Friday, March 26, 2010

A legend will be fading away.

I've just discovered that Marlin Firearms will be closing next year.  The 140-year-old company was a favorite of Annie Oakley and lever gun enthusiasts.  While it's to my understanding their quality control has been lacking recently, it'll still be sad to see them go.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I'm deliberately avoiding discussions about the current political crap.

Not that I'm supporting what's going on; I'm unable to articulate exactly what I think.  Blame it on spending too much time out in the yard, prepping for the food I'll be growing this year.  Got too much on my mind with planning the year's harvest, no room left for political commentary.

SO, instead of babbling about that, here's my garden babble.  Right now we've got carrots (Danvers and Thumbelina varities) and radishes in, as well as tulips/crocus/other bulb flowers.  My daffodils have popped, the lilies are coming up next, and I added to the roses in the corner of the yard.  I'm going to move a whole mess of stuff outside this week - we have 10 trees from the Arbor Day Foundation as well as a couple of surprise plants for someone (I know he reads this, so I can't elaborate on them).  It'll be nice to get the gnats out of the bedroom...

This weekend, I'll be starting my tomatoes, peppers, and various circubits in containers in the basement under grow lamps.  The first weekend in May is the last frost date, and the rest of my goodies (corn, beans, herbs, leeks, greens) will go in either that week or the following weekend.  We're also hitting a relatively local topiary garden for their season opener and plant sale.  Hoping to pick up some strange stuff this year, either for planting in the garden or keeping in the house as an ornamental.  I think we might move the "annuals" outside, as well - I managed to overwinter begonias and a few flowers traditionally sold as annual flowers in hanging pots.

While I love winter and snow, this year really killed it for me...I've had the planting itch since about day 2 of the Snowpocalypse.  The Facebook game "Farmville" has really been my only outlet, save for the small things I planted or cared for over the winter.  I never expected to fall head-first into gardening as a hobby, but it turned out to be something I love.

What are your plans for spring and early summer?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Q&A: Hunting

Someone I know asked me a list of questions regarding our reasons for getting licensed to hunt, and I have been working on answers...This list will be updated as time goes by.

Why did you get licensed?
This one's easy.  I intend to hunt, to bring down my own food.  I also intend to help control the deer population in my state.  Without any natural predators and with a crazy amount of forest edge (supreme deer habitat) covering the majority of wooded areas near me, they've become a menace.  They eat themselves to starvation and disease and they cause accidents.  Without hunters to control them, I don't even want to imagine what would happen to the local population.  It would probably end up dying out eventually.

Are you going to hunt for trophies as well as food?
Not likely. I don't care about a deer head on the wall.  I'm all about need, not excess.

Will you eat every deer you take?
Ideally, we would ONLY eat what we take.  If I accidentally kill more than intended, I will donate extra to a food kitchen.  Goodness knows they could use it.

If you weren't going to hunt, would you take the class anyway?
Most likely.  At $10 for the class, it's hard to pass up.  Besides, one can never be too prepared - should the Zombiepocalypse occur, I'd like to be able to legally shoot zombie animals before they decide to nom on my brainmeats.  And camo is the new black, or so I'm told.

Why don't you just buy beef at the store like normal people?
I do, currently, but I'd prefer not to buy in to the meat industry in the US.  I can't really afford the astronomical prices of organic, grass-fed, farm-raised meat, and I'm very uncomfortable with knowing the torture factory farms force animals to endure.  I also don't like all the chemicals the farms pump into those animals.  I enjoy eating meat, but not at the expense of an animal's health.  Deer have healthier diets, their meat is leaner, and I feel it tastes better.  If I can provide a healthier option for my meat-eating family, why not go this route and help with population control in the process? 

    If you're a newbie looking to pick up some safety skills with a firearm, or if you're looking to get into hunting, I definitely recommend the class.

    Oh, Humans...

    This will probably anger people, but so have other posts on my blog, so here goes nothing.

    I was raised Catholic. I attended Catholic schools from Kindergarten through my Senior year of High School. I went to church. I prayed. I even attended World Youth Day in 2000 in Rome.

    And then my beliefs pretty much went to hell.

    In being honest about who I am with those closest to me, I lost "friends" - they couldn't handle my honesty. They said I was a sinner, and therefore we could not be friends. They insisted I must change my ways, else I go to hell and bring everyone down with me. They did so under the guise of caring, loving Catholics who only wanted the best for me.

    Then I admitted I was questioning my faith. This brought further backlash, further inner turmoil, further alienation from those I'd known since early childhood. I wondered how this would be possible if I were a God-loving woman. I wondered if this were considered some sort of testing by my God.

    And then, I stopped it all. I stopped praying, I stopped believing, I stopped going to church, and I stopped spending time with those who were, at one point in time, the most important friends I had. And I felt free. I felt unencumbered by my fears, unfettered by those Commandments which had held me back for decades. I admit, I went a little nuts. I overindulged. I let myself experience many of the things I couldn't under the laws of the Church. And I was happy.

    I'm just relieved I was able to do much of this without the denizens of the Internet reading about my journey...because I doubt I'd have been able to take it as well as this lady.

    I know I'm tossing my 2-3 readers into the middle of this mess, so here's a quick recap. A bloggess called Mrs. G, who created The Women's Colony and who regularly contributed to The Pioneer Woman's Homeschooling section wrote a recent post regarding how she introduced religion into her children's lives. It's well written, and I certainly appreciated her approach (and seriously, go read the post her daughter wrote). She neither force fed them nor taught them nothing, giving them ample opportunity to choose whatever path they wanted to follow. I respect this.

    Many of the readers of The Pioneer Woman, however, did not. Cue massive amounts of negative comments, emails, and even two phone calls to Mrs. G's home. People were angry...for silly reasons, in my opinion. The worst of it is how so many of them were claiming to be devout Christians, yet they were insulting everything about her; from her appearance to her method of raising her kids, they made a point to bring her down.  I repeat: they called her at home to harass her.  Who DOES that?

    If anything, this has reaffirmed my aversion to organized religion. If one cannot worship in their own way (as laid out in the Bible), why bother worshiping in community at all? Furthermore, why are people so incapable of actually following the rules of their chosen religion? The most basic undercurrent of all Christian religions is one of love, not hatred for those who aren't like "us." No wonder Christians have such a bad reputation. Their loudest and most obnoxious (and seemingly least-devout) members* can't even follow the rules they preach.

    I think what angers me the most about all of this - including the comments on The Pioneer Woman - is the lack of tolerance.  There are MANY religions out there, and not every one is a fit for every person.  Why can't people understand this?  Why must there be so much ridiculous fighting over something so personal?

    Why can't we let each other find the best path for ourselves, and applaud each other once we've found the belief structure that fits best?

    *Let it be known that I'm fully aware not all Christians are like this.  I wouldn't even say the majority behave this way...the vocal minority, however, seems to overshadow those who are following their faith as devoutly as they can.  In this context, I'm referring to televangelists, snooping gossips who enjoy causing drama, and other similarly-aligned ne'er-do-wells.

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    Hunter safety.

    C and I decided to jump on the opportunity to take the first class of the season - we haven't really started working in the yard yet, and it was cheap, so why not?

    The first two nights of the class were utterly exhausting. I'd forgotten what it was like to sit in a classroom setting and absorbing information 3 hours a night, every other night. It didn't help that there were a bunch of fidgety kids who were...well...fidgety.

    BUT. There were kids. And moms! Moms who were willing to shoot! I was floored...and pleased. Only a handful of the kiddos were boy scouts, too, which pleased C. Neither of us expected over a third of the class to be children (including the two 8-year-old boys).

    As I said, the class covered a wealth of information. Muzzleloaders, modern firearms, archery, trapping, ethics, preparedness while in the field - this course covered everything I could think of. Basically, it was a sportsman's braindump over 3 days of class.

    And the test? Well, the written was easier than I expected - both C and I passed with only 2 questions wrong. The range time was difficult, though, and neither of us managed to hit anything. We both passed that, though, since they really only cared if we demonstrated safe firearm handling.

    I'm glad we took the class, but I'm glad it's over. That was one heck of a tiring 2 weeks.

    Range time with a friend. Also: Ooooooooooowwwwwwww.

    Sunday dawned bright and beautiful, and C and I decided to hit the range for an hour. I still hadn't shot my Plinkster, he still hadn't shot his 12ga pump. We invited my best friend, L, as he hadn't seen any firearms in the past decade.

    Turns out, dude needed the range time.

    Anyway, here's a couple of short reviews.

    Mossberg 702 Plinkster: GREAT little semiauto .22. This little bugger is accurate right out of the box. I attribute it to a good set of sights - the hooded front really helps when shooting all the way to the end of the range.* It had no feed issues, but the magazine definitely needs some oiling. At $125, it was well worth the money - it ate through a box of Remington target crap ammo like it was nothing. Overall, I'm pleased with it, C is pleased with it, and I think it'll be in the safe for a good, long time.

    IAC Hawk model 982: decent shotgun. I believe it's based off the Mossberg 500 design - it certainly looks like it. There are options out there to modify it - C's has an extended tube and a new stock/grip, as well as a side holster for extra shells. He seems pleased. I only know the pain of shooting a shotgun not meant for my stubby little hobbit arms (though after our Hunter Safety course came to a close last night, I have since realized the beauty of a well-fitted shotgun).

    We didn't rent any, since L got enough jollies from that which we brought along to shoot. I also got a chance to talk with the guys who work at the range, and apparently I can, in fact, get my hands on a Para GI Expert ESP - I merely need to bug them to get it. They certainly seemed to like it more than I expected...I'd say they liked it as much as the STI Spartan (which they really do like). This gives me a good idea of what I'm doing by the end of the year.