Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cold Duck

I have hunted ducks successfully but I am not what you would call a duck hunter. When I used to get haircuts I’d pick up the odd Field and Stream in the barbershop and I would read pretty much every article in there while I was waiting. Some of them were about ducks. A lot of them were about ducks. I have a pretty good memory.

We raise ducks here on High Prairie Acres. I say “we” like I have a lot to do with it. My wife raises ducks. She also raises Guinea fowl and chickens (and goats and a horse and dogs… but that is beside the point). She knows a good deal about birds – especially our birds. But, I do pay attention and I do know a thing or two myself.

We have a pond here. It used to be a 24’ above ground pool. But for the past two years we have not “shocked” it, added any chemicals or in fact – swum (is that even a word?) in it. The pump no longer works. But a few weeks ago, I added a little bridge from the deck to the water surface and we herded the ducks down into it.

Now, these ducks had never been in a big body of water. The most water they had ever been in was one of those big metal wash tubs – which they thoroughly enjoyed. So it took some convincing and they were very loud in their protestations. But once they entered the water they took to it like….well – a duck to water.

They were fun to watch paddling around, swimming a bit under the water, preening their feathers. See, ducks have an oil gland that they dip into and use to keep their feathers nice and water resistant or whatever.

So the other day I’m outside doing chores, it’s pretty chilly – about 40 or so, and the ducks are swimming around in their “pond”. One duck though was in distress. Instead of floating above the water – just like a duck decoy – it was submerged between it’s upper back and the top of its neck. At first I thought it was just sliding down in the tub like I do but no - it was having difficulties. To make matters worse – another duck would come by periodically and push the obviously messed up duck’s head under water. Nice duck…

So I go get our really big net. It’s about 30 inches in diameter and on the end of a long aluminum pole. I think it is for netting deep sea fish – no idea where I got it. Anyway – I scoop the duck out of the water. I was expecting it to fuss and make noise. Nope. When I moved it to the deck, it just lay there – shivering.

Who ever heard of a duck shivering? The one day I hunted ducks (there, the truth is out) it was SNOWING and the ducks seemed fine. I called my wife and said I think we have a sick or injured duck. She looked it over and pronounced it, “not sick”.

So I said, “Good let’s eat it”. We have too many ducks anyway but I know better than to get into my wife’s business…. So when she gave me The Look – I just shrugged.

Anyway – long blog short – she took it in to the wood stove, wrapped it in a towel, put it in a box on top of bricks that we keep atop the wood stove as a means of trapping more heat and then she BLOW DRIED it. I took pictures and tried real hard not to make any smart alec comments.

But would you believe that duck recovered and is now waddling around out on the pasture? I don’t think it’s going back in the water though.

Imagine that – a duck that doesn’t do well in cool water…

And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself. – John 18:18

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sodden Viking

I love watching those shows about people who were thrust into survival situations and who prevailed despite all the odds. I like watching Les Stroud doing his stuff in Survivorman. And no, I don’t watch the other guy’s comedy show purporting to be survival.

I have done a few “Survival Campouts” on my own but to do a really hardcore one you really should have some form of backup in case things get hairy. I have done a few with friends but it is hard to convince folks to join you in the woods for a couple days “with just a knife”.

And then I got my own website…

Twelve Brave Souls signed up for Iron Viking.
I had promised them a minimalist survival experience (the packing list is in an earlier blog entry) and gave them very little additional information except that I would try to make sure they didn’t die.

I told everyone to meet at a given location at 11 a.m. so that we would all enjoy a big meal together prior to beginning the exercise promptly at noon. By 12:30 nine Vikings had shown up – we moved out to the training area.

It was raining.
It was forecasted and threatened to pour.
Thunder rumbled.
Because I’m such a softie, I issued each participant a large trash bag to keep their blanket and long underwear in.

As we were going over initial instructions and preparing for our layout inspection one more intrepid Viking pulled up to the exercise location.
He was sick.
Very sick. I think he had H5N1 or something…
He was brave if a bit misguided showing up.

I had promised each participant a “goody bag”.
I refused to tell them what was going to be in it.
I won’t tell you what was in it except to say it was obviously in a feed sack.

We moved to the initial campsite in the rain.
The route was about a mile long, cross country over rocks and downed trees, across gullies and up and down large hills. Did I mention it was raining?

Spirits were high.
Along the way each Viking was "injured" and had to deal with his/her injury. They were then graded on their performance by a doc who came along. He was graded by an EMT who came along.

We continued on.

When we arrived at the initial campsite I was a softie again and gave each participant a HUGE piece of plastic to use in making their shelter. It was something like 3' x 6'.

People set about making shelters in the remaining daylight and most looked pretty good.
They then started building fires. This was very easy as it had only been raining there for two days and each Viking was given TEN paper matches.

It actually stopped raining for a bit and I built a big ol' fire to dry my clothes. Oh yes, I was playing also.
Once that was done I started another small fire inside my shelter - the soaked rocks we were using as fire reflectors kept exploding with glee and I wanted my shelter rocks to settle down before I climbed in there.

About that time, one of our FIVE medical personal came up to me and said the sick Viking was bad off - did we have any caffeine to give him to help his breathing? Yes, of course we did - it's just that no one knew it yet. I dispatched a "nurse" to make a cup of tea for the ailing Viking but was soon informed that said Viking had (wisely albeit a bit late) decided to bag it - and go sleep in his car and then depart in the morning.

We were way back in the deep dark woods about a mile from the cars.
He didn't know the way.
It was getting dark.
Sigh....okay - I'll lead him out.
Walking through the very wet woods soon had my recently dry pants soaked once more (whine).
After dropping the Viking off, just as it got fully dark, a mile away from my compadres – LO, the skies did burst forth!
There was lightning, there was thunder and there was PRODIGIOUS rain.

I swam the mile back.
I got a bit discombobulated in the dark/BRIGHT woods with fogged over spectacles.
I finally found home.
I was wet - totally.
My large fire was very sad.
It was THUNDER storming.

I crawled into my hootch.
I was okay. I had made a bed of spruce boughs.
I changed into long underwear, fleece top, hat and Gore-Tex parka and settled down to sleep.

And one point a Viking woke me and asked if I was wet.
I resumed dreaming.

Another Viking woke me.
She was supposed to be way over there - why was she here?
And then I realized who it was but I couldn't understand her.
She was totally wet and hypothermic.
We sorted her out about the same time God decided to create a stream through my bed.
I know all about "properly selecting ground". This was not just a bit of rain trying to find a place to go - no, the fountains of the deep had obviously burst open again. In fact, over the next 12 hours it rained 5.5 inches.

Thus began a long wet, cold night.
Mildy hypothermic Vikings.
No sleep.
Most ended up sitting against trees with meager plastic wrapped around their heads...

Prior to dawn (GOD, what a long night) with every Viking awake and suffering - everyone soaked from at least the waist down and most soaked from the crown of head down...
We broke camp and headed back to the cars - in the dark. Everyone did have an emergency flashlight which they used but still..

We got to the cars, turned on the heat, put on dry clothes, and napped for an hour or so.

And then after hearing that the forecast called for more of the same to include a temperature drop I made a difficult decision - I cancelled the exercise.

It was a safety thing more than anything else. When I was dealing with the first hypothermic Viking in the wee hours of the night I found myself worrying that some other Viking was out there experiencing hypothermia without telling anyone.

I felt really bad about/for one Viking who road a bus, hiked 17 miles, hitched, slept in a very interesting place, and arrived from a state far, far away. He's probably mad at me.

On the way home I heard the temps were forecasted to drop into the high thirties that night.
Everything and everyone was SODDEN.
I'll stand by the decision.

That five and half inches of rain had fallen on ground already soaked by two days of almost continuous rain and sprinkle. Every creek and river we passed for a few hundred miles was well over its banks. In fact, our way out was blocked by a washed out road and we had to take a detour. I saw a golf course with a lake in the middle of it - where the greens were supposed to be. I saw a 55 MPH sign with water to within 6" of the bottom of the sign. Yeah - it rained. And it was still raining for the first two hours of the drive home.

So the first Iron Viking was a bust. I think my t-shirt designer was prescient when he put water droplets on the shield.

In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. - Genesis 7:11


If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Monday, October 05, 2009


I know, I know…it’s been way too long.
Life has happened and I have just been too busy to sit down and blog.
I resolve to do better.

Woods Walkin'
Went out with a couple friends Woods Walkin’. We built traps and snares, constructed a lean to shelter, discussed fire reflectors and did a wild plant identification walk amongst other things. It’s good just to get out there and smell the smells, see the sights, and feel God’s creation all around you.

Kill, Clean and Butcher
I have given two classes and taught five students to kill, clean and butcher rabbits. Not a “fun” thing but necessary for the cycle of life. I remember LOVING the movie “Jeremiah Johnson” when I was a kid. Man, that’s what I wanted to BE. I made a buckskin shirt, built a Green River knife from a kit and even got a Thompson Center .50 caliber Hawken kit. Then I wrote the American Mountain Man association (no email back then) and was just crushed when they told me I had to be 18 years old to join. But back to the movie: years later when I watched it as an adult I realized there was a lot wrong with that tale. For one thing (and our point of the moment) Jeremiah comes back from some woods walkin’ and just dumps a rabbit carcass – with the hide still on it, into a cook pot. Yeah, riiiiiiight. The students I taught over the past few weeks at least know how to properly deal with a rabbit.

Pears and apples are all in and we have been giving classes on canning and “putting up” reserves of food. This is becoming a several times a week deal and we do it at our house, at the church and at other folks’ houses. This is also a time of fellowship and just slowing down to be with each other. Plus we end up with yummy, nutritious food!

Our church has been growing by leaps and bounds and not just in numbers (although we have seen a 30% increase over the past two months) but also in the Spirit, in Discipline, in Works and in Faith. This keeps me very happily very busy.

We had a little bonfire the other day to which we invited all our friends and family – whether the attend our church or not. The weather was perfect, we had a cloudy start to the day but it ended with clear, cool skies lit by a full moon – and our two fires. We sang and played instruments, and ate, and talked and just fellowshipped and it was wonderful.

The Immediate Future
Iron Viking is coming up soon and we’ve been doing a lot to get ready for it as well. I’m quite sure it will provide fodder for future entries as well as some gear I’m going to test out this week before the adventure begins.

Don’t give up on me – I haven’t given up on you!

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. - 1 John 4:9


If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America