Snow on the Mountains


Snow on the Mountains

This is what we’ve been waking up to for the past week. So far it melts off by mid-morning but almost every night the snow returns. Soon it will refuse to leave.

Today on the other hand was warm, and rainy, and windy. The rain didn’t amount to a lot and the warmth was appreciated. I cleared up and was nice in the late afternoon. I could use another month of warm weather. We’re at that point in the fall where we can see winter’s gaping white maw but still have a long todo list we want to finish before the icy days lock things down.

Outdoors: 63°F/39°F Rain followed by Sun and lots of wind
Tiny Cottage: 60°F/56°F

Daily Spark: Chaos and the selection of possibilities from the multitude of randomness is the foundation of evolution, improvement, free markets and what leads us away from heat death, stagnation and totalitarianism.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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19 Responses to Snow on the Mountains

  1. David lloyd Sutton says:

    Your daily spark is often inspirational. And sometimes a tad chaotic. Enjoy the advent of the glaciers, exulting in the access to . . . coolth.

  2. PV says:

    Wowsa!!! Snow! Well Im thinking warm thoughts for you so you can have time! I just caught up on reading all about your building. Glad your still making progress. Soch a huge project! I cant imagine doing somthing so big or complicated! Love the piggy pix!

  3. Eric Hagen says:

    How does it lead away from heat death? The others make sense, but I thought chaos is what leads to heat death. Particles and waves chaotically interacting and bouncing off each other, passing on part of their energy, until they all have the same energy. At this point differences in energy can no longer be exploited to do work. Small systems of higher orderliness can be built, like crystals and cells, but within the entire system entropy is always rising. Am I off the point?An aside: I think it’s neat to think about cell functions in the context of chaos. All the molecules vibrating around in a cell, bouncing off of each other chaotically. Some of the molecules selectively interact instead of bounce, and from that principle, occurring on larger and larger scales, order and life is built.

    • Hmm… I see chaos and heat death as being different things. Chaos is the lack of rigid order. The surprise and ah-ah! Heat death is the extreme where all are equal – true Communism in the physics world. :)

      • Eric Hagen says:

        Hm, I guess I do see them as different too, at heat death there is no chaos. I see chaos as something like the static noise on an empty TV channel, or the mixing of different colored sands. The selection of possibilities out of the noise is what creates heterogenous pockets of higher order. I think this is where I’m confused. Creation of order is a movement away from heat death, but, as I see it, only within a small defined system. For example, the growth of an organism is a process of creating order out of the chaos, but this can only happen through the breaking of molecular bonds and capturing of the released energy. More order has to be destroyed to create new order, and so in the aggregate the universe is closer to heat death, and communism, through the growth of the organism. Anyways, I like playing devil’s advocate and getting to the bottom of things, but that can take away from the truth, which is that I really appreciate the daily spark! It got me thinking, which is I think the point. Hmm, it strikes me that without the selection of possibilities out of the multitude of randomness, the universe would just be a big uniform blob of energy and matter until it reached heat death, where it would be another big uniform blob. This selection of possibilities and creation of localized order is what creates the heterogeneity of the universe that makes it so interesting and beautiful. It’s like static noise slowly turning to uniform grey versus a movie slowly turning to uniform grey. Most of the time I would choose the movie. I think I just told you what you already knew. Either that or I spewed nonsense. Thanks for sparking some thought.

          • Eric Hagen says:

            You know, something I’ve been thinking about lately, without anybody to observe it, is one of those versions of the universe better than the other? I’d like to say that the beauty is better than the static noise, but I can’t get a satisfying answer as to why when they both end in communism. This wouldn’t be a question if the mere existence of beauty had inherent worth, but I can’t wrap my head around how that’d be possible out of the scope of the human perspective. I’ve thought of something akin to a Pascal’s wager, but that was never very satisfying either. This is probably beyond the scope of a friendly comments section exchange, so feel free to withhold clearance. I always think it’s interesting to hear other’s thoughts though.

          • Better is a highly opinionated, relative thing – very personal. To me, this Universe is better than the static just as I prefer Owl City over white noise. But then I prefer white noise over city traffic and that’s going the other way… This suggest that organization is not always beauty.

          • Eric Hagen says:

            I like that insight that organization isn’t always beauty. But that first part, that better is highly opinionated and very personal, is what get’s my interest. We as people don’t always listen to and follow that, even when we proclaim its truth. We act as if there are some universal goods and bads. Religion and spirituality allow these beliefs and the security they give to be justified. Many atheists still believe in universal goods and bads. Like that beautiful relationships (parent-child love) are good, murder is bad. A pig being able to be a pig is good, a pig living in confinement and fed what makes it sick is bad. But if better is just preference and only pertinent to the individual, these ideas can fall apart. Does this imply that our actions should only be to maximize our own happiness, regardless of the effects. Surely one would want to maximize the good effects of one’s actions and minimize the bad. But what does this mean when better doesn’t exist outside of your own preference? Can something be good if it doesn’t make you happy or better off? Can something be bad if it does? It feels secure to be purposeful, and striving for the ‘greater good’ feels purposeful as opposed to striving for one’s own happiness (though that may involve making others happy). Does this imply feeling purposeful is a justifiable purpose, that seems wrong. I would want there to be good and beauty outside of myself and my own preference, but wanting something doesn’t make it reality. This is kind of where I’m stuck thinking at the moment. In a good way though, I think the myriad of implications are really interesting. It is possible to not understand things, but that possibility isn’t a reason to stop thinking about something. Well, maybe not yet anyway. Reading this again, I assumed that people want to feel purposeful and don’t find fulfillment out of seeking their own happiness and idea of better. Those are probably more personal than universal.

          • Eric Hagen says:

            I uh, think these thoughts could be taken to a rather hopeless point, and so I think it’s unfair to leave them so open ended. If I were to be convinced that good and bad don’t exist beyond what gives me pleasure and happiness, which is where this could be taken, and if I find this notion empty and hopeless, that could be potentially depressing. (This line of reason really only applies if I need reason beyond my own happiness, which many people do and many people don’t). The reasoning so far is this: If one hypothetical version of the universe (static noise versus beautiful movie) is not better than the other beyond how it effects me personally, it would seem that my actions, which affect the universe and it’s inhabitants, don’t matter. I can’t make good and bad actions beyond how they affect myself in the short and long run. The effects of my actions are changes to the universe. I would then have to, and I have, remind myself that this is hubris. I’m giving myself way too much credit. A fairly universal human capability is being able to believe something with 100% certainty and be wrong. A stupid example: a couple hundred years ago and less, many people 100% believed that evolutionary forces did not exist (Walter’s pig breeding points otherwise). And even if they didn’t actively disbelieve, many people had no conception of the idea. A related note, we can’t conceive of what we cannot conceive, until we conceive of it. e.g. An ant has no conception of the roundness of the world, but the world is still approximately spherical. Ergo ipso facto columbo oreo, we can never say that we fully understand reality.

            This is a comments section, so I’ll save the more nuanced version and cut to the skeleton. When I believe something with 100% certainty I have to remind myself that this belief in certainty is impossible. Taking this into account, let’s look at the two options. 1) Good and bad don’t exist as an intrinsic quality of the universe, my actions have no meaning. This means purpose, choice, and effects of my actions etc. are null, zero. 2) My choices do matter outside of myself. This would imply that I can increase the value of the universe, my choice to pursue good matters. Also, things can be good that make me unhappy and things can be bad that make me happy.

            For the statistically minded, the expected value of life is a positive value. For the non-statistically minded, there is some unknown chance that life is meaningless and some unknown chance that life is meaningful. We can never be certain of one or the other, which basically means that we can never allow ourselves to believe that life is meaningless. That’d be giving ourselves way too much credit.

            Some people are perfectly happy to believe life is meaningless, and I guess this all isn’t for them. I’m not sure where I fall on this spectrum.

            I realize that this expected-value, Pascalesque wager is a bit of a cop-out. I guess I take it as the lower bound of conceivable possibilities. The best we can do is to work within what we can conceive, and then attempt to understand more. Most of the time most people don’t worry about existential crises, but when I have it was good to understand that the worst I can conceive of is a positive expected value and that it would be hubris to consider any of my own convictions with 100% certainty. This is personal, but this idea let’s me counter apathy and hopelessness. To succumb would be putting too much stock in my ill-founded logic and emotions.

            I realize that this is now deep in the bottom of a blog on a random post and that most likely only 1 other person will ever read it, but it felt irresponsible to leave out. The implications from the ideas in my prior comments have left me with feelings of despair before, and I wouldn’t want to cause that in anybody else, no matter how small the chance. If anybody does read this and you find holes in my logic, I’d love to hear about them, I’m trying to find them myself.

            To Walter, I’ll cool it for a little while now. I realize that your blog is an unfair place to parse out my own thoughts. I do find almost all that you do to be very interesting, so I’ll try to keep comments to the topic at hand.

          • Hmm… I like to increase the beauty of the Universe through selection (e.g., culling and selecting animals and plants), organization (e.g., arranging materials to build something, painting, words) and shaping (e.g., carving stone, etc). I have no problem with the subjectivity – I am perfectly willing to impose my sense of beauty on the universe as well as appreciating other people’s attempts to do similarly. Often they over lap.

        • order and chaos, death by heat or otherwise,… are all details. Richard Feynman captured this well (imho) when he said that he sees the beauty in the flower, just as the laymen, …additionally, he tells us that he is able to also see the flower as an instance that can be explained, an illustration if you will, a proof if you insist!, … of the understanding mankind has of the observable reality that surrounds us. It adds! (this understanding)….to our pleasure of being here while enjoying the flower…it does not subtract :-). So there you have it.. Life is life, and it doesn’t bother that we are there, or that some were here before us. But that we know, ourselves, that we are there!, and that those before us were,… is of a beauty beyond compare, …and that this knowing…just adds to the pleasure. Now this thing called communism, doesn’t appreciate the that which should only be observed, it wants to govern.. :-( However Nature doesn’t govern, and so government should be seen as unnatural order for a species that developed in a natural setting? Which just means…who are we? What are we? …and can we ever know completely?

  4. Anika says:

    Hi Walter,
    I have been trying to get into pigs the past couple years. However I have bought three bred sows that were not bred (one which has now gone to freezer camp). The people I bought the latest two from are pig people and have been doing this for over thirty years, they said they saw them breed but yet four and half months later, no litters. I know their boar is fertile because he has definitely bred the gilt I raised from weaner-hood. Also these sows have farrowed once already so there shouldn’t be an infertility problem there either. Could the stress of the move have made the sows abort? Were they ever pregnant? What is your stance on buying bred sows/gilts? In my very, very limited experience I have had more success raising weaner gilts and breeding them myself then buying a full grown supposedly bred one. What are your thoughts? Am I doing something wrong? Thank you in advance!

    • Three times is beyond bad luck. It sounds like you have a disease or toxin problem in your soil or feed. There are a number of diseases that can last in the soil that will cause abortions and litter loss. Various molds produce toxins that can also do this. These won’t hurt larger pigs like growers, finishers and sows or boars but they will kill part or all of the fetuses in litters during gestations.

      You’ll need to do the math to figure out the break even point for keeping your own breeder animals. What weaner piglet buyers don’t see is that there are losses such as what you are seeing during gestation, at farrowing, before weaning and at weaning. Keeping your own breeders means maintaining the breeders year round and that generally requires two litters a year or more to justify. A sow can produce 12 to 30 piglets a year. Do you need that many? With a single sow it is hard to justify a boar so that means renting a boar (biosecurity hazard and cost) or doing Artificial Insemination (AI) with its associated costs. The rule of thumb is that to justify a boar on pasture it takes about three sows producing two litters a year, on grain it takes six sows. Do out a business plan figuring in your costs to see where your break even point is vs buying spring piglets. You may be interested in the article “Have You Got the Right Stuff to be a Breeder?

  5. Anika says:

    Thank you for your reply! Can you do anything about these toxins in the soil? Is there a way to test and eliminate these toxins?I have had a sow farrow on our property and like I said my gilt is very pregnant and due next week. Did the toxin not affect them?

    • There are lab tests for mold toxins, viruses and bacteria. If it is bacteria or viruses in the soil then usually it is a matter of time without hosts to wait for them to die off. The molds in feed are a matter of proper feed storage and not using spoiled feeds.

      When we sell guaranteed bred gilts and sows I keep them until they are strongly showing their pregnancy, preferably in their last trimester.

      Hopefully your gilt will be fine. If she is due next week and very pregnant looking then maybe this time things will turn around. Best of luck!

  6. Just checking in Walter, glad to see all is moving ahead and as usual you are still giving great advice to new pig owners. We are seeing so many more folks who want to raise their own meat but with few resources to help them. I continue to point them your way!

  7. BJ Taylor says:

    hello, I just found your site today. I’ve never raised pigs & my husb & I want to learn how to raise in order to put meat in the freezer. one of my initials dilemmas is the land. I have an area about 3 acres very well fenced that my goats have cleared. I have 8 goats & I need to thin them down to 4 very soon. this land does not have pasture, but does have a fair amount of oak trees (therefore acorns in the fall). I live in hot/dry Texas. does it sound feasible to run two pigs in this fenced area w/the goats/chickens & provide them w/feeding once or twice a day? if I need to post such questions in another location – my apologies. where do I need to post such thing? your site is so chock full of information & i’m just beginning to sort through it. btw, it’s amazing to see your pics w/snow & read your expectations of winter while we’re still hitting 80 sometimes.

    • Yes, the catch is from what I’ve read about goats they’ll scarf up the pig feed. I would suggest setting up managed rotational grazing – it’s simple and easy to do. See these articles to start with. You may need to setup a creep to keep the goats out of the pig feed.

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