Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I found a way to get stuff for free

Yes free stuff! I've started getting the parts together for the ugly gun project. I haven't paid one cent out of pocket either yet. If you follow my wifes blog you already know about swag bucks. My wife has been getting things like Coffee, sweetener, creamer, Spam, and buttermilk powder all for free.

Here's how it works. I do all my websearches from the swagbucks site rather than using google. Every search doesn't earn swagbucks they are  awarded randomly. I also take a few seconds to do the daily poll every day, which is worth one swagbuck. After doing the poll I look at the NOSO which gets another 2 points. Then if I have the time I'll do a survey or two. That's where I earn my swagbucks. I've actually gotten 250 swagbucks off a survey though 50-100 is more likely. My wife has found a way to watch swag Tv while doing her household chores, that's where she makes her swagbucks. By now you're asking just how does this amount to free stuff?  Well, you cash in your swagbucks for Amazon gift cards or paypal gift cards. Actually there are many different things you can cash them in for. My wife and I cash in for gift cards though. Now you may ask is it worth it? I earn $25 in Amazon gift cards most months and another $5-$10 in paypal gift cards. I'm spending maybe at most half an hour a day on the swagbucks site not counting searches. Also keep in mind I seldom use my favorites list anymore. Instead I search everywhere I want to go with the swagbucks search engine. Takes very little extra time, and I get paid to go to my favorite websites that way.

Now before I give you the link let me make a truthful disclosure. If you go to the swagbucks site and sign up without my link, it won't be any different than if you used my link, for you. However if you use my link I'll earn matching swagbucks for refering you for your first thousand points. Here's the link.

Now for another truthful disclosure. You will notice the occasional picture that takes you to in my blog now. Yes like many bloggers I've become an Amazon associate. If you click on my picture I will earn credit towards more amazon gift cards if you make a purchase. Here is my promise. I will not put a picture up of any product that I have not personally purchased and found satisfaction with. I will strive to purchase as often as possible American made products. If I can't find an item that is American made I will strive to find the same item made in a country with a standard of living, environmental rules, and quality standards similar to those here in the U.S.  I will only aquire items from China or similar countries after exhausting all other possible avenues.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

I just want to wish all my loyal followers a very Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's been a long time since I recomended a book

While at the library yesterday I spied on the new release shelf the book "American Pickers Guide To Picking" We only have basic cable here on the urban homestead. I've heard alot about the TV show, but, have only managed to see about ten minutes of an episode while visiting family. It's bad etiquete to visit just to watch TV. So, I didn't see much. The little bit I did see I enjoyed. I like the book so much I read over half of it last night. I never realized it, but, I am a "picker". I've always seen value in promising pieces of what others consider junk. I also learned a long time ago I could buy a whole pile of stuff for not much more than I would pay for one piece. Having learned this I know I can usually make a small profit or at least get the stuff I really want for free by selling off the extras. I have even managed to learn a few things from this book. Mostly how to deal with "pickees" as the authors refer to them. So, if you're like me and like finding treasure in other peoples junk. Check out "American Pickers Guide To Picking". I think you'll enjoy it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Check out the guys at The Frugal Outdoorsman

I found this site a few days ago. I'm pretty sure anybody that enjoys this blog will enjoy it too.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

The One Hour Gunsmith makes a score

Well my friends, the one hour gunsmith has another low budget project gun to play with. After many many years of being shotgun only, the state of new york has decided we can be trusted to hunt big game in certain areas of the southern zone with centerfire rifles. While I have a very nice Mannlicher style Interarms Mark X mauser in 7x57 to hunt with. I find myself shying away from taking it out in incliment weather. You see I was too young to purchase one when I first fell in love with that picture in the 1977 interarms catalog. So when one popped up on a local dealers shelf a couple years ago I grabbed it. The date code of 0477 stamped on the reciever sealed the deal for me. So after waiting so long to get it I don't want to abuse it. Add the fact that now the sidekick wants a rifle after shooting mine. And Pelenaka has decided she wants to hunt. So, we find ourselves needing a second rifle. A rifle I don't have to worry about. A gun that can be taken out in the rain, carried and possibly dropped by beginers. I set out calling around for a Handi Gun by New England Firearms. I found a few, but, with one exception all I found were in calibers more suited to varmints than big game. The one and only 30/30 I found was pretty overpriced for a second hand gun. On one call to my favorite dealer he suggested a cheap surplus mauser rifle. So, off to to look around. Didn't find much for a reasonable price after adding shipping and FFL fees. Then I got an email. The dealer that suggested a surplus gun picked up a collection of them. In the lot was a poorly sporterized BRNO VZ24 in 8mm mauser. Well friends we did some haggling and did some trading. In the end he got some non gun stuff of mine and I walked away with the ugliest gun I've ever owned. When this gun was captured and put away after the war the guy doing the cosmoline held her about 3" from the end of the barrel. How do I know? Because the marks of his fingers are still there lightly rusted to the finish. But, he did a good job with that cosmoline job. The inside of the barrel and action are in near mint condition. So my friends we have a gun project. More to come!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fishing is good!

Fully intended to take my daughter hunting this morning. We woke up to a downpour. Cold, windy and wet are not my ideas of good hunting weather. The deer only hole up in thier beds and the only shots are gotten by jumping them in thier bed. We decided to spend the morning in front of the wood stove rather than waste the gas driving 20 miles each way. By 9:30 the rain stopped. Instead of hunting we went and got some worms and headed out to a big pond in a local park. Due to work schedules we didn't get much fishing time in this year. We intend to not let that happen again. Ten minutes after we arrived there was honking in the distance. Shortly there was the first of four flocks of canada geese joining us at our pond. Again I found myself time traveling. When I started hunting it was on waterfowl. A love of owning and using vintage firearms soon ended that passion. Thanks to the mandate of steel shot. Now I find myself soon to be out of work, and having few prospects for full time work. Newer non toxic shot alternatives have been developed. None are cheap, but, some are downright gentle on those vintage gun barrels. There is a huge pile of cedar and basswood planks out in the shop. I think by next fall they could become a rig of hand carved dekes.

Yes fishing is good. It gives you time to put things in perspective. Life is good when your in the woods. The deer will still be there Thanksgiving morning. And we will be there with them


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Remembering "the Grove"

For whatever reason I have been taking little trips down memory lane in recent years. Maybe it's old age, maybe it's reflecting in comparason to current events. Mostly going to one place in time and one particular group of people. At the time I didn't realize the influence that group of people were having on me. Indeed to my peers of that era this group of people was to be despised or worse. We're travelling back to the 1977-79 time frame. Maybe it was my own families economic reality back then. We had just returned from NE Oklahoma. Tails between our legs and pretty much broke. I was in my mid teens and was repeating my freshman year of highschool. Times were tight and if I wanted anything of my own, it was up to me to get a job and get it for myself. Also because times were hard I was expected to pay my parents a portion of my pay towards household expenses. The solution to my problem was the Rochester "Times Union" newspaper.

My dad rented us an apartment north of Rochester on a bay of Lake Ontario. A fairly upscale suburb was developing thanks to the location. My paper route was mostly made up of what we would later come to call McMansions. However right in the middle of it all was a place known as "The Grove". The Grove was a little nieghborhood or community created during the great depression. A landowner about to lose his land leased a bunch of cottage building lots to other people whose economic reality wasn't a whole lot better than his. 40+ years after those leases were created The Grove had evolved into a group of about 12 little houses. It appeared as though the depression never ended  for most of the people living there. I learned quickly appearances don't always tell everything. I also learned poverty can be just a point of view. Frugality and living within your means can appear as poverty to some. I can remeber many cups of hot chocolate waiting for me on cold winters day. I remember being invited in to warm up next to woodstoves. I remember glasses of lemonade in summer, the real deal too, not fron a frozen can or worse a packet of powder. I remember Mr Johnson teaching me how to tune up a car on his 58 Biscayne. I remember being amazed that such a small 6 cylinder engine could even propel such a huge car down the road. I remember bags of tomatoes and other fresh vegetables being sent home with me. I remember Mr Johnsons old johnboat and the motor that bore the same name as his family. I'm sure that motor was almost as old as he was. I remember making extra money splittng firewood for people too old to do it for themselves. Often refusing payment, knowing I would leave with a full belly and/or a mess of fresh filleted fish.  Speaking of payment. I can't recall ever having to chase a resident of "The Grove" for payment for thier newspapers. Sure I remember being asked to collect once a month or biweekly. I always remember that envelope being on time, and more often than not there was a generous tip there too.  I can't say I have any of those memories from the more well heeled customers on my route. Just the opposite.

I have to wonder what the current generation could learn from a place like "The Grove".  Maybe they would decide to pool thier resourses and create a "Grove" of thier own to occupy rather than trying to occupy Wall Street. But alas, it's too late. The occupants of "The Grove" got even older, or moved away and "The Grove" lost it's battle with the McMansion movement.

And that my friends in my oppinion is where we really went wrong.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Got me a date with Bambi!

And I don't mean a stripper or porn star!

It's been a hectic month. Which I'll elaborate on later.

It's been all I can do to get to the range. Had a scope mounted on my little mannlicher stocked 7x57 mauser 98 last summer. Never got around to sighting it in. Went to the range two weeks ago and it wasn't even on the paper at 50 yards. The target backer was so shot up I couldn't tell where I was hitting. Went again last weds, only to get told the range was closed while the local police dept was practicing. Finally got there this morning with a little 1.5" dot on a 2x3 ft piece of paper. Found the girl was putting them dead on elevation, but, 14" to the left. Had to play with the rear scope ring to adjust that out. But, if I can see it, it's dead now. Next saturday is opening day. The freezer is low on meat and my wife will feed me nothing but beans if I don't shoot something.

Come on Bambi! We've got a dinner date!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Feedback please

Looking at the stats page it seems my most popular posts are the ones about amature gunsmithing. My most popular post is over two years old and is still visited daily. I've started the one hour gunsmith label and I am wondering how many of my followers would like it to become a regular feature. I intend to make these projects low budget is in under $100. Also as the title implies projects will be able to be completed in one hour, or be able to be broken down into one hour or less stages.

I will still continue my regular "How to's" and homestead life posts. I will just use the "One hour gunsmith" as a means of keeping the blog posts more frequent.

Also, go recrute me some followers people. I intend to do give aways at the 50 and 100 follower marks.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

The one hour gunsmith puts a new mainspring in a muzzleloader

The subject of todays project is a CVA Squirrel rifle that was built from a kit back in 1990. Over 20+ years the mainspring has gotten weak. Used only for target shooting witha 45 caliber barrel over those years a miss fire now and then was no big deal. This year I've decided it will be a squirrel killer and I have reinstalled the 32 barrel.

After making sure the gun isn't loaded, place the lock on half cock. Then partially loosen these two screws. when the screws are about half way out give them a light tap with the handle of your screwdriver. This loosens the lock from its mortise. When the lock is loose you can remove the screws completely.

Here is the backside of the lock showing the mainspring. Also shown is a replacement spring. Genuine CVA mainsprings bring $15 and up on ebay and you don't know thier history. The spring shown is a Traditions part. The Traditions spring is wider, but otherwise close enough to be an almost drop in part. It was also purchased at a gunshow new in it's package for under $6. The mainspring vice was borrowed from a friend.
After lowering the spring to it's fired position you can remove the spring. Here is the old spring in the vice. I've been told you should only use a proper mainspring vice to avoid breaking the spring. The new spring however had ideas of it's own. CVA left an oxide coating on thier spring and the vice was able to hold it quite well. The Traditions version was highly polished and between the extra strength and the polish it just kept slipping out of the vice. I ended up using a pair of needle nose locking pliers. Even using the pliers I had to use a file to roughen the surface so it wouldn't fly accross the room.
Here is the lock with the new spring installed. I got lucky and the inletting was sufficient to just reinstall the lock. The new spring was easily 30% wider than the old one. While I didn't have to make room for it, you may have to depending on your gun. Now it takes some serious effort to pull the hammer back. Thankfully this gun has set triggers otherwise I may have had to do some trigger work.
A gunsmith would have charged $30-$35 for this job. It cost me $6 and just over half an hours time.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Flatheads Forever!!

Before there was a homesteader.

Long before there was a urban homesteader.

Right about the same time there was a long haired kid hiding out in the woods and fields with a gun or fish pole.

There was a kid hanging out in garages messing with all things with engines. At one point there was a Ford pickup truck that was 25 tears older than me. A truck powered by the most magic of engines.

I just found this video and it took me back in time. Kinda makes me think a 34-39 Ford pickup would fit in my life again


Saturday, September 10, 2011


I purchased this from a coworker a couple weeks ago. He cleans out old houses and garages for extra cash. Usually he scraps all the metal stuff. This was parked in the weeds along side a very very old Troy Built. Supposedly they both ran two years ago. The Troybuilt only needed a new spark plug and fresh gas to run. This one has compression. Plug wire is bad, so I haven't checked it for spark yet.
It's a David Bradley Handyman tractor made in the late 50's and early 60's. This one has the tiller attachment on it. Also available was a snow blower and the usual assortment of 2 wheel tractor attachments. It wasn't very popular and was dropped after 6 or so years. It's smaller than the usual DB. I've been looking for a Planet Junior tractor to restore for a few years now. The handyman is about the same size and much rarer. I would apreciate hearing of attachments for this one if anybody comes accross any. This baby will be a long term project.

More projects in the works. This week we will make some low budget, off grid security lights.

Also in the works is a new gun project. Back in the late 80's I built a CVA Squirrel rifle from a kit. It has developed a weak mainspring and we'll be replacing it with a new one. Also when this gun was built it came with two barrels. I browned the 32 barrel first. It didn't come out as planned, while the 45 barrel did. Later after hunting season we will fix the nasty finish on the 32 barrel.


Low budget billy

I found this at a local thrift store a few months ago. Nice and light. I figured for .89 cents I'd take a gamble.

Big enough inside to hold a esbit stove and fuel with room to spare for spices. Good enough to heat soup or some beans during a cold hunting season lunch hour. I plan to add a coffee pot style handle to the side opposite the pour spout. When your spouse is of carribean hispanic descent, you get used to drinking the occasional cup of boiled coffee.
The alcohol burner came from a neighbors trash after a garage sale. Somebody paid $5.00 for the chafing dish it went to and forgot the burner. You can't see the flame here, but it is burning. First I tried rubbing alcohol with no success, which I figured would be the case. Rubbing alcohol has too much water in it. Best results have been with isopropyl dry gas. The perforated metal is a piece I usually use in my forge to stabilize my lead pot when casting bullets. One of these days I plan on building a hobo stove that will be able to use either the alcohol burner or twigs.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rain Barrel Building 101

As most of my followers know, I work in a "home improvment store". During the spring and summer months it's not unusual to get a phone call from the plumbing dept. Almost always it's a question about building rainbarrels. Most people are looking for what's called a bulkhead fitting, because they got barrel building instructions off the internet. Our store doesn't carry bulkhead fittings, so, plumbing sends the person to me and I try to give the person instructions to build a barrel my way. This usually pisses the person off, because they got instructions off the internet and it's got to be the only right way to do it.

So I'm going to put my way on the internet, so it can be acknowledged as being a correct way too. By the way I've sold these barrels to people that don't want to build thier own. I've never had a complaint about my design.

So, lets get started.

First of all. You do not ever want a bulkhead fitting! Not Ever! Why you ask?
1) They are expensive
2) They usually leak or start leaking soon after being installed.
3) To use them you have to cut the top of the barrel open. Which is a bad idea because it causes an evaporation problem. It's also a bad idea because it turns your barrel into a mosquito farm.

Materials for this project are:
1) Food grade plastic barrel. $5-$10
2) 1/2" Hose bib $5.30
3) 2-3" of 2" pvc pipe $2.90 for 2 feet
4) 2" pvc male adapter $1.14
5) 3"x2" pvc coupling $2.98
6) 1/2" nylon male x barbed adapter $.60
7) 4" square of fiberglass window screen material free from my scrap pile
8) A length of 1/2" garden hose, again from my scrap pile.
9) A tube of Rectorseal pipe sealant. Not sure of the cost, less than three bucks and it has built at least six barrels.

Tools needed are:
1) Electric drill
2) 3/4" spade bit
3) Hammer
4) Punch or metal rod

First make sure your barrel didn't have something nasty in it. Just because it's a food grade barrel, doesn't mean it didn't have some industrial detergent of something similar in it. This barrel came from a cannery and had 10% strength white vinegar in it.
Next use your hammer and punch to remove the bungs from the barrel. One of the bungs will have a 2" pipe thread and the other will have a thread that I have only seen on barrel bungs. I should add here that you should be sure to have the bung with the special threads when you select your barrel. Throw away the bung with the 2" pipe thread on it and screw in the 2" pvc male adapter. Now place your piece of screen on the 2" side of the 2x3 coupling. Use your hammer to gently tap the short piece of 2" pvc pipe into the 2" side of the coupling. Trim the excess screen away. You can also now put the bung with the special threads back in place. I try not to overtighten the bung in case I want to get it off again.

Now place the other end of the short pvc pipe into the 2" male adapter. You've now created a funnel to place you downspout into. The screen will keep out mosquitos and also prevent debris from your roof from getting in.

Stand your barrel in front of you with the funnel farthest away. I keep the funnel side to the rear for reference. Decide which side you want your overflow on. In the case of this barrel I put it on the right side. Drill a 3/4" diameter hole about 2" from the top of the barrel. Here I am using the metal threads of the hose bib as a tap to make threads for the nylon hose adapter. Be careful on this step. Pipe threads are tapered, if you screw the hose bib in too far, you will make the threads aversize and they won't seal well. Screw it in about 1/3 of the way in.

Coat the threads of your nylon barbed adapter with rectorseal and screw it into the threaded hole you just made. Rectorseal is the only thread sealant I've found that works well. The plastic these barrels are made of will not take glue. All your seals must be mechanical in nature.

Lay your barrel on it's back and drill another 3/4" hole about 8" from the bottom. Coat the threads of your hose bib with rectorseal and thread it into this hole. The location of this hole can closer to the barrels bottom. Locating the hole here leaves about 10 gallons in the bottom of your barrel. At this height you can still get a bucket under the hose bib, when the barrel is on a 4" concrete block. Also by leaving some water in the bottom, the barrel is less likely to be knocked over when it's empty. If you locate the spigot closer to the bottom, you will have to raise the barrel up higher to get a bucket under it.

Here is your finished rain barrel. Ready to put in place under your downspout. After you have installed it, put a length of hose on the barbed adapter. Use a hose long enough to get the overflow away from your house. If you need alot of water, you can use a straight adapter and connect a second barrel.  Now you have free water for the garden. Also when the municipal water has problems, or when the power goes out and the well pump won't run, you have water. The perfect companion to the water purifier we built last week.

Be Prepared

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Water filter update

So far so good! It works,

Water coming out has zero taste. Which is good, because my cities water has a strong chemical odor/taste.

Coffee made with this water has no bitterness. That's another issue with our cities water.

With only one filter candle it is slow however. About 1 liter an hour, When it gets down below 2 liters in the upper bucket it nearly stops dripping. If this became an issue, I would build a second unit rather than add a second filter candle.

For an upcoming project I will show you how I build a rain barrel for under $15.00.
Afterall, who wants to scoop water from puddles.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Water for all occassions

Pelenaka:  Know what we need? She says to me.
Me:  What do we need baby?
Her: A water filter. One of those countertop ones. Like in the Lehmans catalog.
Me:  Are you sure? They are pretty expensive.
Her:  Well what if the cities water was bad like in Rochester a few years ago.
Me: We could just boil water like everyone else.
Her: Well what if things happened and we needed water from any source.
Me:  Like a bugout situation?
Her: You know exactly what I mean.
Me: well a counter top unit wouldn't be very practical then, would it?
Her: We need to get prepared, it would be a big deal not to have water!

So, woodsrunner then did what he does best. Research and procrastinate.
I looked at just about every model of water purification made.
I read every product review I could find.
I looked at prices of the units.
I looked at the prices of the replacement parts needed to keep them going.
Then I searched the web for people making thier own units.
I found one home made one.

Then I decided the way to go was to make my own. And here's how I did it.

First what you'll need.
Two 8 liter food grade buckets, with lids that are snug, yet easy to remove.
I got mine from a local restaraunt supply for $6.00 each
A Doulton Super Sterasyl filter.
Mine came off ebay new for under $30.00 shipped to my door.
You will notice there is no spigot.
Remember I said I read all the reviews. Guess what breaks most.
Yup, that silly $3.00 spigot will leave you with a $200 counter decoration.

Tools are pretty simple.
A drill
A set of spade bits
An Exacto knife
A half inch bit was closest the the threads on the filter. I drilled a half inch filter in the bottom of one bucket.
I then used my exacto knife to trim the edge of the hole.

The filter was then installed, gasket on the inside under the filter, wing nut on the outside.
Careful not to over tighten. But be sure to get a good seal.

Then I used my largest bit to drill a hole in one of the lids.
As you can see the lid cracked when the drill broke through.
This could have been prevented by backing the lid with a piece of wood while drilling.
Again I trimmed the hole edges with the exacto knife.

Here it is stacked up ready to use.
After taking the reciept out of the bottom bucket that is.

Here it is nested together for storage when not being used.
Or if we had to bugout.
I'm sure Pelenaka will be more than happy to make a carry bag for it.

Why did I choose the components I did?
Without a spigot any larger bucket would be too heavy to pour into other containers.
I don't anticipate putting more than 6 liters of water through it.
Lifting 12 lbs of water sure beats lifting 40 lbs that 5 gallons would weigh
I don't trust the plastic that 5 gallon buckets are made from.
Leaving the spigot off also made it possible to nest the buckets when not in use.
I wanted to be able to see just how much we had. So clear or almost so was a must.
The filter was an easy choice.
 You could pour water from almost any source through the Doulton and it would come out drinkable.
It's the best you can buy.

Best part of all.
It cost under $50.00 to build it!

Be Prepared!

Monday, June 6, 2011

She said it followed her home!

Friday Pelenaka and friend stop at a barn sale out in the country. They found this. She says it just followed her home! I wonder where she learned that?

It looks to be in nice shape. There is more there than I've had in the past. The bad news. The leg on the left that is missing the foot is completely dry rotted.

The good news. Lots ther for a pattern. If you look close the factory pinstriping is still intact.

Look close and you can see the factory stenciling. This leg is dry cracked, but, not rotted. A couple holes with dowels glued in should save this side. The other side will require complete replacement. Things won't match. I will save as much old as possible anyways. After this one I have two waiting in the wings to be done. Including an exact same set of metal parts that I had no patterns for wood. Now I have a pattern in this press.

Some others I've done in the past.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

LL Bean comando sweater

This was my belated Christmas gift from my lovely wife which I recieved the end of january. I've been wanting a new one for a while now. I have the real deal, one purchased years ago from a surplus store. The surplus sweater has seen better days however. Several years ago the moths found it leaving several holes. It has also put in many hours on deer stands and in ice fishing shacks, on top of it's former military service. At first I was disapointed with the new one when I found the labels inside that were in chinese. I knew it was imported, but, couldn't help hoping it would be made in a part of the former british empire. Sorry, maybe it's wrong on my part, but, there is a certain snob appeal to a tag that says "Made in New Zealand", Scotland, Australia, etc.  However, I must concede that I found no quality issues with this sweater. Some changes have been made style wise. However the military inspiration is still there.
It's woven just as tightly as the real deal. It's slightly lighter weight than the surplus version. However I still found it warm and comfortable by itself down to temperatures in the high thirties farenheight.

While LL Bean calls the color olive drab it has more of a brown tone than any of my olive color surplus clothes. You can see it above with the Brit military version. As for looks and style, I like it. More important I've been asked about it by several strangers. I've also noticed more than a few admiring glances from the ladies while wearing it. Including one really sharp brunette. Though I'm sure she didn't marry me for my ability to fill out a sweater that she gave me. Yes overall the LL Bean comando sweater gets a thumbs up from me. I may just buy myself another next fall. That one will be in black though.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

A blog to check out

Not long ago I stumbled accross this blog .After following it for a time I want to shine the spotlight on Manta. His projects have given me some inspiration towards a few of my own. His workmanship shows. As a former quality assurance guy I love seeing that. All too often home made ends up meaning makeshift and cobbled up. His stove alone has made me rethink sending an old stainless steel portable gas grill to the scrap yard. I think part of it will end up becoming a small stove for our camp and homestead use.


** A note. The term cobbled was in no way meant to be derogatory towards those practicing the fine art of shoe making.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Like having money in the bank

The weather has temporarily broken here in western New York. The power company has begun thier yearly tree trimming operations. I passed thier truck on the way to work yesterday. As I left work I backtracked my morning trip. Finding many of the wood piles still in place, I called ahead and told Pelenaka to be dressed to work and ready to go in 15 minutes. The days score was a trailer and a half of sugar maple and oak. coming home tonight I caught a tree trimmers truck at the gas station, it's been windy all day and thier are trees down. They told me the area they were heading. I'll head there in the morning, hoprfully there will be some left for the great scrounger.

That wood sure does feel like money in the bank.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Food Storage and Survival website giveaway

I just started following this blog a few weeks before the new website was started. I wanted to be sure before making a recomendation. Check it out. If you want in on the giveaway there is still a couple days.


Friday, February 4, 2011

A Big Thanks!

Last week there was a givaway over at The Sharpened Axe blog. I won the flint and steel. This steel is smaller than the one I already have. It's the perfect size to fit in an altoid tin fire starting kit. My stepdaughter often referred to here as "the sidekick" is turning into a pretty serious outdoors gal. She's old enough now that she can start hunting separate from me. This flint and steel is going into a kit I'm putting together for her. A big thanks to Mike Oscar Hotel at "The Sharpened Axe". Check out his blog, I'm sure all my followers will enjoy it.

Also, keep your eyes open. There is another blog moving to it's own website. They are having a big givaway too. I will post more info soon.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Keeping those home fires burning

The problem with living on our small city homestead is sometimes it's size. There isn't always enough room to stockpile the things you need. Like enough firewood to make it through a cold winter. I actually gave away a face cord and a half of partially seasoned sugar maple last fall. Just didn't have room to store it without stepping on the toes of nieghbors or worse the code enforcement guy. Last week we had a snap of sub zero temps. The wise decision was to fire the furnace rather than rely on the wood stove. Mainly because the woodstove isn't in the cellar where the soon to be frozen water lines are. Well, those four days of furnace running saved a little bit of wood. Which is good because we are down to just a hair over three face cords. Enough to get us to the end of february. But, the end of february isn't good enough. I've seen more than one easter weekend snow storm. So, how do we solve the problem without paying $85.00 for a face cord of firewood.

Working in a home center has a few advantages. Very few. However a few days ago a possible solution to our problem presented itself. Wood pellets, yup wood pellets. Everyone said you can't burn them in a regular wood stove. The reasons everyone gave. They won't burn right without a fan forcing air on them. They burn too fast. They won't burn without a special grate. etc. etc. etc.  Well all I have to say to all the experts were wrong, really wrong. A guy came into work and bought two skids of wood pellets. The skids are stacked together. The top four bags in the bottom skid are usually torn open. we usually replace them for the customer then mark down the torn bags to $1.00 each. So, I bought a bag to experiment with. If it didn't work I would have 40 lbs of cheap garden mulch.

You can see above my solution to the supposed problems of burning pellets in a conventional wood stove. The pellets burn just fine without a fan forcing air on them. They only burn up too fast if you throw them in the stove like you are feeding the chickens. Put them in a pile and they will burn just like regular wood. With a box stove like ours there is no special grate needed unless your stove has a grate above an ash compartment. In that case the pellets would just fall through into the ash pan. What I do is make an envelope out of news paper. A single sheet of newspaper folded and stapled then filled with pellets works great. By putting them in an envelope it's easy to get them in a compact pile quickly. The paper takes about half a minute to ignite.Then dumps the burning pellets into a pile. An envelope of pellets burns about 30 minutes. I figure 20-25 envelopes for a 40lb bag.  A days heat for a buck can't be beat in my book.
Hunter seems to approve. So, I must be doing something right.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Thoughts on preparedness

When this winter started I thought we were prepared for the worst of it. Then about six weeks ago a piece of firewood that was cut to the long side of what would fit in the firebox found it's way into the stove in the middle of the night.  Not a problem if the person loading the stove is fully awake and remembers the longest dimension inside a rectangular box is from corner to corner, not front to back. The other unfortunate factor is our stoves door has a glass window in it. Worse yet it happened the night before a major cold front blew in. Now the bad part of the story. Pelenaka calls me at work the next day to tell me there is a big crack in the stoves window. She already called the local jotul dealer and they don't have one in stock and it will take a week to get one. No problem I tell her. call them back and see if they will sell us the one out of thier display stove. An hour later she calls me back to tell me they don't have a display of our stove, it was sold. My poor wife is now getting frantic. I have her call the dealer back and get the phone numbers for all the nearest jotul dealers. By the time she finds one, I'm out of work. I come home too exhausted to drive, just as it starts snowing. She hops in the car and drives seventy miles to the nearest dealer that will sell us the window from a display stove. By the time she gets home You can barely see the house three doors away, it's snowing so hard. Withing fifteen minutes the window was replaced and the stove fired up. Due to the temps outside being in the low teens, it took all night for the house to get to a comfortable temperature. We now have a spare window and set of gaskets stashed away in the attic. But, this all got me asking questions. What if the widow got broke during the brunt of a storm? During this incident, I could have walked over to the thermostat and just fired the furnace up. But, what if the power were out as often happens here during storms?

I took a walk through the house and started asking myself the What If? question as I went room to room. We no longer have a land line phone. My cell is older and is sometimes tempermental with battery life. What if somebody were hurt or the house was on fire during a storm and we couldn't call for help. I solved that problem. Pelenaka is a weather watcher to the extreme. She got a new Eaton weather radio for christmas. It features a USB charging port. Then I went and bought a universal phone charging kit that works off usb power. Now we can charge our phones or my stepdaughters ipods with the solar panel or crank on the radio. Last week one of my coworkers informed me, our store was closing out little power inverters that plug into a cars cigarette lighter. 90 watts of 120V AC current. Enough to charge the laptops, or even power small power tools or a sump pump. It too has a USB power port. I bought the last one for less than five bucks.

Yesterday at a local gun show, I picked up half a dozen P38 can openers. alot of what we store foodwise is in cans. It used to be, you bought a hand operated can opener and you were still using it ten years later. Now they are made in china and it seems we buy three or four a year. The P38's will be around in twenty if we don't lose them. That's the bad thing about thier size. Easy to lose. The good thing about thier size. There is one on every persons key ring that lives in this house.

My point to all this. We think to stockpile the firewood and the food. Shoot, we even have a full blown first aid kit we put together that even includes scalpels and sutures. However, we can't really call ourselves prepared until we've played out every possible scenario and prepared for those too. Tools aren't enough if we can't repair them when they fail. And they will fail right when we need them most.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Help needed from fellow history buffs

Last spring I picked up a new computer and lost a folder of links I was saving. Part of what I lost was all my links to mid 19th century suttlers. One place had authentic wheel caps for really reasonable prices. If anyone has links to suttlers they have done business with and have been happy, I would apreciate a link.