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At times we have to choose between the path that is conventional and the path that is not. In today's world that once worn path that our great grandparents traveled is so overgrown and forgotten that it barely exists. Our goal is to reforge that forgotten path and make it new again.

The Family Eggers

The Family Eggers

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Last of the Mohicans on Tin Whistle

To follow up on my earlier tin whistle post(s).  Here is an arrangement of Last of the Mohicans.  I think it came out nicely, though in some ways I picture this is exactly how "Smeagle" would look playing it.  Hope you enjoy, and as always let me know if you have any questions, inquiries or requests.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Dandelion - the scourge of suburbia.

Spring foraging season is right around the corner.  As such we think it prudent to expose some of our favorite spring plants.
Today’s awaited delicacy is the common lawn weed Taraxacum officinale, otherwise known as the dandelion.  This is truly an amazing plant that has been eaten for centuries.  Every part of the plant is wonderful.
Leaves:  Many people see dandelion greens on the natural supermarket shelves at exorbitant prices.  It never occurs to many people to go out to the front yard to collect a salad.  The leaves are best collected in the spring.  As the season progresses, the leaves becoming increasingly bitter.  To collect dandelion greens simple go out and find the plant and cut off some leaves.  Make sure that the area has not been chemically sprayed by overzealous lawn Nazis and it is not in an area well traveled by neighborhood dogs.  Leaves are reported to have a mild diuretic value as well as aid in digestion.  USDA nutritional value
Flowers:  Flowers can be eaten raw in salads, made into tea, used for jelly, or even used for making wine.  Collect only healthy looking flowers from clean (non-sprayed) areas.  Remove the stem and as much green as possible.
Roots:  Roots can be used like a root vegetable or roasted and ground used as a coffee substitute.  Roots can be used any time of year but are actually a bit better in the fall.  Roots have diuretic properties and have also been reported to have a protective effect on the liver (hapatoprotective).   Additionally dandelion roots contain high levels of inulin, which is reported to have significant pre-biotic benefit.

There are literally hundreds of references concerning the benefits of dandelion included in our diets.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Joseph Smith Eggers

Joseph Smith Eggers
Joseph Smith Eggers is a distant relative and was my 4th cousin (3x removed). Though the details of his life are relatively plain, the incidence of his death is morbidly interesting and is well documented in the local / regional newspapers.
Joseph Smith Eggers was born 27 Aug 1871 in Johnson County, Tennessee to Lewis Benjamin Eggers and Mary Jane Stewart.  He married Martha Abdon in 1889 and moved to Greenup County, Kentucky.   He had seven children.  In Greenup County he served in law enforcement as a constable and was a republican nomination for representative many times.  On Friday 9 JAN 1919 he was shot with a pistol following an altercation with his neighbor over a property line dispute.  The details below were printed in the local and regional newspapers.

Joe S. Eggers, for several years a constable of Greenup county and at several primaries a candidate for the Republican nomination for Representative, was shot with a pistol Thursday morning near his home on Big White Oak by Tom Jones, a neighbor. He died from the wound about an hour and a half after being wounded. Jones, the gun user, was trying to make his escape when apprehended by the Sheriffs at Riverton. He had boarded the local freight at some point between Fullerton and Greenup, the officials having been 'tipped" of it, and when found he was trying to conceal himself in a hopper coal car. He was arrested without any trouble. He still possessed the pistol with which he shot his victim. He claimed he was not trying to make a getaway but was on his way to Ashland to see his sister about going on his bond and intended to return and give himself up to the officials. The trouble which led to the tragedy was a dispute over a division line between their lands, which each claimed included a picnic ground. Jones claims Eggers was cutting wood on his land when he rode up to him and ordered him to stop. He claims Eggers jerked him off his horse and struck him with a stick when then he shot him.
PORTSMOUTH TIMES  Friday January 10, 1919
Tom Jones, who shot and killed Joe Eggers at White Oaks, 18 miles back of Fullerton, Ky., yesterday noon was taken into custody at Riverton, a small town near Greenup, last night and was placed in the county jail by Sheriff Harve Elam. After the shooting Jones went to Riverton to arrange for bondsmen and was preparing to surrender when arrested. The gun user will be given a preliminary hearing before County Judge W.D. Quillos probably Saturday morning when his friends hope to secure his release on bond. Jones claims self defense. The trouble leading up to the tragedy occurred several days ago when the men quarreled over a line fence and yesterday when they met in the road the quarrel was renewed and was followed by Eggers attacking Jones with a club knocking him off a mule he was riding and then jumping on him and starting to beat him, it is alleged. It was then that Jones pulled his pistol and fired, the bullet entering Eggers side and reaching a vital spot. He fell mortally wounded and died in a little more than an hour. The men had been life long friends having been born and reared on adjoining farms and never before had any trouble. The victim of the shooting was about 50 years of age, and is survived by a wife and 7 children.* For several years Eggers carried the mail between Load and Fullerton, Ky. Funeral services over Egger's body will be held Saturday. Jones is about 45 years of age and has a wife and several children. He is quite well known in this city having frequently visited here with his brothers, Butch Jones, of the West End and George Jones, of Eleventh street..Note:*Joseph 's wife, Mattie, died in childbirth in 1915. The children were orphaned after the death of Joe Eggers, at age 48. He had nine children and at least eight of them were living at the time of the shooting..The Portsmouth Times,  Portsmouth Ohio Wednesday January 15, 1919 page 2
Jones White Oak farmer charged with killing his neighbor, Joe Eggers, on Jan. 10 following a quarrel over a line fence, was held before Judge W. D. Quillos at Greenup Wednesday. There were many witnesses heard by the court and at press time the hearing was still in progress. Jones through his attorneys, W. T. Cole and A. S. Cooper claimed he committed the deed in self defense. The Common Wealth was represented at the hearing by former Circuit Judge Halbert..THE RUSSELL TIMES,  GREENUP CO. KENTUCKY Friday January 17, 1919
The hearing of Tom Jones, of this county, charged with the killing of Joe Eggers, of Truitt, last week during a dispute over a boundary line, will be held at Greenup next Monday. In the meantime, Jones is in the jail at Greenup, where he was placed by Sheriff Harve Elam, who arrested him at Riverton. Jones was on a freight when apprehended by the sheriff, who had been tipped off that he was headed toward the West Virginia line. Jones claims that he shot Eggers in self-defense, after the latter had knocked him off his mule with a club and renewed the attack upon him after he was down. Jones says that he fired one shot sidewise to frighten Eggers, but that it did not seem to have the desired effect, but that it only seemed to anger him more. Jones says he fired the second shot into Egger's body in order to save his own life. The bullet took effect below the heart and Eggers died in a very short time. The shooting was witnessed by the two young sons of Eggers; one son was 11 years old and the other son was 9 years old.
Jones was about 45 years of age and Eggers was about 50 years old. The victim, Eggers, was well known throughout the country, having always taken a prominent part in the political affairs of the county, and having served for some time as constable in his district. Previous to his death, Eggers was a mail carrier, working between Load and Fullerton. He has been a candidate for the Republican nomination for Representative on various occasions, and consequently carried a wide acquaintance throughout the county. He was the father of seven children. Jones has retained Attorneys J.B. Wilhoit of Ashland, A.S. Cooper of Greenup and W.T. Cole of Greenup to defend him.

Special thanks to:
 ancestry.com and the folks who contributed publicly to Joseph Smith Eggers

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Knot just another weed

This is an older post from last year that was never published, but since spring is in the air, and this is one of the first forage-able crops of spring we thought it was worth publishing it now.  Knotweed shoots start appearing in mid April here in southeastern Pennsylvania.  Look for it along streams, but it will grow almost anywhere.  Patches of knotweed from last year will look similar to short bamboo.  Click for more information on Japanese Knotweed from wildman Steve Brill.

The early bird gets the worm, but in our case the early forager gets the Japanese knotweed.
Japanese knotweed is considered by most to be a highly offensive weed.  It is an introduced species and highly invasive.  To others it is considered a food source, comparable to rhubarb.  One person's weed is another person's dinner.  You know? 
Joe and I first heard about the plant last fall, well past harvesting time.  We spent the winter dreaming of an overly abundant, free source of rhubarb substitute.

Spring at last!  After only a few foraging trips we have close to 10 bags of chopped knotweed in our freezer in addition to having made one batch of knotweed jam, one of jelly, knotweed bars and a small amount cooked and eaten in oatmeal. 
Joe and I used a recipe from ... The 3 Foragers blog.
Knotweed is one of those early foraging plants and one of the first things that is easily obtainable in the spring.  It is tart but not as tart as rhubarb and resembles asparagus. 

Stay tuned for upcoming recipes concerning knotweed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Irish Whistle

This is the sweetheart whistle made from african blackwood with amazing sound quality.
Whistles on the top and recorders on the bottom.

For those of you who don't know I have been playing the tin whistle for a few years now.  The whistle goes by several different names including the Irish Whistle, the Penny Whistle, the tin whistle and just the whistle in D.  All the names are synonymous.  I bought my first penny whistle when Sara and I visited Dublin in 2006.  The notes of the D penny whistle are quite similar to the recorder as well as the alto saxophone both of which I have some experience (albeit limited experience) playing.  I really did not play it very much until I was deployed to Iraq in 2011 and since then have practiced to the point where I consider myself proficient but not yet ready to take my musical ability on the road.  I have purchased several and made a few myself since my first purchase in Dublin in 2006.  Each has its own qualities and sound.  There are several keys of the whistle but all can be played the same.  Irish whistles range in price from a few dollars on up.  My most expensive (and my favorite) is made by a company in Connecticut called Sweetheart Flutes.  It is made from african blackwood and has an amazing sound quality.  I'll include some pictures as well as a video.  For anyone interested in picking up this instrument send me a message.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Joe's Biography

I was born and raised on the border of Iowa and Minnesota, the oldest of what would eventually be four children.  I grew up under what would be considered less than humble circumstances, but lived on over 100 acres of homesteaded property comprised of pasture and row crop lands of which I roamed freely and relatively unsupervised as a child.  I was surrounded by nature with grassland as well as a small grove and several nearby small creeks.  Being unsupervised for the most part, I was able to explore my surroundings freely at a very young age.  I believe this is where my curiosity for the natural world first took hold.  I was marveled by the development of amphibians in the creek, the multitude of insects and spiders and also by the various homestead animals that were around.  There were always chickens; often other fowl such as ducks, geese, turkeys; two horses; one heifer and a few other oddities.  We also had a large (poorly managed) vegetable garden that comprised between two and four acres.  Though the large garden was managed quite poorly, I was able to pick up on a great deal of knowledge about various plant characteristics, soil conditions and miscellaneous attributes about fruit and vegetable preservation.
My father was a hapless entrepreneur and my mother was a blue collar worker.  Though both my parents’ background is sketchy, it is reported that both parents may have had Associate degrees.  We seldom had any disposable income, and the limited income my mother brought home was usually spent on the next doomed-to-fail business scheme of my father.  Needless to say I grew up quite impoverished.  Lucky for my siblings and myself we lived within two miles of our grandparents and almost always went there for our evening meal.  If it wasn't for my grandfather we would likely have went hungry more often then we did.
Seeking better opportunities I attended the University of Northern Iowa after graduating from high school, with the ultimate goal of applying for Veterinary School.  I realized that hard work and education were keys to success.  I held summer jobs at a packing plant, often working double shifts, and during the school year I worked in food service, retail and janitorial service.  I worked my way through my Bachelor of Arts degree and after several months of working for the USDA on a pilot project for swine disease surveillance and also enlisting in the US Army Reserves, I was admitted to Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.  Upon being awarded with the degree Doctor of Veterinary Medicine I accepted a commission in the US Army Veterinary Corps. 
Since that time I have traveled the world while wearing the uniform, remained in the good graces of my wife (married while in undergrad), adopted 2 children from Haiti, and am pursuing a post-doctoral master’s degree.  I have also self-studied in preparation for my second career, where I hope to eke out a living as an organic farmer and craftsman.  Much of our blog is dedicated to this type of preparatory work for our future endeavors in regards to gardening, foraging, and craft making.  We hope you enjoy.

Kraut can be more then just cabbage

We grew turnips this year on a whim.  We tried them in soup, and after two tries determined that turnips are probably the very best way to ruin an otherwise good stew/soup.  We baked another with some potatoes with somewhat better results, but potatoes alone are better than potatoes with turnips.  Only one thing left to try and that is ferment them.  For this we took our remaining 5 large turnips and shredded them with a pound of store bought carrots.  We added them to a small fermentation vessel (a 1 1/2 liter sized whey protein container I had acquired) and waited to see the results.  To the veggies we added non-iodized salt, 1/2 cup of vinegar and filled the rest with leftover whey from yogurt making.

The results were pretty good.  I do not think it tastes anything like sauerkraut, but still does have that sour taste.  The closest thing it tastes like is a pickled carrot salad.  It is a good side with a corned beef or other winter warming type foods.

The pictures to the right are our second batch (currently in progress).  One incident to note with this latest batch is that the fermenting microbes became overzealous.  As a result the water and whey bubbled so much that the container overflowed and made a mess on the counter.

FOOD SAFETY NOTE:   Even though I could not find a single incident of food poisoning associated with fermented vegetables in the Center for Disease control database (I LOOKED);  we perform a quick boil of our fermented vegetables.  This may reduce some of the probiotic qualities of the kraut, but it gives us peace of mind in regards to food safety precautions.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Secular Homeschool Curriculum Lessons

The below lessons were developed solely by us, though I am sure many may not be completely original ideas.  Click on a lesson to follow the link to that page.

Seed class:  Science, Math, Writing

Easter Egg with String:  Science, Art 

Earth History Discovering the Major Eras with Help from the Smithsonian:  Science, Writing, Art

Saturday, March 22, 2014

SEED CLASS - combining lesssons of biology, math and writing

un-sprouted peas
We have a theory that knowledge will only be maintained by a child if they think that knowledge is interesting or useful.  As a society we often do not give our children enough credit for their reasoning, their logic and their motives.  We as a society also seldom make full use of the learning potential.  We as parents are trying to remedy that in regards to our children.


We have a lot of old garden seeds that for lack of space in the garden we have failed to plant. Last week Mackenson and I started our latest science experiment, sprouting pea seeds in moistened paper towels.  We had a few different kinds of pea seeds, all of different ages.  We are sprouting approximately 100 seeds and our methods are below:

Items needed:
1.  seeds of choice:  we had and used pea seeds.
2.  paper towels
3.  zip-lock bags


1.  In a paper towel place 20 pea seeds in a grid type pattern.
2.  Fold the paper towel to keep all of the seeds contained.  We actually placed another paper towel over the top before folding.  Kind of like making a bed with a blanket.
3.  Moisten the paper towel with water, but do not make it sopping wet (only moist).
4. Place moistened paper towel with seeds into a plastic ziplock bag.
5. Seal the bag and place somewhere warm (like on on of the refrigerator).
sprouted peas, some were planted directly into the garden and some into indoor pots for further study.

When we look at the seeds we count how many sprouted after 10-14 days and how many did not.  Since Mackenson is learning fractions, we are going to determine the fraction of seeds that sprouted from our really old seeds compared to the fraction that sprouted of our newer seeds.

Science Lessons:
1.  How does a seed sprout?
2.  What does a seed need before it sprouts?
3.  How does the age of the seed affect sprouting?

1.  Make the child write the answers to the above science questions.
2.  Introduce vocabulary words of "sprout" and "germination".

1.  What fraction of the seeds sprouted from the older seeds
2.  What fraction of seeds sprouted from the newer seeds

monocot vs. dicot seeds / plants
anatomy of a seed

Friday, March 21, 2014

James Forrest Buchanan

Biographical synopsis:     James Forrest Buchanan                                   
Great great grandfather of Joe Eggers:   
James Forrest Buchanan was born in Chatham Hill, Virginia on 1 July 1876.
At the age of 28 he was drafted by the St. Louis Browns professional baseball team.  He played as a right handed pitcher for one season with an ERA (Earned Run Average) of 3.50 and 54 strikeouts.  He had a 5-9 record and did not return for a second season.
According to some accounts he attended Austin College in Sherman, Texas.  However, Austin College has no record of grade reports or transcripts of anyone named Buchanan between 1890 and 1906.  Presumably this time period would have covered when he would have attended college.
Other accounts have him attending Midland Lutheran College located in Fremont, Nebraska.  This account may be more likely since Norfolk, Nebraska was his final residence upon his death on 15 JUN 1949.
James Forrest Buchanan married Rose Wiegand from Aten, Nebraska. Together they had three children, Susan Olena Buchanan, Myrtle Emaline Buchanan, and Franklin E. Buchanan.

Complete minor league stats from 1903-1911

Ruth Frances Hurmence Green

Ruth Frances Hurmence was the first cousin of my grandfather.  She was born 12 January 1915 in Sumner, Iowa.  Her parents were Charles Richard Hurmence and Clara Emma Messerer.  Ruth became a renowned author for her works as a self-described born again skeptic of Christianity, based on her reading of the old and new testaments.  She is most widely known for the phrase “There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as the Dark Ages.”  She was raised as a Methodist in a strong Methodist family, but proclaimed that she always questioned the teachings.
She attended Texas Tech University and graduated in 1935 with a degree in journalism.  She married Truman Green, an engineer, and had three children.  Eventually Ruth settled in Jefferson City, Missouri.  In 1960 she lost her only sister to breast cancer and decided to have a radical mastectomy.  She was later diagnosed with skin cancer and in 1975 developed throat cancer.    During her first round of cancer treatments Ruth decided to read the bible cover to cover and it was at this time that she became a confirmed atheist. 
Ruth wrote The Born Again Skeptics Guide to the Bible and performed a well renowned lecture at the Unitarian Church of Columbia, MO in November of 1980.  She was interviewed for the film A Second Look at Religion. The film was released in 1980 by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Ruth passed away on 7 July 1981 after ingesting a fatal dose of pain killers and after a long battle with throat cancer.  Her last words written to her friend Annie Laurie Gaylor "Freedom from religion must grow and prosper... freedom depends upon freethinkers."
Special thanks to:
Wikipedia’s article about Ruth Hurmance Green  the previous was drawn upon heavily from the website.

The Born Again Skeptic's Guide to the Bible. Madison, Wis.: Freedom From Religion Foundation, 4th ed., 1999. ISBN 1-877733-01-6
The Book of Ruth. Madison, WI: Freedom From Religion Foundation, 1982. ISBN 978-9991879482
Women Without Superstition. Madison, Wis.: Freedom From Religion Foundation, 1997. ISBN 1-877733-09-1

Monday, March 17, 2014

Homemade Skunk shampoo/deodorizer - Spring smells are in the air.

Spring is in the air even in suburbia.  The squirrels are chattering, birds are migrating and animals that have been hibernating are coming out of their dens.  Our dog has discovered a new species of cat that is all black with a distinctive white stripe down its back and and equally distinctive odor.  The species is Mephitis mephitis aka Eastern Skunk.  Our dog Anabaena has been sprayed twice in the last month.  The first time was at 11:58PM after we had stayed up to watch a late movie and were quite ready to retire for the night.  We proceded let the dog out and she proceeded to wander over to our compost bin where it is evident Pepe laPew was enjoying a midnight snack.  Mr laPew was in no mood to entertain a chocolate laborador retriever and made it known.  Needless to say we didn't go straight to bed, rather we spent the next 30 minutes bathing our odoriferous canine.

The second incidence happened about a week later at 5:45 AM.  Anabaena bolted out the door as usual, but instead of stopping by her favorite Japanese Maple, proceeded to the neighbors yard where Pepe was enjoying the scenery under our neighbors deck.  Enjoying it until our dog once again tried to introduce herself.  This resulted again in another 30 minute bathing session for the stinky pooch.  

The lesson learned from all of this is to look outside before you let the dog out, and have a good shampoo concoction ready that works on skunk odors.  We have found the following recipe and technique to be quite useful.  
In a bowl or bottle mix together:
1 quart hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup baking soda
1-2 teaspoons liquid dish soap 

Scrub this mixture into the fur vigorously.  We didn't let it set on Anabaena longer than it took to scrub it all over her body, but that may increase the effectiveness of the baking soda to remove the odor.