Bruce Beach Nuclear Survival Resources & Ark II Fallout Shelter Site
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Nuclear Survival in

This is the nuclear target map for Washington, but remember, fallout can go anywhere or everywhere (and probably will). After you have looked at this map look at the Information for Washington that follows it.

This link will take you back to the Index of all the States

Nuclear Weapon Target Map for Washington (FEMA-196/September 1990)Washington targets

UPDATE to Target Information!!!

Information for Washington

This link will take you back to the Index of all the States

It is recommended that you go through the following 10 steps in studying about the nuclear threat to Washington.

1. Look at the State Map above to see the target nuclear areas in Washington.

2. Look at the general expected fallout map to see where Washington
(according to the prevailing wind pattern)
gets fallout from other states.

3. If the state that you live in is anywhere EAST of any of the following 6 states in the prevailing wind pattern then look at the states in RED on the INDEX of STATES for

  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Missouri
  • Colorado

  • These six states contain what is called DENSE PACK which I explain on each of those states pages. UNDERSTAND that the wind pattern COULD at that time be something other than the "prevailing" wind pattern.

    4. Bookmark the present URL or make a copy of this present address so that you can come back to it after going to

    Blast Mapper.

    This mapper is on someone else's web site so that you will need to save this address in order to return here if your back button doesn't work. However, you want to be sure to go the mapper site and calculate the damage to probable targets (cities) around you.

    5. Memorize the THREE top rules for survival. They are:

  • Number One - Get out of the cities!

  • Number Two - Get out of the cities!

  • Number Three - Get out of the cities!

  • 6. The follow-on rules are:
  • a. Have a shelter
  • b. Work with a group (you are going to need the manpower, brainpower, and skillpower).
  • c. Stock supplies.

    7. My Survival Web Page contains links to lots of other information such as free books to download about nuclear survival, links to plans for building shelters, and even free consultation about building a shelter.

    8. If you are SUPER concerned about nuclear survival you might consider joining the

    Ark Two Community.

    9. If you like, you can look at our Honor List for groups that we know of that have an existing rural location. Most of these, however, have no direct interest or preparation in regards to nuclear survival. At the bottom of this page is a Directory of our contacts in Washington. Many of the local entries for states were listed because of their Y2K concerns and may not have any nuclear concerns.

    10. And finally, if you wish to be on the mailing list for my irregular newsletter in which I analyze current events in regards to the nuclear threat, you can sign-up here:

    This link will take you back to the Index of all the States

    Link to the Directory for Washington

    The following is the most commonly used prevailing wind predicted fallout pattern, but remember, fallout can go anywhere or everywhere (and probably will).

    Continental US Fallout Pattern for Prevailing Winds (FEMA-196/September 1990)

    This link will take you back to the Information for Washington

    This link will take you back to the Index of all the States

    The Directory for Washington

    Washington State STATE Index

    Washington State (Bellingham) Sacred Sweat Lodge
    Washington (Deming) Number of acres not indicated
    Washington (Olympia) Doing land search
    Washington State (Seattle)
    Washington (Snohomish) No land yet.
    Washington State (Spokane) (Shekhina Canyon) State TEAM Leader
    Washington (Twisp) No land amount indicated
    Washington (Klikitat) Well established facility
    WASHINGTON (Other)

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    62. Washington State (Bellingham)

    Single, self-employed, master food preserver, seamstress. I am a Pipe-carrier and pour water in the Sacred Sweat Lodge and have taught English and math. Looking for connection with like-minded people to prepare for the earth changes and economic upset that is coming all too soon.

    Barbara Richards

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    163. Year 2000 Preparedness Council

    Seattle, Washington
    Anita Kulp

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    63. Washington State - Spokane (Shekhina Canyon)

    Building an intentional community in Eastern Washington, emphasis on sharing info on survival skills, food/herb gardening, preparing and long-term storing of foods, living off-grid, alternative medicine, and living "At-One" with each other. Our intention is to create a "Care-N-Share" system, where each person lives with a "chosen" family, with all the warmth and compassion, disagreements and solutions that would be expressed in any family. We hope to support each other in trials and triumphs of all aspects. Here are my URLs to tell you more about it.

    Shekinah is also the
    Washington State TEAM Leader
    TEAM stands for Together Everyone Achieves More
    The TEAM Leaders function is to tell you of other individuals in your geographic area, who are preparing and who would like to form a preparedness group or start a survival community.
    The TEAM Leader sends the following information:

    Cedar Village (Forming)
    22110 East Lost Lake Rd.
    Snohomish WA 98296
    Contact us at 360-668-2043
    email to:

    Golden Octave Light Depot [9/28/98] (Forming)
    14615 S. ben Apple Road
    Edwall, WA 99008
    email to:

    Songaia Cooperative (Forming)
    Bothell, WA - (Michelle Grandy questions and Contact) (Scott Babcock: Linking and Tech)
    River Farm Community Land Trust
    3231 Hillside Road
    Deming, WA 98244
    (360) 592-5222

    Ekone Ranch and the Sacred Earth Foundation
    Goldendale - (

    Windward Foundation
    55 Windward Lane
    Klickitat, WA 98628
    (509) 369-2000 - e-mail to:

    Leavenworth Cohousing [9/15/98] (Forming)
    204 West St.,
    Leavenworth WA 98826
    (509) 548-5496, fax 548-7167 -
    e-mail to: Carl Florea -
    Web site maintained by volunteers in northwest cohousing,
    who can be reached at:

    Evergreen Ecovillage [9/15/98] (Forming)
    Olympia, WA
    Contact: Joanne Lee, (360) 352-3856
    Web site maintained by
    volunteers in northwest cohousing,
    who can be reached at:

    RoseWind, [7-7-98]
    Port Townsend,WA -
    e-mail to: Jenny Pack -
    e-mail to: Lynn Nadeau -
    e-mail to: Michael J. Pruitt/Sandra J. Stowell -
    e-mail to: Jodi Lehman -
    Webpage Author: S. J. Stowell -

    Ciel, Seattle (Forming)
    e-mail to:
    e-mail to:
    (Odysseus - maintains webpage)

    Goodenough Community, Seattle
    2007 33rd Avenue South
    Seattle, WA 98005 (206) 323-4653 Fax: (206) 322-3279

    Puget Ridge Cohousing
    Seattle, WA
    Tom Whitmore (206) 763-2623
    e-mail to: Marci Malinowycz -

    Seattle Cohousing [8/1/98] (Forming)
    Seattle, WA
    Leslie Schneider (206) 783-4762
    Jim Ploger (work) (206) 783-4762
    e-mail to:

    Sharingwood Cohousing
    Snohomish County
    (360) 668-0564.
    e-mail to: -
    Forested land above the Snoqualmie River

    Deschutes Cohousing Tumwater
    (360) 786-8265 e-mail to:
    e-mail to: Methow Center of Enlightenment
    P.O. Box 976 Twisp, WA 98856 (509) 997-3147 -

    Troutlake, WA. The Self Mastery Earth Institute.

    Vashon Cohousing [8/1/98] (Forming)
    Vashon, WA
    Vashon Island (near Seattle)
    (206) 463-4053
    e-mail to: -

    Maxwelton Creek Cohousing [9/15/98]
    Whidbey Is., WA
    near Langley on Whidbey Is.; Status - 21+ acres under construction;
    private -acre lots plus 19 common acres, PRD; 7 households
    Heidi Morford (206) 726-0123
    6048 Cascara Way, Clinton WA 98236, e-mail to:
    Web site maintained by volunteers in northwest cohousing,
    who can be reached at: Winslow Community
    Winslow, WA

    Your contact for the Washington State TEAM Leader is:

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    252. Cedar Village

    Cedar Village

    Cedar Village: A permaculture community, retreat center

    If you are seeking to find your tribe, to find a connection to the land, and to create a living example of a better way to live, join in a dialog with us. We are experienced communitarians forming a permaculture based community that someday will host guests in a retreat/learning center.

    Permaculture is designing our homes to integrate other living systems, both argicultural and natural. Community is living, working together and sharing resources and lives. The retreat center is about hosting guests and visitors and providing a space for learning to occur.

    We are looking to locate in western Washington, and have begun holding orientation and vision sharing meetings. We are kid friendly, consensus based, nature students and gardeners, envision small private homes, some shared homes, a large community center, growing food and homegrown businesses. Looking for 12-14 committed people to get started.

    We are looking for people who have experience living in intentional communities, and who love nature, gardening, and outdoors work. We will not begin looking for a site until we have 8 partners signed on. This is a long term project with a vision and operating goals that span 100 years. For more details about our vision, make contact.
    Write to us:
    Cedar Village
    22110 East Lost Lake Rd.
    Snohomish, WA 98296

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    267. Evergreen Ecovillage

    Evergreen Ecovillage

    want Olympia area; recruiting, land search, financial planning; 6 current households, 18-25 total

    Joanne Lee
    (360) 352-3856
    Olympia, Washington

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    268. Methow Center of Enlightenment

    Methow Center of Enlightenment

    The Holy Wise Ones have designated Methow as a major spiritual center in development upon this planet. It is the responsibility of each spiritual group upstairs to position their ground ambassadors, aligning them with their spiritual center of choice. It is unfortunate that so few can actually align with these centers, and ironic that the future of mankind lies in back country rural areas where natural uncontaminated resources are plentiful.

    Our inter-dimensional celestial project in north central Washington is designed to be a major Communications Command Post, Cultural Development Learning and Healing Center for all who have access to it. Space people (U.F.O. intelligences) from all dimensions will come and go freely from this Celestial City location.

    We are reaching out to gather as many as Divine Guidance and time allow (Earth and economic changes); our goal is 2000 settlers. At Methow there are no rules or regulations of any kind, since the whole valley is our spiritual center, including everybody in it. It is a clean, simple plan, approved by the Holy Wise Ones, and allows for every one to do their thing naturally, finding their way in their own time.

    Methow Center of Enlightenment
    P.O. Box 976
    Twisp, WA 98856
    No email address known

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    Washington (Deming) Number of acres not indicated

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    269. River Farm

    River Farm

    We live in the Pacific Cascadia bioregion in the northwest corner of the United States, and are one of the five communities in the Evergreen Land Trust. Eight adults and three young people live here, and there is some turnover.

    Our community is maintaining protected wildlife areas; practicing organic, ecologically sensitive farming; and acting as an educational source for the com-munity and each other. Our farm is a mixture of forest, gardens, and fields. We also have sensitive areas of marsh and streams, a good size river, and mountainside.

    We value independence and practical homesteading. We help each other with living, and work to improve our communication skills. We are open to written correspondence, and endeavor to network with similar folks -- especially those battling clearcuts near your land, as we are. Summer intern positions possible. Please, mail inquiries only.
    River Farm Community Land Trust
    3231 Hillside Road
    Deming, WA 98244
    No email address known

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    24. Windward

    Greeting's from wintery Windward :-) Time to put another log on the fire, pour a cup, and take some time to share with you what's happening at this end.

    Every one of the twelve winters we've spent here has had its own distinct characteristics, but all in all, this has been a middle of the road sort of affair. I should add, "at least so far" since winter is a long way from over, and there are certain to be surprises yet to come before the spring flowers return in April.

    Still, it's easy to feel in January that we're past the worst of it, since its the transition into winter that puts the strain on the group, not actual winter itself. As the hard frosts come, we work to finish securing the living quarters by putting plastic up on the windows, checking pipe insulation and preparing shelters for the animals. By the new year, that work is pretty much done, and it's just a matter of nestling down with a good book to wait it out and rest up for spring.

    One of the reasons we discourage visitors in the winter is that it's a demanding time of year if one isn't prepared, but also because it's our time as a group to recharge and prepare for the year to come.

    The longer we live close to the land, the more our schedules conform to the day cycle. In the summer, that means rising early to do things before the day heats up. Some may value the quality of their lifestyle by the amount of stuff they can acquire; we tend to value instead the amount of nap time we can get in on a summer afternoon.

    Since most of us are from northern European heritage, there's always the problem of dealing with Seasonally Affected Depression. One of the insights we've arrived at is that we're just naturally constructed to sleep while it's dark, and one of the roots of systemic depression in modern society is simply a lack of sound sleep.

    The modern lifestyle requires people to get up at the same time each day, and to get by in winter on the same about of sleep as they get in summer. That's a cultural norm that's only recently (in terms of the human experience) come about, and most of us are ill-adapted to living an existence which doesn't take the seasonal differences into account.

    It's amazing how much of a difference it makes to be able to sleep until you wake up with the morning light. It's a simple thing, but it makes a profound difference in one's quality of life.

    When folks inquire about Windward, we're often asked something along the lines of "Does Windward provide therapy for people undergoing stress related disorders?" and my answer is usually something along the lines of "Not so that you'd notice." Getting enough sleep is part of what I'm talking about, as is nutrition and exercise. A person's psychological state is built on a foundation of flesh and blood, and if the body isn't working well, the spirit isn't going to work well either. No rocket science there.

    Windward lies on the east side of the Washington Cascade mountains. We're where the cold air of Idaho and Montana runs smack into the warmer, moist air coming in off the Pacific. The upshot is that we spend much of the month of December encased in fog. Some winters we've gone as much as three weeks in the fog before seeing the sun finally break through.

    One interesting thing about that experience is that a fog is only a cloud that's laying on the ground. In our case, we're 1,200 feet above the Klickitat river, and when we drive down the hill into the clear, it becomes obvious that we've been in a cloud. Somehow, that's psychologically different. Not sure why.

    By January, the season has pretty much cooled everything down, and we get our usual clear skies back. January is still the heart of winter, but icy, cold and bright is very different than icy, cold and dark.

    The biggest problem we're struggling with this year involves our water system. We're in the third year of unusually dry winters, with this year being the driest yet. Rainfall west of the mountains since last November has been less than half of average, and even more scarce on this side of the rain shadow.

    By this time of year, the rain has usually saturated our ground to the point where you have to be very careful where you drive. In a usual December, just venture off the hard-pack roadway, and you'll probably sink to the axles before you can say "don't do it."

    Since our primary well draws from the water held in the first thirty feet or so, it's replenished each year by the fall rains and winter snows. Only that's not been happening recently, and the production of our primary well has been falling off. In an ordinary winter, there's so much water in the canyon where our well is located that for a few months each winter we have what we call "Lake Windward"

    This year, "Lake Windward" is dry as a bone. Since we didn't need to wait until the well ran dry in order to appreciate how much we'd miss having water :-), we started work last spring on expanding our water options. We had a well that hadn't been brought on line before that's almost 200' deep, and tap into an entirely different water situation that wouldn't be affected by yearly precipitation cycles.

    We had that project underway when the loss of our kitchen forced us to divert work and resources away from the water system and into the new dining hall. So, now we have two necessary projects going forward. Given our limited skills and funds, we have a hard enough time doing one major project at a time :-)

    We had hoped that fall would bring enough rain to replenish the water table and provide at least a short term solution to the problem of our reduced water supply. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way, and now we're scrambling to bring part of the new water system on line in the old well in order to tide us over until all the snow finally melts. It's hard to realize when looking out at snow covered woodlands that the ground under that snow is still dry, and is going to remain dry until the melt comes.

    It isn't that the well we rely on isn't producing _any_ water, rather it's just not producing enough. The problem there is that the standard sort of pump that's installed in that well, a 1/2 horsepower submersible pump with a centrifugal pump head, isn't designed to deal with low-flow conditions. It's quickly pumping the well dry, and then just sits there trying to pump air.

    The type of pump we're going to install in the well we're working to bring online (we call it "the village well") is a solar powered type pump. Instead of pumping water by slinging it through thirteen progressive stages, these pumps are "positive displacement pumps" which shove the water forward in the same way that the fuel pump on your car shoves fuel to your carburetor.

    These solar pumps can be configured one of three ways: high pressure/ low volume, medium pressure/ medium volume and low pressure/ high volume. It's sort of like having first, second and third gear in your car. The engine turns over at the same RPM, but the speed/power output varies according to which gear you're in.

    "The Plan" (tm) is to install the new pump in the old well since it will deal effectively with the low flow situation we're stuck with until the spring rains come (keeping our fingers crossed for luck, of course). Then, once the water table has had a chance to recharge, we'll pull the solar pump, and install it in the deep well in order to be able to access that water source to irrigate next year's gardens.

    Each spring we bring more garden space into production, and this year we're looking forward to seeing things start to happen in the new "North garden." Shawn and Q have been burning up the remainder of the stumps, and it should be ready to till when the ground dries up in April.

    Three years ago we purchased a strip 150' deep by a quarter mile long which moved our northern boundary further back from the dining hall area. Part of that land is a broad, level bench which will add more than an acre of permanent garden when it's finally cleared and prepared. Converting a clear cut into a garden is a challenge, but the work is almost finished.

    We're looking at planting permanent crops like lavender, blueberries, holly and saffron. Those crops aren't as water intensive as tomatoes or corn, but they'll still need a certain amount of drip irrigation to get established and be fully productive.

    We didn't make as much progress on the dining hall as we would have liked before serious winter set in, but that seems to be the case every winter. The thousand dollar building permit put a real damper on our ability to get the roof onto at least the east wing of the building. As it is, we almost made it before an arctic front came down and sent the overnight temps down into the single digits.

    This is a shot of the east end of the new dining hall looking north. This room will ultimately be the "mud room" or entrance room, but come spring we expect to be using it as an initial kitchen as we work on the rest of the building.

    This is the north side of the "mud room." As you can see, we took advantage of the "openness" to locate the 15 Kw diesel genset before we poured the retaining wall that will turn this space into a power-room/root-celler. The door will be wide enough to get it out if we ever need to, but it sure was easier to set it in place using the backhoe, and then build the room around it.

    Now that winter's really here, we just focus on making sure that the animals have their food and water, and keeping the roads clear. With more than a mile of roads in daily use, that last bit is almost a full time job when the snow's falling. We use a scraper blade behind the Fordson tractor, which is effective for up to about six inches of snow, so we have to tend to that task right away before the accumulation gets out of hand and we have to turn to the snow blower to clear the path.

    The snow blower is self-powered and will handle snow up to a foot deep, but it only blows a swath some 24 inches wide, so just clearing out our 1/2 mile driveway involves some two and a half miles of travel. We've had to do that once or twice, and I can assure you that's the sort of experience that makes one get out there and hustle before the snowfall gets too deep for the tractor to handle.

    Heather is busy making more art pieces for the shows in the spring, and will have her firtst "new artist" show at The Dalles Art Gallery in June.

    Gina is finding buyers for some of our ducks, and dreaming about this year's garden. Her new woodstove is keeping her toasty warm, and allowing her to do some duck cooking while she putters around her place. The trick to successful self-reliant living is time management, and any time you can get a "two-fer," you're one step ahead.

    This is the ideal time of year to process the surplus ducks since there are no flies, and the temps are ideal for aging the meat before baking, but some of older birds need to be cooked down before ending up as duck soup, duck perloo or duck pot pie, and a pot simmering on the back of the woodstove is an ideal way to do that. Once the duck is reduced, and the bones are extracted, the concentrate goes into a freezable container and is set outside out of the dog's reach to freeze.

    The block of frozen duck is then stored away in the bottom of the chest freezer where it functions as a sort of thermal ballast. When the power goes out, and it does now and then, having fifty pounds of frozen duck soup in the freezer will keep the stored food from thawing for a considerable period of time.

    Holly is back from her holiday visit to southern Cal, and is whiling away the winter hours exploring new patterns for quilts that are being used in applications other than the standard bed quilt.

    Fern's getting ready to head down to Laughlin, NV for a bit of vacation. In the meantime, she's getting a kick out of being able to access cross-word puzzles via the internet. She's a fan of the New York Times puzzle, and now she can challenge herself to her hearts content.

    The arrival of the Internet and direct satellite TV hasn't lessened the peace and quiet we treasure so much here, but it has almost totally removed any sense of being isolated from the parts of the world that we each are interested. These days, we feel like we're truly enjoying the best of both worlds.

    Tamara's finished her first semester of college courses, and found that she especially enjoyed the introduction to pottery. Cindy's enjoying running the kitchen at one of the county's two Senior Center a couple of days a week, and is staying busy with all the many tasks that come with being the mother of an active 17 year old who's making the transition from high school to community college.

    Larry's down from Alaska and plans on giving us a helping hand with construction in the spring. With Bob1 returning in April, we have major ambitions regarding construction this spring.

    One of the paradigm changes that comes with adapting to the "Windward perspective" involves a shift from seeing progress as a linear path going from point A to point B, into seeing progress as an enlarging circle which steadily encompasses more and more of the essentials.

    In terms of simple math, if you double the diameter of a circle, you increase the enclosed area by a factor of four, so as Windward's circle of sustainability grows larger, it encompasses more, and that places new demands on our infrastructure and organizational abilities. In linear living, you go from one place to another place, but don't really change much other than your location. In our case, we stay in the same place, but that place is continually evolving. The difference may sound subtle, but it's the sort of difference that makes all the difference in the long run.

    Cindy and Bob2 decided that given the challenges involved in moving the goat operation to the new area, they wouldn't breed the does this season, and for the most part that worked. Still, bucks will be bucks, and a few of the does are starting to present a crop of kids. For the most part, we've made the decision to hold off breeding so that the kids don't come before the end of March since that makes the process much easier on everyone concerned, but sometimes it just doesn't work out that way.

    Joyce is awaiting the publishing of her next book just in time for Mother's Day. "Making Memories - Celebrating Mothers and Daughters Through Tradition, Craft and Lore" is a "compendium" of ways that mothers and daughters can use crafts and traditions to build connections between the generations. Her agent is currently shopping the audio rights, which would make this the first of her books to come out on tape - pretty cool!

    In the meantime, she's working on her next book which is based on the true story of some women who were stranded on an island in the Pacific shortly after the turn of the century. There are a number of things about the writing business which aren't obvious going in, and perhaps the most notable is the incredible length of time between selling an idea to a publisher and getting a royalty check. Going almost two years between paychecks is a tough way to make a living. One option is to have a number of books in the pipeline, something which is much easier said than done.

    For Windward's four-legged crew, winter is often a time of passing. This is our thirteenth winter on site, and so the last of the goats and sheep who formed our initial herd are finally passing on. In a commercial herd, once a doe or ewe is about six years old, she's replaced by her daughter, but Windward uses something of a "tenure" system in that once an animal becomes part of the team, they're welcome to live out their natural life here.

    We don't afford "tenured" status to just everyone, and in fairness it's more of a relationship issue than anything having to do with productivity. We strive to ensure that everything we do, and that includes animal husbandry, is progressing down the road to sustainability, but it's also a fact that the emotional dimension of animal husbandry is a key part of what makes Windward work over the long haul.

    We care for our animals in the sense of feeding and maintaining their well-being, but we also care for them in the sense that their personalities and agendas form an authentic part of who we are and what we do. While a eight year old doe or a nine year old ewe might not be as efficient a producer as a two year old, we feel that their contributions to the program and their connection to the community more than make up for any such shortfalls.

    We don't hesitate to cull on attitude, and critters who aren't willing to get with the system soon find themselves in the back of the truck on the way to the sale. One result of a decade of such selectivity is a four-legged crew that is low-maintenance and good company.

    This week, one of our founding does passed on. Starry was a doeling that Bob2 and I found at a livestock auction. I was looking through the pens when she just jumped right up and whispered in my ear that she was going to be a great goat, and that we'd sure be lucky to have her in our herd. Turned out she was right.

    Tracking down her lineage, we learned that she was the third daughter of a herd queen out of Washougal, Wa. They didn't need to keep all three daughters and Starry was the one who got sent to the sale. Starry never tried to become herd queen herself, and she never seemed the least bit interested in the on-going caprine obsession with pecking order. She was a pecking order of one, and always seemed to be above that sort of thing, not wanting to be dominated, and wasting no time trying to dominate others. She was very special and we'll miss her.

    We have a special part of Windward that is set aside as our burial grove. As Bob2 and I were digging a grave for Starry, we were sorry to note that the winter moisture had only penetrated down to a depth of about a foot and a half. Below that it was dry dirt, a troubling indicator of how dry this coming summer is going to be.

    Anybody got a good recipe for peacock? Most flocks or herds have a structure in which the females are grouped in the center, while the adolescent males form an outer ring, an arrangement which helps protect the hens, does, cows, etc. from predators who are going to encounter the out-lying males first.

    There's a band of a half dozen adolescent male peacocks who've decided that moving to Windward sure beats flying south for the winter. They make for colorful company, but as uninvited guests often do, they're wearing out their welcome.

    The ducks get a winter ration of soaked grain, and lately they've been getting pretty tired of having the peacocks muscle in on their lunch. From a duck's perspective, peacocks are really big birds with a wickedly sharp beak, so the ducks usually beat a hasty retreat and let the peacocks eat their fill.

    Now that the peacocks have been fattening up on our grain for a few weeks, we're figuring that it's about time to invite one of them up the hill for dinner, a project which I'm reminded of every time one flies up on top of my trailer and starts stomping around overhead while I'm trying to write.

    One of the funniest things about the peacocks is to watch them doing their best to impress the duck hens and intimidate the drakes with their plumage displays.

    All creatures that gather in flocks or herds have a keen interest in the pecking order and their place in it. The primary difference you see from species to species involves how the individuals establish and maintain their status within the group.

    There are two primary ways that critters compete for status: agonic and hedonic. The first is the most common way; it describes a social ranking system that's determined on the basis of strength and power. Males fight with other males for primacy, and females compete in more subtle ways with other females for control. The winners get the best mates and food, and the losers do the best they can while maintaining the hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

    The hedonic system has to do with ranking that derives from one's ability to show off and maintain the interest of the group. In situations which are stark and demanding, you see the agonic form of association, but when conditions are such that life isn't an every day struggle to survive, you start to see some hedonic social structuring express itself.

    The reason that chimpanzees make good performers in the entertainment industry is because they're hedonic by nature. They gain status amongst their peers by performing, and they really do perform for the sake of the applause. Gibbons and baboons, on the other hand, are agonic. They dominate each other by threat of physical violence, and aren't the slightest bit interested in performing for the sake of the spectators. If they want your approval, they'll beat it out of you.

    Well, the point of this is that ducks and chickens are agonic. The "sport" of cockfighting came about because that's what roosters do anyway. Left to their own devices, they'll fight each other to the death, and thereby maintain about a 5 hen to 1 rooster ratio all on their own. If you watch closely, you'll see that it's actually a 10 to 1/1 ratio; i.e. there's an alpha rooster in charge with a beta-rooster waiting in the wings for the day when the alpha-rooster slips up.

    Nature produces males and females in equal numbers, and in migratory animals, the extra males provide cover and protection for the females. In territorial animals, extra males strain the carrying capacity of land, and so there's a lethal competition to see who gets "voted off the island." In the natural calculus, it's better for the genes if the available food supply is consumed by a hen laying eggs rather than by a non-breeding male.

    In commercial operations that want fertile eggs, they maintain a 10 to 1 rooster/hen ratio since they don't need to keep a lot of "spare" roosters "on call." It turns out to be a fairly peaceable arrangement since each of the roosters knows which ten hens are his responsibility, and at a 10/1 ratio, they just don't have enough energy left over to fight very much.

    Birds don't have much of a sense of smell, so they don't recognize each other by scent like dogs or cats might, but their eyesight is exceptional and they seem to know each other by facial recognition. Sometimes when a rooster is on top of a hen, another rooster will run over, lower his head and look at the hen's face from about an inch away. Sometimes he'll plow into the rooster and there'll be a big fight, and other times he'll just calmly walk away.

    If a rooster dies in a fertile egg operation, they gather up his hens and separate them for a week before returning them to the flock because otherwise the established roosters will continue to ignore them. After a week away, the link between the hens and the "former" rooster will have been lost, and the hens will be accepted into other groups.

    Ducks are also agonic, and like baboons, their societies are controlled by gangs of males who exert dominance over the duck-hens and run off the juvenile males. Early on, we did have some monogamous ducks who would go off together as a couple, but the coyotes and skunks are very fond of duck, so while that may be very romantic, it's not an effective survival strategy.

    Peacocks are very hedonic. Their whole social dynamic has to do with showing off their plumage, and may the best set of feathers win. Whereas the roosters kill each other off in spur to spur combat, the peacocks do it indirectly. By growing this massive feather displays, they slow down their ability to evade predators who are ready and willing to cull out the surplus males. The females figure, with good reason, that the survivor with the biggest and best feather display is likely to be offering a pretty good set of genes.

    So, here's the poor peacock doing his level best to impress and intimidate the drakes through this massive feather display, and despite his very best effort, the drakes were so absolutely unimpressed.

    We also see something similar when the bucks and rams tangle it up. Goats are very orthodox when they get down to the business of establishing dominance. It reminds me of a collegiate boxing match that's fought by very clear and binding rules, with referees and spectators there to insure that everything is done on the up and up.

    The sheep remind me more of professional wrestling. You can turn your back on a buck and the worst thing he'll do is come over and rub on you in an effort to mark you with his scent. Without those pheromones, the does won't come unto heat, so the bucks never miss an opportunity to "share."

    But don't ever turn your back on a ram. Like a gentleman, a buck will wait until you're ready to look him in the eye before hitting you, but most rams have no such scruples. They'll nail you from behind, and can do real damage.

    That's one reason why we kept Lambie-Pie as our herd ram for so long, since his gentle and loving nature was something we wanted to breed for. We're pleased so see that his son, Warner, is a real sweetheart too.

    More than once, I've seen a buck assume the proper fighting position, only to be side-swiped in the ribs by a ram. When that happens, it's as though the buck's sense of decorum is more injured than anything else. They'll often look over at you with an expression of "Did you see what he did? He cheated!"

    And while the buck is getting all huffy about it, the ram will hit him again. At that point, the buck usually just leaves the field rather than lower himself to such unsportsmanlike conduct. Goats have a lot of pride; sheep don't.

    Modern commercial animal husbandry has dulled the natural instincts of birds that the homestead used to depend on to raise themselves. With the use of incubators and brooders, there's no premium placed on the hen's ability to set, hatch and care for a brood of chicks, and so that ability has become very weak in hatchery raised birds.

    Over the years, we've carefully selected for the hens who are good at the job of mothering, with the result that our birds are getting better at the task each year. Last fall, one hen hatched out a brood in mid October, and everyone shook their heads about the likelihood of any of those chicks making it.

    We're surprised and pleased to report that this earnest little hen has been able to keep five of her chicks alive, quite an accomplishment given the challenging early winter we've all been through.

    (there's actually five chicks in the picture; what looks like the forwardmost chick is actually two chicks standing very close together.)

    Well, I've rambled on quite a bit, so I guess it's time to wrap this up with the hope that winter's being kind to you. There's lots of snow and cold yet to enjoy before this winter's over, but whether it's a month more or two, there's always the assurance that this too shall pass and give way to the green hills of spring. There's such a deep and enduring comfort in that.

    With best wishes from Windward,


    55 Windward Lane
    Klickitat Washington 98628
    (509) 369-2000

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