Meanwhile, back at the farm…


Some recent goings-on at Thiry Farm…


Chickens: status symbols and…birth control??



Good work, Vernon



Managing water for ducks in the winter



Barnyard Bickering: Uncle Waldo versus Vernon



Preparing for Spring: sowing seeds, planning for poultry, and dissuading the dogs.

We’ve had some strange weather here the last few days – it warmed up from below-zero temperatures midweek to the 50s on Friday and Saturday, resulting in a fierce wind that sent dried leaves swirling and dancing through the forest, driving our Shiba Inu Ruby mad with delight as she chased them hither and yon.  Earlier in the week it had snowed and even the snowflakes were worth chasing and snapping out of midair:


Spring is coming, and we’ll make a second attempt at raising poultry; we shall not be deterred by last year’s failure!   Continue reading

The chance to be human: homesteading while working full time.

Phil and I realized as soon as we moved here last year that whenever we weren’t at work, at church, or at a family function, we would be working hard around here to create the kind of small homestead we envisioned.  Still, I’ve sort of had a hard time conceptualizing exactly what we are doing; we’re sort of feeling our way along as we go.  But total self-sufficiency isn’t likely and we don’t intend to be actual farmers, and we both work full-time (though luckily I have summers off), so what’s the end goal?

Recently in The Christian-Agrarian Work Ethic, Herrick Kimball (The Deliberate Agrarian) quoted Willis D. Nutting‘s essay The Better Life, which is part of a book of essays entitled The Rural Solution: Modern Catholic Voices on Going “Back to the Land”:

“The opportunity for real, soul-satisfying work, so rare in our day, is found abundantly in rural living. Here a man can make long-range plans and can carry them out without exploiting his fellow man; for the things that he uses are things that exist to be used: soil, plants, animals, building materials, etc. he can live a whole life of work without once using another man as a mere means for carrying out his plans. And neither does he become a tool of someone else. With the materials at hand he can employ the splendid coordination of mind and hand to create something of value for his family. He can fulfill his real nature in real work. And this work is much more joyful than any mere recreation. As a matter of fact this work carries with it its own recreation, so that the man who works does not have to worry about how he is going to have his good times. The work itself is a good time even though it be hard […]

Around me live several men who are “homesteaders.” They work in town or in school and live in the country. They spend long hours in the evenings working on their land. Their companions on the job or at school go to the movies or play poker in the evenings, but these men work at home. Their companions spend money; they save it. And when you talk with these men you come to realize that their interest, their real life, is in what they do at home. On the job they carry out someone else’s plans. That is drudgery. But at home they are their own masters. They are exercising their autonomy which is necessary to human dignity. These few hours of autonomy constitute for them their real life. Their rural homes give them their one chance to be human.”

Mr. Kimball explains (highlighting mine):

Willis Nutting’s essay does not imply that everyone should be a farmer, or that one need be a farmer to experience the human fulfillment found in agrarian work. He himself was an educator and, according to his biography, lived an agrarian lifestyle. His essay speaks of men working their industrial-world jobs for the necessary income and then, instead of pursuing industrial-world amusements, recreations or leisure in their spare time, they pursue productive, creative work on their homesteads.

Perfect. Without being able to put it into word, this is what Phil and I have both felt.  We work for money in the outside world, and though we like our respective occupations well enough, our real joy is in the countless hours of hard manual labor we put in around here sinking fence posts, building raised garden beds, weeding, mulching, learning about forestry, felling trees, learning to hunt and fish and then clean and cook what we hunt, refinishing or building things we need or want, building the chicken yard and coop (stay tuned for The Thirys and Their Poultry, Part II next spring, when we will hopefully have better success than last year’s attempt), and on and on.

Will we ever be self-sufficient here?  Doubtful.  We’ll certainly try to raise as much of our own food as possible.  And we’d like to add a word burning stove in addition to the fireplace so we can use some of the dead trees on our land as a source of heating fuel.  But what we’re really doing here, as Mr. Nutting put it so well, is seizing our chance to be human as God made us to be.

If that kind of thing interests you, too, then I can point you in the direction of others who are like me (us), who work in the outside world but then retreat to our homesteads where the the work is hard but deeply satisfying.  Here are just a few:

Feel free to mention other blogs if you know of any similar ones.

Also, I just learned about Steward Culture Magazine, a free online magazine which…

“seeks to promote Bible-based stewardship agriculture. This simply means we advocate for creation-friendly thinking that emphasizes the fact that we don’t own the Earth or even some small piece of it. Creation is simply a gift given to humans who are commanded to be its stewards as God’s representatives.”)

God never made an ugly landscape.


“On a drive into Hereford I take the cross-country route, hoping to avoid the traffic bottleneck.  (Some hope.)  Despite the sparsity of population, I count at least five houses where the inhabitants have strimmed their roadside verge to within a centimetre of its life.  Internally I rail at the suburbanity of such an aesthetic (why move to the country if you want to turn it into Hyacinth Bucket’s Blossom Avenue?), and rather more honourably deplore the ecological holocaust.  Roadside verges are often remnants of ancient meadow – and in some areas, the only remnants of ancient meadow – and are flora rich, and the sanctuary of wild animals.”

From Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field by John Lewis-Stempel


Yes!  So many times I have railed against this same thing!  It’s not that I don’t think people have the right to do what they want with their own private property, it’s just that I am so mystified by it.  I don’t understand the thought process that causes someone to look for land in a rural area, pay a lot in order to live in a natural area, and then mow it all down flat and install a 3-acre ChemLawn.  It’s one thing when it gets mowed down and turned into gardens, fields, or pastureland.  Yet it seems suburban refugees come here to the rural areas and then go for the exact same sterile look.  It’s really a mystery.


As for me, I’m in accord with John Muir…


“God never made an ugly landscape. All that the sun shines on is beautiful, so long as it is wild.”



How Great Thou Art

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed:

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze;

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee; How great Thou art!
How great Thou art! Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

All photos in this post copyright 2015 by Philip Thiry

The theory of feminist devolution, BBC edition.

We’ve already discussed how feminists have pretty much corned the market in vagina-based art. Now they’re bringing that feminist je ne sais quoi to the highbrow stage of the BBC for a concert of feminist music.

Oh no! you are surely thinking. Not singing vaginas!

Well, no, but that wouldn’t have been much worse:

Ah, I needed a laugh tonight after the day I had and predictably, feminists were good for providing that laugh. (H/T MarcusD at Dalrock’s)

You know, now seems like a good time to repost with minor edits something I posted a little over a year ago on a now-private blog. From The Theory of Feminist Devolution:

I read this Soda Head quote at the Thinking Housewife recently:

…leftism is in and of itself a form of decay. It’s what happens not just to television shows but to nations, churches and universities as the energy given off by the big bang of their inception slowly ebbs away. Rather than expend vitality in originality and creation they become obsessed with introspection, popularity and lethargy. Leftism is entropy of the spirit and intellect.

In other words, leftism is devolution.  I’m using devolution in the sense of something that evolved (changed) over time to become great and then decays away, but let us also consider the bonobos.  From Wikipedia:

Along with the common chimpanzee, the bonobo is the closest extant relative to humans.

Personally?  I believe in the Bible, so I’m mostly a creationist (and don’t hassle me about the “mostly” part, fellow Christians. I studied under both Richard Alexander and Barbara Smuts, so I’ve had a long way to come in getting over my darwinist roots).  But let’s say that we were created by God in similar genetic groups and one of the non-human animals most similar to humans is the bonobo.  What do we know about bonobos?

The bonobo is popularly known for its high levels of sexual behavior. Sex functions in conflict appeasement, affection, social status, excitement, and stress reduction. It occurs in virtually all partner combinations and in a variety of positions. This is a factor in the lower levels of aggression seen in the bonobo when compared to the common chimpanzee and other apes. Bonobos are perceived to be matriarchal and a male’s rank in the social hierarchy is often determined by his mother’s rank.

Bear that in mind as we consider how feminism has influenced women, both religious and secular.

Recently a reader who had been raised Mormon sent me a link to this article: Mormon women laid bare: Powerful nude photo series protests religious system that enforces strict modesty.  From the article:

With the goal of ‘normalizing nudity,’ a new photography project featuring naked Mormon women hopes to shed light on the religion’s strict codes of modesty.

Salt Lake City photographer Katrina Barker Anderson, who is a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, launched Mormon Women Bare in July 2013 and has so far had more than 30 Mormon women volunteer to be photographed.

‘I know that images can be very powerful tools for change,’ the 30-year-old told MailOnline. ‘For the women who chose to be photographed, this act of artistic expression helps them reclaim their bodies while protesting a system that has told them they must remain covered and careful.’

I clicked over to Mormon Women Bare, to which I will not be linking, and read the following from the creator:

Mormon Women Bare is about reclaiming. It is about women reclaiming our bodies from a culture that teaches us that we belong to men, to God, to the society that objectifies us. It is about reclaiming the female body as more than just an object of lust or resistance. Through images and personal stories, this project breaks taboos by unabashedly showing what is supposed to be covered- our female form- while also exposing  the often not talked about price of a culture that places a woman’s ultimate value on her so-called “virtue”.

My reader, though now Catholic, was nonetheless very angry and wrote:

They aren’t faithful Mormons. They remain Mormon only because of the culture and are openly not “true believers” as they put it. They want to change a religion they don’t even have faith in. And as is evident in some of the images many of the women photographed in that series are either formally Mormon or not in good standing (because they have tattoos and piercing). Parading these women as Mormon is false and damaging. It’s also degrading to actual faithful women and the church and culture. These women are fakes! How dare they act as if they are the real deal representing the church and her people.

I would say they don’t just want to change it; they want to destroy it by devolving it.  I’ve noticed the same tendency in Christian women who try to break (or have broken) into the pastorate.  It isn’t about religious convictions; it’s about seeking power for themselves in order to destroy the institution.

This desire to destroy by devolution isn’t limited to the spiritual realm.  Consider this article from Salon:

Meet the world’s most famous vaginal knitter: Performance artist Casey Jenkins talks to Salon about her decision to knit with yarn inserted into her own vagina

Casey Jenkins didn’t realize more than 2.5 million people would see her vagina. But that’s what happened after a segment she shot for Australian broadcast network SBS was uploaded to YouTube last week. In the video, the feminist performance artist is shown knitting from a ball of yarn she’d inserted in her vagina. Pulling out a thread, the wool having been wound in such a way that allowed it to unravel from the center, she then proceeds to knit one long, unbroken scarf.

She’s talking via telephone from a laundromat in her hometown of Melbourne. It’s the first free moment she’s had to wash her clothes since returning from Darwin where she performed her now viral piece, “Casting Off My Womb,” at the Darwin Visual Arts Association. In it, Jenkins spent 28 days in a gallery knitting from the skeins she’d placed inside herself. She explains that the project wouldn’t have had the resonance it did if she’d paused when she began menstruating, but concedes it made the process more difficult “because the wool is wet and you have to kinda yank at it.”

At the Darwin Visual Arts Association…how fitting.  Women’s Art, under the influence of feminists, has devolved from this:


Catinou Knitting 1887, Anna Elizabeth Klumpke.

To this:

Bonobo inspired art, circa 2013

Her motivation, she says…was a response to the societal expectations heaped upon women of childbearing age — a weight that increases in intensity as the years tick by, which can result in a building sense of panic. “There are a lot of very extreme and loud and clambering responses whenever you try and talk about menstruation or the vulva, or what a body like mine can and should do. I wanted to quiet down all that noise or move away from it to a point where I could spend some time contemplating what I want to do with my own body,” said the 34-year-old.

Oh dear, she’s in her mid-thirties and childless.  Could this explain her desperate need to call public attention to her barren womb? Is this just a bonobo-like attempt at a mating call?

The other reason for the piece is a bit more far-reaching. Jenkins’ work has long been concerned with questioning and subverting the conversation around the vagina and its place in society, as well as what constitutes women’s activities — in this case, knitting — which has led to the kind of sexist responses one might expect from armchair critics. While “Casting Off My Womb” was well received when Jenkins performed it in Darwin (“The people there, they call a spade a spade and a cunt a cunt”), it has raised the hackles of many an Internet denizen; the deafening roar of disgust and disbelief lead SBS to disable the comment field of the YouTube video. “I think that there are misogynistic attitudes toward the vulva, and there’s widespread repulsion in my audacity to show it. And then there are also misogynistic attitudes toward knitting, as it’s associated with something that women do,” she explained. “There is a dissonance between the two. They’re both constructs, patriarchal constructs … and people don’t know what to do when they walk together.”

Yes, she is partially correct in that last bit there; patriarchal constructs do include the elevation of feminine virtue and modesty and revulsion at women who behave like bonobos.

Genesis 3:19 says

…till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Darwinists might have their own religious-like way of putting it:

till  you return to the bonobos, for out of them you were taken; for you were bonobos, and to bonobos you shall return.

As for me, all this has led me to conclude something we might call the Theory of Feminist Devolution:

Feminism causes women to devolve, as evidenced by their art, into a bonobo-like state.


Winter daydreaming about spring planting.

We’re in the winter doldrums here in Michigan, where by 8:00 in the morning the sky has lightened to a dull grey and by 4:30 in the afternoon, the dim light is fading into dark once more. Snow blankets the land, the trees are brown, the fields appear lifeless, and nature rests.


Today’s view from the edge of our woods with our neighbor’s farm in the distance.

Being a person who loves solitude, I am unbothered by being home mostly alone today while the children are off at various activities (and bless my husband’s name for volunteering to take eldest daughter to her volleyball tournament today).  The flour and sugar and chocolate chips are out on the counter just waiting for the obstinate butter to soften so they can be turned into cookies. The laundry is caught up and the pond ice rink is shoveled, which means I will spend this grey afternoon daydreaming about one of the things I love most to do – gardening.

I love every aspect of it – composting, digging, pulling weeds, starting seeds, making containers and beds, growing flowers and fruit and herbs and vegetables. Previously all I was limited by was space, and that limitation has now been lifted, allowing my imagination to run wild. This is the one thing I really use my Pinterest boards for, which is where I found a lot of the daydream images I will post here.

Sunshine’s garden daydreams:

1. Build stairs down the back hill

Our home is built into the back of a hill, which makes for a really nice walkout basement but doesn’t make for easy landscaping. The hill down from the front of our house to the back is just lots of oak trees and some grass that is growing poorly and allowing erosion to occur.


Standing next to the garage, looking down the back hill.

As soon as we moved in I began planting hostas that I divided from the overgrown front garden and some lemon thread cypresses that I got on clearance for $5 at Lowe’s at the end of the season:


These lemon thread cypresses I planted should eventually grow to be about five feet tall.


lemon thread cypress

Example of a full-grown lemon thread cypress.








When spring comes, I will build steps down the back of our hill similar to these ones I found on Pinterest:

What I will do is buy composite decking boards and cut them to about 32 inches in length. I will use 16″ aluminum flashing  that I’ll bury half way to form the border edges of the walkway and then bury the cut composite deck boards half way and fill in each “step” with pea gravel. I’ll probably line the walkway with rocks I find in our woods and plant ferns among the rocks to give it a natural, woodsy feel and to help control erosion.

2. Plant a raised herb and fruit bed.

I will use cinder blocks, as they are very cheap to buy and also easy to find for free.

Directions for mosaic cinder block can be found at Delicate Construction.

To make the mosaics, I’ll use liquid nails and stone tiles which the previous owner had left over from retiling the kitchen floor and left for us:image

I’ll construct the raised bed by lying the cinder blocks on their sides so the pretty mosaic faces out and the holes face up, allowing me to plant strawberries in them.






3. I will turn the garden shed into a secret hideout in the woods, sort of like this one but less shack-like:

What garden shed in the woods? you may be thinking. Well, that is actually a funny story…

The people we bought this house from did a lot of great work inside the house, which truly looks beautiful, but they really didn’t keep up with the grounds very well. You see, when you build your house in the middle of the woods, the forest is always trying to reclaim it. You are in a very real battle to keep the wilds of entropy from reasserting their dominance over your temporary cultivation. When we bought this house, everything outside was very overgrown, and we dove right in to cutting it all back, pruning and weeding (including my husband “weeding with a chainsaw”) and bringing back a sense of order, much to the chagrin of all the little woodland snakes that had gotten used to a peaceful existence on every walkway and in every overgrown garden.

Now, the woods along the driveway were so thick that you couldn’t even see into them, but as the leaves began to fall in October, we started to get a glimpse in. One day my husband was hacking back some scrub while I was mowing when I caught sight of a flash of brown and white deep in the woods, down a little hill, off to one side of the driveway.  I turned off the mower and tried to get a look.

“Phil,” I called, “there’s something in the woods down here!” He looked up with concern, wondering what the “something” was – we’ve got coyotes on our land and, astonishingly, saw a bobcat once – and if he should run up to the house for his shotgun.

He walked down to where I was and began using his implements of order to chop into the brush.  I didn’t get pictures of it then, but here is the view today from where I was standing:


Can you spot the shed in the distance?


In the middle of the woods we found this utterly charming little shed, its existence apparently forgotten by the previous owner, who never mentioned it to us:image

Inside it has a window in the back and a loft up under the pointed roof. It’s sort of useless as a garden shed since it’s a bit of a hike down a hill and through the forest to get to it, but as a secret hideout for reading, drawing, and daydreaming, its potential is unparalleled.

Philip cleared a temporary path, and I began building a pallet walkway to it, like this one:

I ran out of pallets and then the weather turned bad, but I’ll resume working on it in the spring. Pallets, which have a nearly unlimited number of ways that they can be upcycled, can usually be had for free if you go to hardware or home improvement stores and offer to haul away the old pallets stacked up behind their business.

These are just a few of my many garden daydreams. In the spring, I’ll begin documenting here which daydreams I turn into reality. Now I’ll leave you with a few more daydream images:


They would if they could: new study reports that nearly one-third of college men would rape if they could get away with it, and feminist policies again fail to help real women.

[Note: This post will discuss rape and thus is not suitable for readers under the age of about 13. Furthermore, I ask that if there are any readers here under the age of 18, please ask your parents’ permission before reading this post.

Also, the word rape in this essay refers to the legal definition used by the FBI, which is:

“The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”]

I once queried the male readers on a different site about whether rape was something they ever fantasized about doing since feminists are always yammering on about rape culture on campus while simultaneously encouraging young women to put themselves into dangerous situations by engaging in casual sex as a form of “empowerment”. The men all assured me that men don’t want to rape women and that only an extremely tiny minority of men would ever consider raping a woman under any circumstances. Even then I wasn’t sure if that was exactly true, but it turns out that although those particular men were probably sincere in their feelings about rape, they may not be correct in their estimation of how many men would rape a woman if they thought they could get away with it.

A recently-published study, Denying Rape but Endorsing Forceful Intercourse:
Exploring Differences Among Responders, yields some preliminary results which suggest (not prove, but suggest) that actually a much larger minority of men would rape a woman if they thought they could get away with it. The study can only be considered preliminary because the sample size was only 86, but what the authors did was administer a self-reporting scale to college men:

This scale measures self-reported likelihood to engage in a variety of sexual behaviors ‘‘if nobody would ever know and there wouldn’t be any consequences’’ for the participants. The behaviors that were included were heterosexual intercourse, forcing a female to do something sexual she does not want to, and rape.

Out of the 86 college guys, 26 (31.7%) said they would force a woman to have sexual intercourse with them if no one would find out and there would be no repercussions. When the word rape was used, that number dropped to 11 out of the 86 (13.6%). But just let that sink in for a moment: 31.7% of these college men would force a woman to have sexual intercourse (though they wouldn’t call it rape) if they thought they could get away with it.

Nearly one-third.

That’s not an extremely tiny minority.

Could the study be poorly designed? Yes. Might the results not be replicated? Maybe not. Does this mean one-third of men will rape someone? Of course not.

All it means is that rape is something that a sizable minority of young men say they would do if the opportunity presented itself and they knew for sure there would be no negative consequences.  This is why we have laws against rape and why there are negative consequences for it if you get caught doing it. This is why historically fathers were protective of their unmarried daughters and husbands were protective of their wives.

I’m not especially angry that some men find rape vaguely appealing and would consider doing it. Rape is a terrible thing, but given the average intensity of the male sex drive compared to the female sex drive, it isn’t terribly shocking information to learn. It’s just a facet of reality that we have to deal with.

And you know what? I don’t think we are ever going to be able to socialize this desire out of all men and “teach” them not to rape.  All we can do is make sure that men know rape is a crime and that they’ll go to jail if they get caught doing it.

Oh, but there is one more thing we can do, and this is the only reason I’m even posting this study at all:

We can encourage girls to keep themselves safe.

We know for sure there are men who want to rape women – all that is in dispute is how common this desire it – so how do we keep girls safe from them? Will passing a law like Yes Means Yes do anything to help?

No, it will not. That is because, if this study is valid, the men already know it’s wrong to rape – that’s why they’d only consider doing it if they could get away with it. Encouraging girls to believe the fantasy that they’re going to be able to say no to a rapist is ludicrous. It is even more delusional to believe that a rapist will be stopped because a woman didn’t say yesYou can’t stop a rapist from raping you by saying no to him, nor can you stop him from raping you by not saying yes to him.  And you can’t identify a potential rapist terribly easily beforehand because he probably looks like all the other guys – the 68.3% of young men who wouldn’t rape even if they could get away with it – on campus.

Gee, let me wrack my brain and try to figure out how we can fix this problem…

Oh wait, I know! How about telling girls not to get drunk, not to go out to bars and nightclubs alone or with other women, and not to go home with guys? All the Yes Means Yes laws in the world, all the campus rape tribunals that convict men who thought they were engaging in a consensual hookup, all the feminist tripe about the empowerment of casual sex or even “relationship” sex is not going to do a darn bit of good when she finds herself alone with a real potential rapist – and that is possibly 31.7% of young men if this study is at all correct – who sees an opportunity and believes he can probably get away with it.

You’re never going to “teach” these guys not to rape; they already know that rape is wrong, which is why they say they’d only do it if they could get away with it. But you can teach women to avoid the vast majority of situations where they could be the victim of rape (other than the rare case of a stranger who violently assaults a woman who is just walking down the street or sitting alone at home). You can teach them that drinking is dangerous and that pre-marital sex – especially casual sex – is also potentially dangerous.

Teaching young women this would have the immediate effect of keeping them out of the hands of young men who ADMIT they would rape if they could.  So why do feminists always and everywhere oppose this? Why when Emily Yoffe, hardly a beacon of traditionalism or conservatism, wrote College Women: Stop Getting Drunk, It’s closely associated with sexual assault, did feminists go nuts and denounce Yoffe as a tool of the Evil Patriarchy™?

I don’t suppose rape was this much of a problem when The Patriarchy was in charge.

Lesson for women: There are men out there who will not respect your no. They will rape you if they think they can get away with it. You are largely responsible for your own safety. Do not get drunk, do not hook up (whether you know the guy well or not); just by refraining from these two activities alone, you will remove yourself from most situations where a man who would rape if he could will think, “I can probably get away with this right now” and go for it.

Feminists can shriek about the misogyny of telling women to avoid premarital sex. Manospherians can shriek about the misandry of stating the fact that there are significant numbers of men who would rape if they could get away with it.

But you, Young Woman, you ignore both of them and realize that there are a lot of potential rapists out there and your no or yes doesn’t mean squat to them. You be realistic and responsible, and you will greatly decrease your chances of ever being raped.