Lost a litter of rabbits :(

So I had bred my two does before Christmas to my (surprise) buck that actually does his job. A few days back I felt the belly of one of the does and could feel some moving, so I was quite excited! I put a nest box of hay in the cage with her ahead of time and she only seemed interested in eating the hay. One day I go out to feed them and notice babies on the wire (5 and 1/2). I tried to revive them (in a bag of warm water or on a heating pad seems to have a lot of success on the meat rabbit forum I’m on) but was unfortunately unable to revive them. About 12 hours later that dumb doe started pulling fur for a nest! I’m not sure if she was bred before I got her, but at least her first time instincts were not very good for me. However, the babies did seem quite quite cleaned off, so maybe she wasn’t 100% terrible. The other doe I bred did not take at all (she wasn’t very cooperative and she is pretty big, so not sure which is the cause). I’ve now re-bred [… click to continue reading this post]

A week of sub-zero lows – rabbit water system

So the last couple weeks have definitely been a learning experience with the rabbit’s water system. Many people in the Backyard Meat Rabbits group on facebook switch over to rubber or ceramic crocks in winter time and just resign themselves to emptying ice twice per day or they have double the number of water bottles and swap them out twice a day. I wasn’t really wanting to do that, so I tried to continue using these water nipples but obviously without just using a big water jug.

My first attempt was to use a 2 gallon bucket inside a 5 gallon bucket and then line it with foam (EPS) 1″ thick around the sides, underneath, and a lid of the stuff as well. Then I used a submersible heater to provide some heat. The first try used a 50 watt heater which was programmed at 78F as max temperature. This worked fine down to about 20 degrees (in an area out of the wind) but as we dipped below that the nipples started freezing up. If you dumped a bit of water on them they’d thaw though and the main line did not freeze so it was still better than [… click to continue reading this post]

Tractor refueled – tractor usage tracking Dec

Yesterday while warming up the tractor to do some snow blowing the gauge dropped down to one bar so I went ahead and refueled at 140.0 hours. My last refueling post was from JUNE and I had 125.8 hours on it, so I put 14 hours on the 5 gallons. Things I’ve done during that 14 hours:

Pulled the trailer several times for firewood. Not many hours racked up I’m sure Graded the road a few times this summer Picked up my deer from the woods and hung it from the bucket while skinning Snowblowed 2 or 3 times (this usually racks up around .3-.5 hours since it gets at least 5-10 minutes of warmup for the oil) This included taking it down the 1/2 mile of road to get the end of the road area where the plows bury it and get some of the deep spots of the main road Used for hauling firewood cutting tools to cut firewood. I prefer the tractor because I use the 3 point to lift up the tree when I pinch the saw and push over hung up trees Used pallet forks for moving a couple items Used the trailer hitch I [… click to continue reading this post]

Now I’m really breeding rabbits

So after a couple failed breedings (at least one of which was due to both rabbits being boys ,whoops), I think things are finally working out. I decided to try out the surprise boy and he is doing his job much more enthusiastically than the other boy was. He seemed more interested in cuddling than anything else. Well, that is definitely not the case with the surprise boy! I put the doe in the cage and he went straight at it and I got 2 fall-offs in not even a minute. I switched out does and he took a bit more time, but given 2 or 3 minutes with the un-cooperative doe we got a couple more falloffs. Neither doe seemed REALLY receptive, but I think the couple of fall-offs are a good sign. So if all goes well I should have a couple litters at he end of January.

Today is a high of 9 degrees and so far the rabbits are doing fine. My water system is even working decently now that I got all the leaks stopped up (I put zip ties on the silicone hose, though would have preferred hose clamps). The individual nipples were frozen, [… click to continue reading this post]

Bad water heater, deer hunting, and wood furnace update

I’ll start with the wood furnace: I’ve been burning wood for just over a month now and I think the propane furnace kicked on once during that time (and at that, its because I needed to change the schedule a bit to give myself more time in the morning to get the fire going). I am estimating I’ll use 240-300 gallons per year with water heating, clothes drying, and cooking, so the 60% left in my tank will last easily to the summer time so I can fill up when propane is cheaper. That saved me the $60 to lock in rates plus the multiple fills of propane (it would normally be filled twice totalling around 700 gallons over the winter). Its a good thing too because at the end of October I noticed my hot water was awful brown / red looking. Hot water on the left, cold water on the right. Yikes! Given that the water heater is original to the house (circa 2000) its probably time for a new water heater. So its a good thing I’ll be saving $1000+ on propane since thats about what I’ll be spending on a new water heater.



[… click to continue reading this post]

Wood furnace barometric damper issues and thoughts

So in my last post I mentioned needing a barometric damper and having some issues. This post will go through those issues experienced with the Vogelzang barometric damper sold at menards but it looks EXACTLY like this US Stove barometric damper on Amazon. It is so bad I’d be embarassed to sell the product or make the product.

But, before I get into that; if you have a wood furnace (not a stove, but a furnace that can use a digital thermostat) you likely need a barometric damper to prevent an over-fire condition. Stoves have a spring controller that will shut the damper automatically as it heats up and it can shut it enough to be safe. Another thing to make note of is that the barometric damper needs to be installed level, both the pins need to be horizontally level, but the face of it needs to be vertically level! The vertical thing is either not mentioned or easily missed in many places talking about barometric dampers. I made the mistake on my first attempt and it can cause issues (either damper won’t close all the way or it will be harder for it to open), though I’m pretty [… click to continue reading this post]

First week burning wood

I have a good week under my belt burning wood and it is definitely a learning curve (and I still have a ways to go as it’ll change as the weather gets colder). First, I am glad I got the manometer so I can see what my draft is. A manometer uses pressure and/or suction to tell you what the pressure difference is visually using a liquid in a tube to show you the measurement. I am using this Dwyer manometer along with an insertion tip (this one, but I’ll be honest that I am not sure if it is the right one or not as it was a BEAR to get the tubing on the tip, I think it is meant for the next size up but I made it work). I can easily see if I am getting my minimum .04″ of draft or exceeding the .08″ max draft; I leave it hooked up all the time right now. Without running a barometric damper I was easily hitting .08″ when the furnace first fired up and .11-.12″ with the damper open and fire raging. Running at that level for extended times is either not safe or will make [… click to continue reading this post]

Wood stove inspection passed – and thoughts on duct work

So this weekend I finished up a few things (wall stud installation, trimming one spot in the roof that didn’t quite meet the 2″ clearance) in preparation for my first/final inspection on the wood furnace installation. The inspection was pretty quick and simple. I think it helped that I was quite knowledgeable about all the specs, clearances, requirements, etc so the inspector did not have to ask a lot of questions. I knew the things he’d look for so I pointed them out to him in order. I passed with flying colors and have my first burn going right now. I disconnected the ducts since the first firing is pretty stinky for maybe 30-60 minutes while the paint cures. I also had my manometer hooked up to the chimney so I could check the draft, a good thing since while the load was burning at full load I was in excess of 0.1″ water column, which exceeds the manufacturers limits. Only with the manometer was I able to tell that and see that I needed to adjust the barometric damper to get it in spec. I have this pressure tip, though I’m not POSITIVE it is the right one. It [… click to continue reading this post]

Working on wood furnace install

I got my mechanical permit last week to install my wood stove last week (some things you can hide, but adding a chimney on the roof I figured could be pretty easily detected, especially with the software many places use to determine if there are any changes to a property). So, I have started the install and it is going pretty well. I had to make a few changes from what I thought and would have preferred, but overall its not too bad. I wanted to use one side of the closet, but I forgot to account for the 8-10″ of overhang of the floor joists on the basement wall, so when all the clearances would have been taken into account it actually would have been a couple feet into the closet. So, I put the stove on the other side to use the other corner of the closet.

The chimney installation itself has been fairly easy, if you are the DIY type and take on home projects you can feel pretty secure you can do it. If you’ve never done anything construction/remodel/repair related though it probably isn’t recommended to start. One of the harder things to figure out was [… click to continue reading this post]

How much meat is really on a squirrel

Hunting season here opened a week or two ago and I am 3 squirrels in to the season so far. I’m pretty new to hunting squirrels, I tried in college and never seemed to be able to find them. I got one or two and grilled them and they were some of the toughest meat I’ve ever had. When I moved onto this property I decided to take advantage of one of the few food sources it seems capable of reliably sustaining: wild game (mostly turkey and squirrel).

I’ve not eaten too many yet, but of the 5 or so we’ve eaten we have found that boiled or crock pot squirrel with taco seasoning is a family favorite. My daughter LOVES the meat (not in taco form, just plain meat), my son likes it, an my wife is getting used to it. She liked the taste, she didn’t like the thought of the cute animal. Still, she has eaten it the last couple times. Next time I have one or two I am going to try deboning it before cooking to see how difficult that is.

So I thought I’d do a short post on what you can actually expect. [… click to continue reading this post]

B.o.a.t. – Bail out another thousand – how troubleshooting saves more money

I just got back from a 3 day mini-vacation with family to celebrate our 10 year anniversary where we took the boat to do some fishing and hopefully some tubing. Well, 5 minutes in to tubing and my overheat alarm is going off! Or at least, SOME alarm is. I couldn’t exactly find out what all alarms this boat has or what they all sound like, but with the magic of the internet (the official sponsor of this post) I was doing some research and as best I could tell the solid beeeeeeeep I was getting is an overheat, low oil is a beep-beep-beep alarm. I was pretty confused since I replaced the impeller recently (a pretty easy job the saves TONS doing it yourself). I did have the tell-tale plug up so I thought MAYBE the whole motor plugged with sand, except the motor didn’t really seem hot. Even sitting an hour to a COLD engine and the alarm was still going off. As far as the oil alarm goes, it is only for the oil LEVEL of the alarm, not whether the pump was actually working.

So, I did some research (doing this at a cabin is easy [… click to continue reading this post]

This year’s harvest off the land

Today I was doing a bit of firewood cleanup (stacking some split wood, getting the wood that had fallen behind the pile, cutting pieces that were still stuck together, etc) and I took stock of where I am on firewood. I’m estimating I have around 3 cords of wood that are burnable (and meant for) this year and so far about 2 cords meant for next year. I then came in and processed the bag of honey mushrooms I collected this weekend (though that trip did cost me a 10/22 magazine that fell off SOMEWHERE on 8 acres) that we were adding to some pasta for dinner. Unfortunately, thats a pretty big part of what the land has provided this year. But it got me thinking and I wanted to do a post on what has been taken from my property.

Garden – Well this is a big flop due to poor soil and lack of time to do much. My squash that was planted in the duck poo did GREAT. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a squash (supposed to be butternut) rather it was a decorative squash; not even a cool looking one at that. I did get several yellow squash [… click to continue reading this post]

Close call with the boat this labor day weekend

I sure had my heart racing earlier! Yesterday I took the boat out with my son to try to do a little fishing (with little luck since I don’t know what I’m doing). After we were parked a few miles from the ramp for a while we finally decided to call it quits, I go to start the motor and the battery is COMPLETELY dead! No ability to trim it down into the water, or easily start it (though it can be pull started). Fortunately, I just grabbed one of the trolling motor batteries and hooked it up to get going again. After I got started, I noticed my tachometer stopped working. That isn’t completely abnormal, my first time out it stopped working, then it started working again (not sure why, not sure if it was bound up from age or what), but I did think it a bit odd since it happened after the battery died and it had been working the last couple of trips no problem.

So, today I was going to trouble shoot the tach (possibly using an arduino to have a digital tach) and see if I could find a load that would kill the [… click to continue reading this post]

Bunnies on the way

We have been working on feeding and handling the rabbits the last couple weeks and my wife is to the point she can get hers out of the cage (though it doesn’t always go smoothly). So last night we got her out, let her roam for a while, and then put her in with the buck. I think she was taken a bit by surprise, so he got the job done. After the first time though she looked like she was going to bite him so I took him out of his cage (with gloves in case she bit me) and then we put her back in her cage. I was then going to get another doe out, but unfortunately cannot really reach them with how I have the cages built (with end access instead of side access, that will be changed on the in-progress-but-sidelined-due-to-boat-work modular bunny cage). So, only one doe is bred, but I may try today to get another out.

So, 4 weeks from now will be time to put in a nest box, and we’ll really know in 30-45 days if the breeding took. I am hoping to get a 2nd doe bred in case one [… click to continue reading this post]

Boat progress

I have made some pretty good progress on the boat. I bought some replacement carpet from marinecarpeting.com and I have been pretty pleased with that. The back was pretty time consuming because of all of the lids and hatches that needed to be cut around with the replacement wood. Its also more pieces and components to have to carpet as well. I got that done within the last week (I’d say on and off I worked on it over the course of a week and a half maybe 20 hours or so). All I have left now is a couple of trim pieces and I’ll be done. The front I just started and should be easier since there is only one lid to work around. My piece of plywood wasn’t big enough to make the front piece in one piece (though it was within about 6″!) so I added a couple other small pieces on and fiberglassed them in place. That wasn’t a big deal since I was already sealing all plywood with fiberglass resin for waterproofing reasons. I also hung a piece of treated 4×4 I already had so the joint in the area of the small pieces would [… click to continue reading this post]

Got a boat!

Not that this is exactly along the theme of this general blog, but I wanted to share anyhow. I just picked up new boat, I am quite excited. Well, it was new 23 years ago, but its new to me. I’ve been wanting one for a while, bank fishing is pretty frustrating in the areas I’ve tried, and access is quite limited to the river. The boat is a bit of a fixxer upper, I got it knowing the rear deck needed to be replaced, so I was able to pick it up for less than the asking price. The guy jumped on it fairly quickly, I wish I had offered a couple hundred less. But, I still feel I got a pretty good deal, $2700 for the 1994 Bass Tracker with a 60 hp motor. I’ll spend around $400 fixing it up ($75 for a sheet of marine plywood (unless the main floor needs replaced, but this will cover front and rear decks), $180 for new carpet, $20 for misc supplies, $10 for fasteners, $40 for new seat mounts, $20 for fiberglass resin to seal the plywood so it’ll be a lasting fix, etc), but that is fine since [… click to continue reading this post]

Working on a new rabbit cage

My current rabbit cage was not meant to be permanent, it was something I threw together after I already had the rabbits to get their cages up off the ground to make sure no predators were able to get to them. It is made from 2×6’s and landscape timbers, it is cantilevered so there isn’t anything in the way when you are by the cage. Its a fine cage, but it wouldn’t be warm enough in winter time. It also is such that I only have access to the cages in the 2′ dimension so the rabbits have a lot of space to get away from me if I am trying to pick them up. That is not what I want. Plus, the current design would be fairly hard to make work for the winter time. Not impossible, but not the best for what I’ll need to do in winter.

So I knew at the VERY least that I’d be needing to move the rabbits next to the house. I did not want to buy heated water bottles since they are fairly expensive, so from the get-go I went with water nipples. What I am going to try for winter [… click to continue reading this post]

Rethinking my position on a wood splitter

I haven’t purchased one yet, but I am starting to rethink my position on not getting a wood splitter soon. Originally I thought “why pay that money to be lazy and not work out / get in better shape”. Makes sense right? I’m not old, I’m not decrepit, I am just a bit out of shape. Well, I also am quite busy with work, and the time outside of work is filled with family time, fun time, and household responsibility time. I was thinking how I am gone for work (between work and commute) 50-55 hours per week. While we normally don’t go to sleep until 10-11, the latter part of that time is never going to really be used for much other than watching TV with the wife. So realistically, I have from 6-9pm on week days, then I have Saturday and Sunday. If I figure the weekend as 12 hours each (really its less on Sunday since church ends up blocking out a chunk of time), I have 15 hours through the week and 20-24 hours on the weekend as usable time that has to be split with family, fun, projects, and responsibilities (and eating dinner, etc). That [… click to continue reading this post]

New tool – mig welder!

I decided to get myself a MIG welder after recently having some trouble welding some light gauge metal with the arc welder. The real catalyst is that I am painting the woods truck (sand camo) since rust is really starting to be visible (the hood and roof have more rust than paint). Well, the fenders and door bottoms are rusted out, so I am going to want to take care of that (the right way, not just with bondo or fiberglass) and for that I’ll need to be able to weld light gauge sheet metal. I am not real sure how to form the metal, but I guess I’ll figure that out as I go (and like most repairs these days, youtube research will be a key starting point).

While I do want to buy quality, most of the recommendations on the welding websites are for $1000+ welders. I am surely not going to get that much use out of it! And if I do, I can sell my starter unit and move to that high end one later. In the mean time, there isn’t a lot out there between the $90 flux core harbor freight special and the $500 [… click to continue reading this post]

Tractor work: Pulling brush / trees

So a year or so back I bought this ” Brush Grubber” from Amazon thinking it would be real useful for pulling trees with the tractor. While it does work just dandy, I found that I preferred just wrapping a chain around the tree twice and just pulling it out that way. Recently I thought that it might be more useful with the tractor if I hooked it up to the quick hitch on the 3 point arms. On my B2650 the 3 point is rated at something like 2000lbs lift force at the arms, so it would have pretty good pulling power. The big advantage is not having to move around so much walking from tractor to tree then back to tractor, then all that to have the chain unhook itself occasionally (you do get the hang so it doesn’t happen much, but it does happen some). Even when things go well its still a lot of downtime.

So, I had a few extra hours after my family went to a park and I decided to give it a try. Well, it worked pretty awesome! Now, it won’t work on huge trees, shallow rooted trees it could handle [… click to continue reading this post]