Monday, January 23, 2017


Living on a remote homestead, embracing a minimalist lifestyle, and becoming more self-sufficient requires a major change in attitude, particularly how you approach the material side of life.  We are bombarded daily with messages from the outside world telling us that we should want this or want that.  We all know people who get it into their minds that they must have something expensive even when the object they crave won’t give them anything more than something less expensive but equally functional.

Nonetheless, people steeped in the mindset of hyper-consumption can’t seem to disentangle themselves from a worldview steeped in the acquisition of stuff, as George Carlin used to phrase it. 

When it comes to forging tools I have two choices.  I can make them or buy them.  If I decide to buy them then I can pay a little or I can pay a lot.  Some tools, however, are IMO exorbitantly priced.  I would not have imagined paying more than twenty bucks for a hammer, but I’ve seen hammers going for $100, $150, $200.  To each his (her) own but I choose not to go that route.  I long ago gave up the addiction of wanting things and paying for things that I believed unnecessary.  It’s true that hammer requirements (like the tong and jig necessities) become more specialized as one gains experience but one does not need to spend oodles of dinero to acquire a good hammer.  So here’re my two cents for those of you who are starting to walk away from the American lifestyle of avarice, materialism and hyper-consumption: If you want to take up homestead blacksmithing as a hobby then modify the inexpensive hammers you find at garage and yard sales, flea markets and roadside vendors.  In learning to modify hammers you’ll expand your skill levels and you’ll find comfort in knowing that you are not as addicted and driven to spending as the advertisers, marketers and corporatists want you to be.  Of course, you can even make your own hammer.  A simple forge, a decent anvil thingy, some pick-up tongs, a couple of hot punches and a drift or two and you’ll be set to go.  I choose, however, not to go that route.  I’d rather modify a hammer I picked up at a yard sale for 25 cents or thereabouts and then get on with whatever I intend to make.

Above a modified ballpeen hammer used to make farrier’s type bolt tongs.

A 3-pound drilling hammer converted into a top tool.  It also works well for other forging projects.

A 2-pound engineer’s hammer turned into a specialized cross peen hammer.  It now weighs about 1.5 pounds.

This 2-pound engineer’s hammer is the same used for the ball peen hammer above and the rounding hammer below.

My most used hammer above is a  2-pound rounding hammer made from an inexpensive engineer’s hammer.

The three hammers pictured were all made from engineer’s hammers.  Left to Right: 1.5 pound cross peen hammer; 2-pound rounding hammer; 3-pound rounding hammer.

A larger cross peen hammer properly dressed to suit my needs.

An assortment of top tools and rounding hammers made from engineer’s hammers and drilling hammers.

Ballpeen hammers scrounged up at flea markets and yard sales.

The three hammers above were found in my dad’s garage about a year after he passed away.  I recall having seen these hammers when I was a boy.

This is the most widely used anvil in the world.  A 10-12 pound sledgehammer head is used from Nepal to Africa to Asia to Latin America to places here and there all over North America.  You can do just about anything with a sledgehammer head that you do with a big and ponderous blacksmithing anvil.  Metalsmiths, bladesmiths and blacksmiths around the globe prove me right.

Monday, January 2, 2017


Why we must fight unbridled population expansion and unfettered capitalism.

Land Patriotism is the act of advocating for the land.  It involves a commitment to keeping the country as unspoiled as possible.  I should note that land patriots are not aligned with the Right or Left; in other words, they’re not liberals or conservatives unless one opts to use conservatism in a traditional sense as it relates to conserving the land.  We are now, however, at a precipice where the destruction of the land is being conducted at an ever increasing rate.  For those who feel no connection to the land this is not an important issue.  But for that distinct minority (call them bushcrafters, woodsmen/women, naturalists or perhaps simply Land Patriots) then being stewards of the land is paramount.  Even so, we find ourselves in a situation where those who care nothing for the land are in control.  The American political/plutocratic class has developed into an oligarchy centered in rapacity and consumption.  At the center of this establishment is the worship of materialism and the concept of endless “growth and development.”  It can be argued, however, that what we see occurring today is, in fact, not development but instead a self-indulgent destruction of both the land and any sense of community.  Please allow me to give you my take on how we reached this point in American history.

Population experts have long determined that the world reached its Maximum Carrying Capacity at about two-billion people.  Note that the current world population is over seven-billion and the numbers are growing exponentially.  In other words, if the artificial production of food around the world were to fail (as a result of drought, disease, war, pollution etc.) then there would be a sudden and dramatic population collapse.  Factually, the current world human population density is unsustainable no matter what anyone might try to do.  The normal (un-artificial) maximum carrying capacity in the United States’ is about 200 million.  That means that at 200-million-people the US was maxed out.  A human population exceeding that number is essentially on life-support and can thus become subject to eminent collapse if any singular “limiting factor” plays its hand.  Therefore, the US (which now approaches 340 million people) has substantially surpassed its maximum carrying capacity.  Drought, pollution, cyberattack, anarchy, political dysfunction etc. will all create the possibility for a domino effect that will crumble the “system.”  And for those of you who have been brought up to believe that we simply must produce more food to feed the people then allow me to refer you to the writings of economist Thomas Malthus who decades ago made it quite clear that such a strategy is a fool’s game.  Malthus determined that when food is produced geometrically then populations grow exponentially.  In other words, you can never catch up!  The more food you make, the more people are born and the number of people will always outstrip the amount of food you produce.  We have thus created a near perfect trap for complete and utter population collapse.  Add to that the amount of pollution generated by the artificial production of food, and you have only hastened the inevitable downfall.  It really can’t get any worse unless you include a phenomenon that the US and most of the world has embraced where there must be endless “growth and development” in order to assure “economic prosperity.”  This ethos has for many become a religion; their god is built on the idea of consumption, materialism and rapacity.  As proof of this fanaticism note that anyone who dares fault the current system is almost immediately attacked, slandered and rebuked.

So why is the current era so dangerous?  Two things come to mind: First, exponential human population growth will create the collapse previously mentioned.  Second, human avarice wedded to narcissism is nurtured by the religion of endless growth and development.  Its practitioners seek to maximize profits at the expense of their fellow humans and by the systematic destruction of the land.  Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of all of this is that the fanaticism of endless growth and development and its corresponding greed blinds humans to thinking logically and analytically.  I can find fewer examples of this flawed thinking than the idea of deregulation.  In its truest sense, the term regulation means anything that hinders human greed and rapacity.  And de-regulation cultivates narcissism and material gluttony.

Allow me to provide an eclectic example of why the de-regulation of any complex system is dangerous.  First, all systems function in what amounts to a linear fashion.  Whether the system is biological or mechanical or based on economics it runs in orderly sequences and they are all essentially the same.  So let’s examine regulatory mechanisms going from the simple to the complex.  The one-celled organism called an amoeba is relatively simple and thus needs few regulatory mechanisms.  An amoeba has no eyes or brain or legs or muscular/skeletal system.  It has no emotions or analytical thought process.  It does not walk or run nor does it build tools.  Now compare the amoeba to a human being.  In order for a human to function properly it must have trillions of regulatory mechanisms.  In my study of biology I was often amazed that we are able to function at all.  Take the vital processes known as glycolysis or chemiosmosis.  Compared to other systems in the body these are relatively simple; but when examined in detail one finds them to be incredibly complex.  What we find is that the more complicated a system then the more regulation it must have in order to function properly.  Remove the regulatory mechanisms and you have anarchy, chaos, collapse.  The same holds for all economic systems and that includes the prevailing economic system in the US.  In other words, the more complex the system becomes the more it must be regulated.

Now let me show you what happens to a complex system that is deregulated.  Let’s assume you’re not feeling well and so you go visit your doctor.  After conducting a few tests your doctor calls you in and says: “I’m afraid you’ve got cancer.”  After you get over the initial shock I imagine the first thing you say is, “Can we stop it or maybe at least control it?”  But your doctor looks at you aghast and says, “I am so sick of hearing people wanting to regulate cancer!  Don’t you realize that cancer, when left alone, grows and develops and matures!  In fact, cancer is one of the most successful mechanisms known to mankind.  It’s beautiful.  I firmly believe in unregulated cancer!”  At that point (assuming you haven’t already walked out) you have concluded that your doctor is nuts.  But apply that same principle to what we hear many corporatists and politicians with the same rationale the doctor used and you’ll find nobody complains.  Trouble is that both cancer and what we call Capitalism must consume resources in order to “grow and develop.”  And any rapacious form of Capitalism (just like cancer) eventually kills its host if left unchecked.  We caught a glimpse of this back in 2006-2007 when a decade-long trend in deregulating the banks triggered a monumental financial collapse.  We saw the same thing with the Savings & Loan crisis and with the 1929 economic crash.  And yet, despite the evidence, despite the sound analytics behind this truth, we continue to hear people say, “I believe in unregulated Capitalism” as if it were a religion.  Perhaps for them it is their religion.  I guarantee that you would not hear those same people say, “I believe in unregulated cancer” even when the two processes are basically the same in their consumption of resources, their polluting effects and their eventual destruction of their host.

Now I fully expect to get all sorts of attacks from trolls and true-believers and those who will mentally shut down when they hear anything that goes against what they’ve been taught to believe.  In America today we have created a class of people who are easily duped and who flock to those unsound doctrines I referred to in the previous post.

ONE MORE NOTE: After a while, Mussolini began calling Fascism “Corporatism.”  Corporatism is where the government is no longer a system based on “by the people for the people” but instead by the corporations for the corporations.  That is precisely what we see happening today.  In fact, studies have shown that our politicians often ignore what is best for the people and instead do what is best for their donors, which are the banks, oil companies, Wall Street, insurance companies, big Media etc.  You can call what we see happening today Neo-fascism if that pleases you.  I and many others choose not to mince words but to instead refer to it as Fascism pure and simple and evil.  Please don’t attempt or waste time making this a Republican/Democrat argument.  The Corporatists want you to be diverted with those frivolous arguments so they can continue with their destruction of the Land.  Besides, the problem runs across the aisles in Washington and across the states and if you choose to say things like, “It’s those other guys” then you’re among the easily duped and perhaps not prone towards analytics.

Okay, enough for today.  Besides, I’d rather be walking in the woods and that’s exactly what I intend to do next.