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The Reasons For Seasons

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There are many reasons why we have seasons in this realm, and most of those reasons are never thought about by the vast majority of the population. Depending on your geographical location, seasons are typically associated with a complaint. It’s too hot during summer, too cold during winter, too rainy in autumn and spring. Folks tend to always have some sort of grief with the weather, and society has morphed holidays into a way of getting through these seasons. We look forward to the “holiday season” of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. We jam pack as many holidays into the course of a few months as we can to give ourselves something to look forward to in those wet, cold, dreary times. And in doing so I would argue that we’ve all but lost the true reasoning behind the changing seasons.

To start this, we need to view things (as best as we can) from God’s perspective, and his intentions for us. If His intentions were for us to always be fed, have no hardships in life, have superficial relationships with family/friends, and simply have fun all the days of our lives, then we would live in perpetual summer. The sunlight would beat down all day every day, producing monstrous crops year round. We wouldn’t have to worry about the cold. We wouldn’t have to plan ahead. We wouldn’t need to form communities with the sole intention of surviving.

But God’s intention for us in this life is not that. His intention is for us to grow. Growth requires dark times, both literally and metaphorically, as much as it requires what we associate with good times. A plant will die if it just has sunlight and gets no water. It will die if it doesn’t get the proper nutrition. It will die if it gets eaten by bugs. So to will we wither away if we don’t have a proper balance of perspectives, reflection, appreciation, nutrition, emotional experiences, etc. A plant will grow better with companion planting. Corn grows well with beans and squash. They provide what the other is lacking. We too require community to really thrive, and the seasons are the ultimate factor in the creation of these communities.

Spring: Springtime is a wondrous time to experience. You can feel the life energy in the air as the trees start sprouting leaves again, the birds start singing, the flowers start to bloom, and you see all of the newly born critters running about. The persistent cadence of short rains and bright sunlight tells everything that it’s time to wake from winter’s slumber and start to grow. This too happens within us. Every year at this time we all experience that kick of energy. We all start to plan our gardens, plan what we’d like to accomplish in our lives for the year, what projects we’d like to complete, and where we’d like to be when winter rolls around again. We look at our bodies, full of baked goods and potatoes and think “yeah, it’s time to start working out again”. We have a primal urge to better ourselves. This is what spring is for.

Summer: Summer is typically viewed as the time to have fun. There’s truth to this, but it’s also a continuation of spring in terms of growth. In spring we plan, and in summer we build and maintain. Our crops need constant tending. Our bodies need constant hydration and nutrition. And although it seems easier to get things done in summer, anyone with any level of perception knows that although energy levels are high, you can quickly burn out with the constant heat and endless light. Again, we require balance. Towards the end of summer we all look forward to autumn, because we know it will bring rest. But until that day comes, summer is when we work hard. And we should be working hard to ensure we have enough food and supplies for the cold months. As spring was to planning, so is summer.

Autumn: After 6+ months of heat, sunlight, growth, work, fun, excitement, and joy, autumn brings with it a much needed respite. We are not made to crush nonstop 100% of the time, and autumn forces us to slow down and rest. The waning hours of sunlight change our circadian clock and our bodies start producing melatonin earlier in the evening, making us tired at 6pm rather than 10pm. We no longer have an abundance of those high sugar fruits that are ripe off the tree (or we shouldn’t in a natural world), and we move towards meats and root vegetables which are stored more easily. This changes our digestive habits. It changes the flora in our digestive tract, which changes our mood. As we consume more calorie and nutritionally dense foods, our digestion slows, and we begin to slow. The almost manic energy that spring and summer bring fades into a calmness, a sleepiness, and a desire to curl up by a fire and read yourself to sleep under a blanket. Bears hibernate, as do we in a way. Autumn is designed to slow us down so we don’t burn ourselves out, to reflect on what we’d like to do differently next year, to appreciate all of the blessings we have, and most importantly to begin resting our bodies.

Winter: The most trying season of them all, winter brings with it bone chilling cold, a minimal diet (or so it would be in a natural world), little light, no growth, and many hardships. Winter is still, and it is still for a reason. Everything on this earth needs a period of deep rest. Every animal rests during winter. Most plants go entirely dormant. Some animals sleep for months. Some bugs literally get frozen into a state of suspended animation until springtime when they thaw and their hearts start beating again. This is all by God’s great design. We all know physical rest is needed. If you don’t sleep for a couple of days you begin to hallucinate and your body begins shutting down. Nobody will argue the importance of a good night’s sleep. But we also require emotional rest, mental rest, and spiritual rest. We need time to quietly reflect on not just the past year, but also on life itself. We need to reflect on our relationships, on our communities, on our jobs, on our life path, and on the trajectory we would like to see in our individual lives. God has given us a time to do this, and it is winter. It’s almost forceful, in that most things we enjoy are stripped away for months, leaving us with only our primal desires. We want warmth, dryness, and food. And in that state of primal survival, we reflect. As we grow our physical strength in spring and summer, we should be growing our emotional and spiritual strength during winter. When all is lost, and we are cold and wet and hungry, we should be looking to God. We should be looking to our communities. We should be looking to our families, who are often overlooked during the excitement of all the chores and projects the other seasons bring. Winter is often seen as a bad thing solely because of the weather, but if you tap into what is actually happening during these months it is beauty beyond compare. We are resting. We are sleeping more. We are reflecting. We are seeking God. Our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls are healing. Most people literally purge toxins in the form of illness. Again, this is perceived as a bad thing, but it is our body making us stronger and cleaner. Winter brings endless blessings.

Many people view life by the year. They judge themselves on what happened during the course of a giant block of time. But there are seasons within that year. And if we overlook them, and do not pay them their property dues and work with them rather than against them, we can be sure to come up short each year in regard to our self-imposed expectations. If you don’t rest during winter, you won’t have the energy to crush during summer. If you don’t crush during summer and prepare, then you won’t make it through winter.

These natural rhythms have been thrown off with the adoption of cross-country and worldwide shipping, artificial lighting, climate controlled buildings and cars, etc. In a natural world we should not be able to get into our heated vehicle, drive to a grocery store, buy a papaya, go home, and eat it in a fully lit room at midnight in the dead of winter. It is entirely unnatural. And as a result, we feel like we’re living unnatural lives. And it’s because we are. We are not honoring the seasons, the reasons they exist, and we are working against them. This is, in my opinion, directly fighting God’s plans, intentions, and reasoning.

To shift from an unnatural/artificial existence into one more in line with what we’re intended to experience, one can simply make small changes. Those changes will have a massive affect on your health in all areas of life. Instead of having every light on in the house all night after the sun sets in winter, have a small lamp on. Let your body start the production of melatonin. When you get tired, go to bed. Don’t stay up until 2am working. Eat hearty meals that are packed with nutrition and meat during winter, rather than exotic fruits. Let your body replenish itself with what it needs, rather than what tastes good. During summer, don’t sleep in until noon. We’re meant to wake when the sun rises. Don’t pull your curtains shut before bed to block out that morning light. Let it wake you. During autumn, allow yourself to slow down a bit. Things can wait. If you’re pushing through this season as if it’s still summer, you will most definitely crash. One way or another you will get that rest. It’s just a matter of if it’s in a calm manner, or in a state of deathly illness. The choice is always yours.

Honor the reason for the seasons, which is God’s great design, and your life will undoubtedly improve. You don’t need high energy at all times. On the contrary, we are meant to store energy for times of need. We then use that energy, and it needs to be replenished. Replenish yourselves during the times we’re meant to. Live a natural life, and you will not only strengthen yourself but will also bring so much more to your communities. Embrace the hot, the cold, the joy, and the melancholic stillness as blessings, because that’s exactly what they are. 

Lifestyle

Reconnect and Rejoice: Beartaria Times Weekly Challenge

Maintaining solid relationships with family and friends offers numerous benefits that enrich our lives in meaningful ways…

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In our fast-paced world, losing touch with friends and family members who once played significant roles in our lives is easy. This week, the Beartaria Times invites you to participate in our heartwarming challenge: Reconnect with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Give them a call, ask how they’ve been, and rekindle that bond.

Maintaining solid relationships with family and friends offers numerous benefits that enrich our lives in meaningful ways:

1. Emotional Support: Close relationships provide a robust support system during tough times, offering comfort, advice, and a sense of belonging.

2. Improved Mental Health: Regular interactions with loved ones reduces feelings of loneliness and depression, contributing to mental well-being.

3. Increased Longevity: Studies have shown that strong social connections tend to help people live longer and enjoy better health.

4. Enhanced Happiness: Sharing moments, memories, and experiences with others brings joy and fulfillment, fostering a more positive outlook on life.

5. Personal Growth: Friends and family often challenge us to grow, learn, and become better versions of ourselves.

6. Creating Memories: Every interaction creates new memories, adding richness to our personal histories and offering stories to cherish for years to come.

We encourage you to take this challenge to heart and reach out to someone you miss. Whether it’s a friend from high school, a distant relative, or a former colleague, a simple phone call can reignite connections and brighten your day and theirs.

Once you’ve reconnected, share your stories and experiences on the Beartaria Times community app. Post about who you called, the memories you shared, and how the conversation went. Did you learn something new? Did you laugh about old times? These stories can inspire others to take similar steps in their lives.

Join us in this week’s challenge and celebrate the beauty of human connection. Let’s make an effort to nurture our relationships and remind those we care about that they are valued and remembered.

Happy connecting, Beartarians! We look forward to hearing your heartwarming stories.

Sincerly,

– The Beartaria Times Team

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Lifestyle

Into the Wilderness: Part 1 Knives and Knife Skills 

Knives will perform numerous tasks, better or worse, based on their grind, edge geometry, and thickness. That said, I have found that a full flat grind is ideal for food prep and butchering, though a high saber grind works well too. 

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By Gabriel- The Last Huntsman

As with many of us in the Beartaria community, we have found the mundane existence of modern Babylon completely unappealing, ungodly, and unfulfilling. As a result, many of us seek to make our way, either by downsizing our footprint in the modern digital world, homesteading our sustenance, or becoming producers. For some of us, however, that also means getting out into the wilderness; far away from civilization, we test ourselves and our bodies to become more like our ancestors of old,  becoming non-domesticated humans. 

In this article series, I will detail at least one part of the wilderness- a popular term coined as bushcraft. Bushcraft seemingly has taken many different names and forms.

For me, it’s practicing basic wood skills such as shelter craft, fire craft, knife skills, axe skills, and other tools, and can even have some hunting or tactical applications.

Though you can write a whole book on bushcraft, as many already have, we’re just going to get into some knife basics for this article. 

Choosing Your Knife

Knives are mankind’s first tool; they are essential for basic tasks, whether processing your food, wood processing, cutting cordage, etc. In addition, knives can be used in a myriad of practical tasks and defensive means. While having a flimsy folding knife can be ok for opening boxes or backyard/vehicle camping, bushcrafting skills require having a solid and reliable fixed-blade knife, ideally full tang, for practical tasks.

You will have to determine if a smaller knife or a larger knife would better suit your purposes. A saying often goes, however, that you can do small tasks with a big knife if you have to, but you can’t do big tasks with a small knife, but having a smaller blade is less weight and easier to conceal. That’s just food for thought. Another consideration is steel choice; I will simplify carbon steel or stainless steel. Knife Nerds is an excellent resource to dabble into all things knife steel. Carbon steel, while generally tougher than stainless steel, can be prone to rust. So if you’re in a coastal environment, it can be hard to maintain. Stainless steel is more rust-resistant and can have better edge-holding capabilities. However, it can be more prone to snapping or chipping during extreme use.

Knife Skills

Using your knife to split wood is known as batoning. This is done by utilizing your knife as a wedge while you use another log (baton) as a mallet to beat the spine of your knife blade through the log. This can be a rather rigorous task on your knife. However, it is sometimes needed to make wood burnable when conditions are wet or when it’s hard to stabilize a log and safely use an axe. In many cases, the wood logs could be wet; however, the wood on the inside will be dryer and more suitable for fire craft. Splitting wood is necessary for ease of burning to cook, keep warm, and many other things.

Making feather sticks with a knife is another handy bushcrafting knife skill. It is done by finely slicing small curls of wood into a bundle. This bundle is perfect for fire tinder. While most small sticks, twigs, and other tinder may be too big or have too much moisture to catch a spark well, the feather sticks can be from a freshly split log that you just have batoned, which should be dryer. Making feather sticks takes time to master, learning what knives work best and what wood works best. The finer and thinner your wood curls are, the better; they will catch a spark or flame easier to start your fire.

Chopping is another handy knife skill to practice. I’m sure many will ask why you would use a knife to chop when you can use an axe. Well, for one, it’s more likely to have a knife on your person than an axe. If you’re hunting, scouting, or hiking, having a solid knife is lighter than packing a knife and an axe. Finally, it can be safer, as having an axe in full swing can be more likely to miss or over-swing. Having a medium to larger knife size will obviously help with the performance of this task. Good ergonomics will help the knife maintain in hand and absorb shock during chopping tasks. 

Striking a ferro rod (ferrocerium rod) is a skill that can help you get a fire going in your wilderness adventures. Firstly a ferro rod is a metal rod that will produce sparks when struck with a flat edge and can last thousands of strikes. So why use it over a lighter? Lighters can be finicky at best; they can get too cold, wet, or drain themselves of fluid. That is a big no-no, mainly when you’re depending on it.

So simply put, Ferro rods are just a survivalist/bushcrafter’s go-to fire-starting tool. Ideally, your knife will have a 90-degree spine on the back edge of the blade. This sharp, flat edge can strike and scrape the ferro rod. However, not all knives have a sharp spine, so having a small scraper or a spare knife may be necessary. In a worst-case scenario, you can use the edge of your knife; however, this is not recommended as it will damage your edge. When using the Ferro rod with your blade, you want to ensure your rod is as close to your tinder bundle (feather sticks) as possible. This will maximize the amount of sparks and heat transferred into those fine wood curls to get a fire going. 

Notches are another bushcrafting knife skill that is good to learn. It is essentially cutting a notch in various shapes to allow cordage to be held in place for constructing many things in the wilderness. Notches can be used to build tent stakes, fire spits, shelters, and even wild game traps. Notches can be carved directly using the knife or with a knife and baton. Though there are several notches, the few fundamental ones are the square notch, v notch, and stake notch. They may seem self-explanatory; however, carving these can take a measure of skill with your knife.  Square notches can be done by simply partially cross-batoning your knife into the wood, then doing so again, a short distance from the first, and twisting your knife- this will pop the excess wood. Stake Notches are achieved by partially cross-batoning and carving the extra wood with your knife toward your baton mark. V notches are done by cutting a ‘V-shaped groove into the wood.  

Then, one of the oldest knife skills is probably out there, processing animals or vegetation for food. People have been using knives to kill and butcher their livestock and wild game or cut up their humble veggies since humanity’s beginning. As we return to our roots, having these knife skills can make things much more manageable and save you money. 

Knives will perform numerous tasks, better or worse, based on their grind, edge geometry, and thickness. That said, I have found that a full flat grind (shown on the knives pictured above) is ideal for food prep and butchering, though a high saber grind works well too. 

 As I’ve stated, knives are one of mankind’s primary tools. We will always have a place to use a blade, especially as we separate ourselves from this fruitless modern world. These are just a few simple knife skills necessary for bushcrafting and wilderness adventures. The easy way to practice and master knife skills is to get out there and try to have fun. As you enjoy yourself, you’ll find ways to make things happen. Always check out my content on my Youtube channel, Beartaria Times app, and Instagram at The Last Huntsman. Feel free to follow up and message me with any questions. Finally, be prepared both physically and spiritually. God bless and carry on. 

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Lifestyle

Antiquing. Not just for Subaru drivers.

If you don’t have a plan or specific goal in mind, you may find yourself walking out several hundred dollars poorer, with a few marginally decent tools and a box full of your favorite childhood toys.

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By: Woodworking Gunny Bear

If you are planning on attending this year’s festival here in Missouri, you may want to set a day aside to hit some of our massive antique malls. I know what you may be thinking, “But Gunny, I don’t even own a Subaru.” As a homesteader and part-time prepper, I am always on the lookout for things that can be useful when the power goes out or supply chains falter. Over the years, I have amassed a wide variety of tools, gadgets, and containers from the many antique malls here in Missouri.

One thing I learned early on is that walking into a huge antique mall, packed to the gills with extremely cool (often nostalgia-evoking) stuff, can be overwhelming. If you don’t have a plan or specific goal in mind, you may find yourself walking out several hundred dollars poorer, with a few marginally decent tools and a box full of your favorite childhood toys. This article is not intended for those who want to “flip” items for profit. If, however, you are looking to score a good deal on a well-made and useful tool, then you might find it a worthwhile read.

My wife and I enjoy perusing the many antique malls and shops here in Missouri. We enjoy the nostalgia. We also appreciate the craftsmanship and design of “old stuff.” We have also developed a bit of a system to ensure that we don’t: overspend on a given item, purchase an item that has a better (and often cheaper) modern version, or walk out with a very cool-looking piece of junk.

There are several things to consider prior to walking into an antique shop or mall:

What, specifically, are you looking for? Do you want to pick up some hand tools for the wood shop? A few things to improve production on the homestead? How about some kitchen gadgets that will remain useful in a power outage?

How much are you willing to spend? Is an expensive item worth it if it will likely sit in your basement for the foreseeable future?

Are you capable of recognizing when an item is damaged, broken, or missing parts? If so, can it be brought up to snuff without a significant effort or investment?

What happens if I see something that transports me back to “the good old days” but has no actual function?

I will attempt to address all of these considerations, as well as drop a few tips and tricks which you may find useful.

My wife and I really enjoy looking at all of the cool stuff in our local antique malls, but we both know that some things are for looking at, and some things are for buying. For example, as a woodworker, I am always on the lookout for quality woodworking tools that don’t require electricity as a power source. Early on, I wanted to grab every hand drill, planer, and axe I saw. Eventually, I learned that all classic tools were not created equal and that the cheap hand plane was cheap for a good reason. My wife, on the other hand, tends to gravitate toward kitchen and household-related items. Hand-cranked mixers, beaters, meat grinders, etc., are her jam. She is also quick to buy crocks for pickling and fermenting. She has a nice washboard and is currently on the lookout for a very specific hand-operated washing machine.

It is always a good idea to set a budget before your first safari into the wilds of an antique jungle. This can keep you from buying that completely useless (but very cool looking) WW2 helmet or nudge you along to the next booth where the same item is a bit cheaper…and in even better condition! Many antique malls have a booth-style setup where different sellers display their wares. Some sellers price their items based on antique price guides, while others just want to get rid of stuff that they found in their grandparent’s attic. Needless to say, prices and item conditions can vary wildly. A good rule of thumb is that smaller, boutique-style shops tend to have higher prices but often sell quality items in pristine condition. Large, mall-style antique shops tend to have a much wider variety and lower prices but can be littered with damaged, broken, or lower-quality items. With patience and self-control, we have found that we prefer the larger shops and have gotten some great deals on well-made, useful tools in excellent condition. We have made a handful of relatively expensive purchases but were not disappointed. For example, my wife spent almost $50 on a hand-operated meat slicer. We were swayed because it was a rare find, was in excellent condition, and could often go for $80 and up. Similarly, I have always wanted a really nice scythe. I finally found one, but the seller wanted over $100 for it. I was really close to buying it, but I couldn’t bring myself to break that three-digit threshold for something that I might never actually use.
I finally decided to pass on the purchase. A month or so later, I found an even nicer one for only $45. Patience and frugality had again paid off. I now own two beautiful scythes and still haven’t broken that three-digit threshold. Bonus tip: Many antique mall owners charge a booth fee and make a small percentage on each sale. Often, they will contact individual sellers and convey a counteroffer in order to facilitate a sale.

As mentioned earlier, antiques can be in widely varying states of condition. I can’t count the number of times that I got worked up upon seeing a given tool, only to completely deflate as soon as I looked at it up close. Being able to assess an item’s condition is an important skill. Anything with moving parts should function smoothly, with no catching or grinding. Rust can often be an issue as well. A thin layer of rust can be removed with some mineral oil and elbow grease while soaking in vinegar can remove heavier rust layers. Items that are rusted to the point of pitting or flaking should usually be avoided. We bought several items only to later find that a key component was missing. A good practice is to grab a given item (be sure to remember which booth you took it from) and keep an eye out for the same or similar thing. If you find another one, compare the two. You can often identify a missing or damaged part, and very often, the one in better condition will be similar in price or even cheaper. Another thing to keep in mind is that some sellers will attempt to hide the damage. I once found a froe axe, which is used to turn round logs into square beams, marked as $10. This was a great price, and those particular axes are quite a rare find. It appeared to be in great condition but needed a good sharpening. Luckily, I knew to carefully examine the axe head (handles are easily replaced) because the seller had laid on a thin layer of paint in an attempt to hide a hairline crack in the steel. I hung it back up and moved on.

Another dangerous pitfall is the nearly constant feeling of nostalgia. It’s hard enough to keep walking when you happen upon the same bread box you remember from your childhood home. I have even wanted to drop a few bucks on an old metal saltine canister or glass Aunt Jemima syrup bottle. It’s another thing entirely when you round a corner and find yourself face-to-face with that favorite childhood toy. Antique shops are littered with vintage GI Joes, Voltron lions, Star Wars figures, etc. I even found a big bag full of original He-man toys that appeared to be comprised of the exact same collection that I owned as a child. Trust me when I say that the nostalgia will wear off quickly. Enjoy the memories and move on. If you just can’t pass by without making a nostalgia purchase, set a price limit. Remember that many vintage items are overpriced and aren’t nearly as rare as you might think.

A key component of our strategy is a very modern tool, the smartphone. Be sure to have yours handy, as it can be helpful when it comes to avoiding several of the aforementioned pitfalls. I am no fan of modern cell phones, but I would be lying if I said that they are not useful tools, especially when buying antiques. We always look up items before checkout, ensuring that the price is at or below the average. We also come across things and think, what the heck is that?” Many times a patent number entered in the search bar assists in its identification. That was how I discovered one of my favorite tools, a slide hammer nail puller. It is a truly excellent tool, and I had no idea what the heck it was until I looked it up. Very often, there is a better, less expensive version of a given tool or gadget. For instance, we were about to buy a glass butter churn for $50. It was in great shape, and that was a pretty good price. When we were doing our price check, we discovered that a company makes a modern version that has plastic paddles (easier to keep clean) and is cheaper to boot. When used correctly, modern phones can be extremely handy.

There are many more tips and pieces of advice when hunting for bargain barn finds, but part of the fun is discovering them for yourself. Just remember to have a plan, and most of all, have fun. You may discover that gadget or tool that is as useful today as it was when your grandparents ordered it from the Sears catalog decades ago.

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