Hedging Bets

Hedging Bets

Ol' Man Winter

In case you’ve not been up on things, most, if not all, almanacs, weather stations, NOAA, and Auntie Bess’s rheumatic big toe are all pointing to a rough winter for 2017 – 18. In preparation, I’ve been inching toward ready-mode since mid-September.

My first action was to prepare the ol’ wood / coal stove in the parlor, (I love that old-fashioned word… it sounds so homey and comforting). I cleaned it, replaced needed firebrick and piping, cleaned and brushed out the chimney. I then gave it a new coat of stove black and aside from test burning and removing the inevitable smell of the new coating while all windows are open for summer; it was ready for whatever Old Man Winter might throw at us.

Next, I readied the Big Buddy Propane Heaters® I use for the critter shed and the greenhouse. These heaters are literally life savers and workhorses here at the old homestead. While they are meant for temporary and intermittent use as in camping, ice fishing houses, and remote off-grid cabins, I rely on mine throughout the season with no ill effects. In the greenhouse I’ve tried to use propane heaters designed for long term use and found them unreliable and lasting no more than one season. I used my emergency Big Buddy Heater® when one of them failed on a cold winter’s night and have been doing so ever since. The only requisite is to maintain them during the winter; and service and thoroughly clean them annually. The main thing is to remove all expected cobwebs that may accumulate on and in them in the off-season. This is most important as these often block the jets causing a damming effect which can lead to explosions. This, however, is true of all propane heaters even LP gas barbeque grills. These heaters sell between $115 and $149 and are cheap at twice the price for what value they are here at Hunny-Bunny Farm. This year I had to repaint the oldest (of three others) with some stove paint after removing some rust but this was less than half-a-days’ time and well worth the effort. I also bought another that was on sale at Tractor Supply Corporation® to use inside for the times of chronic power outages up here on the sylvan ridge.

After this I turned my attention to kerosene heaters (3) that we have here for emergency use. Yes, I can hear it already, the quips and gripes of how stinky these heaters can be; but I’m here to tell ya’ that as long as you maintain and clean them, use fresh A-1 clear kerosene and let the oil burn out at least once every 3 or 4 lightings so as to avoid carbon build-up on the wick you’ll not have a “kerosene smell” throughout the house. This is exactly what I did; I drained the old kerosene, to be used as fire starter in the outside fire barrel.

Aside: never use kerosene from the previous season thinking you will save money. Kerosene goes “bad” quickly and will cause problems and smells if used from season to season. It will cause a shortened wick life and sputtering during burning which is incomplete combustion that in turn causes kerosene odors during use.

After draining I removed the old wicks and replaced them with the proper replacements, not just any wick fits any heater, check your owner’s manual for the proper fit. With the wick removed clean all the parts of the burn area removing any carbon deposits as needed. After which give is a light going-over with fine steel wool; this will ensure removal of any remaining deposits. Yep, it is that simple! If you take care and maintain your heaters they can last a lifetime or more. Our oldest of the three kerosene heaters goes back to the mid-1980’s when my folks used it in their apartment downstairs during emergencies. By the way, this particular heater is the sturdiest and strongest of all we have as it is made from a thicker gauge steel and in all these year, with proper maintenance, has never showed signs of rust. I look forward to many more years of service from this heater.

Lastly, I’m currently bringing up seasoned firewood from the back of the property to the front, this will assure shorter trips to the woodpile in the dead of winter. This seasoned wood has been aging to perfection over the last year or two and is ready for burning. In fact, if it not for the relatively mild weather of this Indian summer we would already be using it. I will also be ordering two tons of anthracite coal for the frigid parts of January and February when things are coldest.

So there you have it folks, we rely on not one form of energy for our heating needs: we have oil heat in the furnace, wood / coal in the stove; propane and kerosene for the any emergencies and also to heat the critters and greenhouse. It pays to be prepared you never know what Mother Nature has in store for us; just ask the folks in Houston and Puerto Rico.

Sorry to have not been updating more often but this summer I was down with tick-borne Erlichiosis not once, but twice. The ticks this year have been particularly bad due to the relatively warm winter we had last year which didn’t cull the population as usual. So be careful out there, and I don’t just mean in the deep woods but in your lawns, gardens and backyards because Erlichiosis, like the other tick-borne diseases is not just an inconvenience but can lay you out for weeks, even months at a time.

Many thanks to the readership who expressed concern on my long absence, but all is well with me at the moment and I’m doing just fine.

Meantime, this month of October represents the centenary mark of the first Apparitions of Fatima. It is crucial we keep up the rosaries as never before.

Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The A, Bee, C’s of Beekeeping

The A, Bee, C’s of Beekeeping

This is my seventeenth year of beekeeping and despite being very thick, time and experience does teach you a thing or two about whatever discipline one may take up. Initially, I started beekeeping to pollinate my small orchard; within the first season I quickly found out that bees make the choices as to what and where to pollinate. As a result, very few of my bees are ever within my own orchard whether in that first year or still today. Though it took a couple of seasons, in the end, I realized that I put the cart before the horse, so to speak, as I looked to the bees for care of my orchard when I should have been primarily intent on the hives and bees. In other words, beekeeping should not be a by-product of some other project, but a project in itself.

The number one mistake of the novice backyard beekeeper is to treat beekeeping as a hobby. Due to this, most novices regard beekeeping as a pastime relying too much on primers, books and videos which are necessarily too general in nature in order to concisely convey the most information possible. Yes, they can be helpful for the overall concepts they illustrate, but very few of these presentations emphasize that your apiary is unique, despite the many generalizations. To illustrate, almost all books, articles’, etc. say to feed bees sugar solution in the late winter / early spring, and then once again in fall, which is correct, however, when you’ve had two, three, four or more days of rain i  the middle of the season at your apiary it is likely that the bees are resorting their stores because the foraging bees cannot get out of the hive to forage.  It is obvious that the application of the information presented in the myriad of books and videos must be based on your own correct observations and the conclusions drawn from said observations. It goes without saying that your conclusions must be valid based on experience; and experience comes over time and attainment of knowledge of your own bees. It is said that: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and this is so because knowledge MUST be tempered by experience. Additionally, since very few are being taught logic and reason these days, they simply parrot the information that they have gleaned from their sources without ever discerning what is logically correct or rational, but are merely the writer’s feelings, for better or worse.


Swarm Capture

In my own case, I did the prerequisite reading and research, consulted local bee clubs, sought out the experts for one-on-one, face-to-face talks, seminars and the like. Even going so far as to tour the expert’s hives and perform inspections to diagnose each situation, draw conclusions, and find the resolution to any evident problems. However, (and this is the second mistake for novices), the most profitable approach is to invite the expert to your hives to point out potential and present flaws and problems that may be currently occurring or will be occurring in future based on the condition of the hive at the moment. Such Monday morning quarter-backing is, of course, experience; had I the opportunity to do it over again, or to teach a newbie beekeeping this is what I would do now.

To be sure, books, videos, conferences are necessary, most especially for the beginner, but application of the knowledge imparted must be tempered over time by personal experience of your very own hives most especially with a mentor. The uniqueness of your apiary and even individual hives within the apiary is mandated by the micro-climate of the area or region, your own mini-micro climate, the placement of your hives, the species of honeybees, the existence of any pests or disease, and any number of other factors. An experienced mentor would take scope of the entire situation and evaluate your problems and your needs, often without even opening one hive: but here is the rub… finding an experienced mentor! Many beekeepers are full of themselves and where one will say one thing another will say the opposite. Many are in it for making money from selling books or attaining conference fees. To discern the best mentor is a problem, but I would say the first thing is to find an experienced that is not in it for the money but strictly for the love of bees and beekeeping. So choose wisely, otherwise you will learn nothing and just be spinning your wheels.

So, with all the above said don’t get the wrong idea that beekeeping is time consuming, it is not. For a few hours a month, it can be a most rewarding experience, both in the practical sense as well as in the esoteric sense. A veteran beekeeper once told me that you cannot be a beekeeper and not know there is a God; as in any other endeavor where your get your hands down into the soil, it is easy to discern God’s presence. Therefore, I encourage all who are contemplating beekeeping to do so, but be sure to secure a competent mentor to take you by the hand and inspect your hives.

Meantime, continue to have recourse to Our Blessed Mother through her daily Rosary. In between one should also recite the Jesus Prayer, it is a simple but powerful ejaculation that can be said throughout the day while simultaneously involved in other daily tasks.


Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Clearing the AIr on Anti-biotics and Homesteaders, Smallholders and Consumers

Clearing the Air on Antibiotics and Homesteaders, Smallholders and Consumers

Surprisingly, based on written and verbal responses, most of the readership of Catholic Rural Solutions, brusquely failed to understand fully the ultimate ramifications of my last posting of March 21, 2017 entitled Danger… Smallholder… Danger.

(see, https://richardofdanbury.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/danger-smallholder-danger/).

In most cases it is because many of the readers are suburban or even urban dwellers who have little experience with animals but have a genuine interest in such matters. Indeed, some have never even had dogs or cats and experienced the costs associated with the care of these animals. There are many regulatory statues on the local, county, state and federal levels that impose ever increasing fees, to say nothing of feed costs, housing and other requisite costs of keeping livestock. As an example, just to keep a dog in the Northeast the costs of clearing the regulatory hurdles for inoculations required is easily anywhere between $200 – $300 per year depending on local, county and state mandates.

Now consider the smallholder or farmer who sells to the public… he faces much more expensive scrutiny with the resulting immodest fees imposed by varying agencies at all branches and levels of government. This says nothing of incidental cost of doing business. Did you know, for instance, to sell at most farmer’s markets it is necessary to maintain separate liability insurance just to cover sales solely within the farmer’s market? When I originally tried to sell the honey produced by Hunny-Bunny Farm at the local farmer’s market the insurance would have been $300 and that is just for one season/year. Add to that the season for honey production is limited and the majority is produced in the late summer or early fall, say perhaps 3 weeks. Since insurance costs are not pro-rated, that would mean that each bottle of honey sold would have to include the insurance costs spread over the time period of 3 weeks. The farmer’s markets also add fees in the form of table/space rental.

To the above costs let’s consider market demand of only “natural and organic” feeds, (which, despite the labels on the packaging, you can never be certain of). This feed runs, on average, an additional 33% of the ordinary feed costs. So while I buy a 17% protein feed from the Ag store for the rabbits at $16.99 + tax per 50lbs. bag, the cost of buying so-called natural and organic could be anywhere between $23.99 to $29.99, plus tax depending on the retailer. This 50lbs. bag lasts about two weeks.

Another emerging market demand is self-styled “cruelty free” or free-range environments; this means that more land must be freed up to allow roaming to all animals. Needless to say for backyard smallholders this is not an option. Also one man’s definition of free-range, cruelty free is not the same as another. So I predict in future this will also be mandated by the Nanny-State.

To all the above add the newly imposed mandate by the autocratic FDA on the use of medical antibiotics. Now if you have a cow that is sick or a rabbit with a serious injury you cannot treat it yourself on farm, but must consult a veterinarian who most likely will demand, (based on liability) to see the animal personally, regardless of whether that means a road trip to the farm or the transporting of the animal to the vet. It also entails testing and treatment, and maybe even overnight, or longer quarantining and isolation of the infected animal. Such fees can easily be prohibitive, thus forcing many, many smallholders and farmers to cease operations.

As stated in my previous post cited above, I have always been opposed to treatment with antibiotics as a prophylaxis against potential infections. I also oppose antibiotics against every sniffle and sneeze of both humans and animals, (yes, animals do also sniffle and sneeze). However, it is shortsighted and unwise to condemn all use of antibiotics in one broad stroke. Smallholders, farmers and other husbandry men have the most to lose in the treatment of disease and infection. The free use of medicinal antibiotics has never been a problem with smallholders because the care of the livestock is foremost in their thoughts. Sometimes alternative and natural antibiotic means are not sufficient for the situation at hand and recourse to allopathic antibiotic is necessary and prudent.  The cost of antibiotics is also another limiting factor, so any use would is subject to prudence.

The Consequence of it All

In consideration of not only all the above, but also my original posting and most importantly the YouTube video cited there in and repeated below for convenience, the overwhelming costs will have a deep impact in the consumer market.


At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy-theorist, (just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you ), I believe in view of all the Nanny-State’s past and current Famers Plightattempts at over-regulating smallholders, farmers and homesteaders out of business, they will have a cumulative and detrimental effect on consumer choice. It essentially is collusion, whether willful or not is yet to be seen but likely so, between Big-Ag, Big-Pharma, other mega-corporations and the government to control food production and thus control people. In the end, we the consumers will be required, through lack of choice and onerous legislation, to buy only commercial products laced with hormones, preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, prophylactic antibiotics, GMO’s and other damaging additives.

In conclusion, I urge the readership to suspend what they previously believed about the use of antibiotics and perform due-diligence, first by watching the video, then by reading books, taken from the public library, on animal husbandry and small farming, then by visiting local community type farms and smallholders; understanding their needs and concerns before making sweeping judgements of the right use of antibiotics. This is not to only to see the plight of small farms but more importantly to protect your right, as a consumer, to pure unadulterated food. This is in your own best interest.

Remember to pray the Rosary daily for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as the above and other incremental steps are leading more and more to a catastrophic conclusion.

Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.

Posted in Current Events, Economics, Homestead | Leave a comment

Danger! …Smallholder… Danger!


Danger! …Smallholder… Danger!

Clearing the Smoke and Mirrors of Illusion from the New FDA Antibiotic Regs.

As most of the long-time readers of Catholic Rural Solutions Blog know I’ve long advocated some regulations regarding antibiotics in animal feeds and personally avoid all such feed for my livestock. However, new FDA regulations, while lauded by the pretentious and largely ignorant elitist Wholefoods-type clientele as good, natural and organic, actually  further limits not only the freedom and independence of the small farmers and homesteaders; it impacts directly on you the individual consumers.

Most smallholders, farmers and homesteaders are acutely aware that it is important to go as natural as possible on their farm, if not on principle, certainly based on market demand. Here at Hunny-Bunny, while not a classical farm, (we might be better classified as a backyard hobby venture), we too feel the impact of onerous regs. However, these new regs have tremendous effects not only on expenses but also on the lives of the livestock as well. As a personal case in point, two of my buck rabbits, (males) unexpectedly, (because they were littermates), got into a bloody fight in which one buck literally scratched the eyes out of his fellow rabbit. [Aside: See, I told you rabbits are not the cute and cuddly Disneyesque critters they are projected to be!] To relieve pain, promote healing, prevent infection and more importantly save the rabbit’s life, I was forced to use some antibiotics I had on hand. I used an ointment that I, personally, had used when I had an eye infection early this winter. Additionally, I used some doxycycline tablets that were left over from a previous dog’s secondary infection when he was dying.  This I dissolved in the buck’s drinking water. To be sure I had enough antibiotic meds on hand I went to Tractor Supply Corporation for some tetracycline, as the rabbit’s severe injuries would warrant long recuperative care. It was here that I was informed of the new FDA regs, which took place in January, 2017. These regs meant that smallholders such as, small farmers, backyard husbandmen (as myself) and homesteaders, would need to engage the services of a veterinarian even for cases as mine which previously could be handled at home with the purchase of over the counter antibiotics from agricultural supply stores like Agway and TSC. This adds a needless cost on folks already hard-pressed when running a smallholding. After all, the vet would follow the same procedures as I; that is, debride and cleanse the wound, soften the tissue where possible with warm saline solution, flush with clean and sanitized water, administer antibiotic ointment and give internal antibiotics, which in the veterinarian’s case would likely be through faster acting injection. The major difference would be in the cost. My cost for tetracycline and saline solution would be approximately $12 – $15; while the vet fee could amount to 10 to 20 times that amount… or more. So how do you justify such a cost for a $20 rabbit? Indeed, without over the counter agricultural antibiotics the small farmer can’t survive for long and consumers would be subject to BigAg as more and more smallholders’ foldup shop.

So while the misinformed and ignorant, mostly urban and suburban consumers with little to no knowledge of animal husbandry, see these new regulations as a forward step by the natural and organic movement; in reality it is simply another attempt by the Nanny-State to wrest freedoms and independence from we, the small folk.

There are other facets to this which would require a long essay for which I don’t have time at the moment as I have to attend the injured buck. Suffice to say that you must, must view the following YouTube video to see the full ramifications of this their surreptitiously enacted regulations. Also bear in mind that these are regulation of a government agency, which can unilaterally set them, and not legislation that was acted on by our representatives. It is a covert holdover from the sneaky and devious Obama administration over which Trump will have little to any sway.

Here is the web citation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyYcDkeIZi8

Please, please watch this short video so that you may understand the complete effects of these FDA regulations which effectively mix truth and lies not only in their intention but also in their implementing. Pass it around and encourage others to see it. This is vital… as this is another form of mission creep by a socialist agency.

Continue to pray the Rosary for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart… time is running short.

Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.

Posted in Current Events, Economics, Homestead | Leave a comment

Ya Flea-Bitten Varmint…

Ya Flea-bitten Varmint…

I’ve been an advocate of Do-It-Yourself, Back-to-the-Land, smallholding for many, many years… decades even. I’ve gardened since I was knee-high under the sage and experienced advice of my favorite Uncle Henry, that is, Uncle Hen, as he was affectionately known. I’ve put-back, processed, preserved and otherwise stored a variety of vegetables, grains, bulbs, herbs and even flowers from one growing season to another. I also have literally scores of reference books and saved magazines like the old Organic Gardening and Farming and Mother Earth News from their heydays of the 1970 – 80’s and yet there is very little advice or experience as to what to do about varmints, vermin and other nuisance critters and pests, most especially the fur-ball kind like mice, voles and rats.

I’ve also long wondered if all the books, magazines, videos and blog-spots wish merely to yosemitedepict the bucolic and pastoral side of the Back-to-the-Land and smallholder lifestyle in order to sell, …well… books, magazines, videos and blog-spots. Things like the nitty-gritty of mucking stalls and pens; shoveling smelly and gooey poop from various livestock, dealing with the death of same and dispatching and processing livestock are glossed over at best and completely ignored at worst in most publications and videos. Yet these chores are an intrinsic part and parcel of homesteading, self-sufficiency, smallholding, or whatever other romantic sounding name you will apply.

By far the most egregious oversight is the subject of vermin, especially rats. Despite all the resources at my disposal, there is little to no info on vermin-control aside from a cursory treatment of it such as how to ward off or discourage them. It is equivalent to hanging garlic to ward off the mythological vampire without a description of how to destroy one. Thus the information is incomplete and largely useless. Why is that?

Also, why does mankind have such a visceral hate of these critters?  Perhaps there is an instinctual aversion on the part of mankind to rats, snakes, spiders and other denizens of the darkness stemming from the collective consciousness of humanity caused by millennia of these critters causing disease, suffering, death and destruction throughout human history.

Be that as it may, I’m here to tell you, despite the stroll through herbaceous borders that homesteading is presented as, wherever you have barns full of grain and feed for livestock you have vermin… mice, rats, voles, snakes, maggots, etc. It is a harsh reality of country life. Indeed, even in cities these hangers-on of human habitation are to be found wherever man calls home. I’ve even seen NYC subway rats, known as Norway rats, as big as the average sized housecat neatly traversing the tracks and nimbly avoiding the third rail. Indeed, I can tell the many tales of these Norway rats in New York City, even horribly attacking tenement folks in the middle of the night as related by Uncle Hen who was a City Housing Inspector in some of the worst slums in Harlem and the South Bronx… but such yarns are not for the faint of heart and squeamish.

To most folks, a rat is a rat, is a rat, but here in the country we predominantly have Allegheny Woodrats and Eastern Woodrats, otherwise known as pack rats. While there appears to be a commonality between the two types the mitochondrial DNA indicate that the Allegheny Woodrats are a different species entirely. In both cases, the woodrats are supposedly in decline within the Northern most reaches including New England. However, in my neck of the woods, if you will pardon the pun, they have appeared to be as numerous as ever. Like most wildlife their abundance and influence varies from year to year, depending on factors like weather, forage, and the increase or decrease of their natural predators. This year’s appearance seems to have originated in the woodlands that surround Honey-Bunny Farm; where they are ever present and kept under control by the foxes, owls and other predators. They started in the garden during the mid-summer, migrated to the hen-yard; and subsequently moved onto the aviary / rabbitry.

Their sojourn to the aviary / rabbitry coincided with the onset of the cold weather in late November early December of 2016 and here they settled in for the winter. Unfortunately, their raids did not end with grains and seeds, but with the absolute predation of my quail. They reduced the quail flock from 14 quail to 5 remaining birds which I now house in the basement pending resolution to the problem. Unusually, but not unheard of, woodrats will consume meat if it is opportune… and defenseless caged quail were a smorgasbord for them.

So here we are in a standoff of a battle that is going on 7 weeks. While initially, I seemed to have snap-trapped many; my troubles were not behind me as rats are intelligent creatures that learn quickly. That is the one of the primary reason they are used in labs for their ability to learn and adapt. Indeed, research indicates a type of intelligence known as the g factor and though many experiments have indicated a distinct learning nature, the results varied so that overall they are inconclusive. From my experience rats quickly learn that traps equal death. Despite soaking successful used traps in bleach water, after one or two uses these traps are useless; the same with various baits. I’ve learned, as well, that traps that have been successful cannot be used on the current generation of rats, but can be used on the next successive inexperienced group.

By the way, there used to be an extremely effective pesticide from D-Con that used warfarin as a poison. Mixed with oatmeal or peanut butter, once ingested it caused internal bleeding and the rats would seek water outdoors and die. Warfarin is the same chemical used in Coumadin, a blood thinner for humans with heart and hypercholesterolism. Tree-hugging animal rights people managed to get the EPA to ban the product and now the only poisons are so watered down as to merely serve as Hors d’oeuvres for these pests. …they are completely ineffective.

So onward the battle rages with my having to come up with innovative and novel means of warfare, including stuffing dry ice into their tunnels after a liberal salting with mothballs. Since dry ice, (CO2), is heavier than air, the evaporation will cause the carbon dioxide to settle low into the nests bringing with it an overwhelming waft of mothballs effectively gassing the pests. In combination with traditional snap and sticky traps this should eliminate the problem or at the very least reduce the infestation. Time will tell so look forward to more to come in this regard.

ratsOf course, in some cultures rats are eaten as ordinary fare. …Hmmm… perhaps with a fine Chablis!?!? Naw!

Meanwhile, it goes without saying, continue to say the Rosary for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart.

If you’ve enjoyed this little narrative or have gained some information from this or other articles in Catholic Rural Solutions at: https://richardofdanbury.wordpress.com/ Go to this blog please rate and comment.

Richard of Danbury, D. S. G.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Bronx… An Obscure Root of the Russian Revolution

The Bronx… an Obscure Root of the Russian Revolution

trotskyBelieve it or not…   it is an historical fact that one of the most notorious and ruthless leaders of the infamous Red Army and a mover and shaker of the Russian Communist Revolution lived for a time in the United States. In fact, he lived within a few blocks of where I grew up in the Bronx. While his real tag, Lev Davidovich Bronstein, may not strike a chord with most, his more disreputable alias of Leon Trotsky certainly will. Trotsky, his second wife, Natalya, and their two sons arrived by ship in New York, which he referred to as a city of capitalist automatism. Trotsky, who became Lenin’s chief lieutenant in revolutionary Russia, wanted to live in a ”workers district,” so he moved his family into an $18-per-month apartment in the Bronx. A princely sum for any newly arrived Bronxite prior to the Great Depression, and clearly, by the standards of the day, an upper-blue collar area, if not white collar. The only real working classes in his neighborhood were the largely Polish and Italian Supers, that is, janitors of the apartment buildings themselves.

For a New York minute…

He stayed for nearly three months at 1522 Vyse Avenue in The Bronx. There’s some question about where exactly the Trotsky’s lived. In My Life, Trotsky gives 164th Street in the Bronx as the location, if I am not mistaken; but most other historians think Trotsky misremembered, and point to 1522 Vyse Avenue, on the corner of 172nd Street, just east of Crotona Park, as the more likely address.

Before occupying the apartment, Trotsky’s wife paid the janitor three months’ rent in advance. She received no receipt and upon moving in, Trotsky learned that the janitor had absconded with rent from several tenants. But when he unpacked boxes of belongings that he’d stored in the apartment, Trotsky found his $54 carefully wrapped in paper.

He did not mind robbing the landlord, but he was considerate enough not to rob the tenants, Trotsky wrote of the janitor. Trotsky’s sons were won over by the apartment’s amenities: electric lights, a gas stove, a bathtub, an automated elevator, a telephone and a garbage chute, known in local jargon as a dumbwaiter. In many left and Socialist articles this building was described as a tenement, but Trotsky himself worried that his sons, whom he hoped would follow in his footsteps, would become spoiled by the conveniences of the building and neighborhood.

trotskyjouseIn the distant past, Vyse Avenue, on the eastern edge of the Morrisania section, had been home to Irish, Italian and Jewish laborers and their families. His particular neighborhood of Vyse Avenue, in the northern reaches of the Soundview district was largely Jews from Europe, most especially, Poland and Russia. Nearby Westchester Avenue and the adjacent streets were home to host of stores and shops for the tenants of the area, but many catered to the predominantly Jewish neighborhood. Indeed, even as a boy I distinctly remember going to several kosher delis for the delicious garlic pickles and mouth-watering knishes. Hmmm… kosher dill pickles…☺

So, you may ask, how did a recent deportee from France, via Spain (both kicked him out for being a revolutionary socialist troublemaker), afford a relatively well to do neighborhood? Well, Trotsky plunged into the fractious, polyglot radicalism in the city, especially on the Lower East Side, where anarchists, Socialists, Communists, and others waged mostly a paper war against each other in the pages of The Call, Novy Mir (The New World), the Yiddish-language daily, Der Forverts, that is, (The Jewish Daily Forward), and the Volkszeitung. He wrote and lectured, met Socialist Party leaders and had contempt for them, read voraciously in the New York Public Library’s Slavic collection, and tried to keep abreast of news from Russia.

He was officially earning some $15 a week from his writings and lectures however; there must have been some other sustaining help for the Trotsky family as most immigrants at the time could not afford the prerequisite 3 months security deposit needed for an apartment. Indeed, most immigrants were living in “railroad” flats with pot-bellied coal stoves for heat. Some even had communal toilets and bath facilities shared with the floor or even the entire building.

While lecturing in New York, Trotsky discussed politics with Alexandra Kolontay, an expatriate Bolshevik and free-love advocate who informed on Trotsky in letters to Lenin. He also met Eugene V. Debs, the five-time Socialist candidate for the American presidency, whom he described as a sincere revolutionary. It is also likely that he had some acquaintance with Dorothy Day, before her conversion to Catholicism as both were involved in the local radical politics.

Trotsky was living in New York City when the February Revolution of 1917 overthrew Tsar Nicholas II. He left New York on 27 March. Trotsky had been in New York only a month when revolutionary uprisings began in Petrograd. Soon the Hammer and Sycle banner was flying over the Tsar’s Winter Palace. Trotsky was anxious to return home and bought his family tickets on the first available ship.

Though his stay in New York was brief, two and a half months, they were apparently memorable ones for Trotsky. He later wrote in his autobiography: Here I was in New York, a city of prose and fantasy, of capitalist automatism, its streets a triumph of cubism, its moral philosophy that of the dollar. New York impressed me tremendously because, more than any other city in the world, it is the fullest expression of our modern age. He further wrote of his departure from New York: My only consolation was the thought that I might return. Even now I have not given up that hope. Trotsky, who was assassinated in Mexico in 1940, never lived in New York again.


Little known facts about Trotsky, WWI, The Russian Revolution and the Russian Civil War

  1. Trotsky’s parents were wealthy land-owning farmers in the Ukraine. These were later called Kulaks under Stalin and whom he mercilessly persecuted, striped of their wealth, and murdered.
  2. The Bolshevik leadership was mostly exiled abroad or in Siberia when the first revolution occurred. V. I. Lenin was in Switzerland, and Leon Trotsky, was in New York City.
  3. Trotsky would rise to fame as the founder and head of the Red Army and then lose a power struggle with Joseph Stalin,
  4. The family left NYC on March 27, 1917, but Trotsky was pulled off the boat in Nova Scotia and detained by the British for a month.
  5. His already tumultuous life got a lot more frenzied before ending in Mexico in 1940 at the hands of one of Stalin’s assassins.
  6. The most far-reaching agenda of the First World War was the destruction of the three remaining strongest empires—Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Ottoman—and the utter transformation of the map of Europe and the Middle East as a result.
  7. The first of these to fall was that of Tsarist Russia, which began to topple in the Revolution of February, 1917. However, the Bolsheviks did not seize power until later that year, during the Revolution of October, 1917. (The Russians were then still using the Julian calendar, date these revolutions as March and November, 1917; while the West was using the more accurate Gregorian calendar).
  8. Trotsky, then Lev Bronstein, was exiled to Siberia twice and managed to make his way back.
  9. Siberia at the time of the Tsars was:
    1. Not a collective of prisons but more of a frontier where dissidents, nonconformists and other unwanted were sent to be forgotten.
    2. Comparatively speaking it was much like our Old West, but most residence were exiles of one sort or another.
    3. There were no bars, prisons, or guards, except if you broke the local laws, in which case, you were sent to local jail.
    4. Trotsky was confined for local infractions and he was briefly jailed. It was here that he adopted the name Trotsky from a jailer.
    5. The root of the name Trotsky means defiant thus it appealed to Lev. The Revolutionaries had an affinity for pseudonyms that had a significant meaning, i.e. Stalin was from the Russian word steel, and thus Stalin was the man of steel. …and I ain’t talking Marvel Comic’s Superman.
  10. The Russian Communist Revolution was not a single event but a progression of events beginning with:
    1. The Russian Revolution of 1905, then
    2. The overthrow of Tsar Nikolai I and his repudiation of his dynasty
    3. The February Revolution,
    4. The October Revolution, finally,
    5. The Russian Civil War
  11. The Russian Civil War was fought by:
    1. The Red Army, these consisted of the Bolshevik Communists
    2. The White Army, Monarchists, and a loose confederation of Anti-Communist forces that fought the Bolsheviks
    3. The Green Army was armed peasant groups which fought against all governments in the Russian Civil War of 1917–22. They fought to protect their communities from requisitions or reprisals carried out by third parties.
    4. Various foreign armies fighting on different sides, these were known as The Allied intervention was a multi-national military expedition launched during the Russian Civil War in 1918. The Americans contributed the 339th Infantry which set the tone of suspicion between the two nations for the next 70 years.
  12. After losing the struggle for power on the death of Lenin, Stalin tried to erase all memory of Trotsky from Russian history; yet there was a persistent and sizeable Trotsky following in the Soviet Union, most especially in the Red Army. Stalin knew that the only way to remove any threat from Trotsky in future was to remove Trotsky from the face of the earth. In this he succeeded by Trotsky’s receiving a mortal wound to the top of the head with an ice-pick at the hands of a Stalin assassin in 1940.

Very little commemoration remains of this staunch Marxist in the former Soviet Union any longer; except in the West where his posters are ubiquitously found in nearly every college dorm beside that of another bloodthirsty Marxist killer Che Guevara. This however, is largely for the show of adolescent rebellion rather than real political ideology.

So above is another tidbit of trivia from myself, The Font of Useless Information as I’ve been called. Yet perhaps there is a lesson to be learned about the obscure roots of revolution and how something seemingly innocuous can have lasting reverberations throughout history.

Meantime, lets continue the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Consecration of Russia to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart to assure that the errors of Russia and the legacy of Trotsky will not once again proliferate.

I urge the readership to rate and comment on this and other articles on Catholic Rural Solutions. Also spread this and other articles among your like-minded friends and family.

Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.



Posted in Current Events | 1 Comment



In our times there is much confusion about almost every aspect of living day to day. Time was when things seemed more stable, for instance, in employment. Back in the day when you joined a company it was usually for life… barring something egregious you might have done like punching-out a co-worker, dating the bosses daughter, or pilfering company money or property etc. Generally speaking, when hired out of college, or even in those days high school, you could count on being employed by a company until retirement at age 65, with all the fat medical, and retirement benefits to tide you over until death. Today, however, the average worker can expect to have at least eight to ten different jobs with different employers. Additionally, some statistics indicate that the average worker can expect “career” changes at least three times or more in his lifetime. While there is little that any of us can do to change this situation, this article will help to dispel some of the confusion over another important area of our everyday lives… food expiration dates.

Food expiration, much like the terms of natural or organic, are among the cloudier elements of everyday living, which on the face of it, have powerful implications for health of the average consumer.  Food, as a once living thing, has a certain but variable perishable quality. Perishable meaning, of course, the time before purification begins to set in.  This is so variable depending on the item, storage method, time, etc. that it is difficult to place an exact date on when a food item is still safe to eat, even for the same items. This is also why, much to the surprise of the average consumer, the government has not place mandates on food expirations.

In the 1970’s consumers began to wonder about the safety of their foods and so producers in order to show sensitivity to their customer’s needs began a voluntary system of food labeling indicating what really amounts to a vague food quality system, though it truly does not meet the need of knowing when food is safe or not. Until that time, generally, most folks relied on the “sniff and view” test. This system of labeling is now so widely known and accepted by consumers that many think that it not only is a mandate of the Nanny State, but also, an absolute guide to food safety, which in both case is a misunderstanding.

Rather the system is a custom of the trade, so to speak and not an out-and-out law, code or mandate. Manufacturers, producers, wholesalers, and marketers voluntarily label their products to show more the optimal quality date rather than the food safety date.

So for better understanding below find what most producers generally, (but not always) mean by the terms that most consumers think of as “safety dates”.

Aside: It’s amazing how times change the terms and words we use. Back in the day, a “safety date” was the girl who really liked you but whom you merely thought of as a friend. She was held in reserve so that you would always have a date for Saturday night.

Sell By, this is mainly for the guidance of the grocer to indicate a last date to sell the item; this is strictly for optimum quality and does not imply food safety or even that food beyond this date is “bad”.

(Best) Used By, this is targeted to the consumer to indicate optimum quality and by no means indicates that the item is unsafe to eat. So once again it revolves around the producers reckoning of top quality.

Expiration Date, here again we have another quality criterion rather than a food safety date. This guide although mostly for the grocer can be used as an alternative to Sell By

There may also be other designations used by producers since this is a voluntary system and does not require specific labels or terms. Additionally, these terms and others vary widely according to the area, region and State. In general, though the terms above are targeted to either consumers or grocers although consumers wrongly use it as a reference of food safety.

On average, since these terms are more an indication of freshness and optimum quality it is usually safe to consume most items beyond the dates indicated. The use of the old “Sniff and View” test is largely adequate to determine when to chuck something of not, often under the guise of better safe than sorry. (see note on Botulism below for exceptions)

owewwThe bottom line is that the quality assurance dates on the labeling is just an indicator of freshness and optimum quality and not safety. Since products vary on freshness you must do the research to determine the maximum safety date beyond expiration for each and everything you consume. As I’ve been wont to say, the only way to be sure of the freshness and safety of any food for your family’s consumption is to grow, harvest, process and store you own vittles. Otherwise you are just transferring responsibility for your health to a third party who may not have a vested interest in your family’s well-being and health.

The above information while valuable to all consumers is of especial use to so-called preppers and other folks who store food for long term. Time was when all folks, not just preppers, had a larder to help them get through the winter. While not as convenient as today’s 24 hour shelf stock inventory of the modern Superette, it was also a guarantee of availability regardless of world, weather and political conditions.

A Word about Botulism

Never, never under any circumstances use canned products that are swollen, cracked, rusted or otherwise compromised. Treat them as if they contained the bacteria Botulism, Clostridium botulinum. Botulism can neither be detected by sniff or view, or even by taste. Always assume that such cans described above already contain this deadly bacteria, even when they seem to pass the “Sniff and View” test. Too many people have died to take a chance eating such food.

As always remember to continue to pray the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart.

Disclaimer: The information on this page is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text and information, are presented here for general information purposes only. Always seek professional medical advice -in other words you should always review any information carefully with your professional health care provider.

Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.

Posted in Economics, Homestead | Leave a comment