It has Been a Wild Week on the Homestead

These young raccoons observed our late-night dog walk from a tree and we observed them back.
These young raccoons observed our late-night dog walk from a tree and we observed them back.

And by that, I mean a week filled with wildlife here at the homestead.

An eight-point buck has been hanging around, probably eating all the apples that fell from the trees. My wife and two guests had seen it and then one morning when I was walking the dog, we startled him. He bedded down on a spit of land between the creek and the road and when we walked by, he didn’t move. Then I made eye contact, and he knew he had been spotted, so he jumped to his feet and bounded into the deeper woods. This fellow better be gone in a few weeks or he’ll be some hunter’s supper. Maybe even mine.

A few days ago, while on the late night dog walk, I turned and something in the tree looked bright. For a moment, I thought it was a lightning bug, but the fireflies were gone for the season. Then there was another, and I realized as I was seeing the golden reflection of an animal’s eye. Because it was a tree, my first thought was “owl,” as I have seen them before. When I got closer, I could see it was a raccoon. Actually, it was four juvenile raccoons on a field trip up the tree, although I can only see three in the admittedly pixilated photo.

While seeing the buck excited the dog, she didn’t notice the raccoon, possibly because they were well above our head. Just as well. She almost dislocated my arm when the next critter ran by.

A Wildlife First

Two nights after seeing the raccoons, we surprised a bobcat. It was walking across the road as we came up the bank from the stream where the dog gets a drink. The beam from my headlamp caught it, and you could see the cat think “What the hell?” for a second and then leap into action and take off. The dog was thrilled and dragged me along after it for a few feet, but the cat was long gone. (Don’t ask me how a 90 pound dog can exert so much force on a 200+ pound man; I think it must have to do with using all four feet. But after owning this beast, I will never again question the pulling power of a sleigh dog.)

I had not seen a bobcat in person before. We think this may explain the unusual scat we’ve seen three times in the past few months.

It makes me doubly happy that a welded-wire fence and an electric fence protect our hens.

My wife saw a bear half a mile down the road earlier this year, and there have been other more recent sightings, but I have yet to see one this fall. If the dog and I do, hopefully she will bark it away. We have also not seen any coyotes lately, but we often hear them yipping at night. The bobcat was small enough that I would not consider it a threat, but the bears and coyotes are one reason we go armed. Not to shoot an animal we run into, but to be prepared if one attacks me or the dog.

More Food Storage

I know I had decided to hold off on buying more canned meat, but the other day I bought two of the one-pound canned hams and two more cans of bacon-flavored spam. Call it a force of habit. On this same trip, I bought three more pastas, six boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix, and three pounds of split peas to bottle in the quart jars with oxygen absorbers. I can fit 2.5 boxes of cornbread in a quart jar. A pound and a half of split peas will fill one. I expect this adds another week of food to our prepper pantry. The ham will be a nice addition to the split pea soup, which we enjoy.

We now have 18 quart jars. I think I will stop when I get to 24. When I added these items to my inventory, I realized how much food we already have. We need to start rotating out the older stuff.

While shopping for dried beans, the extent of the higher prices shocked me. They have increased in price by 50 percent. It seems like it was just a few months ago when I could buy a pound of beans for less than a dollar, but now most are between $1.30 to $1.50. Yikes! I decided I have enough beans, so I bought the split peas as a compromise.

Worn Boots

My farm boots finally gave up the ghost. The sole wraps upwards onto the front of the toe, and that part delaminated and started to peel off, threatening the integrity of the boot. I used Loctite Shoe Glue to make a repair, and then two weeks later, I had to do it again. Despite the need to re-apply the glue, I found the Loctite performed better than the Shoe Goo product I had tried a couple of years ago. Neither of them lasted long enough to consider the boot repaired, but the Loctite lasted long enough that it would get me home in a pinch.

I have since bought a new pair of farm boots, and despite looking at the Muck Boot, which I like, I bought a pair of DryShod farm boots. One thing I like about them is they said right on the boot that they are made for a temperature range from -25 to 75°F. They also have a very robust-looking lug sole. One of my complaints about my last pair is that in very cold weather my feet would get cold, so we’ll see if the DryShod’s are any better. I am hoping to get at least three years out of these, so it will be interesting to see how they hold up.

Higher Prices

Like food, the cost of boots has soared. I purchased a pair of Danner Pronghorn boots in 2021 for $118. While shopping for farm boots, I saw the identical pair of Danners for $240. I went back to the store when I had purchased them, and they were $220 there. Online, they were $270. Basically, the cost of these boots doubled since Ibought them. I hurried home and applied some leather conditioner to my existing boots, hoping they will last a few more years.

In early 2022, I bought a pair of inexpensive Red Head hiking boots at Bass Pro. They look like a pair of boots Merrell might have sold a few years ago. They appeared sturdy and were waterproof, so I picked them up. These are not farm boots or even wood chopping boots, but they are good for a hike or a dog walk. They also became the boots I wore to town when I wasn’t wearing one of my larger 8-inch boots. They were comfortable and I put quite a few miles on them while walking the dog, but after about 15 months, the toe began to peel back on this pair as well. I checked online and they were still $69.95. I bought two more pairs. By this time next year, I predict they will be anywhere from $99 to $119.

Here’s a big question for shoe and boot manufacturers: Why don’t you stich this piece of the sole to the toe of the boot? Why rely on glue to hold your shoes together? That may keep the sole attached to the mid sole, but not to the front of the boot.

This is an obvious weakness. A couple years after the SHTF, I expect we’ll all be wearing shoes held together with duct tape.

Video of the Day

I just watched this video and I was like, “yup.” Yet another reason to get out of town.

If you think this guy looks a little wild or crazy, I would say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover or a man by his haircut.” Chadd Wright is a retired Navy Seal and is now a competitive ultrarunner, meaning he runs ultramarathons of 50 to 250 miles. He is also intelligent and his videos can be humorous. If you spend time on YouTube , he is worth following.

I like his litany of what people who live in cities miss. I know I see far more stars now than I ever did before, and I know what stage the moon is in because I see it frequently. I would add sounds like the wind in the trees and the creek burbling over rocks, with the hoot or the screatch of an owl. If you leave the city for survival reasons, like I did, you may be surprised at how much it improves your life before the SHTF.