True North is:

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Michigan, United States

Thursday, July 30, 2009

“And your very flesh shall be a great poem.”

When we decided to start our style of homesteading we decided to make a list of all the skills we had that could generate money. Although we were lowering our expenses, we still needed to be able to make money to pay for our necessities...mainly land taxes, medical bills and our house payment.

One of the skills that was on the top of my list was Tattooing. I have been tattooing on and off since I was a teenager, and Melissa worked in a tattoo shop when I met her. Over the years we have opened and closed two tattoo businesses, and sold our equipment numerous times. Yet, through all of that I have always loved the artistry behind tattoos and have always been drawn back to the craft after long absences.

Since it is a skill I have and love, and I now have the time to dedicate myself to the art...I have once again started slinging ink. The wonderful part about it is that in the past I was so concerned about the money side of it that I would lose sight of how much I enjoyed creating permanent art on people. Now don't get me wrong, we still need the money, but now it is not the primary focus. For once in my life I can truly enjoy tattooing

Here's a sample of my most recent work and If you like you can visit Sanctus Tattooing, my blog that will display images of my work.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A visit from family

Note: It is far easier to post in the winter when things are a lot slower...

That being said, July has been a good month with lots of things happening including my older brother James (Aka: Wojo) and his family visiting from Vegas. We spent nearly a week with them and had a blast.

James and his wife Jean have lived in Vegas for some time now and we rarely get to see them. James is a Worship Leader at his church and heads a Dave Matthews tribute band called Dangerous Hours, Jean works for a law firm. They are moving to Alabama soon and that will be great because they'll only be 11 hours from us.

James' son, James Jr. lives in Texas and it has been a number of years since we got to see him so that was really nice. He's 15 now, the same age as my daughter, and has grown a lot since the last time we saw him. I know his school's football team is trying to get him on the field, but like his dad he's dedicated to his music.

They also brought their friend Cookie, a girl from their church. She was fantastic and we were glad to have her as a guest. Gabrielle got along great with her!

While they were here we tried to get a number of things accomplished besides relaxing with a cold one on the deck (which we did plenty of:P), and telling Chuck Norris facts! One of my projects I really wanted to do this year was move some very large pine stump fences and make a decorative boundary across the front of our family cemetery. When my father passed away we decided to have him buried on the property at a place where he and my mother always wanted to build a home. It's a beautiful hill with large maples over looking a small valley, and although they never did build that sure is nice visiting him there.
It was a good thing my brother and nephew helped in this endeavor. The stumps where very large and heavy, and a good ways into the woods. We knocked it out in just a few hours, but there was no way I could have done it myself.

We also brought the whole crew Geocacheing and made a day of it...with a picnic included. We were 2 0f 4 on caches found, but I think everyone had a really good time. I know me, Melissa and Gabrielle did! I think my brother and his family might be hooked.

All in all, it was fantastic to have them here. Last time they were up for a visit my trucking schedule was a mess and I had very little time to see them. Sometimes, when homesteading gets tough and the struggles seem endless, I have to remember why we are doing it. Family.
A year ago I wouldn't have been able to spend the quality time I did with them. I'm thankful and I'm blessed.

Thanks Melissa for the photos.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

This little piggy went to market!

With just a little more than 3 months at True North, our two pigs have been sent to The Butcher Block...literally. The Butcher Block is a butcher that lives close by us and was highly recommended.

Of course, like all things at True North, this process was not without its problems. Unfortunately I can only blame myself, as usual. Back when we decided to get pigs and we were doing our research, one of the things that was stressed was to make sure you had a way to transport your livestock. Well, needless to say I waited until the last minute and my transportation plans fell apart.

I have a small trailer that I use to haul wood and my plan was to build small walls around it, load the pigs up, and away we'd go. That was until I got my truck stuck with the trailer on...unhooked the trailer...and then proceeded to back over the hitch, crushing the mechanism that attaches to the ball, ripping off the right side tail lights and the license plate. Now, before you feel too sorry for me I should disclose that all this damage took place in February, and I kept putting off the repairs. The next thing I knew the pigs were ready to go, the trailer wasn't, and I had a ton of stuff to do that wasn't related to either. Such is life...and one day I'll learn procrastination is not a virtue, especially when your trying to save money.

Enter Russ: Russ is the man we bought the two pigs from. From the start, when we first met him, I thought he was great. Good-natured, friendly, and didn't treat us with disdain because we didn't know what we were doing. Instead, he guided us through this process; first by selling us wonderful animals, then checking them out when they closed in on the finishing line, and finally by transporting them in his trailer to the butcher for a very cheap price (20 bucks!). Thanks Russ, we'll see you next spring when we buy the next set of pigs!

So Russ shows up, and my pigs practically run into his trailer and lay down. I had Melissa and my older brother James (visiting from Vegas...more on that later) there for help, and Russ had brought one of his hired hands. All that man-power...not needed! Our pigs had been great from the beginning, and it appeared that they would leave they way they good spirits!

After the loading, me and my brother followed Russ to the butchers, and after some quick introductions we unloaded the pigs. Again, with hardly any prompting, the pigs jumped off the trailer and headed inside. It was the last time I would see them alive. With that we filled out some paper work and decided how we wanted them butchered.

As we were returning home I took some time to reflect on the pigs. Don't get me wrong, I'm not squeamish about these types of things; I've hunted for years, but this was a little different. Never before had we raised an animal for slaughter. I had not gotten attached to the pigs, but I had gotten attached to our routine and their squealing during food time. I am also very attached to bacon and ham, so my nostalgia didn't last long. However, we did enjoy our time with them and we are looking forward to next spring when our pen will once again be occupied by a couple of smart and entertaining animals, whom, if only for a short time, will live like kings at True North.

Once I get the final cost of the butchering, and exactly how much meat we get I'll post up how cost effective it was to raise them. A special thanks goes out to Norm (my mother's husband) for purchasing the white pig and helping us off-set our costs! On to the pictures:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Keep it secret...keep it safe

For those of you that have never tried've got to give it a chance!

Although we have had the link up on our blog for sometime now, it was just the other day that we actually tried our hand at it. What is Geocaching you ask?

(from their website)
"Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment."

As far as the "high tech"goes it is true that you need a GPS device; luckily for us we had one that we purchased a few years ago. I haven't looked at prices on these things in some time, but I believe you can get them pretty cheap. Ours is a Garmin Nuvi 200 and is very basic, but it does the job. All you need is to be able to type in coordinates and most dash-board GPS allow this.

So, how does it work? You go to their website, and register (easy process). From their you can type in any postal code or town and it will give you lists of Geocaches in that area...and their is usually a ton. Just in our small town their was a lot! At that point you get the coordinates, put them in your GPS, and away you go..

We have found 6 geocaches so far (in 2 days) and all 6 were within a two mile radius of us. A couple we couldn't find, but we'll be back again for another try:) Once you find a cache you can take/leave an item, then log your visit on the website. My description may come off as a little dull, but believe me it's addicting.

In fact, if you like to walk or bike, have free fun, and enjoy's really the way to go. Next time we'll take some photos so we can share them. I hope if you try it you'll have as much fun as we have had.