Men Who Hunt and Gather

I am guessing that in today’s world, most people would say that men hunt and gather when they go to their job and earn income for their families.  It’s basically the same thing, right?  The point is to put food on the table and maybe have some extra that can be traded for other items that are needed in the household.  So men hunt and gather when they consistently show up for work, right?  They get the same amount of satisfaction from a paycheck that can be used to buy food at a grocery store, right?

I really don’t think so.  I think men get much more satisfaction out of actually bringing the food from the wild and setting it before their wife and kids, regardless of how they turn up their noses.  I am currently working towards hunting my first animal ever that will be food on the table.   I am very intrigued by the timeless process which I have never really taken part in.  I have caught fish and ate them, but hunting seems to be a next level for me.  I can tell you that the thoughts and excitement I have about hunting an animal seems to come from something natural inside.

Think about the movie City Slickers for a moment.  That movie makes a lot of men think about how cool it would be to get out into the wild and do “man” things.  That’s because we have the desire to do things like get dirty, kill our food and enjoy the adventures provided us in nature.  Why can’t we be cowboys?  Dressing up in business casual and sitting at a desk all day is nothing like we are wired to love.  Maybe some are.  It is likely they still make secret plans of living off the land in between emails and presentations.

Come on guys…face it.  You know you have thought about getting some land and living off of it.  You wondered what it would be like to feel the satisfaction from that.  You even take vacation from the office or factory job to go out and hunt your own food.  Don’t try to tell me that its just a sport and you wouldn’t want to do it more.

If you’ve never had the desire to hunt or fish, than I have to wonder what happened to you along the way.  I am not avid in any way.  I don’t fish much.  I’ve still never hunted.  But I am often intrigued.  And I am endlessly wishing I could just provide for my family within the bounds of the land that I own.

Do Chickens Even Care if They Are Free Range?

More on this later… I am expecting the answer to be no but I am currently unqualified to answer this question. In 5 days however my family is moving to a country home and we plan to learn how to raise chickens. If I can get passed the keeping them alive part then I will make sure to use any chicken whispering skills I gain to see if in fact they prefer to be free range or not.

In case the result is that I still don’t know, I well judge based on a chicken happiness scale that I will begin compiling. Please leave your questions for the chickens in the comments and I will be sure to ask.

How to Use an Acre

Trading Rules for Acres

One acre is equal to 43,560 sq feet.  The average lot size in the US is less than 9,000 square feet which is lower than it was 40 years ago.

My family is about to move and we have highly anticipated what to do with the flexibility of our new home. We aren’t gaining more square feet. We aren’t gaining proximity to anything new. We won’t be able to walk to a coffee shop or a park. What we will be able to step outside to a blank canvas of 7 acres. Maybe its just me, but there just seems to be so much potential when you have this kind of space. The question, however, is what can one do with an acre? Our ambitions are high but will we really do anything we think we will? Will the 7 acres really change life at all? Here’s the list of some things that we think we will be able to do differently once we move.

1. Spread out. Our yuppie yard is about as small as they can come. We made the best of it but can’t wait to have a yard that could be called an expanse.

2. Play. We can get a dog. We can hit a baseball…as hard as we want. Racing around the yard would actually wear us out. We see tree forts, worn in tracks for biking, tire swings, and off road vehicles.

3. Grow. Our little yard in the city can barely pump out a few cherry tomatoes. The rhubarb did ok and we got 8 grapes (not clusters) the first year. We can’t wait for the things we can grow in our new yard. Of course there’s the chance that our problems growing were never a result of anything but lack of skill. Time to hone that skill!

4. Host. We can’t wait to have people come and enjoy the space with us. From big fireworks to burn piles, space allows for some new options in the social front.

5. Build. I’m not looking for a trash heap but hopefully there can be some projects in the yard. I don’t have to pass up a pile of free barn wood that I could use for some projects because I will finally have some space to store it.

6. Hunt. I’ve never hunted an animal in my life. I’m going to though. I believe there is something we really miss out on in the circle of life when we fail to ever attempt “harvesting” our own food.

Overall, I think life is less about circumstances and what you make out of them. It doesn’t take a big yard to really do any of these things, but it does make it easier. These are the kinds of things we want as major parts of our lives instead of minor. These are the kinds of things that will bring out what is naturally in each of us. Mankind isn’t supposed to live in a stuffy neighborhood with controlling forces saying what they can and can’t do with their space. Those who do have forgotten about the way nature was given to us as a gift for us to extract from and take care of.

While others choose to stay in crowded neighborhoods that say you must have windows on your garage doors, you can’t dry your clothes outside and you cannot keep the animals that were given to us as life sustainers, I will be enjoying playing guitar on my back porch with a rifle by my side waiting for supper to walk across my yard.

smoked-chicken-ready

A Successful Attempt at Smoking on the Grill

 

I have to admit a downfall in my own manliness.  I cannot smoke ribs.  I just don’t seem to know what I’m doing or as I read all kinds of suggestions I am smoked-chicken-readymaybe just following the worst ones.  Smoking ribs is an ability that any man should have.  Well, if you don’t eat meat then maybe it’s not for you.  I’m sure you could smoke vegetables and they would probably be some of the best vegetables you’ve ever had.

I haven’t wanted to give up on smoking meat though so I have a attempted a few times.  Last year for my birthday, that is what I wanted to do.  I didn’t want to go anywhere but simply stay home and get to try smoking something.  Again, I was dissappointed.  Temperature doesn’t seem to be my issue although I find myself fluctuating +/- about 50 degrees from my goal.  I can create smoke, that isn’t the issue.  For pork, it has always just come down to the tenderness that I wasn’t happy with.

But, there is hope.  I have found a process and recipe that has worked amazing for me.  It has renewed my hope in my ability to learn more about grilling.  I have to give full props to Kevin Haberberger for this one.  It wasn’t pork.  It wasn’t beef.  But it was good and looked beautiful too.  Check out Kevin’s article about smoking a whole chicken at http://www.extraordinarybbq.com/smoked-whole-chicken/.  I was skeptical that mine would come out as well as he made it sound but it really did.

smoked-chicken-on-grillMy wife loved it and said it was the most tender chicken she has ever had.  It lacked a little in smoke flavor because I didn’t keep my chip box well supplied during the process but that is easy to fix.  I also didn’t have lemons in the house so I used lemon juice.  The bird turned a beautiful brown that I never expected, tasted great and just fell apart when trying to serve it.  I am excited to smoked-chicken-dinnermake it again and maybe just add a little more smoke to the picture.  My wife is having visions of turkeys and Thanksgiving.  We will have to wait and see about that…

 

moving-to-country-01

Putting Our Roots Where There’s Room to Grow

Moving to the Country

It is finally happening!  We’re moving to the country.   We just have to make it past the bank underwriters, the home inspector, the water inspector, and the bank appraiser and then it is ours.  That home in the country for which we have watched for during the last few years.

My wife and I have thought very critically as to whether a house in the country would be right for us.  When people ask why we want to do that, it is often difficult to come up with an answer.  Yeah, I like the idea of having land.  We think it will be neat to have more garden space and maybe some animals we couldn’t have in the city.  For my wife and I it just seems like a better place to raise a family.  I don’t know why.  It just does.

We want our children to learn something different than all of the other children.  In the schools today, kids are taught what to think.  There is this box they are given to say this is the world and this is what you do in it.  This is what you believe about science.  This is the life you want.  You go to college after school and then look for an entry job where you can climb a ladder to nowhere.  This is the kind of country you live in.  This is whats wrong with things.  And it goes on and on.  They are only given room to create their own version of life if it doesn’t conflict with the life they are being taught they should have.

No thanks!  My boxes are getting packed and we can’t wait to get into the closest we can come to paradise here on earth.  The biggest dilemma so far is what to do first with all of that space and freedom!

 

The living room is the perfect place for a guitar amp!

Marital Compromise Wurk’d for Me

Compromise is an essential practice of healthy marriages. That’s probably my psychologist/family coach line I would say if I were a professional at this. But I’m not so all I can do is tell about my own experiences. I wanted to tell everyone how marital compromise worked in my case.   I know that I sure can get stuck in my wants at times and can’t see things working out someone else’s way.  With marriage, decisions are better when they aren’t just to satisfy one of the two, but when they are the desires of both.  That can’t always happen though and compromise is the next best mechanism to keeping peace.

Compromise should end as close as possible to the disagreement.  Compromise isn’t you get what you want and in three months I’m going to use this for some random thing I want as if it is my turn to get my way.  It’s more like I can handle you getting your way in this because how you feel about your way is much stronger than how I feel about my way.

That happened recently for my wife and I.  She wanted a different couch and always wanted a sectional.  I wanted to keep the couch that we had that was ripping in multiple places because at least when it ripped it was already that way.  A new couch would mean trying to keep it in good order and nice looking (for me).  When you have kids in the house, I would compare this to trying to keep the dogs from eating scraps that fall on the floor.

Anyway, I gave in.  We bought the couch and we moved it into our house.  Since it was a sectional there was a large space in the corner open where the couch was round.  I eyed it up and decided that it would be the perfect place for my guitar amp which is never conveniently around when I want to use it.  Hesitantly wondering if that would ever pass the “is a guitar amp appropriate for the living room test” I brought it up anyway.

Now I sit on a couch (comfy if I must add) and can pull a guitar out from behind it and turn the amp on and play.  It all turned out quite nice!

The living room is the perfect place for a guitar amp!
The living room is the perfect place for a guitar amp!

 

First Carving - Heart

My First Carving

**Disclaimer.  I am not sharing this work as something that is a great success but as a example of some things I learned.  I understand it isn’t quite museum worthy.

After a good amount of time had passed since acquiring my 5 piece chisel set, I finally decided to attempt my first carving.  I First Carving - Heartlearned a lot in the process and thought I would share that for anyone else who is thinking about trying their hand (or chisel) at wood carving.

First of all, it was not easy.  It is good that I didn’t expect it to be easy.  I made sure to attempt a shape that was fairly simple, without much for crevices or lines.  I choose a heart because if it turned out any bit worthy of keeping, I could give it to my wife.  The built-in stand idea was added as I carved which makes it a much nicer final piece.

So on to what I learned.  I learned that oak is probably not the best wood start out with.  Ok, I kind of assumed that before but I didn’t have much else available at the time.  It was difficult to work with and preferred to chip or crush as opposed to slice or carve.  I found that I was using way too much force to get through the wood and instead of the cool shavings you see in pictures I got little chips.

Since I never carved before I don’t know what kinds of tools are generally used or any comparison to the quality of the ones I have.  I had some sculpting chisels which didn’t stand a chance on the oak.  I had some regular chisels which I used but think they probably could have been sharper.  I assume there is no such thing as too sharp of a First Carving Toptool when it comes to carving.  I will be exploring some options for sharpening mine or possible obtaining some more quality ones.

I also learned that having something in place to hold your work still would be helpful.  I carved the heart out of a larger board that I then cut down so that I had something to hold onto while carving.  A nice clamp system would prove very helpful though.  In general my workbench lacks such a vise that I can use for hand work.

The biggest thing that I took away though was that it sure was fun.  Although I know it would take a long time to learn the techniques, it seems like something I could really enjoy expanding my capabilities in.  I watched videos that helped me figure out where to start and First Carving Sidepeople who were at the point of trying to show others had years and years of experience.  They create amazing works of art that look like something I would love to display in my house.   I respect those with the talent and think that their skill is probably over looked a bit.

 

 

 

Reclaimed Wood Wall Close

Reclaimed Wood Wall Finished

I am in the process of building a new workshop in my gReclaimed Wood Wallarage.  I am pretty much complete and wanted to show the finished part of my reclaimed wood wall.  The wood was from a local university wood shop and had just been sitting around.  I ripped the 10-12 inch wide boards to about 3 inches and made the pattern on the wall.

I don’t know what species of wood is all on the wall.  I tried to mix the light and dark to create a nice pattern.  The boards were secured with construction adhesive as well as 2 inch 16 gauge brads shot in with a nail gun.  I had to get them into the studs behind the wall for there to be any benefit as they just slip right out of the drywall.  I feel bad for whoever will want to take this wall down some day but with how pleased I am with the results I know it won’t be me.Reclaimed Wood Wall Close

The empty drywall area is where one of my workbench stations will go.  Can’t wait to do some work with this in the background.

Men Need to Create

It’s not that I don’t want to wash the dishes honey. It’s just that there are a lot of things I want to do more and the dishes just don’t get to me like they get to you. For today, I am convinced to bring value to your life. Forget the dishes, honey! You won’t care either when you see what I can make out of a small engine, trash can lids and the pile of wood I told you I would use some day. Um, by the way I am going to need to borrow the engine off your moped. So sit back, relax and grab the phone in case you smell smoke.

Men Need Time to Create

Men need time to be creative. I’ve met many guys who get really excited about making something. Whether it is building, brewing, fixing, coding, writing, designing or even just dreaming, the idea of what can be created by one’s hands is often a very exciting thought. Creative outlet is good for a man and often gives him a chance to feel as though he is contributing to something. Every man likes different things and some only find this outlet in a workshop while others may only find it in front of a piece of paper or canvas.

This desire to create should not be hindered. It is revitalizing and life giving. Many men express a desire for their career to give them this outlet. It is easy to envy those in a career where people get paid for what you enjoy as a hobby. You think about whether that is something you could get a job doing. It is probable that most men would love to run a successful business out of their garage making things that people think are cool and would pay for. Having work that gives a man personal satisfaction is very important and should be sought out as at least a hobby if not a career. Often, the flexibility of creating is better kept as a hobby to avoid adding pressures and deadlines. You would not want to spoil the creativity of a hobby by having to work within very tight guidelines that don’t allow you to be at all expressive.

How Do I Balance My Time to Create?

We think you should create but we also know that you need balance. That means that you should first fulfill your most important responsibilities. It is counter productive when a hobby or work takes over your life and causes things to suffer that are much more important. These could include your family, your health and your overall balance in life. Don’t let the revitalizing nature of creating become the very thing that drains you of your energy and happiness. Make sure that your time for creating is within moderation. If you can accomplish multiple things at once then go for it. You may be able to incorporate your family members in a project. This is a great way to connect with your children, especially if you have a very disconnected relationship already.

Take time and create. Let it help you be a more fulfilled man but also hold the reins so your life doesn’t get out of balance.

Incapacitated

incapacitated-big

Day 3 and a half. Still fairly incapacitated. Apparently when you have the doctor perform a little magic that could be called permanent birth control for men, it keeps you fairly immobile for a few days. Nothing really hurts that bad but I am nonetheless very slow moving and stiff. The longer I am in any given position, the harder it is to switch to a new position. When all is said and done, it isn’t that bad, but I can say there are many other parts of my body that I would rather feel these discomforts.

As far as permanent birth control, it isn’t really true for us. We haven’t decided that we are done adding children to our family which currently has three. We have decided that we have already brought enough new children into the world and at this point would consider adding children who already exist and could use a loving home. I like to think a loving home is what we provide, yet am constantly reminded that my ability to love is so limited. This isn’t necessarily bad though. My limited ability to love helps me envision countless new levels I could grow too. I find that very exciting.

It is weird how good it feels to love. It is a satisfaction that I don’t find in anything else. You cannot match the feeling by any other accomplishments. Loving other people can easily make you question whether anything else really matters on earth. You cannot find that satisfaction in money, power, entertainment, activities, adventures, possessions or abilities. Nothing describes the feeling that comes from making an impact in the life of another.

Even more weird than how love makes us feel is how easy it is to love infrequently. Maybe it’s because we are scared of what the receiving end will do with it. The thing about love is that we can’t guarantee how it’s received. For us, it is a very fragile gift to give and it is painful when it is received an destroyed, received ungraciously or not received at all. The more often we experience that, the more likely we are to look for other things to satisfy us. To give love is to give a very personal gift and we may wonder why bother if we can’t guarantee it will be effective.

I recently learned how to play craps. I am not going to condone this practice as all I really learned was how to give money to an establishment that already has plenty. There is a certain thrill in it though and I enjoy it while I’m winning. While I was at the table, I would usually put down the minimum bet. This was five dollars where I played. There were people at the table who would put down fifty dollars compared to my five. They have the same odds of winning but more at stake. In the end, I would win five dollars to my five dollar bet if a seven or eleven was rolled. As happy as I was that I won, it would be easy to think that I should have put down fifty dollars like the other guy who has also doubled his money. Even further though, the guy who puts fifty down saying that the next roll will be two ones or two sixes will gain about thirty times his bet if he were to win.

What have you bet on love? Have you bet a lot and lost it? Have you bet with the odds against you and lost? Have you bet comfortably and received a little payback? Have you simply accepted low payback for low risk?

I would guess that most adults have gambled a bit on love and have lost enough that they have learned to maximize their odds instead of maximizing their payback. This is portrayed in their ability or desire to give to those in need. With many losses on the record, they choose to box their lives in and stick to things that they know will at least give some payback. If they have a nice house and nice TV they know they will be comfortable and enjoy the football game with great picture. The more they climb the work ladder the more they will be needed and the better they feel. The more money in the bank, the less they will need to rely on others and that will bring a certain level of comfort.

When I say they or talk about others though, I am also talking about myself. I do my best to minimize risk and maximize payout. This usually means I limit the return on my bet to make sure I don’t lose too much. I want to ask myself this question, though, and see if you may want to ask yourself the same thing.

What would it be like if I loved without thinking about the return?

Isn’t that what love is anyway? Isn’t it about the other person? Authentic love should be selfless. When I am trying to get something back for the love that I give, then it is not selfless and it will probably not be very fulfilling. I will never be able to minimize the risk to make love worth giving. But once I give up looking for a return on my investment I can give knowing that selfless love will be quite fulfilling. I can abandon all my other pursuits and pursue something that can really fulfill me without even needing to receive anything back.