The Older Brother’s Yankee Farm Report

      32 Comments on The Older Brother’s Yankee Farm Report

Greetings fellow Fat Heads!

Tom’s getting ready to educate another batch of university students on The Wisdom of Crowds effect (and hopefully get a good video), so I get to occupy the Big Chair for the week.

Tom gives regular updates on how Chareva and he are integrating their lifestyle with the land they’re on.  I don’t live on acreage, but I’ve been moving along a similar path up North here, starting with buying raw milk and pastured eggs a couple of years ago from an acquaintance — now friend — Linda, who I’d met via Garrick Veenstra, an all-natural, no chemicals, local vegetable farmer (those were some of my first guest posts).  I thought it would be fun to give you an update.  As Tom and I actually communicate mostly through the comments on this blog, we’re not comparing notes often, so I’ve found it interesting how similar our paths tend to run.

First a topic Tom hasn’t really hit on here — what most folks in this country would call “garbage” or “waste.”

A friend of mine who’s also working towards self-sufficiency on his own small property (a few acres) worked out a deal with the produce manager at one of the stores of a large national food chain. He picks up the unsalable produce they normally pay to have hauled off, and has been building a few compost piles on his property.

The thing is, we Americans have been trained to be pretty discriminating about what we consider good food.  Not well trained, just trained.  We won’t buy fruits or vegetables that aren’t just the right size, or isn’t just the right color, or has even a little blemish.  So since we’ve all been trained that only “perfect” looking food is good food (even though that means it’s probably been bred for looks, low cost, and ability to ship instead of flavor), the store employees routinely have to go through and throw out any food that doesn’t meet the Miss America standard of beauty.  Plus, since commodity veggies and fruits tend to be way cheaper than labor costs, the most efficient thing to do is to pitch any carton or flat or bag that contains even a few rejects.

Fortunately for me (or unfortunately for my friend if you want to look at it that way), there’s a small trailer park behind the treeline of his property, and it’s inhabited with a few of those type of people who start calling the health department, fire department, police department, village president, and anyone they can think of whenever someone does something weird — like building a compost pile on their own property.  This helps keep themselves from thinking about why they don’t have jobs, and live in a trailer park.  Everything he’s done, including building his compost pile, is by the book, and there’s a couple of hilarious stories there, but he got tired of the nuisance and asked if I thought Linda would be interested taking the loads for awhile to build up a compost pile at her farm so he could get a break from his neighbors.

Plus it was getting to be a bit much for his small property, anyway.  So he’s been dropping it off at her farm once or twice a week, taking one home for himself once in awhile, and on my weekly run to Linda’s for milk and eggs, I swing by my buddy’s office, swap vehicles, then go do the pickup and head for the farm, unload, check on the chickens and cows (getting to that shortly), then swap back on my way home.

How much of this “waste” are we talking?  Well, here’s a picture of my buddy’s pickup truck after we’ve unloaded most of one run at Linda’s farm…


… That’s a big Chevy truck and the bed holds four rows across, five deep and three high, so anywhere between 50 and 60 of those boxes’ worth.  Maybe 5% has fuzz showing by the time he picks it up, maybe 25% is overripe, 20% blemished, 20% wilted, and 20% looks OK.  The other 10% is gorgeous — it was just hanging out with a few bad apples!

That’s one load from one of several stores in a medium-sized suburban community, and he has to pick it up at least three times a week to keep up.  Of food that we Americans call “garbage,” but a single load like this would start a food riot in probably 85% of the world.  Makes you want to cry.

After we untie the plastic bags, we dump the produce, put the plastic in a pile for the garbage, then were breaking down the cardboard boxes and either burning them or hauling them off.  Then after my buddy mentioned that the cardboard boxes were great dry matter for the pile (duh!), we started throwing them back on.  It looked like this (this is probably two loads)…

I finally — three months in — figured out that if we put the first box we’ve emptied right on top of the pile and then empty the next box box right into it, then pull out the plastic bag (then rinse, lather, repeat), we don’t have to break them down, they stay in place, and it cuts the time to get everything unloaded in half.  Hey, I’m not stupid.  I’m just slow.

We normally let it build up for a couple of weeks.  Linda moved the coop for her pastured egg chickens next to the compost pile and they love poking through it.  They especially go for anything with seeds in it.  It’s made a notable difference in the eggs Linda gets from her chickens, and they were already way superior to a store bought egg before they had access to the compost heap.  And yeah, the guy in front of the picture is named Einstein…

Every couple of weeks, my buddy swings by with his small tractor and dumps some wood chips from a huge pile Linda’s had aging for a couple of years onto the fruit and veggie pile, mixes it and mounds it up.

[n.b., Fat Heads: having friends who own trucks and their own tractors is way better than owning your own truck and tractor.  I also have a friend who owns a pontoon boat.  If I can find a friend who owns his own plane, I’m set!]

A few weeks later, it looks good enough to play King of the Mountain on (that’s The Grandkids, who’ve you’ve seen here before)…

That’s beautiful soil for next year’s garden beds.

Moving on, a few weeks before Tom reported their chicken house building project, I was taking delivery of 50 meat chickens and setting them up in an old construction trailer converted to a brooding house/coop at Linda’s farm.  When we first got our two cows onto Linda’s farm to pasture, I’d asked Linda about raising some meat chickens.  The original idea was to keep them on the cows’ pasture in one or two “chicken tractors” somewhat like Chareva’s chicken house, but lighter construction, and then move them around every couple of days.  Cow pies to a chicken are like Pecan Pie to us.  They scratch them up for the bugs, spread the piles better for the soil, and it drives both chicken and cow parasites nucking futs, disrupting their breeding cycles.  That’s the true Joel Salatin model, one of my favorite authors and something of an icon in the real/local food movement.

Linda’s sister, who now lives off the farm, suggested that we rehab the old construction trailer, which she’d set up as a coop a few years earlier while she lived there and kept several dozen egg layers.  The “almost done” nature of the trailer, and the late start we got made it a pretty easy decision.  Linda does the daily feeding, watering, and general keeping an eye on the chickens, I bought the chickens, buy the feed and supplies, and we’ll share the “bounty” at processing time.

I got 25 Freedom Rangers, which is a hybrid bred strictly as a meat bird.  That means they grow fast, and there’s no interest in their egg-laying capability since they get to the roaster long before they’d be ready to lay eggs.  Since they’re a hybrid, even if you kept some with the idea of hatching your own supply, they wouldn’t be the same.  Unlike America’s commodity meat chicken, the White Cornish Cross, the Freedom Rangers were developed to the French Label Rouge Free Range standard, which means they do well on pasture and aren’t plagued with the health issues common to the Cornish Cross.

The other 25 are Plymouth Barred Rocks, a heritage breed that is as close as it gets to what your grandmother might’ve had running around the farm. They free-range pretty well, and are a solid “dual purpose” bird, meaning they can be raised for meat and/or eggs. Unfortunately for this group, I’ve already got an egg supplier! Here’s what they all looked like a couple of weeks ago, at around 2 1/2 months…

They all were the same size and two days old when I got them on September 12th, but the reddish Freedom Rangers are now a full third bigger on average than the Rocks.

Although these birds are destined for the dinner table, we feel our part of the bargain means they need the opportunity to (to quote the aforementioned Joel Salatin) “express their chicken-ness.”  Keeping them in a coop (even though they’ve got lots of room) and giving them only store bought fed without ever getting to scratch for bugs in the fresh air and sunshine would just make me an extremely small scale Tyson.  Not what I’m going for.  So, on days when it’s not brutal weather, Linda lets them do just that…


If you’re in it as a business, breeding so a bird grows to processing weight (around 6-8 pounds) in about 90 days for the Freedom Rangers vs. 120 day for the Rocks means you’re buying 25% less feed and turning your inventory that much faster, too.  By comparison, the commodity market darling Cornish Cross, pathetic as they can be, are ready to process in 6-8 weeks.  So you (or a customer) has to be ready to invest twice as much time and feed to get a Freedom Ranger, and even more for a true heritage chicken.

We do now have, however, a not major but at least minor offset to the feed disadvantage.  Remember that compost pile we diverted from the Great American Waste Stream?  Well, hey, chickens were the original homestead garbage disposal…

So as we unload each delivery, Linda and I separate out as many apples, squash, ears of corn, pomegranates (boy, do they LOVE pomegranates — almost all seeds!), etc., as we can and then she gives those to the chickens in the morning before putting out any of the store bought feed.  It cuts the feed outlays almost in half!  At around $15 for a 50# bag, that adds up when they’re now at a size that they can easily go through two bags in about 4 or 5 days if they’re only getting the feed.  They’re also be happier, healthier, and should be tastier.

Now that this whole group is coming up on 90 days, we’ve decided to process a small “practice” batch of 4 or 5 of the Freedom Rangers this weekend as this is all of ours’ first experience (Besides Linda and myself, The Oldest Son and a friend from work have volunteered for duty).  We’ll probably process the rest of the Freedom Rangers the next week, and then wait a few more weeks for the Rocks to get to processing weight.  You can pay to have the birds all processed for around $1.50 each, which isn’t bad, but the time and travel cost (about 60 miles each way) make it pretty pricey for anything under a hundred or more chickens.  Another reason we committed at the beginning to processing at least the first batch of 50 birds ourselves was that, although we know it’s not something to enjoy, it seemed to be the most honest way to show our respect for the birds, and so that we’ll better appreciate what procuring our own food really means.

(I was thinking of using that experience in a later guest post, but then Tom beat me to it last week after Chareva was “hot-rodding” their chicken house around the yard!)

I know I’ve been a little wordy, but one more quick update.  The cows (Tom and Chareva are in on half of one of them) have been doing really well and growing through what up until recently has been a pretty mild Fall and Winter.  Here’s Tartare…

And this is Royale…

I’d read about an idea that’s been gaining some attention in the grass-fed beef circles — fodder. The idea is that you soak grain seeds for a day, then spread them in trays that will drain, and water them daily for about a week. Seeds only need moisture and a bit of light for the first week or so of growth, which end up around 7 to 10 times the weight of the original seed.  You’ve probably been fed fodder at some point in your life, although on the menu it’s called “sprouts.”

It’s more nutritious than hay, and cheaper since you’re getting a lot of added volume for a little water and time, so livestock can be supplemented or even fed mainly fodder over the winter and maintain or even gain weight. Linda, who’s incredibly patient with my tendency to get enthusiastic about ideas where I think of it, and then leave the most of the work to her, has got a trial system started.  You can see about half of the setup here…

Each shelf is started a day after the prior shelf of trays, so you end up with a rotating daily supply. The cows are starting to look forward to their daily ration (and the chickens go nuts over the leftovers). This means we’ll be able to wait until the end of January to get the cows processed. That’s good because although they’re already at a good weight, the custom meat processing operations pretty much shut down to anything other than deer during the December/mid-January Illinois deer hunting seasons.  This way we’ll be able to keep adding weight up to processing time.

Whew, if you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. Up next, for those of you who are interested, and fair warning if you’re not, I’ve had a major epiphany and intend to elaborate on how Obamacare could quite possibly save the entire health care system, radically improve the health of most Americans (who weren’t already among us Fat Heads, that is), supercharge the economy, and restore our liberty. I’ve even already thought up a bumper sticker:

“Let’s just get it over with —
Vote Democrat!”

Catchy, huh?


The Older Brother


32 thoughts on “The Older Brother’s Yankee Farm Report

  1. Kerry

    Would love to be able to do what you’re doing. Looking forward to your next post.

    Thanks. We’ll see on the next post — usually talking about Obamabcare has about a 1:1 “liked” to “pissed off” ratio.


  2. neal matheson

    A farmer I know recently bought 26 bins (each bin is a quarter ton) of Braeburn apples at juice prices. They were rejected by Waitrose (a good British supermarket with dreadful nutrition advice naturally) for being too big at 80mm. Yes that is a bit big but the apples were perfect. There was a pretty bad potato harvest lat year and even the major supermarkets were selling slightly more characterful potatos but you should have seen the apologies!.
    Food waste in the UK is insane. I get my tallow from a local butcher who has to pay to have fat removed. I have so much I can’t eat it all and have been turning it into candles. The fat he told me is used to power a publicly subsidised factory or something…..

    You read about these things, but physically unloading that truck bed filled to overflowing with well over half of the food completely edible, then considering all of the malnutrition in this country and around the world really brings it home that we’ve gone truly, unsustainably insane.

    The Older Brother

  3. Joolsinct

    It’s amazing how much you and your brother are alike! (And I mean that as a big compliment, by the way.)

    Loved your post and humor. Thank you for sharing this and I look forward to more in the future.

  4. edella

    I’m a Canadian living in the uk so interested to see the back to land carition between here and there the states. I am also an urban dweller and am contemplating a greenhouse and just a few chicken to keep my hand in (and my feet out of the supermarket for a bit of the time.

    Not too much animal sharing here yet, but I’m sure that will arrive eventually.

    Do you feed your cows hay for the winter then, or do you actually mean silage (the s;ohjy;y fermented winter version of hay they would eat in the fields in the summer. Or is it the same thing then?

    I do have one small linguistic niggle concerning the word ‘processing’ and would consider the word ‘slaughter’ to be more respectful to an animal. They are living creatures that will be nourishing us in due course, not just a raw material to be processed.

    If I keep chickens for eggs, I will face this issue of calling a spade a spade as well — I don’t think that I will be starting a pension scheme for eggless hens!

    I’d encourage you to go for it. Keeping a few backyard chickens seems to be getting very popular with people for a number of reasons, and most cities in the states are, if not friendly, at least not hostile to a small flock (usually if there ordinances, they prohibit roosters and slaughtering on site). Do check first though (anonymously if possible!).

    In places with restrictions, the real food/locavore movements are getting more organized and more vocal and have been successful in pressuring local governing bodies to lighten up.

    We got our cows last spring from a straight grass-fed operator after they were weaned, so they’ve never been on hay.

    Some people create silage, Linda has a local farmer who has mowed and rolled hay from some of her pasture some seasons and kept some on the farm as just hay without the fermenting, but not this year. I think with the fodder as a supplement to what’s still in the pasture, we should be able to make it through without hay.

    Of course the chickens (and cows) will first be slaughtered. The usage here as I understand and use it is slaughter is the act of killing the animal (in the quickest, least stressful way). For cows, slaughter includes removing the hide, hooves, and head. The steps of preparing the carcass to the point of being ready for the kitchen — scalding, plucking, eviscerating, and breaking down to pieces if not left as a whole fryer for chickens; breaking down to either halves, quarters, primal cuts and/or steaks for beef — is the processing.

    Custom processors here for our cows, for instance, have a “slaughter” charge for each animal, and then a per pound processing charge based on the after-slaughter hanging weight for the processing into cuts and burger.

    I used “process” as a shorthand way of referring to both steps, as you can’t get to the processing without the slaughter; while you could slaughter without processing.


  5. Linda

    Nice to “see” you again, Older Brother!

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post and immediately forwarded it to my brother, who has recently moved to his “few acres.” He has put in a garden, but the soil is terrible, so he’s been reading up on composting to improve his soil. He recently showed me an article about this incredibly detailed composting operation with building instructions. Cost about $125. I hope he’ll take heed and repeat the composting operation you have. He’s not a good builder anyway.

    I already knew of the terrible waste in grocery stores. One of our local stores used to pack up several pieces of not quite perfect produce and mark it down incredibly low. I used to look at it first, because out of a pack of 8 pieces, there might only be two that were wilted. Now, their brilliant management has declared that they can’t do this and it is all thrown away. Makes me sick to think of some of the elderly who live on little who no longer can go there and get nice produce! I think it’s criminal!

    Keep up the good work. I really look forward to that next post!



    Just read a good article on composting (can’t remember where — Mother Earth News, Stockman Grass Farmer, Acres USA, something like that) that emphasized that the number one rule for great compost is to not think about it too much! You can drive yourself nuts trying to hit carbon/nitrogen ratios, temperature, turning the pile, etc., etc., etc. and then get frustrated at all of the work and give up. Or, just dump it all in a pile and let nature do what it’s been doing since the first microbe.

    The sad part is that between subsidies that make commodity food so cheap, and regs that make labor so expensive, the manager may actually be doing the most rational thing in an irrational system.

    The Older Brother

    1. Cindy C

      I worked at 2 grocery stores. There was one that we just left bakery goods out of date, outside, including donuts in bags, and they were picked up by ???
      The other store, we marked down bakery goods sill in date, but going out of date the next day. Then, what did not sell, went into the “hole” We hated that waste,

  6. Drew @ Willpower Is For Fat People

    That last bit was just to make Tom’s head explode, wasn’t it? 🙂

    Hi, Drew!

    I’m telling you, it’s got a chance of putting America right back on track.

    Admittedly, it may not be what all of the folks who crammed this down America’s throat had in mind (well, that’s not actually where the cramming is taking place, but this is a family-friendly blog). But I really believe this could be one of the most mind-blowing lessons in Unintended Consequences the world has ever seen…

    The Older Brother

    1. Pierson

      When it comes right down to it, however, will enough people learn? What about the people in charge? Really, there’s always people ready to blame extenuating circumstances for the failure of a well-intentioned system that looks good on paper, and reason be damned if anyone is making money off of it (even governments that killed millions of their own took decades to die!). Honestly, what do you do when folks are too wrapped up in mainstream ‘information’ and good intentions to look at facts? Worse still, what about those who believe that if even a single death is prevented, then all is forgiven? What if you’re marginalized and targeted for believing in things we all ‘know’ are wrong (like no welfare, or ending anti-discrimination laws)? It’s like being able to see the future, but nobody believes you because ‘the gods told the high priest that he is the only one who can do that’. It’d be fine if it was just their belief, but before long they’re saying you’re possessed, and pawing through your things!

      I think the odds are better now than ever. I hope to elaborate in the next post, but I used to always tell the kids in the high school Economics class where I’m a guest speaker about how government grows by means of concentrated benefits (whether a welfare check, “clunker” rebate, or a million dollar ag subsidy check) but dispersed costs.

      Sure, they blow through billions of dollars and corrupt everything they touch, but none of them individually costs you enough to worry about. The Solyndra fiasco, for example, wee-wee’ed away half a billion dollars, but that only works out to about $1.50 per American, still only about 5 bucks each if you just count people who pay taxes, so how much time and effort is it worth to you? Why should people learn, or think it affects their lives?

      I also talk about how the victims of government programs aren’t often hurt directly — they’re hurt through lost opportunities, which are unseen. Minimum wage increases, for instance, always result in lower employment, particularly among young, inner-city, minority men. So, some suburban white kid may be tickled that he’s got an extra $10 a week for flipping the same number of burgers, and sees it as a good thing. Meanwhile, no one gets a letter in the mail explaining someone had been thinking of opening or expanding a small business and they would’ve had a job, but now it’s not going to happen.

      So people who are just trying to live their lives have other things to worry about, and don’t see how they are truly affected in every way by government that has metastasized beyond anything sustainable.

      Until now.

      Nearly six million people — most of them who probably never really paid much attention to any of this — actually have received that letter:

      “Dear Customer:

      Due to requirements of the Affordable Care Act, we will not be renewing your existing insurance policy…”

      Now, they’re going to care. Stay tuned.


  7. Forever Vegan

    Ahh look. Tom’s smelly older brother also likes to torture animals. I wanted to let you know that you’re a disgusting human being. You have a really stupid face and have an infected colon. You’re a libertarian loser who hasn’t gotten laid in years.

    You disgust me.

    your farts smell

    -a vegan forever

    P.s. Libertarians will never be in charge.

    Well hey there, Veg!

    Thanks for spending so much of your time obsessing on us. Just a suggestion — you may want to ask some folks who don’t disgust you (if any of them ever actually let you hang out with them) — but they’d probably tell you that healthy, well-adjusted people don’t normally insist on lurking around people who disgust them. They just stay away.

    BTW, what else do you vegans do for fun when you’re not running around trying to smell people’s farts?

    The beauty of being a libertarian is that you understand economics enough to realize that Libertarians don’t have to be “in charge.” In fact, you only have to barely understand what libertarian means to get that being “in charge” is pretty much the opposite of what we want. Most folks — even if they don’t agree — get that pretty easily, once they’ve heard a few of the basic tenets of the philosophy. Maybe for yourself, you could make it a stretch goal.

    Fortunately, with your heroes in charge, the libertarian goal of limited government is getting closer every day as the whole thing collapses under its own weight. Could be a little ugly for awhile. Fortunately, Tom and I and people who think they’re responsible for their own lives are working at getting ready. Real food is part of it. I assume you’ve got a couple of emergency soybean fields stashed somewhere, no?

    Thanks for caring.


    1. Dave

      @ Older Brother, considering the juvenile level of insults, it would seem that your vegan poster is a child, possibly a teenage girl. She may even have an eating disorder and body image issues. Please take care in responding to such a person.

      Or a middle-aged male vegan, who generally look like teen-aged girls with eating disorders and body issues. I’ll be careful, thanks.


      1. Sally

        The latter gets my vote. Teenage anorexic girls are trolling pro-Ana sites, unfortunately. Only bitter, gnarled, middle-aged vegetarians would bother with meat-eater sites.

      2. Dave

        As a middle aged male who used to believe in the principles of veganism (but unable to actually give up animal food completely), I would have to say that using school yard insults was beneath me even when I believed in a plant-based-diet.

        I did attempt to respectfully argue in favor of my vegan beliefs using what I had learned from the usual plant-based-diet propaganda sources, but I was open minded enough to accept a challenge from someone on Facebook to read Good Calories, Bad Calories. Thanks to people like Taubes, Lierre Keith, and of course Tom Naughton, for changing my life!

        There’s occasionally vegans who comment here once in awhile are are completely respectful. I’d guess there are a few more who follow without commenting. Any movement can have its zealots — it just seems some more than others.


    2. Live Free Or Diet

      “Forever Vegan” is tempting me to change my handle to “Cheese is not murder.”

      One of the recent Mother Earth News mags had an article on how plants seem to have feelings. What kind of lowlife would murder a defenseless plant, for crying out loud? Sometimes, at night, I can hear the carrots scream.


      1. Pierson

        ^Seriously, this. Really, Jainism (on which veganism is based) doesn’t permit eating grains and tubers (because they require the death of the whole plant and unborn plants to do so), as well as fermented and rotten food, for the sake of the microbes (who can live in our gut, so that is a moot point). I say, if one never wants to maim or cause\support death in eating, then eating (fresh) roadkill, and blood, unfertilized eggs, raw and fermented dairy, fruit, and coconut (all homegrown, of course) would be the way to go! I have done this for many years, so what’s their excuse?

        Wow. Gotta hand it to you for going all in. I don’t think I’ll be sitting on the side of the road with a napkin anytime soon, though.

        Have you heard a vegan response to that one?

        The Older Brother

        1. Pierson

          I have, and it really is a dogmatic philosophy. The general responses are that it’s terrible that I’m ‘enslaving’ the goats I adopted, and that I should give the roadkill a proper burial (I’d try, but their family is hard to contact). Then there’s of course the standard ‘cruelty and exploitation’, which I found odd, since the goats don’t even wince when they’re milked\bled. Moreover, they seem quite happy to stay on my (open) land and eat grass all day, and have never once tried to run away to the nearby open forest. The cancer and diabetes [I’m giving myself] is of course mentioned as well, although whenever I mention that my blood sugar, respiratory, and other health issues are greatly controlled without medication since eating this way, they’re eerily quiet.
          Funny enough, whenever I mention that veggies, tubers, and most seeds want to live as much as any living non-plant, I’m usually told that it doesn’t count because the plant doesn’t have a central nervous system, or that they aren’t ‘sentient’ (whatever that means). Apparently, that they feel pain and have a desire to live (as is evidenced by their many defenses, I say) isn’t worth paying attention to because they don’t have a face. Moreover, I was surprised to find out that many of them have no objections to killing fleas, ticks, ants, roaches, mice, etc.!
          Really, I do respect and agree with their good intentions (TM), and do want to live by them. So wouldn’t the best way to do that be to really focus on what the living thing wants? I say, if you’re not acting on anything in a way that causes it damage to ,or loss of, anything it owns that it doesn’t want damaged or lost, then what’s the problem?

          Also, with regards to the roadkill thing, I live near a semi-busy country road in a rural\agricultural area, so it’s not hard to find a deer\possum\raccoon by the side of the road. I don’t eat much meat anyway, so a raccoon could easily last 2 weeks, and a small deer, about 3 months. The road is en route to work, so I carry them back at the end of the day, and process them at home. It seems a little extreme to some folks, but since I’m not to keen on killing, It works.

          Fascinating. Truly!

          I don’t mind good intentions but as (I think it was) Milton Friedman said, “good intentions are much over-rated as a virtue.” What I think best describes them is that (this is from Lierre Keith for sure) their worldview is immature. They aren’t willing to face the trade-offs that every living being makes, and refuse to acknowledge that every living thing depends on something else dying at some level to sustain their own lives.

          Which is OK because when I assume room temperature I don’t begrudge all of the little critters that will be feasting on my remains a thing.

          Thanks for your insights.

          The Older Brother

      2. Walter Bushell

        Plants have plenty of defenses, mainly chemical not limited to anutrients and poisons, but others exist, including recruiting animals as defenders.

  8. Forever Vegan

    “Could be a little ugly for awhile. Fortunately, Tom and I and people who think they’re responsible for their own lives are working at getting ready.”

    Ah, so the truth comes out. The two of you are nothing more than wannabe preppers. Ladies and Gentleman – Jerry Naughton is prepped for the collapse of the free world. He buys raw milk and has a handful of chickens, watch out! He could survive a nuclear winter of he wanted to.

    In reality, nothing’s going to collapse. You’ll be dead and rotting in the ground before any major changes happen in the first world. Want collapse, instability, and limited government? Haul your fat snarky ass over to Syria. I know their top concern is most certainly raw milk and school lunch programs. It’s hilarious when the majority of Toms posts are not even paleo related anymore, but just moaning about the government. You two both have “old white people problems”. Historically, those have been the best kid of problems to have.

    Eating meat sure does make you stupid.

    -a vegan forever

    P.s. You’re face on the site banner at is really stupid looking.

    Um, it used to be that thinking it’s a good idea to have a couple of week’s worth of food and essentials on hand, the ability to defend your loved ones, and friends with common values who look out for each other was just called “being an American.”

    I don’t expect the free world to collapse. In fact, I expect it to re-emerge, maybe way sooner than I’d hoped, and it could in fact be ugly for awhile. I’m not even sure there is such a thing as a wannabe prepper, there’s just various stages of being ready in case of disruption. Especially considering that our whole commodity, mass-market centered system only contains about three day’s worth of food.

    Your simple, unwavering faith in the government, agribusiness, big food, and corporate America’s ability to help out in case there’s a problem is heartening, though. After all, it worked out OK after Katrina, right?

    I’m not sure you’d get many Syrians to agree they’ve got “limited government,” what with it constantly bombing and gassing those poor souls, but your ability to feel the pain of the entire world, and still have time to counsel me on my white people problems AND critique my blog is truly an inspiration.

    Blessings to you.

  9. Chareva

    Great post, Jerry. Excellent suggestion on sourcing compost “garbage”. I started a lasagna garden but need more noodles!

    Thanks. You’ve got the perfect setup for a great compost pile. Remind Tom though, borrowed trucks are best!

    See you all in a couple of weeks.


  10. JCM

    I was just thinking about how you guys making Fathead (which is great) then giving us this “interesting” blog colored with your political insights is just like how religious groups evangelize. “Here’s a delicious free dinner, oh by the way there’ll be a short service before we eat but you don’t mind do you?” Am I right or what?

    Dang — you’re on to us!

    Fathead is a result of the political philosophy Tom and I share (although I don’t share in the credit for Fat Head). That philosophy puts the freedom of the individual in front of the wishes of the group, and understands that the job of science is to constantly question through actively trying to disprove hypotheses — especially ones that “everyone knows” are true.

    I tell people that it’s unfortunate but true that you can’t really talk about economics now without it being a conversation about politics. That’s because government at some level now inserts itself into almost every transaction that takes place in our society, at levels that would never have been imagined or tolerated in this country just a couple of generations ago.

    It’s now also gotten to the same point with food, medicine, and your health. So if you want to have a realistic discussion on those topics, many times how the government is driving, distorting, or interfering with them is going to be part of it. It’s not good, but it is true, so we’ll be talking about it.

    That’s about as short of a sermon as I do.


    1. JCM

      Thanks for that response. I’m going to respectfully disagree. I think that because you and your brother are libertarians, you’re more inclined to make government the bad guy in all this and overlook any other possible culprits. For example, in your view it’s the government’s fault that we have our current dietary recommendations, either by virtue of their corruption or stupidity. That may be partly true. But I think you are totally overlooking the role of private companies–the big food producers, agribusiness, Monsanto etc. And, forgive me for saying so, but I think your political philosophy does not allow you to critique these entities because it is anathema to you to criticize a private business operating in the open market.

      You mentioned economics, which has been described as the study of incentives. However much you may dislike government, you would I agree (I think?) that government has at least a theoretical incentive to keep its citizens healthy. (You may think Government is incapable of doing so, and you may be right, but that’s a different point–the point is that a government stands to benefit if its citizenry is healthy.) Monsanto and big food companies really have no such incentive. I would be able to stomach your political slant much more if I heard an honest assessment of how big corporations are playing a role here.

      You’re making the very honest and common mistake of assuming that any bunch of a**holes who wear suits and work for an organization owned by stockholders are “operating in the free market.”

      The big food producers, agribusiness, Monsanto, etc. (let’s not forget Big Pharma, Big Banks, Big Finance, Big Auto, and on and on) don’t operate in the free market, they have no intention of operating in the free market, they spend millions insulating themselves from the free market, and they’re just pleased as punch that you and most people think they are part of the free market.

      None of these turds could get away with 20% of what they do without the protection and coercive power of their enforcement arm — Big Government. I’d call that a critique, wouldn’t you?

      It’s not that Monsanto, et al, have no incentive to provide you with better products, or be better corporate citizens. It’s just that those incentives and rewards aren’t nearly as profitable or certain as the incentive to pay off — ahem, excuse me… “influence” the legislative, bureaucratic, and regulatory systems that comprise our government and well over 90% of its current activities.

      Now the thing is, I do think that most people who work for those organizations are basically decent, smart, hard working folks who aren’t out to poison the world. They’re just trying to make a living providing what people are paying for — whether it’s you or a government or a subsidized farmer writing the check. So if all of the various distortions that have been built into the system disappeared tomorrow, the Monsantos of the world won’t disappear with them. Sorry. What they will do is go back to creating real value that real people pay for with real money.

      And sorry again, but a just government has absolutely zero incentive in “keeping its citizens healthy” or educating them, feeding them, housing them, or anything else other than to protect them from theft, fraud, or the use of coercive force. If it has those extra duties you seem to think it should be handling, it also has to have the power to make you do anything it — or Monsanto — thinks you should do. You know, for your own good. So far, they’re winning.


      1. JCM

        Ok a couple things–

        In the last paragraph of your reply, you switched out the word I had used (“incentive”) for “duty.” I never said government had a duty to keep its citizens healthy. That must be your libertarian zeal coming through! I just said government had a theoretical incentive (in an economic sense) to keep its citizenry healthy. I don’t think this is a particularly controversial let alone liberal stance. A country where everyone gets sick and dies young will eventually cease to exist. It’s not much use being in charge of a country of no people.

        Whereas Monsanto, or Coca-Cola or Pfizer really do not benefit per se from a healthy nation. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind having a healthy citizenry if they could achieve the same profit margin, but given a choice, they’re going to prefer the sales of their products over the health of their customers.

        As to your point that a lot of big corporations operate under the protection of government–also true, and it really doesn’t contradict what I said. I never said government was incorruptible or infallible. The influence that corporations have in our politics is clearly a problem. (Hopefully you too oppose Citizens United.) You and I agree that the government shares a lot of the blame. I just don’t hear you or Tom blaming the economic incentives of private corporations as being a at all a part of the issue. Take statins, which Tom has certainly railed about, yet I have not heard him particularly critique Big Pharma, which seems like a significant omission. Maybe I missed it though.

        You’re correct, but the idea that a government could have an “incentive” for anything doesn’t have any meaning. It’s not a being that will feel really good about itself if the people under its domain are healthy, or educated, or rich, or fed. To say that the government has some type of incentive or desire or preferred outcome only has meaning if it is conjunction with the desire and intention to cause that outcome. The only mechanism government has to create outcomes, the only incentive it can wield, is force.

        The thing is, those corporations absolutely could not do the things we agree are wrong unless there is a strong government that has given itself the right to coerce or prevent transactions. I have no problem with the Citizens United ruling, and the constant “reforms” that have been blanketed over free speech over the last few decades have done nothing but protect incumbents and the Democrat/Republican duopoly from competition in the same way they protect their corporate owners from competition. The corruption isn’t because we let people spend their own money to influence the debate, the corruption is because we put three trillion dollars a year into a trough which the elected aristocracy will decide who gets.

        I think Tom and I have both been quite vocal about what crapbags many of our corporate citizens are, although it will almost always be discussed in conjunction with the government that is both their captive and enabler. We have no illusions about the receding areas of overlap between “free markets” and “businesses.” We’re absolutely in favor of the former in the event of conflict with the latter. If you’ve not noticed, you may want to take a peek at your own zeal meter.


        1. JCM

          Well I guess we are at an impasse. I respect your views, we just disagree. I don’t see, for example, how a big food or pharmaceutical company would behave less unscrupulously in the absence of government, but I guess you’re convinced government is making things worse.

          But I guess the bigger point is that you and I just view government differently. I don’t view it as an “other.” This isn’t a monarchy. It is (or at least should strive to be) government “of the people, by the people and for the people” as our greatest president said.

          Yeah, certainly a case of different worldviews. Appreciate your sounding off. It makes for more interesting discussions.


    2. Tom Naughton

      Since I’m done with my speech, I’ll jump in on this one. JCM, I’m scratching my head, wondering how you decided you’re a victim of a bait-and-switch. If you watched Fat Head and didn’t grasp that I believe government is incompetent, then you must have missed the part near the end when Dr. Al Sears said, “The only saving grace of government is that they’re incompetent.”

      A reviewer for Lew Rockwell’s site called Fat Head one of the top libertarian films, and one the networks that turned us down did so with a note saying “We did not appreciate the attacks on the government.” (This particular network has no problem attacking the military or the CIA, so “government” to them means “George McGovern.”)

      So if you are stunned by my libertarianism, I’d suggest watching the film again to see if you missed something.

      1. JCM

        Hi Tom,

        First of all, highly honored!

        I am not stunned by your libertarianism. Yes, it is evident in the movie. We liberals may be dumb, but we’re not that dumb. My initial comment was meant to be tongue in cheek, and evidently it failed.

        I enjoy your blog even though I don’t share your politics. And hey it’s useful to read differing points of view anyways. The gist of my unsophisticated thought process on this is that I just feel like corporations shouldn’t get a pass here. Go ahead and scour Obama and George McGovern to your hearts content, but as you and Mark Felt said “Follow the money” right? For me there’s no way to think about our food policy without thinking about who makes money off it.

        [This is Tom, not The Older Brother, since your comment is directed at me.]

        Yes, sorry, I missed the tongue-in-cheek part of it. I don’t think corporations should get a pass either, and despite what you may have heard about libertarians, we don’t believe corporations are run by angels. Far from it. A core libertarian belief is that people act in their own self-interest. The difference between us and liberals is that we believe that principle applies to people in government as well, whereas liberals seem to view the situation as the greedy corporations versus the altruistic good guys in government.

        Rather than type a long explanation here in the comments, I’ll refer you to this post:

  11. Kathy in Texas

    Feel free not to approve this comment. I know this probably isn’t the place to start this conversation. It should be in an email to Tom, but you’re here while I’m thinking about it. Email me if you’d like and skip putting this in the comments – or just ignore me. I can handle it. 😉

    When I was young, I was a liberal, all about saving the *whatever needed saving at the moment*. Because I believed that if we all just care enough, we can make it happen.

    Then I became a realist and a conservative. But that wasn’t a good fit for me either. Still a lot of folks telling me what I could and couldn’t do.

    Then I discovered Fat Head and Tom Naughton! Well, lo and behold, I’m a Libertarian! (Been meaning to tell Tom this for quite a while.)

    But how do we make a difference? I don’t see the Libertarian Party coming to power in my lifetime, so how do we avoid being consumed by our government? Where do I go to learn what I can do for “the cause”? I don’t want to study Libertarianism, I want to live it as best I can within modern day limitations.

    The Libertarian Party (capital “L”) doesn’t have to come to power for libertarian (small “L”) values to succeed. See my next post. Just understand what going on, be ready to discuss with people with open minds, be ready to politely illustrate to the big government types that they’re full of crap, and hang on — it’s going to be a little bumpy. But fun!

    The Older Brother

  12. Chuck

    I would like to see a future farm report titled “Tom & Jerry Butcher a Cow”. I haven’t butchered a cow, but I did butcher the deer that I got years ago when I had a place to go deer hunting. I am no professional by any means (butchering might be the right word), but I got the job done and it was still edible, with little waste. I think processing the animal is part of the hunting process. I don’t have a problem with people paying to have them processed, but every hunter and farmer should experience the animal processing at least once or twice in their lifetime.

    I’m not sure if you have heard of them, but you and Tom would really like the Foxfire books. I have the first three, but hope to get them all some day. They are full of old time folklore, knowledge of how things were done before modern technology, and lots more.

    I’m thinking of processing my next deer (not sure if that’s going to happen this year — it’s the middle of the season and I’m fighting off walking pneumonia), but I consider a cow a bit out of my league. That’s over half a ton you’ve got to deal with.

    The Older Brother

    1. Chuck

      Get well soon. I think a cow is out of my league too. If you have a dog, they love the fresh deer bones.

      Thanks. The dog got in on some deer scraps last year while I finished up field dressing my deer, and is in line for some raw, meaty bones when we get the cows processed.

      The Older Brother

  13. Forever Vegan

    Nice job blocking my last comment.

    The truth really does hurt.

    Jerry Naughton’s butt smells.

    -A vegan forever

    Well, Veg, it’s not that I was blocking you. I just like to spend a little more time when replying to idiots. You know, kind of savor the experience.

    Tom does have a policy around here, though, which you may already be aware of if this is just a new nom de plume for one of our old vegetrollians. We generally let folks like you hang around for awhile to display just how pathetic some of the more shrill of your vegan religion are, and to have some fun. Kind of like poking a snake with a stick. Of course, we only poke snakes in a humane, caring way, because sometimes people start to feel sorry for the snake. They’ll laugh all day when we’re poking a vegan, though!

    Unfortunately, it generally gets old after a few rounds, and always ends up completely pointless, like, well — like this post for instance.

    We’re about done here. If you get some of your human friends to maybe give you a point or two that’s rational (I guess you’ll just have to trust them), we’ll have a look. But you’ve pretty much broken our cardinal rule around here – you’re boring me.

    Have a nice life.

    The Older Brother

  14. Jay Jay

    The first thing I thought when I saw all that excess fruit was “Wine!” And brandy, but that might be a little bit illegal…

    You might want to consider some controlled fermentation of those scraps before you feed them to the chickens and/or compost pile!

    And of course, I would never, ever want to do anything the government said is illegal. Because that would be wrong.

    Actually, I think a bit of uncontrolled fermentation occurs anyway in certain conditions. Happy chickens make for beautiful eggs!

    The Older Brother

  15. Ella

    Re your obnoxious trailer park comments:

    “This helps keep themselves from thinking about why they don’t have jobs, and live in a trailer park.”

    Yeah, your brother may have done everything “by the book” as you say, but my friend who tried composting tells me they attract rats, for sure. In fact, she had to stop because of that.

    Maybe those awful, jobless low lives you mentioned had other concerns you failed to mention. Thank God you’re just a “guest” poster. Later, dude.

    1) It was a buddy, not my brother.

    2) The trailer park comment was meant to be tongue in cheek. I lived in one with another buddy when I was first working full-time, but

    3) No, these particular people don’t have other concerns. That would require responsibilities that would lead to concerns, like a job, for instance, so

    4) Perhaps you should take a deep breath.



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