Dan Boone

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since Jan 24, 2014
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Dan Boone gardens, plants fruit trees, and tends wild fruit and nut trees and vines in Central Oklahoma.
Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Recent posts by Dan Boone

Growing-up-in-the-Yukon story-time again.  At a place called Jack Wade on the Taylor "Highway" (162 miles of misbegotten summer-only gravel road between Tok, on the Alaska Highway, and Eagle, on the Yukon River) there was a burn, some time in the 1960s.  And at a place in the road so steep that the road took a switchback, the burn was high above the road.  When we moved to Eagle in 1973, it was an area designated for public firewood cutting by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM, aka "Bunch of Lazy Men").  

So my father took his wife and four kids (ages 6, 9, 12, and 14, roughly) out there and climbed way the hell-and-gone up above the road.  Started cutting these huge standing dead "blue wood" spruce trees with the bark already fallen off and cutting them into firewood lengths with his ancient Homelite C5 chainsaw.  So we had wood in all sizes from one inch stobs to 30" rounds.  Then he basically told us all to start carrying it down the mountain.  Mom was limbing and bucking with a smaller chainsaw so the kids were unsupervised.  

How long do you think it took my sisters to figure out that the larger rounds would roll and bounce all the way to the road if they could get them going fast enough?

How many shits do you think they gave whether any of those rounds hit "the brat" on the way down?  

They had never heard the phrase "that's not a bug, that's a feature" but the spirit of it was alive and well on the hillside above Jack Wade switchback that day.  "Catch Daniel with a bouncing wheel of blue spruce" became the best fun they'd had since we hit that country most of a year before.

In another thread somebody indirectly characterized some of the routine experiences I had growing up as stuff they'd consider child abuse.  I rejected the characterization in that context, but I accept it in connection with almost every memory that has to do with collecting and preparing firewood.  Which, considering that we burned through as much as 20 cords a winter in our first cheechako cabin, is a lot of them.  

But I tell this story now because at the heart of it is a practical moral: in the right situation, cutting the wood into rounds and rolling it down the mountain can get a hell of a lot of wood off the hill in one heck of a hurry.  
5 days ago

Travis Johnson wrote:I started a few posts as a semi-warning to good, honest Permie members, but could not think of a great way to word it without possibly offending someone. In the end I just pointed my cursor to the upper right x on my computer, and left. It is not because I do not care, I do, its just what to do?

I pass on by the vast majority of times, but every now and then I "rise to the bait."  When I do, I have a few rules of thumb.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink.  Which ought to mean -- I'm not perfect -- that I lay out my evidence or my arguments and move on.  That will help anybody who's ready to be helped and it won't help the rest, but I did what I could.  

When all I've got is my own experience and introspection, I just say that.  "In my lived experience..."  "It has been my observation..."  "If I were in this circumstance..." and then I tell my anecdote or make my argument.  

If it's a matter of bad information, I usually try to find a decent link.  Sometimes I find out the matter's not so cut and dried and decide to go quietly away.  But usually I make my point with a few words in quotes from the link (nobody follows links).

If it's a matter of bad information backed up by bad links, I'll say a few words from my deep store of opinions and heuristics about how to evaluate the quality of internet information sources.  People in general have terrible skills at this, but the person taken in by shoddy links will never be persuaded that they have been.  This is purely for the audience.  It's possible to do this with perfect politeness and helpfulness, never even mentioning the person who posted the bad link or how wrong wrong wrongity wrong they are.  

Done correctly, I leave the thread in a state where it has the post with the just flat wrong and terrible information, followed by the correct information, followed by a road map that anybody who is confused by the dissonance between those two sets of conflicting information can use to decide which info is more plausible.    

This won't help anybody who comes to the thread with firm predisposition to believe one thing or another, but it should help genuine seekers after truth.  And the reason I'm still at Permies after all these years is that I believe we collect more of those -- and drive away the axe-grinders -- more than just about any other place on the internet.
I think now and again about the risk calculations my parents made in turning me loose at the age of seven with a .22 rifle and single .22 short shell.  It's insane by modern standards, and it even raises my hair a little bit.  But I was a pretty responsible kid, we needed meat and did not need hares or squirrels on the property, and we were surrounded by a whole lot of not very much.

In actual fact I never did any damage with it.  (I did have one negligent discharge a few years later with a slightly more robust .22, in about ideal circumstances if such can be said to exist: alone, on the upper Kandik river in the heart of what is now the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.  Dad and another hunter were within sound of the shot, but not close enough to be at risk.)

Balanced against which are some of the other risk calls my father made that struck people as odd then and now.  Until the day I left home I never owned or carried a pistol, nor handled/fired one except under Dad's direct supervision.  His point of view was that the added risk to the user and others was not balanced by any need that we had, especially where children were concerned.  (He owned, but rarely carried, a couple of pistols.)  During the time I was growing up at least two of my peers were involved in ugly but non-fatal accidents involving short guns.  And recently here in my central Oklahoma county there was a situation when a bunch of youths were shooting on the farm during a holiday get-together and one of them fell down the slope of a stockpond, killing himself with the pistol in his possession.  He was a child of single-digit age (not sure exactly).  There was much noise made locally about the great tragedy of the situation and the terrible accident involved, but I never heard a peep about what I consider to have been a rather profound parenting failure.  Of course the family is very prominent and wealthy and well-liked.  Nobody questions why a bunch of youths were allowed to run around with inadequate (the thing speaks for itself) supervision and handguns; it's apparently part of the local culture, like the sort of hunting-as-social-rite-of-passage that triggered this thread.
1 week ago

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I do not enjoy firing my deer hunting rifle. It is loud, it kicks like hell. I would consider it child abuse to allow a 6 year old to fire it.

I think I was precisely six when Dad took me to the gravel pit and taught me to shoot his rifles.  First his semi-auto .22, which from the noise I assumed would have a terrible kick.  I was greatly surprised that it did not have any kick at all.  That helped me get over my fear.

Then his 30-.06, which is a hell of a cannon.  I only shot it once -- "shells are expensive" was his remark -- and it had a big kick, but it also had a nice rubber buttplate and it wasn't actually painful.  He also spent a lot of time briefing me on way to hold it tightly against my shoulder and how not to have my eye too close to the scope.  He even did a little physics demonstration by holding a stob of firewood against my shoulder and pushing very hard on it and then asking if I'd rather be hit with it using the same amount of force.  All to drive home the point about pressing the butt solidly against my shoulder before pulling the trigger.

So then BOOOOM! and it kicked and it wasn't traumatic.  

Then we did the .303 with the brass shoulder plate.  That I was scared of.   (In fact, much later, as a teen, I procured a slip-on rubber boot for it.)  He showed me the comparative shell sizes, explained it had less powder, smaller boom, explained the physics (gun weighed several pounds more, with less boom to throw it against my shoulder) and then admitted that, due to being a military rifle not designed for comfort, it still kicked basically just as badly as his gun.  But not, he swore, any worse.  

My experience was otherwise.  It kicked and it did hurt.  But not, you know, so much that I wasn't willing to shoot off a couple more shells.  After that I had a sore shoulder and was ready to quit.  But that was as much as Dad had in mind for the day.  

Child abuse?  I could tell a dozen stories about our life on the Yukon that would have gotten all us kids taken away by Child Protective Services, if they hadn't been on the wrong end of 170 miles of summer-only dirt road with no way to reach them short of writing them a postcard and waiting for the weekly mailplane.  But that, I think, is not one of them.  
1 week ago

Judith Browning wrote:My concern is that at six years old a child has no concept of what he has done...other than the praise and attention heaped on after the fact.  My husband and I were brought up that if you killed it you cleaned it, fish, squirrel, deer, whatever...a child that young can't even lift the gun on his own....

My lived experience tells me that it depends on the child, the circumstances, and the gun.

When I was five, my family of six moved into an 18x20 cabin on some old mining claims on a tributary of American Creek near Eagle, Alaska on the upper Yukon River.  I was taught to set small leg-hold traps for ermine and marten and snowshoe hares, set picture wire snares for snowshoe hares, and I was given a pneumatic BB gun (very low powered) for hunting squirrels, which were a pest and needed for dogfood.

I annoyed a lot of squirrels with that low-powered BB gun, but I learned to shoot with it too, and eventually got to where I could kill the small sub-arctic red squirrels with it at short ranges.  It also served as a platform for learning the basic rifle safety rules.

By the time I turned seven we were closer to town, squirrels were a bigger problem in our storage, and I had been taught to shoot both a .22 rifle and my father's backup moose hunting rifle -- an old British military pattern bolt-action .303 with a brass buttplate and many metal finishings.  (He carried a much more modern 30-.06 with a scope.)  A child that age can lift and carry that rifle; ask me how I know!  I couldn't fire it freehand with the barrel waving in the sky and supported by my puny left hand, but that's not how I was trained to shoot at wild game; I was trained to drop and find a rest  to steady the barrel, like a fallen log or a piece of driftwood.  Or, at a pinch, the branch of a tree. My recollection is of my father telling me the .303 "only" weighed 12 or 13 pounds because it had been customized by having the bayonette lug and various other military hardware removed; but I have no idea what it actually weighed, all I remember is that it was very heavy to carry in the woods.    

For my seventh birthday I received an old and durable single-shot bolt action .22, a box of .22 short ammo, a very strict refresher course in gun safety, and permission to hunt independently (for squirrels and hares) in the vicinity of our cabin and garden under the protocol that I was to take with me only one shell at a time.  I had to check in with an adult after expending each shell and account for its firing -- not with a dead animal, although this was strongly encouraged, but with, at least, a good and responsible-sounding story about what I had shot at and why I had missed, if I had. Only then could I leave again with a new shell.  

At about that same time I started going with my parents on moose hunting excursions, carrying that terrifying .303.  I could indeed carry it, I could indeed lift it, I could indeed shoot it.  I was not expected to make any independent kills.  I was trusted to keep the bolt closed on an empty chamber until instructed otherwise, and the safety on until instructed otherwise.  I had a moose tag.  The plan and protocol -- which we executed on one highly memorable occasion -- was for Dad and I to shoot more or less simultaneously at the same moose, ideally both putting bullets into it; whereupon I would notch my tag, leaving him free to take me home with the moose and still go back out hunting with a clean tag.  The time we did this, Dad (looking through the scope from about 400 yards) claimed that it was my bullet that went through the moose's Achille's tendon, and then he took credit for two rather more vital shots that dropped the animal.  No responsible hunter would take that shot alone at that animal with that gun over iron sites at that range, much less at the age of seven -- but for what we were doing, it made sense.  And I was proud of my contribution to the effort.   We didn't perform spectacles of marksmanship that day; the moose was on one side of the Yukon River and we were on the other.  Both of us took shots that terrorized driftwood and ravens.  It would have suited Dad's purposes to claim that one of my bullets hit that moose whether it did or not.  Honestly it struck little me as an improbable shot for me.  But I was prone with a good driftwood rest and shooting at a target the size of an automobile.  It's possible.

Did I have the skills at that age to be hunting big game unsupervised?  Hell no.  Did I have the concept of hunting clear in my head, the ability to clean and assist with butchering/processing, the moral understanding of what it meant to kill animals? Oh so very much yes.  I also by that age had been taught to despise sport hunting and sport hunters, whose illegal wasted carcasses we would find several of every year while out scrabbling for subsistence meat.  

So, yeah, like everything else we talk about here on Permies: it depends.

1 week ago
But that's the question, isn't it?  Are the bead types purely decorative, or is it just a matter of threshing them to achieve edibility?  Certainly the Baker's Creek listing seems to suggest that they think they're selling a product that's at once edible and decorative.  (But of course they may be wrong.)  

There are a lot of YouTube videos, very few in English.  A few show the colorful grains on the plant, most show a more uniform grain that's described as being grey or brown.  (I'm color vision impaired, so don't ask me.)  There doesn't appear to be enough use of this plant in the English speaking world for the question to have been hashed out in an accessible way anywhere that I can find.  
The new Baker's Creek's seed catalog hit my mailbox and I have been reading it.  This is always dangerous.

One of the items in it is Job's Tears, described thusly and with a pretty tempting picture:

Is it an herb, grain, vegetable, or ornamental bead? This easy-to-grow plant is all these things and more! With graceful and flowing miniature corn-type bladed leaves, sturdy stalks, delicate inconspicuous drooping flowers, and ornamental pea-like seeds, Job’s Tears adds a stunning green filler to cut flower displays. A grain-bearing plant useful for food, to make necklaces, rosary beads, and even traditionally in folk medicine for arthritis and to remove heat! Once the husk has been removed for cooking, the grains look more like oversized pearl barley. Great in brothy dishes and traditional Asian drinks, Job’s Tears provides a chewy, mildly sweet, and earthy flavor that has caught the eye of discerning cooks. It has lovingly been called by cookbook authors “the next cult gluten-free grain” and an “unusual, versatile, and beneficial little weirdo.”

This YouTube video shows that the wide variety of pretty colors is present when the seeds are still on the plant:

My food interest is the "great in brothy dishes" bit -- I am always making vegetable soups and having a handful of largy chewy grains to throw in each batch would be awesome.  An attractive grain plant to grow is obviously not unwelcome either and I have crafters in my life who would not mind pretty free beads.  

But the part I'm not clear on is this: is there a necessary hand-threshing step between those pretty colored beadlike grains we see on the plant and in the Baker's Creek photo, and the food grain I would be throwing in my soup pot?  Google and YouTube are emphatically not answering this question!  The food grain version of this sold in 1lb bags in Asian groceries is a pretty pearly white, but is that because of a machine polishing step? Or is there a husk or hull that must be removed by hand (or machine) before human consumption?

What I'm trying to figure out is whether growing this stuff on a small home scale is reasonable or practical or fun or worthwhile.  If I order fifteen seeds from Baker's Creek, and get a yield on the order of a few cups or a few quarts, is it only useful for beads?  Will I be tearing husks/hulls off, one-by-one, with tweezers, before throwing them in my soup?  Or is it edible/cookable as it comes off the plant?

I would be delighted to hear from anybody who has grown and eaten this stuff as to what the processing steps are.  Thanks!
I have a red/green color vision deficiency, not the most severe but pretty significant.  Those wool colors are hopeless to classify. There's maybe one yellow in the yellow group I would have considered a yellow (but wool doesn't take yellows well, not natural dyes anyway, not the sort of bright sunshiney yellows I enjoy).  There's nothing in the red group that I could have confidently put in a group with that label; it's all brown, mud, forest, or greenish/natural colors.  There's maybe three greens in the green group I would call confidently; two "traditional" greens and an aqua that I only know belongs in the green group because it was my mother's favorite color and there was enough discussion of it to know she considered it predominantly green despite it being, technically, a blue-green mix.  Blues I believe I would have sorted four into into that group.  

Everything else?  There is an awful lot of "grey", "brown", and "I dunno what the fuck" which means "I can tell that it's got some color to it but I couldn't tell you which one if you put me in front of a firing squad."

But -- since I gather the whole point of the graphic is that the color blind man who sorted got everything wrong -- I should point out that there isn't a single color in any grouping that I can point to and confidently say "nope, that's wrong, it's in contradiction to the label."  There are maybe three where I'm dubious.

I tried to do that Farnswell-Munsell thing when the thread went by awhile back and it was pointless ... if I am recalling it correctly there were endless swathes of almost indistinguishable blocks that I was being asked to arrange in some sort of hue/shade order, only there was nothing particular to choose between them.  They were *different*, but not by enough to sort.  Eventually I got bored with generating what was going to be a random-ish result and did not complete the test.  If I had been forced by some medical or bureaucratic authority, I am sure it would have revealed considerable color vision deficit, but I am not confident it would have revealed much about the nature of my issues; I simply didn't feel as if the test offered color distinctions sharp enough to let me accurately communicate the visual discriminations I am in fact capable of making.  
1 week ago

John Paulding wrote:Nope, they're both intact so technically they probably get along pretty durn good considering. I don't even know how I would get the young one to a facility and I'm not too sure about the older one. Good on a leash but I'm not gonna hold him down while a vet sticks a needle in him.

Based on my experience of this one dog I would make figuring out how to get them fixed a priority if I were in your shoes.  He's always been a big buffoon of a sweetheart but the nonsense at puberty was getting out of hand.  It seemed like he didn't even like it; he always seemed ashamed afterwards.  Clip-clip and a week later he even stopped nipping the other dogs to maintain pack discipline, he just gives them a glare and they step right into line.  (He's twice their size or more.)  

Practicality-wise, if you've got a country vet who does large animal calls, he may be willing to come out and treat it like a large-animal procedure at your place, especially if you can get a cloth muzzle on your dog before he arrives.  Very much depends on the vet.  Many of them are incredibly calm around large dogs and if the dog will let them approach at all, they can walk up and sleight-of-hand a needle into him without the dog every knowing what happened.  It usually goes a lot better than trying to take the dog into a facility where the vets expect stressed-out animals to be on city behavior.  Or, maybe I've just been really lucky with the old seen-it-all vets around here.  But it's worth calling around and asking.  Most vets are quite enthusiastic to get the balls off large aggressive dogs and will be happy to work with you.  Your telephone script is "I've got a large rambunctious male rescued LGD who can be aggressive and has never been fixed and I'm trying to figure out the best way to get him castrated without anybody getting hurt, but I'm not sure I can safely bring him into the unfamiliar environment at your clinic.  Do you have any suggestions for me?"  They are the skilled professionals, let them tell you what they are or are not willing or able to do.

My guy originally won my heart by running up to me at a moving sale and leaping up to put his paws on my shoulders ... but when he did, he folded them so all I got was the fuzzy back of his feet, no claws.  He's gentle like that.  But Lucrecia is absolutely right, there's no notion of grabbing, moving, or hitting my dog by way of forcing him to do something he does not want.  (Play is another matter, but be prepared to get mauled if when I invite roughhousing this way.)    Ultimately though he has his own agenda which I can influence (sometimes) through persuasion or by putting a leash on him and gently inviting him to humor me, which he does because he's a good and tolerant boy.  But the sex hormones made him so that way too much of his agenda involved arguing with me and the other dogs about pack dominance.  I'm not saying you can't work with that, I'm saying it's 400% easier if you don't have to.  
1 week ago