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Bed Bath and Barnyard

Prepping Your Woman for Homesteading

Owen Benjamin



If you’re a man like me, over the years you’ve faced some uncomfortable realities about our current society’s social and economic fragility. Also, if you’re a man like me, you’ve probably fallen deeply in love with a woman you’ve started a family with who’s happiness is even more important to you than explaining to her how a debt-based economy works. So how do you bridge that gap? How do you transition your family into a much more stable and sustainable position given the potential catastrophic events that could be coming our way?

First, word choice is very important. Never be manipulative with her. Don’t bend or change reality to fit your agenda. Furthermore, don’t be unnecessarily fearful when choosing your words. For example, don’t call it “prepping,” call it “homesteading.” Prepping focuses attention on the coming collapses and rhetorically implies you’re in an unstable reactionary position to what others are doing. Women hate that. Homesteading has two words women love: home, and steady.

Women love steadiness and home-building and get really freaked out thinking about preparing for collapses. When first leaving your unsecurable city apartment for off-grid rural living away from the “kill zone,” don’t use the phrase “kill zone.” Remind her how much she hates traffic and alarm clocks. Her new commute will simply be from bed to the kitchen, and all those over priced organic veggies will now come free from the garden! Your wife likes Bed Bath and Beyond, right? Well, this is what “beyond” meant! No need to bring up food shortages from broken supply chains; excite her with the idea of “networking dinners” with like-minded neighbors and quality time gardening with her husband and children! Once you get chickens, it’s an Easter egg hunt every morning, and there’s no real reason why her dreamy picket fence can’t be 10 feet high and electrified. We all know every woman loves roses, so why not plant massive, thorny rosebush gardens below every access point of the house?!

Every woman wants to just get up, go on vacation, and never come back. Instead of Paris however it will be the Ozarks or northern Idaho. Don’t forget to never call it a “bug out bag,” but instead “glamping luggage.” Those 25 year food buckets are simply an alternative for when she can’t decide on what to cook for dinner. When you start setting up your motion activated cameras around the property this could freak her out. She will wonder why you think they’re necessary. Tell her they’re to capture family moments when you are too caught up by the joy of your son’s first bike ride to take a picture–might as well get recorded. The good news is, the cameras will not just capture potential home invaders, they will also capture those cherished family moments, any time of day (or night).
It’s not a bunker it’s a wine cellar. It’s not a compound, it’s a haven for rescued German Shepherds, and remind her that nothing is cozier than watching a sunset in body armor.

“…remind her that nothing is cozier than watching a sunset in body armor.”

big bear, circa 2020

Every woman has her eye on that silverware set but doesn’t want to overspend. Encourage her to get at least 1,000 oz of silverware! Instead of stacking silver in a safe, which could make her feel uneasy about our current monetary silver, let her know that you’ll sign off on that 100-piece silver set she’s had her eye on. Women can sometimes get a little freaked out when the militia guys come over to train. So just remind her that she has a book club and you have a ‘magazine club.’ Then show her how beautiful a sunset looks through a long-range scope. Now lets all dust off the ham radio and call the in-laws to see what they are up to!

Keeping your marriage strong is very important. We all know that preparing for the future is the best thing for her and the kids. There’s no reason why it can’t be fun and enjoyable for her. Just remember that women love stability, quality time, health, cozy aesthetics, novelty, and a happy husband. They don’t like constantly being reminded how terrifying the future could be. Hope this helps!


The Case for Suspenders

Built For Fancy Pants, Refined by the Working Man

Nighthawk Bear



Before oversized children were buying fruity branded computers and expensive puffed-up coffees while thinking up names for their tiny imitation dogs, suspenders were what REAL men wore to their labor intensive jobs. This quick dive into the recent past of men’s utility/work accessories will present what the modern man can hope to gain by adding this one item to their work attire. 

While in the Army at Camp McCall, NC, I became friends with another combat medic from one of the Ranger battalions who had just gotten back from a deployment to Afghanistan. I noticed he always opted to wear suspenders instead of a belt when he was road marching. Now a road march (or “rucking” or “humping the tick” as its also called) in our “Small Unit Tactics” course was our way of carrying all our equipment on our backs as we stalked as a platoon through the woods. Sometimes it’s also done for speed in a “timed road march” event, kind of like a marathon, but for men.

Military Tested

Having done this activity for years, I had never seen anyone wear suspenders until then. Once you’re walking with the “tick” on your back, you’re kind of stuck with whatever you’ve got on, in exactly the manner  it wants to ride. There usually isn’t any time to adjust things when you’re on the move, so you need to be very certain about what you choose to wear.

I waited until we had finished a troop movement before I tried to gather intel on his setup. As I casually questioned the man about his over-the-shoulders method of commanding his pantaloons, I took mental notes and it all seemed to check out.

He explained:

 “I went to a Korean tailor on Bragg Blvd where I had them sew buttons on my pants. These buttons were strategically placed so they wouldn’t rub on my back when the frame from my rucksack lay against my torso.” 

God bless those tiny Asian hands.

Korean tailors are a form of “camp follower” around every Army base I’d been. They can customize any piece of gear or clothing for a good price. Additionally they give a mean hair cut and make some of the best BBQ you’ll ever have.

He continued:

“I bought the suspenders at Ranger Joe’s in Ft. Benning, Ga. They loop onto the buttons, and don’t rub sores on my back like the web belt normally does when you’re running through the woods or carrying a casualty on your shoulder.” 

I’d spent many days in the rain, walking and running with the “tick” on my back. When your pants are weighed down by water and mud, your belt isn’t much good. The pants just keep sagging until one day you kneel down to take a break and the crotch rips out on your pants. I’ve seen this happen more times than I care to count. This wouldn’t happen if you wore a sturdy pair of suspenders. 

You can, of course, wear both at the same time. A belt and suspenders may sound like overkill, but if you need the upward pressure on the belt line, but also desire the knife-wielding utility of a belt, I see no better way.

Suspenders in Civilian Life

If John Rambo had just worn suspenders, he would have been way more comfortable just building useful structures and being an asset to his community. Suspenders would have acted as an emotional anchor to the way of life that built the foundation of America. 

The closest civilian activity to “road marching” is your good ol hiking and backpacking. Some of you may even be familiar with the practice of “orienteering.” You can click the link to read all about this valuable skill at Info Galactic.

I recently became reacquainted with the usefulness of these nylon shoulder harnesses. I was walking back and forth to the garage while working on my greenhouse, and noticed I kept pulling up my britches. Working outdoors on my feet all summer had trimmed down my love handles and I am back to being old Mr. Hipless Board Sides. 

While at a farm and ranch supply store, I saw and instantly purchased a set of work suspenders. This, again, was a game changer for me. No longer hindered by saggy britches, I was free to run about and focus on crushing. 

A Brief History

Although suspenders likely originated at about the same time that pants came on the scene, the first patent to improve the modern suspender was in 1871 by Mr. Mark Twain himself (under his actual name Samuel Clemens, of course).

Clemens wasn’t a fan of the same garment accessory used by Napoleon. In that day, my understanding is that the common French application was a couple strips of ribbon attached to pants with buttons. These were clearly not for those in the blacksmith trade or the carpentry and masonry fields of labor. For those tasks, you need something a bit more sturdy than Red Riding Hood’s hair ribbon. 

It is likely that suspenders were also used by royalty because of their rotundness (being fat was a sign of wealth throughout antiquity). Large bellied individuals have trouble wearing a belt as any movement will send their knickers sliding. I sometimes wonder if comedian Chris Farley would have lived a few more years had he opted for a more definitive approach to trouser stabilization.

Farmers and ranchers have kept this tradition alive out of age old wisdom. I am very grateful for their longstanding wisdom. Nowadays, the stamped metal clamps that grip the belt line of the pants have improved slightly. You still have two basic designs, in case you were wondering. I opt for the clamps, but the button on ones are still widely available. With a needle and thread, you can place the buttons wherever you please. The design really hasn’t changed since my great grandfather was getting bucked off his first horse and Teddy Roosevelt was knocking teeth loose in university boxing matches. 

My grandfather used to get bucked off his wagon (yes, it’s possible to be bucked off an entire wagon), and once he even break his leg. However, he never needed to break a sweat trying to realign his trousers because he was a man of suspenders.

So if you’re a hard working man, and share the frustration with belts, try on a sturdy pair of suspenders. You can thank me later by sending us a short description of something useful you’ve built or fixed! Send your completed article (aim for less than 1,000 words) with pictures to the appropriate section editor. I look forward to reading about your accomplishments. Until next time.

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Time to Start Ruffling Feathers

The Joys of Ruffed Grouse Hunting




Bullet proudly presents the bounty from our last hunt.

One of the joys of the fall season in the Great North Woods is hunting for grouse. These wily birds of the Galliforme Order inhabit the hills and forests of Northern Beartaria: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, parts of North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington state, as well as Alaska. All are replete with grouse, but do they taste good? Well, chickens are also from the order as grouse. As you can therefore imagine, they are quite tasty if properly prepared. Grouse have a wonderful flavor that will soon have your taste buds craving them each autumn.

The type of grouse that is most popular in much of Beartaria is the Ruffed Grouse, Bonasa Umbellus. Another tasty grouse is the Spruce Grouse, or Canada Grouse, Falcipennis Canadensis, which has a stronger, bawdier flavor that repels overly urbanized men. Such men, however, are better off going to the supermarket to purchase hormone-infused factory-farm-raised chicken, which will add to their feminine charms and their fat-to-body-weight ratio.

Both species of grouse live in the woods, although they prefer different types of habitat. Ruffed grouse prefer recently logged areas with young poplar trees, as they love to dine on the buds. Spruce grouse are denizens of coniferous forests, as their name suggests.

Grouse-hunting is a sport that doesn’t require much in the way of gear. In order to enjoy a good grouse hunt, you just put on your boots and perambulate with your gun down wooded country trails. The boots should preferably be vintage Red Wing Irish Setters made in the USA by hand before the year 1985, but any good hiking boot should suffice. A nice hunting jacket with built-in pouches to hold your game is a plus, but any old jacket will do. Just carry a backpack or shoulder-bag for your birds. Finally, a woolen hunting cap that is blaze orange for safety completes your hunting accoutrement. Check your local laws, as you may be required to wear blaze orange. Since grouse-hunting season can overlap deer hunting, it’s a good idea to avoid being mistaken for a deer.

Where to hunt?

It’s best to ask a local old-timer for the best areas for grouse hunting. Grouse go through multi-year cycles, and some years there will be large numbers of grouse. Other years, they can be hard to find. If you can’t find a local old-timer to interrogate (perhaps offer to take him out for coffee), just get a map of your county and find some old logging roads. Drive down a gravel road until you find a likely spot, or a side road that branches off from the main road. Park your car, get out, and load your shotgun. Amble down the road, enjoy the walk, and tune your senses to detect grouse that are standing on the road, or are sitting on the ground near the road. Here is what a ruffed grouse looks like:

Grouse have a big advantage over the hunter: their plumage has colors and patterns that enable them to blend into the foliage and leaf litter of the forest floors. If it snows, however, they can be easier to spot.

If you spot a grouse on the path ahead, you will have to make a few calculations and intuitive judgments on the spot. How close can you get to the grouse before it flushes and flies away? What is the maximum range of the shotgun and the type of load in your shotgun shells? Are you a competent enough shot to shoot a bird on the fly? One thing to note about grouse behavior: when flushed, they often settle back down just ten or twenty yards deeper into the woods. You can then make another attempt by stalking them stealthily, creeping towards the spot where you intuit they landed.

I personally use a 20 gauge with a modified choke, although a .410 would also be great for grouse. Twelve gauge shotguns are, in my opinion, just too much firepower. They are likely to maul the bird so badly that it will be unappetizing. As far as shot size, I would recommend #7 or #8. The higher the number, the smaller (and more numerous) the pellets. You will do less damage to the birds with the smaller shot sizes, and there are more pellets per load.

Try to get within at least thirty yards of the bird before taking a shot. Any further, and the pellets may just be too diffuse or lacking in power to kill the bird. You never want to wound a bird, and have it suffer or die unfound. If you do wound a bird, the best way to dispatch it quickly is by breaking its neck. This sounds a bit violent, but it is the quickest and most painless method.

Hunting Philosophy

I’ll end this article with a bit of hunting philosophy. It does not matter how many grouse you kill on your hunt. Form and technique are more important than numbers, and safety transcends all other concerns. Do not shoot the ear off your hunting party because you wildly shot at a bird (i.e. don’t pull a Dick Cheney).

Practice shooting clay pigeons in order to gain the skill necessary to shoot birds on the fly. Shoot cans or paper targets to gain accuracy with ground targets.

Hunting is a good excuse to hike and explore the territory in your neck of the woods. You’ll have fun no matter how many birds you get, as you explore old roads and trails. You may even encounter Bigfoot. I know someone who did.

Written By: Finnish Bear

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Building Beartaria Book Review

Need a great book to cozy up with during this coming chilly season? A book you will reach for again and again? Find yourself a copy of this hulk of a resource, “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery!




“The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery

Need a great book to cozy up with during this coming chilly season? A book you will reach for again and again? Find yourself a copy of this hulk of a resource, “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery! A 900+ page collection of how-to’s, diagrams, anecdotes and good old country wisdom on just about anything you can think of in relation to living like a pioneer. The ultimate guide for living off of, and in harmony with the land. 

Carla began writing this book in 1969 as a helpful guide to hold in your hands and be able to pass on. In her words: “The ‘Back to the land’ movement had started happening then – a tremendous out-migration from cities to country. I was living in a tiny town in Northern Idaho, and the newcomers were everywhere, full of urgent questions about growing plants and raising animals.” Her original book from that time has grown and changed over the ensuing decades, with many contributions from others. The honest goal of helping generations of her fellow man and woman reclaim that oh so important knowledge is felt throughout. Knowledge that reads just as if it were being told to you by a loving grandparent on your front porch, or over a batch of slow cooking apple butter with a friend, or while helping to square the posts on a much needed fence line for a neighbor. 

I turn to this book often, and never close it without learning something new and adding a new bookmark. Even after having owned it for a number of years. It’s got a little bit of everything! From finding your land, to working it, to making it a Home full of family. To raising all manner of livestock from baby to butcher. To growing and harvesting then cooking and preserving almost everything, from seed to pantry to table. Including foraging and hunting! It’s a fantastic resource, for anyone, no matter what stage of homesteading you find yourself in. Crack it open on just about any page, and you’re sure to gain insight into the kind of true self-sufficiency you’d never even thought yourself capable of. 

Take it from another wise Beartarian, on the Eastern side of our great land, Mohawk Farmer Bear: 

“That’s a great book. Tons of practical info. Every homesteader should have one…It’s a book the Bears should know about.” 

Mohawk Farmer Bear

Our Western Beartarian homestead wholeheartedly agrees.

Enjoy, and Onward!

– Breanna

@ameliaameliorate on IG

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