Sulpher Creek Taxidermy and Processing

ljubomir farms

Today me and the two smaller versions of myself had some errands to run. First we headed to D&D Feed Store to pick up a few bales of hay and some bags of feed.

After that it was time to pick up our processed venison. Over the years we have lived here, I have used several different processors along the 190 corridor between Copperas Cove and Lampasas, and I have not found one that beats Sulphur Creek Taxidermy and Processing. The different sausages and jerkies are really where the difference is, in my opinion. And you cannot beat Jed’s perfected versions of summer sausage and snack rings.

Snack ring and summer sausage.

My oldest boy, David, sort of remembers this place from last time, so he cautiously peered through the window first. The deer are processed right on the other side of that window and it’s pretty gruesome.

Making sure…

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When did the phrase “we’re pregnant” start?

I met Mychael at the store today on my way home from work because she sent me this text:

“I have to go to the store with both boys. It would be a real treat if you and your gorgeous face showed up to keep me company.”

I hate the grocery store. And I mean HAAAAAAATE the grocery store. But I do enjoy my wife’s company, and sometimes I have to take it when I get it. While we were there, I snapped this picture.

And I was looking at it for a moment again and thought, Mychael is pregnant, not me. So why do people say “we are pregnant?” And when did it start?

And more importantly, can we stop?

Mychael is 44 and this one, more than any previous one has been very hard. The back pain, the swelling, the difficulty keeping anything down, etc. And although we are grateful for this blessing–one that goes way beyond what we could have hoped for or expected–I am not in some kind of “co-pregnancy” with her. “We” are not pregnant. She is.

There is definitely an extent to which this is a shared experience, obviously. And as for me, I am different when she is carrying a baby. I am more attentive. More concerned. I am very protective. On some strange level, she actually looks cuter to me pregnant. Its very primal, and I don’t care to analyze it too much.

But she is the one taking all the risk, all the weight, and it looks miserable to me.

My guess is the origin of “we” being pregnant is just another permutation of our stupid egalitarian age. I am not sure though. Maybe readers have some idea.

(And yes, Diet Dr Pepper is my poison)

How much does your mortality occupy your thoughts?

I was not present when my dad died, but my brother was.

My dad had a stroke–I think he was 66–and held on for over a decade after that. When he was 77, he had surgery on his foot, which, in his condition was very risky. It was taking a very long time to heal from the surgery so he was moved to convalescent/rehab facility while they worked on it. My brother would visit him almost every day.

One day, my brother showed up and walked in on a scene that he described to me later as “brutal.”

A large black man was straddling him on the bed, trying to perform heroic life saving efforts. He was crushing my dads tiny, worn out old man body into the bed. Other people were scrambling around, doing what people do at a code. My brother heard the gurgling sounds coming from dad, and saw the blood gushing from his mouth. These were the last few moments of his life.

A nurse noticed my brother standing there in the doorway, grabbed him by the arm and escorted him out, “you don’t need to see this.”

What a way to go. Brutal indeed–almost 8 decades on this earth and all the things he had seen and done–lights out motherfucker! I am kind of glad I was not there. My brother, who is multiple times tougher than me teared up telling me that story–and I have never seen that from him before or since.

I am not suicidal–never really have been. The closest thing to an existential crisis of that magnitude I have ever experienced was during my divorce in 2000. I remember I went quail hunting with a few buddies, because I had been sitting around the house feeling sorry for myself for months. Despondent, losing weight, going broke. The outside air would help I thought.

I was in a ravine by myself, and my friends were out of sight. A picture flashed in my head of me placing the shotgun barrel in my  mouth and ending it. I thought, “they will just think I shot at a bird and it will be a while before anyone even knows.” And just as quickly as the thought arose, it left and I shrugged it off as weird. For I knew–as I have always known–that there was a future. As long as I could imagine that future where things were different, I would stay alive.

Vicktor Frankl hits the mark here:

“A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth-that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which a man can aspire.

Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of human is through love and in love.

I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for the brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when a man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way-an honorable way-in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment.

For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words,”The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.”

In my moment of “suicidality,” it was not the thought of any particular “beloved” but the thought of some greater love–attainable at some point in the uncharted territory of a glorious future–that I just knew was possible. To give up meant to loose hope of another reality that was mine to have with patience and perseverance.

And although I have no suicidal tendencies, I think about death– a lot. Maybe because of my chosen profession.

We had a suicide in my unit this week and I have a job to do. Its my least favorite part of this job, actually. I will go to the unit of this young man and speak to the formation. I will introduce myself to 150 or so soldiers who never see me, have no idea who I am. And under great internal pressure to “fix” their hurting or have some super deep words of wisdom to impart, I will have no illusions about what I can really do. I will say something like “everybody deals with stuff like this differently. Some of you were closer to him than others. Some of you will process this one way, and others will do it another. There is no ‘right’ way. But if you feel you aren’t handling it well, come see me. Otherwise, do what you gotta do and drive on.”

And that’s it. There is no magic trick to it. We (the army) have learned not to force people to come to briefings, and group sessions to talk about their feelings or whatever. There is almost no benefit to that kind of heavy handed approach, even if it comes from the right place in your heart. And it can also do some harm.

Do you think about your death much? If I could wave a magic wand over my future and be able to plan it, I think it would look something like this. Some time in the not too distant future, after Mychael and I established ourselves in Montana, and my kids are old enough to have married and start taking care of themselves I will be a member of the volunteer search and rescue team. Old enough to be an old man, but still able to propel myself on my own power. On a cold, dark snowy afternoon, me and my horse will be rope extracting some poor lost camper out of a canyon. My horse will lose his footing, and we will plunge to our deaths in the rocks below. At least I will have died doing something good.

Me and Joshua. Destined for greatness?

But, the truth is, I will probably die from a catastrophic cardiac event, just like pretty much every person on both sides of my family. Its kind of a big genetic load.

The great dichotomy is this–I don’t want to die because I want to see how the story ends. This “future orientation” is probably the biggest untapped protective factor against suicide out there. And it is especially important for men in this screwed up world that does not value mens deep need to create and lead a family. I want to see what kind of people my kids turn out to be. I want to see their children playing on the ranch that I have built for them. I want to know that everything worked out, and then on the day of my choosing, go out in a blaze of glory so they can all have a really cool story to tell.

When I look around and see all the wonders and mountains there are still left for me to conquer, I think “with heaven to look forward to, this is as bad as it will ever get.”

On the other hand, if you get too attached to the world, you will let it, and all its temptations consume and ultimately define you. I don’t want that either.

If you are a man–single, married, divorcing, whatever–know this: I think I understand the competing urges to live and to give up. Don’t give up. There is a future.

 

Christopher DeGroot

Taki’s Magazine has been a guilty pleasure of mine for quite some time now, if for no other reason than their weekly roundup The Week That Perished takes me to a most profound happy place for a few minutes each Sunday.

But this guy Christopehr DeGroot! Man, I have no idea where he came from but he started posting articles there last month and they are golden.

Anyway, for what its worth, he gets the American Dad official seal of approval and is now on the reading list.

Crimson Trace?

Anybody have any experience with these? Mychael has one of these Walther knock offs, and wants a laser for it. I think Crimson Trace is the only brand that makes an integrated grip style (what Mychael wants).

Offensive post of me doing something that is legal and considered totally normal to half the country

Picture a cow. Born on a farm in central California in 2014. For his whole life, he basically stands around in a giant pasture, plastered up against all the other cows. He eats and grows in the dusty, windy corrals of his processing farm for 3 years. Other cows sometimes just drop dead around him and are picked out of the stalls by the workers.

Eventually, one day he is rounded up and moved into a smaller holding pen with about 20 other cows. These cows are moved through a series of chutes into a smaller area and then a conveyor belt picks them up by their bellies and moves them gently into a cradling device so they can’t really move. Then the cow sees the face a man who places a captive bolt gun to his forehead and he dies instantly. It was his destiny to be processed this way. He was born…for this.

The meat from the cow is processed through the rest of the operation and eventually winds up in a cheeseburger at McDonalds. A mommy with 4 kids in the back drives through and orders them happy meals, which they consume on their way home from soccer practice. The “Lion King” plays in the overhead DVD player and the song “the circle of life” blasts. The children have no idea where the meat came from. This family “doesn’t hunt because we don’t believe in it.”

Now, imagine a deer in the woods of central Texas. He is born in the spring of 2014. His mother walks by his side for his first year of life and shows him how to avoid danger. She shows him where the water and food sources are.

That same spring and summer, there is a soldier. A man with a wife and kids. He is deployed out of the country at the time the little deer is born, not too far from his house.

That next fall, the little buck may or may not grow visible antlers. If he does, they are small–like little nubs. He prances around, practicing strutting his stuff for the does, but no luck. He spends another year in the woods, eating, surviving, etc.

The man comes back from deployment, too late for the start of deer season, and misses that year. Luckily, he has enough venison stored from the previous seasons so its OK to miss one.

Obtaining a license to hunt is a complex process. The man had to take a hunter safety course, and keep the certificate somewhere safe. If he loses it, he will have to take the course again. Its pretty expensive and takes several days to complete. He uses that certificate to purchase the hunting license, which he has to do every year, unless he buys a “lifetime” license. If he wants to hunt in another state, he must purchase that states license as well. In the hunter safety class, he learns about the extremely complex set of hunting regulations that cover everything from what animals you can harvest in what seasons, what kind of weapons are OK to use, which animals are absolutely forbidden to shoot, and what the fines/punishments are for violating those laws. The new regulations come out every year, and he is expected to read through them, because ignorance of those laws is no excuse. He is also aware that wasting meat (not harvesting it and eating it) is a crime in most states that can wind you up in jail.

The fall of 2016 is decent year for our buck. He impregnates a doe. Winner! He goes on through that winter, survives and emerges in the spring a little wiser and with some weight on him.

In the fall of 2017, the man spends a few weeks trying to harvest a deer on his property. He has to use archery in October, because it is illegal to hunt deer with a rifle yet. So he tries to hone his archery skills. The effective range of an arrow is severely limited compared to a rifle. It is considered unethical and poor form to take an animal with a poorly placed shot. The ethos is to try to kill the animal cleanly, by hitting it in the vitals.

One evening, he sits in his blind and that buck, now 3 shows up. He is not huge, but big enough to take. Their intertwined destinies are now coming to a close. The arrow flies and the deer drops right where he was standing. The children, a little small are permitted to see the animal from a distance, and it is explained to them that this animal gave up its life so the family could have fresh meat for another year.

Last night at my place

This one animal will provide meat for steaks, burgers, and a variety of sausages and jerkies for a year. And each time, those eating it will remember how much effort went into harvesting it.

And I ask–which children learn about the “circle of life?”

I will, no doubt, find myself in countless arguments with people about hunting this year–as I do EVERY YEAR. These objections always come from people who eat meat. They are never from purist vegans, who at least tend to be morally consistent.

It’s very messy, and not for the faint of heat. The first time I did this as a boy, I almost passed out. Its gross.

But if you object to hunting and you have ever put a piece of meat in your mouth you are a damn hypocrite and morally obtuse. You would pay someone else in a factory far away to do your dirty work for you, while the hunter has the decency to look the animal in the face and watch the life go out of it. I pray over it while it breathes its last breath.

If you eat meat and think hunting is “wrong” you have a number of choices.

  1. Stop eating meat -or-
  2. Stop complaining about people who hunt -or-
  3. Go kill at least one animal, eat it and then decide if it (eating meat) is right for you.

Otherwise, I am uninterested in what you think.

 

Hopefully some interest?

Earlier today, I started a side bar conversation with Dalrock commenter Anonymous Reader:

AR-

That’s the situation my dad described in Yugoslavia in the 1950s. He used to tell us stories of people disappearing the day after saying the wrong thing out loud. He himself was imprisoned 3 seperate times at Goli Otok for wrongspeak. I was pretty young when I first remember hearing those stories, and the impetus for his escaping. It always had an “other worldly” quality to it back then. Like not something I needed [to] worry about.

The longer I live, the more I realize how heritable traits are. He would rather have been in prison than lie. The difference is, he was much younger than me then, not married and had no kids. But I HATE acting like everything is OK. I feel sick to my stomach when I participate in lies, on any level.

And it reminded me that I am still doing research on my dad’s story, and the family history from that side. It is very difficult to do that kind of research from half-way around the world, on people who lived in a nation that was torn apart by war and ethnic cleansing, and does not exist anymore. Not to mention I can barely read Serbian, let alone speak it. (I try, and sound really stupid). Many of the websites I try to access are in pan-Slavic dialects.

A couple years ago, I came across a guy who was the lead engineering delegate from Yugoslavia to the 1958 World Fair in Brussels. He was an academic (here in America) and I don’t remember the university. The problem was, I was deployed to Cuba at the time, and the internet there–even at Gitmo is horrible. I exchanged a couple of IMs with him, and managed to grab this picture from his website:

The arrow is pointing to a man, who I am pretty sure is my dad. I would recognize the ears from a mile away. This would have been the last photo taken of him while still in Yugoslavia. Up until this point, my dad had “renounced” his anti-communism and joined the party apparatus in order to devise a plan of escape. He was sent to Belgium that year as part of an advanced party to erect the Yugoslavian part of the fair:

Yugoslavian Pavilion, which is still standing today.

He escaped into the night from his hotel room–a real cloak and dagger story–by a Belgian group that existed to help political dissidents defect from communist regimes. He left with the clothes he had on his back.

The man with the website, I think has since passed away. His site is gone. But he did remember the man who escaped, I presume my father.

I also think I may be related to this man:

Filip Kljajić (Yugoslav Partisan)

I know very little about my Grandpa Kljajić (That’s how my dad spelled our last name on his original Social Security Card). He did not come to America. I know his name was Milovan. I know he was a shoemaker, which was a family trade/skill. I also know that there has always been some discrepancy in how Serbian we actually are, because they apparently were ethnically Serb, but lived in Croatia. My Grandma was Croatian, and Eastern Catholic (sui iuris). The name “Kljajić” is claimed by both Serbs and Croats. There is a village called Kljajić in Bosnia, and another called Kljajićevo in Serbia. I also know there was a lot of family involvement in the early WWII partisan movement. In addition, when I sent away my DNA (I used MyHeritage) the results were a little surprising, but not too far from what I expected. Because although there was nearly 50% “eastern Europe” it did not pinpoint much Balkan DNA (about 18%). The rest was just generalized to eastern Europe which includes (in their profile) places like Poland, Slovakia, etc. That’s a pretty big area. My dad always self-identified as Serb, which makes sense to me, but there is a lot of other Balkan stuff in there.

If you read the Wikipedia article, you will see the evidence is pretty thin, but its a start. Is Filip Kljajić a great uncle? I don’t know if my grandpa had any brothers, and there is no one alive who would know.

I guess I will keep searching. It’s pretty cool to think about all this.

 

 

Disclaimers

So, apparently the only way my criticisms of the current social order can be taken seriously is if I make the following two disclaimers:

* Note: My disabled mother in law, (who is functionally a dependent of mine–living under my roof rent free, no utilities, etc) also sometimes helps take care of my children. We rarely see eye to eye on anything political/philosophical because she is a very social justice oriented hippie/boomer Catholic. But I made a promise to her (I did, with no influence from Mychael) some years back that I would never allow her to be destitute or alone, and watching her interacting with my kids is worth it.

and

**After my first wife totally destroyed me, including professionally(because my chosen field was dependent on my staying married) I joined the army if I wanted any chance to recover from my first batch of student loan debt. Then I went back to graduate school (in total about 12 years) in order to get a PhD and took on another 1/2 million$ in student loan debt. Me and my cat living in squalor in a flea infested room in a slum neighborhood, relying on the kindness and graciousness of my family to make graduate school work. This was so I could have the “privilege” of going back into the army for more obligatory payback time, (never being able to put down roots, never feeling like any place is home, deployments) get married again in my late 30s and have children who will be in high school when I am in my 60s! I’m over a decade behind my colleagues and peers (most Majors are in their early 30s and most psychologists my age have about 20 years of practice). Yay! Advantage!

The language of privilege (“acknowledge your advantages” as if there was no trade off whatsoever and I didn’t kill myself to get here) is ugly. But there–hope everybody will take my ideas seriously now.

 

More from the newbie chronicles

Reblogging Ljubomir Farms.

ljubomir farms

As most of our readers know, part of the fun of this blog is that we are basically new at the whole hobby farming/sustainable living/prepping for the end of the world thing. Plus we are both southern California natives–and that means everything you think it means. Mychael was a beach beauty/part time model/girl from Long Beach and Scott was the basic SoCal counterpart to that growing up. Not farmers. Not ranchers. So this whole thing is completely out of our element for us.

Enter–antibiotics for chickens with eye sores.

MicrocynAH Opthalmic Gel

Took us a half hour to find this stuff at Tractor Supply. Wandering through the isles of equine medicines, electric fencing materials, air compressors and coveralls. I always feel like a retard. Finally, we found the chicken medicine section.

You see, the current batch of chicks have been getting beat up by our Plymouth Rocks. (That’s a chicken…

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