.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gaff--horsin around

Day before yesterday I finally figured out how to access progeny reports on Gaff, our recently acquired Thoroughbred stallion. I also signed up for an alert system (Equineline) that notifies stallion owners any time offspring of a stallion work out at a track, enter a race, or run in a race.

Yesterday, Gaff had his first winner, a two year old filly in Puerto Rico of all places. Nilsa M. She finished 5 1/2 lengths ahead of the second place horse and over ten lengths better than the third place finisher in her first start.

I also discovered eleven of his progeny sold in two-year-old in-training sales. They fetched an average of $15, 563 with a median price of $10,000.

I had nothing to do with any of this, but I can't help but be excited.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Peak oil, fact or fiction?

George Monbiot recently penned an article titled, We Were Wrong on Peak Oil.

Peak oil pundits around the world convulse in their seats as they read these words.

By my definition, Monbiot is right. Average daily production reached the highest levels ever and continues to grow. Meaning we haven't reached peak oil.

What people fail to understand is that shale oil, the main contributor to new US domestic production, is costly to produce, both in terms of energy invested over energy returned, and also in terms of money.

They also don't understand that the vast majority of oil produced by a man-made fractured shale well comes in the first year, with precipitious drops in production thereafter.

Meaning that continued production requires a continued frenzy of drilling, fracking, hauling, etc.

The day this frenzied activity stops, you can set your timer. One year thereafter, this new supply will have, for all practical purposes, disappeared.

The rise in production continues, unabated.

The cliff at the end of this rise in production steepens.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

American Pie

As a kid I played this to an extremely hot, greasy-spoon restaurant full of rough necks and cattle ranchers from a juke box over and over again.

After the third time it played, my grandad stood up walked over and unplugged the juke-box.

Whatever it was that happened with me, it happened young.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Beware of falling knives

Sabbath morn, June 16, 2012.

I once heard a stock trader compare buying stocks in a downturn to catching falling knives.

That same analogy seems to apply to real world endeavors. In a climate where the average American has lost 40% of personal wealth, it matters not the arena in which you work; it’s hard, near impossible, to turn a profit on your labor or your trades.

In such times it’s all too easy to look for scapegoats rather than admit the whole damn system is sick and dying before our eyes: it’s the Mexicans, the dope dealers, the labor unions, the oil well drillers, the stock traders, the mail man, Monsanto, Wal-Mart, Middle-eastern terrorists, fat white boys, gays, the banks…

Yes, it’s all of the above and more.

Trying times, these.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Horse poor

Sabbath morn, June 9, 2012

By my watch it’s 4:30 AM Central Standard Time. I can’t sleep. Course I could console myself with the fact the rest of those in my region think it’s 5:30, a more respectable time to be up.

Teah, a Guernsey/Jersey cross milk cow has been sick and I am worried for her. The heat has been oppressive of late and I think she may have had a cow’s version of heat stroke. While high temperatures have not been near as bad as last year’s, humidity adds to the heat index and our low temperatures aren’t low at all. I am told we’ve experienced the hottest spring recorded.

I’ve got horses on the brain. First, we acquired a magnificent thoroughbred stallion that goes by the name Gaff for a lot less money than you'd think he'd be worth. Then, thinking it would be nice to have a quality mare to breed to him, (as if the dozen or so already in my pasture aren’t), I claimed a race filly. And another. And another. All of my money is not yet gone, so I may not be done.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder comes to mind.

I couldn’t give a shit less about gambling, but God I love watching a fit race horse.

My broodmare band suffered terribly over the last couple of years, a result of my own neglect. We’ve made a concerted effort to do right by them this year and it’s once again nice to gaze at our pastures adorned by slick, shiny mares and happy foals.

The local term for the ailment is horse poor.

Somehow, I don’t feel poor with a horse like this hanging around. (Sorry to brag.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer grind

The summer grind is on, hence my absence on the net.

Suffice it to say it's hot and we're very busy on the farm.

Dmiti Orlov has penned something worth your time.

I agree.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Jack of all trades

Springsteen's latest sings to my soul:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Harbinger

Upon the advice of my brother Bill, I bought and read a book called The Harbinger

The story is fiction, but the subject matter deals with real events and ties them back to ancient prophecy first delivered by Isiah to ancient Israel.

The book has its detractors. I wasn't crazy about everything I read; the author picks easy prey when identifying our nation's ills--focusing on the kind of people that don't shoot your ass or put you in jail, while ignoring some mainstream evil (in my opinion), but he does raise intersting issues.

Did you know for instance, that the site of 9-11 was the very ground where George Washington was innaugurated?

That a sycamore tree was destroyed in the 9-11 attack and later replaced by a cedar at that site? That this was foretold as a sign of the destruction of ancient Israel, thousands of years ago?

That 9-11 and the stock market collapse of 2008 occurred on exactly the same day by the lunar Jewish calendar 7 years apart?

That the market lost exactly 7% of its value and fell 777 points?

There is a rythym to what happens in this world.

I read the book in a single sitting.

Another note: while the author fails to make predictions on the future, if the cadence of events continues as it has, we'll see continued failed attempts to revive the old paradigm until another catastrophic event in the fall of 2015.

For what it's worth.

Bruce is back

I bought Springsteen's Wrecking Ball sometime back but just got around to listening.

The man is back.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

All is not well

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I sit. Home. Alone. Leah has gone to see the redwoods in the company of her two sisters, her 87 year old mother and my brother-in-law, God save his soul.

I say alone, but in reality I am surrounded by creatures, among them a pack of dogs, a fair number of horses, goats, chickens of all stripes and sizes, cats, hogs and a even a couple of obnoxious geese. We’ve had rain of late, which, I suppose is a good thing, however, having been conceived and raised in desert regions of West Texas and New Mexico, wet, nice and green makes me feel out of my element.

With Leah’s absence, I inherited her chores atop my own. I now seem to have so many chores there’s no time left for work.

A trip through the garden this afternoon sent me back to the house feeling overwhelmed. Everything is getting ready at the same time. I plant enough to feed a small army. There’s just too damn much. But I tell myself that too damn much won’t be near enough when the shit hits the fan and I remain convinced that shit will, in fact, hit the fan. The only question remains when and in what form it is manifest.

In the meantime, the hogs look at me from the mud of their pen like I am crazy as I haul and dump one bucket after another of excess produce for them to eat. Pretty bad when even the hogs think I plant too much.

The hogs haven’t been to the nearby Buc-ees convenience store some twelve miles from here on Interstate – 10. On any given day, there are cars waiting in line for gas despite fifty or more pumps in the parking lot. Food, (if you can it that), barrels of soft drinks, coffee, beer and ice pours through big doors in the back by the semi-load and out through automatic doors in the front at a maniacal pace. There’s probably enough toilet water flowing out of underground pipes in the restrooms to keep a small creek flowing.

As I survey the people packing all this shit out the door, I consider how tenuous the system that keeps them fueled and fed. Most seem terribly ill prepared for the hardship that is already a fact of life for about half of the world at this very moment. I wonder if any notice the horror-stricken look on my face as I contemplate having to feed such a hoard.

I know. I sound like a broken record, stuck on the same verse, over and over, but I just can’t shake this feeling.

Get prepared, folks. All is not well.

Not even close.

PS. Sunday morning

Leah calls to say gas is 4.99.9 a gallon at the California/Arizona border. The RV gets 8 miles to the gallon.

I'd bet there's some dude watching the stream of people that my wife is part of, shaking his head and wondering.

I read people like Kunstler, Ruppert, Guy McPherson, peak oil prophets, if you will, only to learn that they too can't sit still.

There is no new frontier. We have to make it work here, wherever here is, or fail.

No other option remains.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mexican Immigrants Become Emigrants

From zerohedge, a report signaling a reversal in the flow of migrants from Mexico to the US.

Granted, much of this exodus is involuntary, a result of stepped up border surveillance, deportations and harassment by local authorities in some communities.

Nevertheless, those using the wetback invasion as the excuse for all our ills here in the US may soon have to find another scapegoat.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Spring update

Sabbath eve, April 20, 2012

A front just blew through, dry, again. We had decent rain over the winter but since April 1st, nothing. The forecast calls for dry weather the remainder of the month. I’m not surprised that the drought resumes; I was surprised by the respite we had over the winter.

Fortunately, we planted oats and rye in the fall which provided winter grazing and have been cutting and baling hay from those same fields over the last two weeks. The hay is low quality, relative to the coastal Bermuda normally grown in these parts, but any hay beats none. None is what we had last year outside that produced from a few small patches of irrigated ground.

Winter rain and green grass created a false sense of security among neighbors. Best I can tell, prolonged drought of the past couple of years killed a lot of perennial pastures. As the rye dies, this will become apparent. Corn crops look good, but corn must have rain at critical stages of growth and the moisture in the soil won’t be enough to sustain it through the hot months ahead.

Winter rains caused fungal problems in oats and wheat, also in my onion crop. Bugs are ferocious; any hopes of going totally organic in our garden were dashed by the reality of corn root worms and the adult version of the same (cucumber beetles).

You can tell the true organic farmers in these parts. They’re the ones with a hard luck story and nothing to sell. Most of the rest selling produce claiming to be organic are liars. I know it’s not the same everywhere. I grew entirely organic produce in Oregon and have on occasion managed to do so even here in Texas, but there are times when grasshoppers, army worms, and or cucumber beetles present quite the challenge. All of the above can decimate a crop in a matter of days.

I hear people talking about how they’re going to run to some refuge and start growing their own food when the shit hits the fan. I got news for them. If you’re not actively practicing the art of producing and storing your own food, you aren’t likely to succeed when it’s forced upon you. I have been studying this stuff most of my life and routinely encounter new obstacles, some seemingly insurmountable. Despite years of preparation, I am woefully ill-prepared should there be an interruption in the fuel supply or a break in the production of electricity.

Time after time government and corporate responses to potential crises are opposite of that required—they opt for bigger more centralized models when we should be diversifying and downsizing—spreading risk instead of putting all risk into a single model.

I see this on almost every front, as heirloom seed and livestock are eliminated to make way for industrial strains, diverse crops sacrificed for huge monocultures. Manufacturing, energy production, banks, countries--you name it: small entities are sacrificed by hundreds or thousands to make way for the one big megapoly.

On the other hand, the recent death of a brother-in-law reminds to live in the moment. There are challenges enough today without spending all my time worrying about what might happen tomorrow.

So we milk the wrong kind of cows, feed and water the wrong chickens, goats, hogs and horses; plant, water and cultivate garden soil the wrong way, harvest the wrong crops when ready, store what we can, and hopefully live another day.

And hope like hell that at least some of our neighbors will do the same.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The trouble with money

Once again, Chris Martenson hits the nail on the head.


Betty Gillis took pictures while cowboys gathered and worked the cattle on our "Nelson place", bordering the San Marcos River near Gonzales.

Then she went and fucked things up by posting a few head shots of some old snaggle-toothed fart that dragged along for the ride.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Not all oil is created equal

I recently came across a video with a twenty-something female narrator telling the world the whole peak oil was a scam--that the US has more proven reserves than Saudi Arabia.

Here's a good look at the facts. Most of our so called oil reserves are, in fact, more like road tar than oil.

Learn the facts before lecturing the world, please.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

You can't have your cake and eat it too

I routinely see and hear people protesting the cost of gasoline and or diesel, and in the next breath, protesting methods used to extract the oil from which these are made due to environmental concerns.

Do they not know that the only oil left is increasingly difficult to find and inherently dangerous to produce when found?

So, which is it going to be?

Meanwhile, another off-shore well has blown out and is spewing fuel--methane this time--into the atmosphere. (hat tip to Collapsenet).

And I have no plan that involves parking my pick-up truck, until it's forced upon me.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

It ain't about the bomb

I tire of hearing lying pricks like Obama and Santorum trying to scare us with Iran the boogeyman. It ain't about Iran building a bomb. It's that Iran wants to sidestep the petrodollar.

Which at some point will lead to bombs.

It isn't only Iran. Previous administrations that have tried to do abandon the petrodollar: Hussein in Iraq and Khadafi in Libya.

Here's a rundown of current attempts to sidestep the dollar.

As one of an ever dwindling number of American farmers, the artificial value of the dollar due to political gamemanship has done little to help and a lot to hurt. While I did get subsidized fuel, fertilizer, etc. out of the deal, I also had sharp penciled economists forcing the latest in mechanization and methods down my throat, the products of which are all owned and supplied by a few major corporations, and obtainable only by signing a life away to a few friendly lending institutions, freshly stocked with free money, courtesy of the Federal Reserve and our Treasury Department.

Failure to comply with this plan meant failure to survive econmically.

So don't ask me to cheerlead the war to keep the scam alive (aka the war on terror, drugs, etc.).

We should be paid for what we do, not who we are, same as everyone else.

Those that choose to be suck-asses or scam artists should not be rewarded.

And in the end, won't be.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ready for your chip?

The arrogance of those that buy everything from a store and sell nothing they produce astounds.

Nonetheless, calls for a cashless society continue.


David Birch, a director at Consult Hyperion, a firm specializing in electronic payments, says a shift to digital currency would cut out these hidden costs. In Birch’s ideal world, paying with cash would be viewed like drunk driving—something we do with decreasing frequency as more and more people understand the negative social consequences. “We’re trying to use industrial age money to support commerce in a post-industrial age. It just doesn’t work,” he says. “Sooner or later, the tectonic plates shift and then, very quickly, you’ll find yourself in this new environment where if you ask somebody to pay you in cash, you’ll just assume that they’re a prostitute or a Somali pirate.”

Sunday, March 18, 2012

National defense resource preparedness act

(hat tip: Dig.)

Obama signs national defense resource preparedness act.

While Obama signed this piece of shit, believe me when I tell you, the Republicans are on board also.

They will come for you land, your water, your seed, your equipment, your animals, your oil, gas: whatever the fuck they want, under the auspices of "national security".

White House Executive Order.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My other website

I allowed to die a natural death today.

I don't think it will be missed.

Denninger on Taibbi on Bank of America

Started out reading Denninger this morning which led to this, penned by Matt Taibbi.

Bank of America sucks.

As do the bastards that enable them.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Daylight savings scam

Monday morning, March 12, 2012, second work day of the week.

Every year about this time, I announce I am not going to make the switch to daylight savings time. For all intents and purposes this is my new year’s resolution, and like that of most, my commitment waivers at some point, when my schedule is forced to comport to the rest of the world by which I am surrounded, good little unquestioning industrial slaves they tend to be.

So today I sit at 7AM, my time, and for that matter the time of the chickens and cows accustomed to my arrival, typing on this computer. In a couple of minutes people will begin to arrive and I will ignore them, silently cussing our collective stupidity, until eventually the will of the masses bends my own. As I age, I tend to bend less easily.

I planted seed last week, pinto beans (for dried beans) sweet corn, blue lake green beans, yellow and zucchini squash, green and white striped Cushaw gourds, cantaloupes, watermelons, cucumbers for pickles and a row of okra. It’s a little early for some of this, but we’ve had regular rains and unusually mild weather so I figured I’d better get while the getting is good. I also set out 144 tomato plants and 78 pepper plants of differing varieties. It drizzled for a couple of days after and then warmed up. I can almost feel the seeds springing to life underground.

The transplants took and potatoes are off to the races, most about 6” tall already with a few stragglers just beginning to appear. Shallots and onions are well on their way to maturity. Broccoli is done for, we’ve been feeding leftover plants to hogs and goats. Most of the cabbage is harvested and a two crocks of kraut near ready in the room next door. The few heads that remain in the garden are massive, upwards of ten pounds apiece. Beets also are ready, cilantro starting to bolt.

We harvested about a third of our spinach patch and filled five large tow sacks. I helped Leah sort and can spinach Saturday and Sunday. Figured if we paid ourselves $10 an hour, we had about $4 per pint invested in labor, not including the cost of lids or any cost in growing and harvesting the produce.

I will not sell you a jar of my spinach. If I did, the cost is $20 a pint. Unless you are a lawyer or a Wall Street banker. Your cost is $200 a pint and you should consider that a bargain, considering what I get for your time.

Martin also planted 5 acres of non-hybrid white field corn right before the rains. Lamentably, he convinced me that we needed to spray glyphosate (generic Roundup) on a field where we intend to plant grain sorghum as the weeds got a jump on us and would interfere with planting and cultivating down the line. I have not yet been able to entirely wean myself from the industrial model of farming. As Dmiti Orlov stated recently (paraphrased): What works in the new paradigm won’t work in this. What works in the current paradigm won’t perform in the next.

I find myself straddling a dying way of life and that of a future not quite manifest, but much closer than most suspect, or at least that’s my take.

OK. It’s 7:30 Central Standard (Don Henry Ford Jr.) time. I need to go to work. People are wondering where the hell I am. The cows think something’s wrong with the people.

Someone is waiting at the door and my fucking phone is ringing.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hell in the Henhouse (blood in the yard)

Post Script to this land is your land: Went to bed Friday night thinking things were well.

Saturday morning had me singing Hell in the Henhouse (soon to be released song written by Matt King and Ray Wylie Hubbard).

It started when a worker friend arrived and left his grandson out in the yard. The boy knocks on the door. Next thing I know, Leah is screaming at Polly, a Queensland blue heeler. Polly has bitten a goat in the hock region and the goat can't get up. My guess is that the boy tried to shoo the goat and she helped the only way she knows how, by attacking the goat. I felt obliged to beat Polly nonetheless. The goat regained her feet and tended to her baby, albeit with a limp and a few bloody bite marks on a hind leg.

After enjoying coffee with Leah, I leave the house, milk pail and can full of warm water in hand, ready to milk cows.

A otherwise healthy looking but dead goat awaits near the feed room, the second unexplainable death in a week. I drag the poor thing off and cut it in pieces for the dogs.

Then someone comes up the drive saying one of our cows has a calf that got under the fence; black headed buzzards are about to kill the thing. Luckily, I arrive in time to thrwart their breakfast plans.

The cell phone rings.

Hay customers arrive.

The cell rings again.

Another truck pulls up to tell me buzzards are trying to kill one of my calves.

The irrigation machine I left running last night has not moved, but instead sprayed thousands of gallons of water in one spot, flooding that area while the rest of the circuit it should have traveled remains dry.

By the time I get around to the cows, the water in the pail is cold and the cows are looking at me like, Where the hell you been?

Sometimes more is not better.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Black markets

As a kid, we routinely shopped black markets of Quito, Ecuador to get things not available through "legitimate" channels.

Looks like the same has become necessary here in the good ole USA, courtesy of our jailers.

Americans Will Need “Black Markets” To Survive

Friday, March 2, 2012

This land is your land....

Sabbath eve, March 2, 2012.

Spring is in the air. I start days wearing a long-sleeved shirt but soon peel down to a t-shirt and sweat, nonetheless. We’ve had no winter. Decent rains in January and the early part of February have faded of late. Computers continue to give us chances of moisture. Quintin, a farmer friend of mine, says he saw dust devils in January—a bad omen. He says he doesn’t feel good about the year.

I take his dust devils over a computer forecast for rain.

Corn requires more water than grain sorghum, so grain sorghum it will be, good Lord willing. I also hope to plant cowpeas for hay under irrigation, a practice long abandoned in this area. Cowpeas, being legumes, fix nitrogen into the soil. I over-farmed my irrigated field, trying to grow forage for cows through the horrible drought. I do have the advantage of copious amounts of chicken shit for fertilizer, but even so, I think we need to rotate our crops and give the soil a break now and again. Cowpeas serve as green fertilizer when plowed back into the soil.

We had an explosion of clover this year, nature’s way of healing pastures after drought killed off most of the grass. With the clover came problems—producers in the country, myself included, lost cattle to bloat. The alternative would have been losing them to starvation, so I am not complaining. Clover is also a legume.

Unfortunately, the herbicide most people use on hay patches kills clover along with the targeted weeds. I think spraying may prove a costly mistake, especially if we fail to get more rain. I’d rather have bales with a few weeds than have nothing to bale.

Cattle numbers are low; consequently cattle prices are high. A good calf will bring almost double the price it did last year.

We have a decent winter garden, cabbage in the field, sauerkraut in the crock, spinach getting huge. Onions are doing well, potatoes just breaking out of the ground. There’s beats, turnips galore, and some really good cilantro. The broccoli is pretty much done for, but pigs in the pen think the whole damn plant pretty good stuff.

We’re aerating the soil in pecan bottoms and applying chicken litter. Preparing to irrigate, if need be.

I’m milking three cows and Leah makes cheese, only now in a big vat once a week instead of daily. The leftover whey that doesn’t make it into Ricotta gets soaked into corn the pigs eat.

For rest, Leah throws pottery.

I’ve paid almost no attention to our mares over the last couple of years, especially after Racing Rhinocerous died. When I least expected it, a friend told me that Gaff, a multiple graded stakes winner could be bought. I offered what I thought a cheap price. To my surprise, the owner accepted. Looks like I am back in the Thoroughbred breeding business.

Gaff is by far the best horse I’ve owned. He won $560,000 and blistered tracks around the land doing so. He’s a sprinter, my preferred type, a son of Maria’s Mon.

I’ve heard it said a man with a yearling will never commit suicide. Something about hope, I suppose.

We pasture bred our mares last year to a cheap stallion no one will like except for Leah and me (Sheck My Goyo). Gina’s Patience delivered our first foal in three years this morning. More are on the way. Abraham tells me he’s a champion.

Manuel is back from Mexico, with him the blessing his presence brings. I didn’t give hiring Manuel a second thought, despite having quite a few people already on the payroll. He’s cutting pecan wood from limbs that fell in the bottom and helping with the chores. A hand like Manuel always pays his way.

I know times are tough and there are lots of reasons to be afraid, but I am determined not to let fear dictate the way I live, no matter how dark it may seem.

This world is ours, despite pretenders to the throne.

Make of it what you will.

Veterans for Ron Paul march on white house

Chickenhawks shit their pants:

Monday, February 20, 2012

The choices we make

Sometimes James Howard Kunstler says it better than I:

The Choices We Make

By James Howard Kunstler
on February 20, 2012 9:41 AM

The misalignment of politics and reality threatens to scuttle both major parties, but it's especially gratifying to see the Republicans sail off the edge of their own flat earth on the winds of religious idiocy. For forty years it has not been enough for them to just be a conservative party. They had to enlist the worst elements of ignorance and reaction, and they found an endless supply of it in the boom regions of the Sunbelt with its brotherhood of TV evangelist con-artists and a population fretful with suburban angst.

Now, in the last hours of the cheap oil economy, the forty year miracle of the Sunbelt boom dwindles and a fear of approaching darkness grips the people there like a rumor of Satan. The long boom that took them from an agricultural backwater of barefoot peasantry to a miracle world of Sonic Drive-ins, perpetual air-conditioning, WalMarts, and creation museums is turning back in the other direction and they fear losing all that comfort, convenience, and spectacle. Since they don't understand where it came from, they conclude that it was all a God-given endowment conferred upon them for their exceptional specialness as Americans, and so only the forces of evil could conspire to take it all away.

Hence, the rise of a sanctimonious, hyper-patriotic putz such as Rick Santorum and his take-back-the-night appeal to those who sense the gathering twilight. And the awful ordeal of convictionless pander and former front-runner Mitt Romney drowning in his own bullshit as he struggles to extrude one whopper after another just to keep up with the others in this race to the bottom of the political mud-flow.

There is an obvious dither backstage now among those who cynically thought they could manipulate and control these dark impulses of the frightened masses as the candidates all pile into a train wreck of super-PAC obloquy. Won't some level-headed adult like the governors of New Jersey and Indiana step up and volunteer? Is this finally its Whig Moment - the point where the Republican Party has offended history so gravely that it goes up in a vapor of its own absurdity? I hope so. The conservative impulse is hardly all bad. We need it in civilization. But it can't be vested in the sheer and constant repudiation of reality.

The opposing Democrats have their own problem with reality, which is that they don't tell the truth about so many things despite knowing better, and, under Obama, they act contrary to their stated intentions often enough, and in matters of extreme importance, that they deserve to go down in flames, too. Just as there is a place for conservatism in civilized life, there is also a place for the progressive impulse, let's call it - for making bold advance in step with the mandates of reality and an interest in justice for all those along on the journey.

The Democrats under Obama don't want to go to that place. They want to really go to the same place as the fretful Sunbelt fundamentalists, but by a different route - and that place is yesterday, by means of a campaign to sustain the unsustainable. Mr. Obama is pretending that an economic "recovery" is underway when he knows damn well that the banking system is just blowing smoke up the shredded ass of what's left of that economy. He pretends to an interest in the rule of law in money matters but he's done everything possible to prevent the Department of Justice, the SEC, and a dozen other regulatory authorities from functioning the way they were designed. He has never suggested resurrecting the Glass-Steagall act, which kept banking close to being honest for forty years. He never issued a peep of objection about the Citizens United case where the Supreme Court tossed the election process into a crocodile pit of corporate turpitude (he could have proposed a constitutional amendment redefining corporate "personhood."). He declared he'd never permit a super-PAC to be created in his name, and now he's got one. Mr. Obama represents a lot of things to a lot of people. He is mainly Progressivism's bowling trophy, its symbol of its own triumphant wonderfulness in overcoming the age old phantoms of race prejudice. Alas, that's not enough. Where exactly is the boundary between telling "folks" what they want to hear and just flat-out lying?

Neither party can articulate the current reality, which is that we have to reorganize civilization pretty drastically. I've reviewed that agenda many times in this space and it largely amounts to rebuilding local economies at a smaller and finer scale. That is just not on the table for all current leadership, or even in the room. If neither party can frame an agenda consistent with that reality, then we'll have to get there without them, probably after a very rough period when the pretending still lingers in the air like a bad odor and no reality-based consensus is able to form, no agreement about what we should do. That's the period when a lot of things fall apart and people get hurt. These are the choices we're making right now.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

There is a tomorrow

I can't sign off on the title, There is no Tomorrow, but this short film provides an accurate assessment of our current condition and the challenges humans face in the future.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Energy usage a better metric for real economic contraction

I recently hijacked a thread started by Scott R with an article suggesting that real economic activity is better measured by energy consumption than phony economic figures.

Yesterday, Charles Hugh Smith released a followup article.

It's Not Just Gasoline Consumption That's Tanking, It's All Energy.

An excerpt:

A number of readers kindly forwarded additional data sources to me as followup on last week's entry describing sharply lower deliveries of gasoline. (Why Is Gasoline Consumption Tanking? February 10, 2012)

The basic thesis here is that petroleum consumption is a key proxy of economic activity. In periods of economic expansion, energy consumption rises. In periods of contraction, consumption levels off or declines.

This common sense correlation calls into question the Status Quo's insistence that the U.S. economy has decoupled from the global ecoomy and is still growing. This growth will create more jobs, the story goes, and expand corporate profits which will power the stock market ever higher.

Courtesy of correspondents Bob C. and Mark W., here are links and charts of petroleum consumption, imports/exports, and electricity consumption. Let's start with a chart of total petroleum products, which includes all products derived from petroleum (distillates, fuels, etc.) provided by Bob C. The chart shows the U.S. consumed about 21 million barrels a day (MBD) at the recent peak of economic activity 2005-07; from that peak, "product supplied" has fallen to 18 MBD. The current decline is very steep and has not bottomed.

This recent drop mirrors the decline registered in 2009 as the wheels fell off the global debt-based bubble. Those arguing that the U.S. economy is growing smartly and sustainably have to explain why petroleum consumption looks like 2009 when the economy tipped into a sharp contraction.

I would add that demand cannont exceed constraints of available supply for long as the cost of scarce products eventually decreases demand.

Demand isn't created by what people want, it's created by what people buy. When the citizenry can't afford to buy, demand falls.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Max Keiser interviews Dmitri Orlov

For those unaware, Dmitri Orlov was born in the Soviet Union, immigrated as a young teen to the United States, and then traveled between Russia and his new home, watching and documenting the collapse of the Soviet state.

Orlov then wrote a book and maintains a web-site drawing comparisons between the Soviet collapse and the ongoing collapse of the United States.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

False flags

It’s been common practice over the last century to stage attacks on populations in order to marshal citizenry to war. Not only to stage attacks, but also to spread rumors and lies: propaganda, for the furtherance of these causes.

Seems we’ve been fed a steady diet of that shit lately.

Best I can tell, it works.

Move toward cashless society

I'll lose some of you with this.

I'm OK with that.

Recently, I was fined by the IRS for paying employee withholding funds with a personal check. Not for refusing to pay, or shorting what I owed, but because I paid with a check.

By law, the IRS requires electronic transfer of funds to make those payments.

I tell people that we're moving toward a cashless society, eventually requiring the implantation of a chip in our bodies. Not only will this chip be required to buy or sell, but also to track our movements.

People roll their eyes, etc.

Well, here's what happened when a man recently tried to pay his mortgage at Bank of America with cash:

On my dollar bills, it says:

This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.

Is it now?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


If you or I do this, we go straight to jail.

Conroy was here

Bill Conroy continues digging into the coverup surrounding the house of death in Juarez, Mexico.

In the process he reveals a new name for our friends from Blackwater, scratch that, Xe, scratch that, Academi. Among the directors of the company you will find no less than that gem of a man, John Ashcroft, still, it seems, dedicated to keeping us safe.

Don't you feel better already?

PS. If that news didn't thrill you, then perhaps this will do the trick.

Seems the Chairman of the Board for Academi is none other than San Antonio's beloved Red McCombs, founder of other wonderful corporations like Clear Channel Communications....

PPS. Here's a bit of history on Blackwater, alias Xe, alias Academi.

My, how snakes slither.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Prolonged drought--with intermittent flooding

We got between 1-1/4" and 3" of rain on our ranches, day before yesterday. Apparently, rainfall totals were much heavier upstream.

Today, the rivers on which we live will flood.

Time to save the cows.

PS. Well...

the river's rise wasn't as bad as forecast, but we didn't emerge unscathed, nonetheless.

I instructed our men to lure our cattle to high ground yesterday on the Dos Rios place at the confluence of the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers.

They did.

And then left the gate to the river bottom open and went home.

This morning they arrived to find the cows, being cows, had gone back to the bottom. The river filled an arroyo trapping them.

My guys got into a boat and crossed to the other side. The cows. being cows, panicked, and tried to recross the arroyo. Some, but not all made it. Those that didn't got swept away by the current into the main channel of the river.

Just got a call from a friend saying I now have a cow grazing on the golf course at Gonzales. Big purebred, mean-as-hell Brahman bitch.

Don't yet know how many got washed away.

Joy to the world.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Album of the year for 2011

My exposure to music last year was very limited. But I have to say, this tribute to Guy Clark is hands down the best I heard.

Cold dog soup--James McMurtry

Came across this on a Guy Clark tribute album:


Revisted Ryan Bingham also. This one will outlast me. And him:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

America's last chance

Paul Craig Roberts tells us why Ron Paul may be our last chance.

And then, why it won't happen.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Straight of Hormuz--take care not to get sunburned

Those thinking a mighty American carrier group would have a cake walk should Iran decide to close the straight of Hormuz, should read this.

Seems Iran's bluster might be backed by a real threat.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Look and see

This speaks for itself: