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You Are What You Reflect

It is odd at times how life can take you down turns you would not expect…

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By: Ukrainian Bear

This article was first printed in our very first issue of The Beartaria Times Magazine, Origins, A Revealing of Legends

Ever since I was a little boy, I had been a curious little hobbit. Always getting lost trying to find something, whether it’s a wooden sword at a toy shop or a game of chess played by a couple old guys at the beach while my family frantically searches for me. I’ve always been searching, curious to look farther, and walk further. I think we all do this, to one degree or another. 

Growing up as a child in Ukraine it seemed that everyone could do everything.

My grandfather worked in a chemical factory, served in the Soviet Army, learned to fix elevators to get cheaper rent, ongoing he fixed his own van to transport church goers from village to village, put in plumbing and radiant heating in the church that he had built from the ground up. My father is a musician by trade, fixes instruments of all sorts, knows how to work with sheetrock, independently learned 3 languages apart from Russian and Ukrainian which he fluently knew, repairs tiny electrical work found in most audio and video instrumentation, alongside my grandfather built up the same church they had been working on for 20+ years. 

All the other members of the church I attended in Ukraine were just as talented. I guess I didn’t fall too far from the tree knowing how to use a medical ultrasound machine, take care of the handicapped, drive a tractor trailer, climb and take down trees with a chainsaw attached to my hip, learning to fix my chainsaws, tuning my own piano, and carving wooden bowls and little sculptures. The list will probably continue to grow, but I think my curiosity does have its limits. Even so, I didn’t come by my skills in one day and not without help.

Due to varying circumstances I had been living between America and Ukraine for a majority of my life. As such, I was able to come to understand the subtle and not so subtle differences between the cultures, as well as what makes its people what they are. In a high trust society, you can be certain a man will properly perform for a hired task, but in a low trust society you can only trust yourself to fix something, because someone is always looking to cheat you out of something, somehow.

Fundamentally, Ukraine is a low trust society where the people seem to have a wide range of skills. While they are poor, the low income breeds creativity with available tools. Low trust is created by the level of sin acceptance, which in turn creates struggle that is fertile ground for skill growth. It’s almost like a sine wave. The more sin acceptance there is in a society there will also exist an equal or proportional counter wave of skill necessity. 

To put it in other words, the more people give in to sin, the more there arises an equal need for those individuals who can compensate for the skills lost to indulgence. This is not to say that having an immoral society is a good thing because it breeds industriousness, but that there is simply a greater need for people to be able to survive in their created environment. The way I explain the difference in culture is this: if an American stops at a red light and no one is around, he will wait until it turns green to go, but a Ukrainian will keep driving through a red light even if there are cars around. Morality starts with daily small, insignificant decisions. 

After my mother divorced my father  for whatever her reasons may have been and then remarried an American, I went on to grow up in Virginia as an 8 year old boy. There I was taught that I should work for my money and not have it handed to me like the rest of my friends around me at the time. So, I decided to take my family’s push lawn mower around the neighborhood and cut people’s grass. I was fairly successful and the people I did the work for were happy. Nothing like the smell of fresh cut grass in the summer. 

When a very large snow storm hit Virginia and we had the week off from school. I took the opportunity to take all the shovels I had and recruit my friends to shovel people’s driveways. I just wanted people to have a clean driveway and spend time with my friends. We made quite a bit of money that day, but what I remember the most, even to this day, was how I was treated by the very last family that let us shovel their driveway. 

They were a very nice older couple and they had given both my friend and I a cup of hot chocolate. The steam coming from the cup on a background of white snow and shaky wet hands was the best time I ever had. Working with a purpose and being appreciated for it. It’s pure, simple, and true. Couldn’t hide or cheat your way out of a shoveled driveway. 

My teenage years didn’t lend themselves to having an abundance of diverse practical skills. Due to difficult circumstances in my mother’s life, she decided to send me back to Ukraine to live with my father and grandparents. I effectively didn’t know Russian or Ukrainian at that point, so having to go to high school right away, I had a lot of catching up to do. This difficult circumstance was just another opportunity to grow, and I did. 

In the Ukrainian high school I attended, I was taught to be a linguistics and history major focusing on the English language, Ukrainian history, and WWII. I went to school 6 days a week, had multiple college level courses in biology, physics, chemistry, and literature; and most of my nights were spent studying these subjects. Most if not all the people in my class would go on to be political analysts, working for embassies, or occupying some part of government. These are the things we were being trained for. 

After 5 years invested in strenuous studying, this seemed fine to me. My grandfather said I would make a good ambassador someday, because of my character. Dealing with people, paperwork, and time constraints is all I had been doing, so it made sense to me at the time. 

It was not until I returned to America, where I had spent a good portion of my preteen days, that I began to change my views on what I wanted to do with my life. While I wanted to make a positive difference in people’s lives, I found that working in politics was not the way I wanted to do it. 

Having watched both of the important men in my life work with their hands, it did not seem foreign or beneath me to go work for a fence installation company to meet certain ends. I worked for the company for a brief 6 months, in which time I learned to install different kinds of fencing material. I’m certainly not a professional by any means, but I can put in a simple vinyl or wood fence post. 

It is odd at times how life can take you down turns you would not expect. The very same man that hired me to install fences, guided me towards getting into the medical field. He told me that I should try it and that it would suit me, as it would have “been a shame to waste my intelligence” on simply putting up fences. After this I signed up for an EMT class at my local ambulance department where I eventually got my license. Having realized that I couldn’t earn much being an EMT, I decided to go to college and become an ultrasound technician (sonographer). Since I needed a steady job and wanted to pay for the program in full without incurring debt, I worked for a couple from my church that needed help with a family member that had several handicaps.

Thanks to the skills and license that I acquired prior as an EMT, I was able to get the job and have gained not only a steady income, but life-long friends, people that care and are good. To think back, it may have seemed that it was a waste of time to get my EMT license and I could have done something better with my time, but everything happens for a reason by God’s grace. As my grandfather would say, “There’s no such thing as just a coincidence”. Everything and everyone has their purpose. 

I worked a full year while going to college taking my prerequisite classes. Earned all the money I needed for the program and was off to the races. I got accepted into a Diagnostic Medical Sonography program, which only accepted 12 students every year out of 100 applicants. I continued to work weekends at my job and went to school interning at various hospitals as part of the program. I was offered a job my first year in the 2 year medical program, which was unheard of. I told my program director that I had an interest in becoming a Surgical Physician Assistant. Per her recommendation, I spent a semester in a cadaver course, where I figured out that my skills with the scalpel were quite good. My program director was well connected in the medical field and desired to help me achieve my dream. She certainly had the means to make my aspirations come true having worked for Yale and being the top OB/GYN sonographer in the state, if not in the country. She had all the connections necessary and I had the drive, as well as the talent, to achieve this goal I had in mind. 

The path seemed to be laid out before me. Go to college, study hard, preserver through late nights to come out the other end with a job that I could be proud of doing, because I knew that I was making a difference in people’s lives. Continue to work hard as a sonographer while saving money to pay for the next and final step, which would be the operating room, the pinnacle of American medicine. To be the man that could save another person’s life by sheer technique and comprehension of human anatomy. In my eyes this was a good path. 

Around the year 2016, I had begun to notice subtle changes in American culture and attitude towards life. It appeared more indulgent, more accepting of sin, and less accepting of the truth. People seemed to complain more than they acted. Almost suddenly it became acceptable to go through a red light when no one was looking. But someone is always watching, even if you don’t see or acknowledge Him. The penalty for sin is death. 

There had been many things that I encountered in the medical field that did not make sense to me. Why is it that even though America has the best healthcare system, the population is one of the unhealthiest? Why does a plastic (butt and cheeks) surgeon get paid more than a surgeon who can put together a leg that’s been ripped apart by a chainsaw? How can a doctor go from one room consoling a woman who just lost her 4th in vitro fertilization (IVF) baby, then go to another room where they plan the dismemberment of a healthy baby, as if the previous experience did not occur? The inconsistencies were all far too familiar. These things cannot last long under their own weight. I told several people whom I knew that there was a change coming to America. Most told me that I didn’t know what I was talking about, some just silently listened. 

Around this time I found the comedian Owen Benjamin, who was talking about all the things I had been seeing, while no one else was. Interestingly, it was also around this time that I had a chainsaw accident that would propel me into a better future. I had to take 6 months off from my medical program and it was during this time that I intensely studied how to properly operate and fix chainsaws. I also learned how to climb trees and cut them down with various rigging equipment.

I thought I might want to go on to be a lineman as I learned to climb and found that I needed a commercial drivers license (CDL) to even be considered for an apprenticeship at a local union. I signed up with a local CDL school, paid in full to get into a fixed rate, because I saw the value in this and knew changes were coming. I don’t know why I did all these things at the time. It certainly seemed insane to my family at the time. I just had a feeling that this was important and the right thing to do.

Then 2019 hit everyone like a ton of bricks. I realized that I had to let go of my dream of becoming a surgeon. It was painful because I knew I could do it, but at what cost? Where do you stop and when? This was it for me. I knew now was the time to act, because the times are changing and so must I. All the hours spent on YouTube learning to climb, cut, and fix had finally begun to pay off. My medical program was following the lead of everyone else in the medical community, turning away from logic and reason. I knew there was no going back and that I couldn’t, with a clear conscience, work in the field. 

I finished the program in 2020 and got that paper I had worked so hard for. But I was already looking towards where I was going next. I saw many streams of ideas, like streams of invisible ribbons laying above my head, which I could grab on to. All leading further ahead into an unknown future, but with faith I am less fragile and can stand against the persistent winds of trial.  Now I have my class A CDL and am currently clearing 3 acres of land for a friend of mine who wants to build a farm. This same friend also got me in contact with his brother who works for a crane company and I am in the process of getting a job there. Drivers and climbers are needed everywhere. There are plenty of open positions for the taking. All most people ask for is that you be honest, not drink, not do drugs, and show up on time.

While I was able to attain these skills and walk these paths, they would not have been possible without the generosity of people like my father and grandmother who sacrificed much of their time and money to put me through high school, my grandfather who spent many late nights talking with me about life and how a man ought to be, and the kindness of many strangers whom never knew me, yet shared their life with me. In a like fashion, I deal generously with what I have to others. It is better to give than to receive and it is good to help those you do not know, because even some have catered to angels. These acts are pleasing to God and such sacrifice He enjoys. 

For those seeking to find a skill or to grow, my advice would be to seek the truth. You will be provided the skills and tools necessary to walk further than those who are not. It is my sincerest hope to be a humble reflection of the light that is poured into me, for what is a man without God and Jesus Christ? I hope it is yours as well.

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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