Speaking of shotguns;

We were reading on our sister page’s facebook site (@RenaissanceRonin) about a “shotgun” designed to shoot salt. It’s purpose is to rid the world of houseflies. Now, while the idea of stalking flies through the house with this little beast does bring a smile to my face, I can’t imagine a significant other being too thrilled about it as she’s forced to clean up salt grains scattered all over the house after one of your hunting expeditions.

I suggest that repairing the screens on your windows and doors would probably be a more “harmonious” solution to the housefly problem many of us face this time of year.

That gave us pause to think of other crazy “shotgun related” stuff we’ve seen lately.

They make this shotgun shell called “Dragon’s Breath”. It does exactly what you’d think it would do. It makes your shotgun belch fire.

There are gun enthusiasts out there who love this round for it’s pyrotechnic value.

It should be noted that Dragon’s breath shotgun rounds are banned in many locations, due to their inherent fire hazard. Even in areas where the round may be shipped, an extra fee for hazardous materials may be charged.

Dragon’s breath is an exotic incendiary round for a 12 gauge 2 3/4″ shotgun. Dragon’s breath shells consist primarily of magnesium pellets/shards. When the round is fired, sparks and flames shoot out of your barrel (to a distance of about 100 feet). The rounds are safe to fire out of an improved cylinder bore as well as a modified choke barrel commonly found on many of our shotguns.

This is NOT a combat round, folks. Its actual professional combat or tactical usage remains undocumented and unreported.  We haven’t read an NRA reports about homeowners defending home and hearth using this round. We haven’t heard any reports of people using this to signal aircraft or to gain emergency assistance. It’s just a “novelty round” if you ask us. It doesn’t have any real tactical value. The key to it’s popularity is in it’s ability to produce a visual effect that is impressive and entertaining. It’s “muzzle blast” is similar to that of a short-ranged flamethrower or fireworks, making it popular among gun enthusiasts looking for a cheap thrill.

Wait… it’s $5 a round. For $5 a round, I’ll break out the Barrett .50 cal .

Again, while it’s claimed that the rounds are often used as a distress signal (similar to a very short duration emergency flare gun), most  would argue that a flare would be better fitted for such.

The round has also been used for intimidation purposes. Contrary to popular opinion and urban legend, there is no credible record we can find that documents its use in actual combat. I never saw one used in Iraq or the Sandbox, nor has anyone I’ve spoken with.

In fact, because the Dragon’s Breath shells are low-power rounds, you cannot (and should not) chamber them in an auto-loading shotgun or semi-automatic shotgun without risking a misfire or jam. The shell doesn’t produce enough recoil energy to cycle the action (which  causes the mechanism to fail to cycle).

It’s noted that an additional reason to use the round only in a breech loaded weapon is that round shoots at least a little flame for 3–5 seconds. Can you imagine what would happen if a shell that was still on fire was ejected into the dry grass at your feet?

Now, put that shell in a shotgun and hand it to a bunch of idiots. I mean, it’s just a “range test” right?  Note the shotgun used for the test. What could go wrong? What do you think will happen?

They KNEW that they were shooting incendiary shells. WHY didn’t they have fire extinguishers at the ready?

Till next time…


Many see the empowerment of DHS and it’s minions to be the start of the “New Suppressed/Oppressed America”.

Many have come forward to remind us that “there are more of us than there are of them”…

The naysayers among us remind us that we’ll be overwhelmed by the might of military technology and enhanced logistics.

“Tech and supplies”. Overwhelming numbers. “Hell falling from the Sky”. Sounds daunting, eh?

No. Don’t fall victim to the hype.

While I have to admit that I find myself nodding my head in agree to the premise that any attempt to stand toe to toe against an empowered mechanized “Internal American Army” conventionally using nothing but small arms and sharp blades would be ill advised… even seemingly “fool-hardy”… history would appear to rebut this notion consistently.

This is exactly how the Revolutionary War was fought. And we all remember how that ended, right?

The initial Soviet deployment of the 40th Army in Afghanistan began on December 24, 1979, under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. The final troop withdrawal started on May 15, 1988, and ended on February 15, 1989, under the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev.

I was in Afghanistan as “a kid”. I remember how “men with wooden sticks” defied “men with iron sticks” and repelled them while exacting a heavy toll. It’s where I learned that “Guns don’t kill people… Old men with beards kill people.” Despite the fact that the Afghani’s (the Muj) weren’t “backed” by anyone at the beginning of the conflict, I remember the Russians getting their asses handed to them on a regular basis, despite “Hind and Hell”…

In the mountains, there were monsters and all the vodka in Moscow couldn’t mute that threat.

It has been proved time and again that “asymmetric warfare” is quite effective against conventional forces.

According to Wikipedia:

“Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differs significantly.”

Boiled down to it’s essence;

“Big nations lose small wars all the time.”

“Big Nations” are schooled in the arts of “guerrilla warfare, insurgency, terrorism, counter-insurgency, and counter-terrorism.”

I’d remind you that the Japanese said it best (when contemplating an invasion of the United States);

“There is a rifle behind every blade of grass.”

Modern, conventional armies are designed for “large scale maneuver” types of warfare. This means that in layman’s terms, these same units generally find themselves at an extreme disadvantage when fielded against unconventional forces fighting on their “home turf”, especially when these unconventional forces are backed by a sympathetic population.

Can you say “resistance”?

In the face of these conditions, conventional forces typically do one of two things;

They fall back into secure areas and make hardened strikes at concentrations and pockets of resistance (think Soviet Afghanistan in the late stages or even Vietnam) or…

They use excessive amounts of force in an attempt to counter resistance, thus alienating otherwise neutral or supportive people. We’re seeing this now as DHS and other agencies identify and assault/attack Vets and others for committing the unspeakable crime of “speaking out against the machine”.

Google; “Operation Vigilant Eagle”.

It’s called “oppositional defiance disorder”. If you speak out against the powers that be, they simply brand you as “insane” and then they take you by force and incarcerate you… for your own good and for the good of public safety.

The Nazis made similar mistakes over and over again in all the nations that they overran and then occupied. The results were unrest and then opposition.

The Soviets attempted this from the beginnings of their attempted occupation of Afghanistan and got their asses handed to them. Again, push too hard and you make people mad enough to man up.

The first method is effectively how the US military has chosen to fight what they coin “low intensity conflicts”.

Assymetrical Warfare is essentially “Civil War”.

Many Americans, Veterans and otherwise, see a “changing of the guard” in the United States. We’re losing our freedoms and Civil Liberties daily. The “few” are dictating a new path for “the many” and many of us don’t like it. Many of us (law abiding citizens) don’t like the idea of being told what we can and cannot do in our own homes.

In 2009 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a report titled “Rightwing Extremism” through its Office of Intelligence and Analysis. The report states that ultra conservatives form that biggest threat to the security and safety to the United States since the rise of al-Qaida. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano expressed the fear that soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan would be recruited by “right wing terrorist groups.”

In other words, if you return after serving your country and don’t step and fetch at “their” whim, they’ll label you as a threat to America… and then institutionalize or incarcerate you.

Obama has “fired or retired” more US Military Generals than any other President in History. Why do you think that is?

Perhaps… just perhaps… he seeks the comfort of like minds as America changes… irrevocably.

The liberal media in America panders to a population that will seemingly endure tyranny as long as the pain is “tolerable”… as long as it isn’t in their yards or restricts their movements as much as it restricts the rights of others.

The Founding Fathers spoke often of “The Three Percent”.

Any student of history will tell you that most populations will suffer tyranny while they feel the burden is tolerable. It’s that “it will never happen to ME” mindset. The usual outcome is that these spineless liberals often fall victim  to the machine they created, almost immediately.

The American revolution was not the vast, general uprising that some imagine. Some of the Colonies stayed out fo the fight for many years. At any one given time between 1774 and 1781 only approximately 1/3 of the colonists supported independence. And of those 1/3 approx 10% actively fought. Another 1/3 were loyalist, and the remaining 1/3 were either on the fence or simply wanted to be left in peace…. (sound at all familiar?)

This is where the term “the three percent” is likely to have it’s root. Consider historically that we owe our independence to a dedicated group of “Three percent” of the population. The Founders  knew this. They did make mention of this and of their reliance on “The Three percent” (often referred to as “a dedicated minority”) to protect the Republic in times of grave danger.

Three Percent.

America has the largest volunteer army in the world residing inside her borders. They’re commonly  referred to a “Hunters, Sportsmen, Outdoor Enthusiasts”…

Imagine if anyone was stupid enough to enrage common, everyday “Mom and Pop” Americans enough to take a stand.

Insane, huh?


Okay, Summer is in full swing in the Pacific Northwest.

Yeah, there’s still snow in the High Country. Deal with it…

Flathead River

And that means that it’s time for a “Bubba Advisory”:

If you’re  headed out into the woods, LEAVE A NOTE!

Gone-FishinTell your family or friends exactly WHERE you’re going, HOW LONG you’ll be gone, WHO you’ll be with and then…

Take your brain with you.

This is the time of year when morons head out in the woods… backpacks filled with beer, beef jerky and CD Players.

This is the Bonehead move of the season.

Nothing screams;

“Help! We need LIFEFLIGHT!”

… louder than a campsite filled with drunken idiots acting stupid and loud, enabling just about every  calamity you can imagine.

Note also that most “Camp Crisis” starts out with the same four words;

“Hey Guys!! Watch THIS!”

For example… one of these morons will invariably drive a knife through his own leg, trying to “Rambo” a can open with his big Pakistani Survival Knife. Why do I know this is true? We recently took Joshua to the Emergency Room and guess who was sitting there groaning and crying like a little girl? Yep, some moron who tried to use a cheap Chinese knife to power open a can of Pork ‘n’ Beans. Not only did he stab himself in the leg, he then lacerated his hand on the sharp can lid.

Boy, they just don’t make “stupid” like they used to. It’s gotten WORSE… LOL!

They make can openers for a reason. Use them.

P51 Can Opener

Another will get sick because “it’s okay to drink water out of fast flowing rivers”. Really? Some of the biggest rivers in the world are heavily polluted.

BOIL or filter water before drinking it…


… unless you LIKE spending most of your time in the woods squatting behind a tree, groaning in agony as you get dehydrated…

It doesn’t matter how sunny it was when you left the house. It can rain. That sleeping bag isn’t going to be enough for most people.

Take suitable  shelter.


Rain happens. And… practice setting your tent up in advance. Having gear you can’t USE makes NO sense at all.

Remember where you are. That includes being careful about what you cook. If you can smell your food, so can the wildlife.

BEARS love the smell of stuff like meat… and especially bacon.


Speaking of wildlife, despite what you see on TV, the local wildlife isn’t gonna head for the hills just because they see/hear you. In MANY places, the wildlife is accustomed to people.

Most of the wildlife in these parts have the same scientific middle name.


Mountain Lion

Use your brain, practice camp safety and have fun.

If not… you’ll be exercising your Obamacare… LOL!

Stay Safe.


You know, I’ve been thinking…

And you all know that can’t be good.

There’s a lot of talk lately about Obama’s public approval rating plunging into the depths of the cesspool this nation is slowly starting to smell like.

And around me a LOT of people are bandying about that three syllable word (yeah, I know it’s a stretch for us “farm and ranch folk” but we can “speakee Engrish” like the rest of you when we want to) over beers that are trying to come to room temperature of their own treachery.

The word for today, boys and girls… is “Impeachment”.

It occurs to me that across this great land… you won’t find a majority of voting folks that want to impeach Obama. Hell, some of them are only now coming to the grim realization that they were duped and have elected a stumbling bozo, an incompetent fool who’s only real skill seems to be reading lies and threats off of a teleprompter as he manipulates most of the American People like Geppetto playing  with Pinocchio.

In fact, the only action Barack seems to be consistent at is dashing out of the White House toward a golf course or a fundraiser every time a storm begins to brew over his Presidency.

We can’t tie him directly to the IRS scandal because the IRS “lost” all the evidence.

We can’t tie him to Bengazi because he has plenty of people to throw under the bus to shield himself.

We can’t tie him to the NSA or VA scandals because in his own words, they’re just made up scandals.

While he was trading “GITMO Terrorists for traitors”…  (Yes, I’m talking about that traitorous POS Bergdahl.)

He just smiles that demonic smile of his into the camera and exclaims; “It wasn’t me. I didn’t know…”  He’s about as clueless as they come.

(Wow, imagine an occupant of the White House that actually makes Jimmy Carter look good? Boy, I never saw THAT coming.)

As some Americans talk about “throwing the bum out” (myself included – albeit that it’s just “wishful thinking”) I personally DON’T think that “the act of impeachment” is really the most pressing issue here.

Think about it for a minute. Impeaching Obama would be a long, arduous, media circus event that would probably (in the end) fail. There are simply too many circus performers on the payroll.

But look around you! The American Economy is slipping, yet another decrease (3%) in the first quarter as Obama’s “programs” slowly drive the last nails into the coffin of America.  Jobs leave America, never to return as “The Great Obstructionist” literally pushed corporations out of America.

This is the guy who recently took full credit for the “energy prosperity” emerging in America… by standing in it’s way at every possible opportunity. What he neglects to tell America is that Obama and his minions have made oil production so difficult on America’s Federal lands that the vast majority of oil being produced in America… is happening on privately held lands, where he can’t stop it.

The IRS and VA scandals are finally starting to get “realistic” coverage… in that they can’t be hidden or played off as “make-believe” any longer. There’s too much truth, too much evidence to hide.

The NSA scandal is another event that is finally “undeniable”, even by the ostriches and fools among us.

They’re REAL events, with real evidence and real momentum. Americans are just fed up with the “Bullsh#t on the Beltway” and it’s getting to the point where more and more people are starting to stand up and speak.

As Obama manufactures events to divert attention (like opening the floodgates to allow the US border to look like the parking lot of a Walmart during the big Black Friday “door rush”) we need to stay focused.

IMHO – The current “Border Crisis” is a manufactured one, aimed at pandering to Latin voters and implying “villainous intent” to any and all who speak out against “floods of illegal immigrants, children or otherwise” he’s enabled. If you really believe that those people arrived “without aid and unescorted…” well, I have a bridge to sell you…

Follow the money. Obama’s minions advertised for “escorts” to aid and abet” these illegals as they sought to enter the USA.

(Have you seen the photos from the US Border Patrol footage? I’ve never seen so many gang tats on “children” with beard growth on their faces in my life.)

Folks, Republicans aren’t “monsters who live in the closet”.  If you find yourself believing that because we’re Republicans or Conservatives, we don’t love our children (or anyone else’s for that matter) you’re a moron. If you feel that Republicans wish to deny women birth control or adequate medical treatment, again, you’re a MORON. If you believe that Republicans throw American men and women into war, solely to seek profits and personal fame… say it with me… you’re a moron.

Most of us are simply realists who understand that to spend money on the national or global level, first you have to MAKE money. Until you can do that effectively (and consistently) you can’t save the rest of the world. If you obstruct free enterprise and job growth… your own boat will sink out of neglect.

Think about that for a moment;

“Your own boat will sink out of neglect.”

As Vets go hungry, become homeless and die from lack of medical care due to VA manipulations and incompetence… Obama seeks $4 BILLION dollars to clean up a border mess that he helped orchestrate himself.

Democrats are already pleading with people to “get out and vote and stop those evil Republicans from IMPEACHING “Poor President Obama”. They’re pandering to minorities, spreading the doctrine of hate and division, to galvanize the vote, in order to save their own skins.

Democrats want you to be angry at those “racists that want to throw Obama and his bunch out” because he’s “black” and they’re doing “HIS work”.

they’ll tell you that speaking out against THEM is just “racism redirected”, because the leader they serve is a black man.

It’s just “divide and conquer”. If you can make the country tear itself apart from seeds sown to create hate and division… you can hide almost anything… like facts and issues that are anchored in REALITY.

Like the best magician’s learn early on, it’s all about  misdirection.

“You only get to see what I want you to see…”

And while this current crop of hate is being fertilized (have you really listened to Obama’s speeches lately? What a wheelbarrow full of crap…) I’m seeing Republican Politicians on Cable tv foaming at the mouth while talking about “impeaching Obama”.

Gawd’s breath, are these guys fools or what?

To those idiots in Congress, I say this;

“You HAVE events and evidence to demonstrate that Obama has eroded the strength of America during his presidency. There’s more than enough ammo to use against those who would lead us down that same “pitfall and pothole strewn path” that is Washington DC.

At this point, “Impeachment” is a fool’s gambit. However if you were to use conditions and events that already exist, it becomes a “non-issue”.”

Vote your conscience. Vote like your life depends on it. Are you better off now than you were eight years ago?

We must take control of the Congress AND the Senate and then defund Barack Obama.

Let him use his “bully pulpit” to rant and spout, taunt and lie. Let him threaten to use his “pen and his phone” to try and strong-arm America (in spite of Congressional obstruction) and then take away his ability to enact any of his grand schemes by making it impossible for him to implement them.


The overwhelming majority of Americans are really disappointed in the “Obamacare” scheme that has affected literally every household in America negatively.

IMHO – Gaining control of the Senate in order to impeach Obama isn’t and shouldn’t be the goal.

Gaining control of the Senate to stop the disease that is killing America, to stem the dire direction of the tide the country has taken SHOULD be the goal.

Send a clear, concise message to DC; “Represent US, WE THE PEOPLE…  or go home in disgrace.”

I was always taught to choose my fights carefully.

We don’t have TIME to impeach Barack Obama.

Unless we act in November, unless we send a clear message, one that cannot be denied… we don’t have time to save this country.

You know, I can hear ole’ Ronnie now;

RONNIE“I bet ya miss me now, huh?”


We’ve all heard about recent developments in “Civil Control”.

More and more LEOs (Law Enforcement Officers) and agencies are deploying SWAT Teams, armored vehicles and even DRONES for use against American Civilians in their own yards.

I have to tell you that I have a real problem with the idea that Law Enforcement is bringing “full scale weapons of war” into play against the American populace. In my view, there have been FAR too many abuses of this power being used to harm innocents. Remember the recent case where a full assault “no-knock” warrant was served on a house while looking for a “small-time drug dealer”. A flash bang grenade was tossed through a broken window (the cops broke it first) and it landed in the crib of a sleeping infant.

 That poor child was injured horrifically. What’s worse is that the cops weren’t competent enough to even hit the RIGHT house.  The drug dealer didn’t reside there… and never had.  The deployment of this caliber wasn’t to target someone who had committed a capital crime. They were looking for a small-town thug who peddled small town amounts of drugs. It was far too much power, wielded by those not skilled enough to administer it.

The cops response to the terribly injured little child;

“Accidents happen. It’s unfortunate, but…”

Tell that to the parents of that poor little child who is now maimed for life.

It wasn’t an isolated incident. It happens all the time. Combine overzealous, under-trained authorities working on bad intel with the use of extreme force and you’ll get tragedy over and over again.

Got nosy neighbors?

Need a way to check on the kids as they play on the “back 40″?

Want to head those pesky solicitors off before they get to your front door?

Do you believe that “The Watchtower” should always include Jimi Hendrix or it should stay the hell off your porch?

Is Amway the enemy?

Does the phrase “Avon Calling” give you chills?

Are you sick and tired of the legion of Girl Scouts ringing your doorbell peddling Thin Mints?

(UM… WAIT A MINUTE! I love Thin Mints. Scratch that last one…) LOL!

What if you just want to scout your fields looking for deer or elk to harvest for the freezer or smokehouse?

Well now there’s a way to put an eye in the sky!

No, “Uncle” isn’t the only one who rules the air. YOU can too!

But wait, there’s more!

There are even apps that will allow you to send the footage to your iPhone! That means that while you’re racing to the fences in your “up-armored Ford F-150 Pick ‘em up”, you can still maintain “eye contact” with the bad guys as they look for breaches in the wire!! LOL!

Need more information?

Here’s the site link!



(This is NOT an endorsement of products discussed here. It’s simply information of interest being passed along.)

As thoughts turn to farming in this part of Montana, we’re thinking about all the flora and fauna that are seemingly coming out of the woodwork.


Our fields (the ones that aren’t flooded by the rivers being up over their banks) are brimming with wildlife, alfalfa, timothy grass and wildflowers complete with clouds of bees floating above them like sentries.

A big part of sustainability is the observance and then the participation in any opportunity presented that will help your family move forward symbiotically with your surroundings.

The Native Americans didn’t rush out to 7-11 or Circle-K every time they needed a staple. They figured out the source and then… they harnessed it.

Today, we’re  going to talk about one of our favorite staples… HONEY.


Best Factory Workers EVER!

We’ve talked about honey on the TBE blog a LOT. It’s one of those staples that can be relied on for many uses, from culinary to medicinal. If you live rurally, you may actually have the opportunity to harness those little honey-factory workers to assist you in your endeavors. All you need to do is build them a suitable home. I can’t imagine a cabin or rural home without a beehive full of busy, little factory workers.

We’ve talked about Top Bar Beehives on TBE.  In our opinion, the Top Bar Beehive is one of your best options for honey production on a “family scale”.

Top Bar Beehive

A top-bar hive is a frameless beehive. The comb created by the bees actually hangs from removable spars you put in place for them to attach the comb to.

Top-bar hives are usually single level hives that are rectangular in shape. They sit on sturdy stands set a few feet off the ground, so there isn’t any stooping involved in inspecting the health of your bees or collecting the honey. The hives themselves are usually twice as wide (or even wider) than “traditional production hives” commonly seen in fields scattered around rural areas.

These hives aren’t “small”. They aren’t really “portable” and you can’t just pick them up and move them around. In fact, you really wouldn’t want to disturb the bees while they are sharing their nectar with you! It would be counter-productive.

Top-bar beehives are popular with many beekeepers because we believe that this method of beekeeping is more natural. It’s also a “simpler” way of beekeeping as it is “low impact” and because many of the required materials to build the Top Bar Beehives can be found on your property already.

You can find drawings and images all over the Internet that describe the production of these Top Bar Beehives. All you have to do is “Google” it. The one misnomer we’ve run into time and again is the categorization of Top Bar Hives. The two most established hive types are “Kenyan” and Tanzanian”. The misnomers here are that the “Kenyan” hives were actually produced in CANADA, and the “Tanzanian” hives really have little to do with the beehives they actually use in Tanzania. Go figure.

Top Bar Beehive Drawing2That aside, let’s talk about raising bees and Top Bar Hives in general;

In Montana, most of our families grow our own produce. It’s a sustainable, reliable way of insuring that our families eat nutritious meals. Agriculture and gardening require pollinators. That’s EXACTLY what the bees do as they gather the goods (pollen) required to make their honey.

So, as you help them make their food, they’re participating in helping you raise yours. And, that “food” the bees make is the freshest honey available. There is nothing better in the world than fresh baked bread, smeared in fresh churned butter topped with a slathering of freshly harvested honey.

(Yes, we know that you can make “honey butter”. In fact, it’s QUITE tasty! However… we just feel like doing that eliminates some of the sensory experience of actually transferring that “golden goodness” to our bread. YMMV.) :)

Kick that up a notch and you have the basis for “Honey Mead”, “Honey Shine” and “Honey Ales”. They are libations that are highly coveted and they are absolutely delicious. Sustainability includes “barter”. There are just things you can’t grow or produce in your own household.

We’ve found that nothing furthers negotiations faster than “a big glass of cold sweetness” while you’re haggling and bartering! :)

The nice thing about Top Bar hives is that they lend themselves to easy inspection, so that you can check on your little soldiers and see how they’re doing. The bars can be removed one at a time, so you don’t disturb the whole hive. And because you’re removing one bar at a time, you aren’t tasked with a lot of heavy lifting.

top-bar-beehive2These are storebought hives and while they’re sturdy and very attractive, they’re expensive.

You know you can build these yourself, right?

Here’s a very good example of a Top Bar Beehive you could build and place in your backyard or garden, with little cash output ;



Post your favorite hives in the comments section. Let’s inspire families to team up with bees!  :)


I know that recently it seems like we’ve been on a “knife kick” lately.

This is probably due in part to the time of year here in Montana. They keep telling us that it’s finally “Spring”. Now, you wouldn’t know it for all the storms, cold temperatures and flurries (in some places here the snow is still on the ground), but okay… I suppose it’s possible… LOL!

We’re tool users. We’re ranchers, farmers, guys and gals who work hard… with our hands…  and the snow is finally starting to retreat.

One of the most important “tools” in the toolbox is one that you wear on your hip. And, there’s a LOT of confusion and downright misunderstanding about these blades. Over the next several weeks, we’re going to shed some light on that. We’ll talk about their origins, materials, makers and marketshare. You name it, we’re going to discuss it. It’s time that people started doing some math and then investing in their work… by investing in their tools.

On the farm/ranch front…

While most of the US is whining about the lack of water, we can’t kick dirt without hitting it. In most places, the rivers are far over their banks, flooding field and farm… much to the discontent of those of us who have to tend our fences. It’s a mess.

2014-06-04 17.35.17 THIS used to be several acres of high quality graze. No longer, now it’s either a (expletive deleted) giraffe aquatics enclosure or our livestock needs to get sent to Coronado for SEAL training and the issuance of snorkels and “wet gear”…

While we ponder how long we can tread water… we’re thinking about the “messages” being sent across America. Everywhere you look, we’re barraged with “doom and gloom” from people who have just given up, as the nation is slowly transformed into “something else”.

But once in a while, someone steps up to the plate, squares their shoulders and shouts in a loud voice;

“I will stand up for what I believe in… even if it’s at my own expense”.

They aren’t doing to to draw attention to themselves. They aren’t doing it to make money or as part of a marketing campaign. They’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do and because they CARE about America and AMERICANS.

Folks, there are heroes among us. I’m not just talking about those brave men and women who stand the line “far afield” to insure our freedoms or those who patrol our streets, living among us, making sure that we are “safe against things that go bump in the night”. I’m talking about men and women just like you and me, who are standing up and making a difference, despite the odds or social opinion. They haven’t forgotten that there are greater things in play than gloom and they bravely and courageously do what their hearts lead them to do.

Over the next several weeks, we’re going to introduce you to these fine men and women. We ask you to consider their deeds and then take the appropriate action on your own. We also want you to remember that it only takes a spark to start a fire.

And, we want to set this country ablaze… in the fires of freedom.

I met with a pair of gentlemen today who did something wonderful for a soldier serving this country overseas because it was the right thing to do. They didn’t brag about it, talk about it or publish it. Someone else “outted them”.  It was my honor and privilege to to speak with them today at length.   By the end of the conversations (there were several), we were all shedding tears.  They are as shocked by the public outpouring of support as we were honored to speak with them. From all over America, people are calling them, reaching out to thank them for what they’ve done and more importantly, who they are and what they represent.

In the next few days, I’m going to introduce you to these folks. I want you to think about what they’ve done, how they did it and WHY it’s so important.

And, over the next several weeks, I’m going to introduce you to many more… There are heroes walking among us. They’re patriots. They’re just like you and I.. except they stood up, spoke up and then… they squared up.

We are so very proud  of them that we can’t find words adequate to task. They are the best of us. And, as you’re going to see, they’re all around us. All you have to do is look.

Stay tuned. Some of these guys and gals are gonna make you proud. Some are  gonna make you cry,

But, one thing is clear… they’re AMERICAN PATRIOTS… every single one.


I’m going to start this off by saying that this is a tough time of year for us.

Many of us here at “the Bunker” are scattered all over the US (and even other countries) supervising projects. It’s a work thing.

So, this kick-off post for a new series is coming a few days later than we’d expected. Deal with it. :)

A man is known by the quality of his tools.

We’ve heard this a thousand times, and every time, we nod in agreement as it rings true. Where we live – here in Montana, almost every man you meet (and MANY of the women) carry blades as part of their every day ensemble.

And, remarkably, most of them are always searching for “the next blade”.

Now, I understand this as I can draw similarities in my own life. I’m constantly reminded that I’m always building  “my last guitar”….

… until the next one.  ;)

Knives are very personal tools. They’re not “one size fits all” or even “one task fits all” kind of objects.

We attach a lot of passion and pride in our knives and they’re frequently the topic of conversation, especially when they’re in your hand.

But, do you really need a drawer full of “dead soldiers’ as you travel from Sporting Goods Store to Big Box Store, looking for the next recruit?

I say; “Nay.”

How much money do you have lying there in that drawer, as those “old” knives collect dust? Each knife laying there represents a step you took as you sought out the  “perfect” blade. Beyond learned that many “catalog knives” are usually just “cheap copies of real knives”… what did you learn?

What if I told you that for the hard earned cash you spent buying that Chinese crap they call knives, over and over again, season after season, you could have had an incredible “lifetime” blade built by a craftsman?

This brings us to the topic at hand.

We’ve talked about a series we’re going to write about Custom Knives.

Many of us use knives on a daily basis. They’re as important as paracord, good boot laces or extra water in the truck. We count on them to do their job, every time.

A good blade makes us productive, protected and secure.

Yet, many of us will trust our daily progress and even our lives to a blade that was purchased at a local big box or discount store on an impulse.

Most of these “catalog” blades are cheaply produced, flashy and low-tech. They’re simply mass produced collections of metal and wood, aimed at “resembling” a quality blade. In most cases, companies spend more money on the advertizing of that “bargain” knife, than they do actually building  it.

If any of you have ever had a lock pin on a folder fail while you were trying to use a knife, you know exactly what I’m talking about. (And, you’re damned lucky to still possess your fingers.)

If any of you have ever broken a blade while trying to use  a knife as a pry tool – again, you know what I’m talking about.

We decided that we’d travel the path, find a blade maker, build a blade and then discuss WHY a custom blade is actually a better bargain. This is especially true when that blade is an EDC (every day carry) blade.

I started my journey into knifecraft by doing homework, reading Metallurgy reports all damned night for a few nights in a row.  We all have a dream about “that perfect knife” made from the “perfect steel”.

I have to admit that when I had dreams about MY “perfect blade”… it was a dark, Damascus bladed beast.

I’m really not at all interested in the “big shiny Bowie knife” thing. We’ve all seen these. I want, I lust for something with character, something that draws the eye to it.  Something that floats in your hand like a long, lost friend. Something that cuts deeper than the ice in your Mother-In-Law’s eyes.

Damascus is like the prettiest girl in school, wearing the most evil prom dress imaginable. You know that girl; bitchy, stuck up, too good to speak to you. High Maintenance but still as compelling as moths drawn to a flame.  It’s that girl everyone wants but few can have.

But like that “Barbie Doll” girl in high school… (you know the one… yeah, THAT one…)  Damascus is strong and beautiful, with a topography that looks like the Tetons or even better…

However, like a fading blossom… Damascus is a blade that changes over time due to wear and tear. Damascus steel is more  than strong enough for the tasks  but it’s not as “durable” in the finish department. It gets “worn and shiny” over time.

My dreams aren’t about blades  that look like they were removed from a display case to “dust and covet”… they’re about days spent, wrist deep in an elk or a deer carcass…

Now, I have to admit at this point that I have an incredible Damascus beauty. She was crafted by a guy named David Marcotte and she’s a thing of wonder. She looks great in your hand, she cuts like a dream and she’s a vision of loveliness. I sometimes lay her on my desk so I can just gaze at her, she’s THAT beautiful.

BIG Knife2 - 10 in Damascus with Dark Cherry Handle


… Damascus Steel is just too beautiful for a Heavy Duty “Montana Style” EDC.

I can already hear you guys channeling that famous “Crocodile Dundy” line;

“That ain’t a knife. THIS is a knife.”

Um…. no. I don’t really want a “big shiny knife” either. I prefer “dark blades”. They don’t reflect light for miles. They don’t need to double as a signal mirror to catch the eye of passing pilots and they don’t reveal every single scratch in a manner that resembles that mole on Cindy Crawford’s face.

(I mean, she’s lovely., but the first thing you see when you look at her is that mole. The imperfection. Now, some will remind you that it’s by our imperfections that we’re valued – diamonds come to mind – but I don’t want to clear a big blade out of a sheath and then focus immediately on a big gargantuan scratch in her surface.)

If I want a “dark blade”, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to find a strong steel that will accept a “hamon”. We’ve all seen Japanese Katanas with that incredible dark marking that etches the blades. It often looks like a mountain range or an Alien Landscape. That marking is called a hamon. It’s produced by “claying  a  blade during quenching. And, a hamon can cover a large portion of your blade. It’s a “character mark” if you ask me. It’s the signature of a blade’s soul.

So, desiring a dark hamon helps define the steel used to create a blade.

Really good “large blade” steels like 5160 or 52100 (while strong as hell) have more chromium in them.  The steel in these blades  are complex alloys all containing a certain amount of chromium as part of their composition.  While these blades will patina over time, because of this chromium content, you can’t produce hamons with them.

Thus, this lack of “hamon acceptance” eliminates these types of steel as materials to be used for my knife’s construction.

That leaves steels like 1095. 1095 is a wonderful steel that is durable, strong and relatively trouble-free. Many really well-known knife makers carry an EDC blade made from this material. That should say something right there. If a knife maker who can carry anything that he wants carries 1095, there’s a pretty good reason for  it.

1095, because of it’s composition, is also a really good candidate for a hamon like I desire (to add character to the blade).

So, I think we’ve defined the blade steel (in principle).

So, follow along and we’ll talk about blade composition, blade configuration and blade trials and tribulations…

I think you’re going to find this very interesting.


B| (emoticon)Wikipedia: An emoticon that means pissed-off.

Many of our readers, both here and on our TBE Facebook page know that one area we focus on is TOOLS.

It’s said that a man is known by the quality of his tools.

Part of living “sustainably” is the act of using tools to insure your progress. One of the most important tools on that list is an “EDC” (Every Day Carry) blade. A good blade can go a long way toward insuring your safety and allowing you to meet many challenges faced during crisis.

We’ve talked about a series we’re committed to, a “primer” that would help the “average Joe or Joanne” understand how custom blades are born. I’m not talking about blades built under license in sweatshops in China, I’m talking about finely crafted blades born of excellent steel in a forge and fueled by an artisan’s sweat and blood, quenched in passion.

Initially, we thought we were going to write a comprehensive “primer” that introduced and then substantiated the commission of a “custom blade” built by a skilled knifemaker, in opposition to the typical “catalog” blade purchase that many of us make, over and over again.

Meet Salome

However, while we explored this path, we found that the topic is MUCH deeper.

A custom blade starts with understanding your needs, defining your goals and then establishing a solid communication path with the knife maker you’ve chosen to craft your blade.

Knife making is a passionate thing and it’s passionate on both sides. The Knife Maker invests a part of his soul into that blade’s crafting.

The Purchaser invests a part of his/her dreams and aspirations into the project as well, along with a substantial amount of cash.

Beyond the possession of the required skills and tools to actually craft a fine blade out of a piece of raw steel (called a “blank”), it’s the communication between knifemaker and customer that insures a quality product is produced that fulfills the needs of the customer.

To most of us, a custom knife is a turning point in our lives. It’s almost a rite of passage. It’s an “investment” in our futures. It’s an opportunity that many of us will never get.  On our journey, we learned that it can be a very emotional event.

To the knifemaker, it may well be “just another knife”.  He or she is in business to craft knives. It’s how they keep the lights on. The key is to find a knife maker who is as passionate about your blade as he/she is skilled.

The goal, I suspect is to create a working relationship with your knifemaker that insures success, one that is fueled by the sharing of insights, ambitions and knowledge on both participant’s parts.

A custom knife is a very personal thing. I don’t think that most of us realize just how personal they are, until you’re having one made for you. Fine blades aren’t simply “made”. I suspect that they’re born, in a union of desires and emotions, focused into actions.

We recently took this journey as  we explored the knife-building world. It was quite an illuminating trip.

Stay tuned as we share that journey with you…


Here’s the TBE Tip of the Day:

Got Oranges?

Got Olive Oil?

Got a Match?

Guess what? You got LIGHT!