Ice rink getting some use

We recently had warm weather and rain which helped to melt and smooth out the snow that was on the ice rink (that I hadn’t had a chance to remove before that rain came), now its frozen again but warm enough that the kids can be out there for quite a while. The last couple days the kids have been out there for 1-2 hours a day skating, sliding, and playing. I’m not sure we quite have got our money’s worth out of it yet, but we are starting to get there. Just in time for this coming week’s weather in the 40’s , nearly 50’s . Doh! A week of that won’t help my ice conditions. I don’t know what happened, December was MUCH colder, now January is much warmer. Doh! Thats okay, we’ll use it while we can, do other stuff while the weather is warm.

Not all is lost though, melting the top will let me get out some of the sticks and leaves that recently fell in, melted down 1/4″, then froze in again. Plus, I am enjoying the warmer weather for getting outside and (attempting) hunting some squirrels. Not that I had any luck, but [… click to continue reading this post]

Shooting and hunting – post Christmas catch-up

This year we went out of town for Christmas, and while I am not exactly the most popular blog in the world, I’d still rather not announce to the whole internet if I am going out of town until I am back. Anyhow, preparing for Christmas the pole barn is coming handy, it now houses my daughter’s trampoline she got for Christmas so that she’ll be able to use it even with snow on the ground. Up here you need to take the mat off or it can rip from the snow, so that wouldn’t have been much of a gift if she couldn’t have used it for 3 or 4 months.

After our trip to Missouri at Christmas I still had 5 or 6 more days off, that was really nice to be able to have a relaxing time after all that travelling. Particularly since the day we got back was at 1pm, but we barely had time to get out of the car before we had to leave for a doctor’s appointment (sadly, after 9 months of my wife being in pain every time she walks we are still no closer to an answer). Just before Christmas I [… click to continue reading this post]

Snowblowing the road

It is interesting to see how the road changes with the weather. We have had a lot of snow the last couple weeks, probably 10″ or more. The common part of the road has been really good the whole time, but it hasn’t looked like anybody has plowed it. I think the snow had just been being pressed down into even layers. However, we have recently been having some warmer weather, and with that the road has turned to garbage. The snow is softening up and is now turning into ruts instead of a nice even layer. There have been a couple spots that I thought we might get stuck in. My wife’s grandparents will be coming over soon and I am concerned that the ruts will freeze solid and make the road hard to traverse. Tonight I just took the tractor out and snowblowed a 9-10′ wide path (down and back). It wasn’t nearly as fast as a plow would be, but I have a snowblower and not a plow. It is nice being able to clear the 1/2 mile back to the house without issue and be self reliant in that way. For most people a plow would [… click to continue reading this post]

Some recent non-prep non-homestead activities

With the exception of putting the snowblower on the tractor a couple days ago and putting the snow tires on the car tonight, I have some other activities I’ve been working on. My son has had a toy/kids guitar for a while but has wanted to play it. We got the app Yousician (which is pretty awesome!) and I got a fairly cheap, but so far decent, guitar off Amazon (this one for $50 shipped in case you are curious). Each day the last couple weeks I’ve been doing some practicing, figuring I can help the kids and my wife learn better if I learn it as well.

More interestingly, I put up an ice skating rink this week. I was wanting to last year, but it was warm until super late last year, plus I didn’t necessarily want to put all the money into it last year. I did pick up the 2×10’s last year. This year I waited until almost too long, but ended up buying a 30×50 tarp locally and using 2″x2″x24″ stakes to hold the boards up. The rink ended up about 25’x40′, I was limited in width by a tree on one side and a [… click to continue reading this post]

Feeling a bit more prepared – PTO generator

Two weekends ago I went and picked up a 12kw pto generator I had been eying on Craigslist for a couple months. It had dropped in price from $1400 (which I thought was high, but fair if you were going to buy a new one), to $1200, finally to $1000. For that I got the generator (about $1400 new for a 12kw, $1000 for a 7kw), pto shaft ($75 used to 200 new), a 3pt carryall the generator is mounted to ($100), and a full house disconnect / transfer switch (knife style rated to 200A, the guy told me $500 new and I believe it). My tractor has 19hp at the PTO, good for about 10kw continuous.

Last weekend was my preparing for winter weekend. Part of that was verifying the suicide cord was wired right, then shutting off the power to the house and running the house off the generator for a few minutes. I could barely tell when the well pump kicked on (here we have shallow wells and therefor only have about 1/2-1hp well pumps). I had previously checked the starting amperage (using a cheap Harbor Freight clamp on multi-meter) and it peaked at around 30 or [… click to continue reading this post]

Pole barn nearly finished

So first real quick, on my last post I said we finally had an answer on my wife’s foot. Turns out that isn’t NECESSARILY the case. Before we got that news we already had a visit scheduled at the University of Michigan medical school, so we followed up with that. Good thing, the DR’s there said that the diagnosis given based on the evidence in the MRI was “quite a leap”. Symptoms, sure, but they aren’t sure that is the CAUSE of the pain. Unfortunately, they aren’t exactly sure of the cause, so we’ll be continuing with the foot issues after 7 months :-\

With that out of the way, this past weekend brought some more work on the pole barn. I got the side walls sawed off to match the roof line and got most of the rake trim installed (I installed the 12′ trim piece, but have 2′ left on the 14′ long wall). At this point I have left installing a single panel on each side and trimming it to fit, getting that last 2′ of rake trim, and a couple pieces of corner trim. Then, putting up a tarp for a door and I am good [… click to continue reading this post]

Wife’s medical issues – finally an answer

So after 7 months of foot pain for my wife, we finally have at least one answer. Turns out she has an entrapped nerve, that particular one is pretty rare to be entrapped and it typically only happens to marathoners, so it never occurred to anybody to check for it. Unfortunately, the foot doctor who did an MRI of her foot did NOT include the ankle area or we would have seen this 7 months ago For the last 7 months my productivity has been a bit limited to be available to help out, spend time with my wife, etc. For the next 6 weeks that will be worse since the doctor has put her in a cast to hopefully let the foot heal itself. The alternative is surgery to cut the nerve, but the doctor was saying she may always have some pain then and may not be able to run, so we are trying the non-invasive options first.

We aren’t really sure what this means for us yet, but I am hopeful since we at least have a plan forward. Even if the cast doesn’t fix it, we have something that should at least make it bearable for [… click to continue reading this post]

Floor is poured, pole barn 90% done!

It hasn’t exactly been super smooth, but I am getting pretty close to done. Last weekend I took off 2 days to make sure I could get the floor poured. Saturday was spent finishing digging footings (I had done 3 during the weekdays the previous weeks but needed to leave the 4th unfinished so I could get the tractor in and out). I got up my form boards and then moved the dirt/sand around to hold them in place with. I also leveled the main slab area as best I could and filled it in quite a bit. I had a lot of spots that were 7″ or even more for what was planned to be a 6″ slab. I didn’t have THAT much extra concrete coming, so I filled it in with the excavated dirt from the footings.

I also borrowed the neighbors truck and trailer to take back the 18′ and 20′ pallets from the trim and roofing, then bring back rebar. I know a slab of this size (14×14) probably doesnt NEED rebar, but it doesn’t hurt. The pallet racking I’ll have up could have several thousand pounds on it. If I’m working on the tractor or [… click to continue reading this post]

Need to get a floor poured soon

Its Oct 2, soon it will be pretty cold (in fact, it has been unseasonably warm lately), so I REALLY need to get moving on a concrete floor for the pole barn so I can get the sheet metal up on the pole barn. I have been waffling back and forth as to whether I’ll hire it out or do it myself. Either way, I need to get my booty moving on it so I can get it done!

My plan with the concrete floor is to make it 5-6″ thick with rebar in at least part of it. The tractor doesn’t weigh that much, but if I have to jack it up I’ll be putting all the weight in one small area. Plus the pallet racking will definitely have some weight to it all concentrated around the edges.

I decided concrete over dirt or gravel for several reasons. The pole barn is already over-budget, but it is built to last quite a while so the extra $500-1000 for the concrete floor will be a small expense 10 years from now. Since I’ll be using it store stuff on pallet racking I need a smooth floor to make sure I [… click to continue reading this post]

Pole barn status

I am officially keeping stuff dry with the pole barn! Poles are up, rafters set, and roofing is on. I even have 2 walls up using a VERY heavy automatic pool cover, essentially a 100lb tarp about 20×30. It is big enough to go roof to ground with several feet left over, wrap around 2 and a half sides of my 14×14 pole barn. I have the sheet metal for the walls on my trailer in the pole barn to keep dry (and to get it out of the way of the driveway). I need to figure out what I’m going to do for the floor, gravel or cement, and hire it out or do it myself.

The roofing took quite a while as I had about half the sheets backwards and had to re-do them. But, I got it done right, and I got it DONE. So, the rest may take a while, but at least I’m getting some use out of it. I still need to saw off the overhanging 1′ of roofing and purlins, but I figure that is best left to when I’m about ready to put the walls up to help keep rain from blowing [… click to continue reading this post]

All my free time has been spent…

For the last few weeks all my free time has been spent working on a pole barn, or catching up on other things due to spending time on the pole barn. My wife’s feet have been killing her for months now and the doctors still aren’t sure what is wrong, so that has left some additional things for me to do or help with. So I haven’t exactly been posting a whole lot. I have gotten a lot of the process on video to add later. I wanted to at least let everyone know WHY I haven’t been posting much.

So far I have the area cleared (which took most of a day on the tractor), all 4 posts up (and this was a challenge because I am using 6×6 and those things are HEAVY!, glad to have the tractor), on Monday we got up the headers and started on the rafters. I finished up the rafters on Tuesday or Wednesday and started on the purlins. I have 2 or 3 more purlins to take care of, then I need to figure out the trim on the ends, order the roofing and trim, and get started there. I should at [… click to continue reading this post]

Picked up a box blade & pole barn work started

I got a pretty good deal on a box blade today, $225. It is only 48″ so I’ll likely want a larger one later, but now I can finally get a load of gravel brought in and work on my driveway a bit. I also plan to try it out in the woods using the rippers as root rippers. The box blade will work decently for leveling an area too since you can more easily move a volume of dirt (though the 4′ won’t be able to move a lot). I think what I’ll do is be on the lookout for a 5-6′ box blade, pick that up, and then sell the 4′ one (hopefully for a profit).

I also got started digging holes for the two posts for the pole barn. I felt pretty smart in that I used my stump bucket to dig down 2′ to make for that much less digging. The sand here makes it pretty darn hard to dig a hole because it is like sugar and won’t stick in the post hole digger very well. It also starts collapsing in on itself. I hope it stays long enough for me to compact it, get [… click to continue reading this post]

Video – clearing brush with the Kubota compact tractor

I decided to do a bit of clearing to open up some of the front woods while the family was gone for the day and also decided to make a video about it. It has been much too long since I’ve made a video and I thought this would be a good one.

Now, I’ll admit I was a bit rough on the tractor. I don’t typically run it that hard, though I do on occasion. The folks on ar15.com were getting on me about it a bit. Well, a bit of damage is inevitable in the woods, even when I’m not being too crazy. I had taken the bush hog out to help clear some areas of woods, but to help the maneuverability I took the loader off. Well, it turns out the loader helps protect from brush a ton. I poked a stick into the grill and cracked it, as well as bent the front brush guard (which didn’t do much). I got the tractor to help improve the land as well as snow blow, so I am going to have some wear and tear on it I’m sure.

Most of the time the brush clearing I [… click to continue reading this post]

Truck is back together (well, pretty much)

So the up side is that I replaced the shock, have the new fuel filler neck on, and the bed is one. The downside is the bed is on with 4 of the 6 bolts (2 had the threads a bit mangled and it felt like they were stripping out the holes. Being an off-road truck, I figured 4 should do it anyway until I can fix these bolts or get a couple more. Also, it turns out I forgot to take off the plastic deal that holds the fuel filler neck in place. Last seen it was on the old rusty fuel filler neck. So I walked the path I took and found it on the trail. Smashed into a couple dozen pieces because it got ran over. Whoops. Oh well, the filler neck can rattle around a while, it will take a while before I get tired of it. Heck, I think I only go through about 5 gallons in 6 months.

The bed went on very easily, I used a strap across rear of the bed on the tie downs, then a chain near the tailgate on the bolted on tie downs that look like they were [… click to continue reading this post]

Truck – some done, more to do

So I got my parts from Rock Auto a couple days ago and started working on the gas tank straps on the truck. Since the truck is operational per my last post, I decided to do the work in the driveway rather than the yard. Much better, now I can use my creeper and be much more comfortable. So I expected the tank straps to be terrible, everything else on this truck is super rusty (what do you expect from a 1995 Dodge Ram from Michigan?). As I crawled under though I saw the bolts for the old pieces of the tank strap had a rubber cap on them, they weren’t rusted at all! The nuts came off pretty easily; I wish all the bolts on the truck had those rubber caps on them! The rear strap was easily accessible and I got it on no problem. The front strap was a bit more jockeying around, I had to loosen the back strap and push the tank over to get the T of the strap into the slot of the frame. It took probably 10 minutes or more but it eventually went (in hindsight, it probably would have been easier [… click to continue reading this post]

Truck fuel leak and close call with deep freeze

Last weekend was my son’s birthday party, so the previous week I was busy around the house making some games for the party. His party was game themed, so I made giant jenga out of 2×4’s, giant dice for Yahtzee by cutting them out of 4×4’s (and using a forstner bit to drill the holes for the numbers), plus a few other games.

Anyway, we cooked hotdogs and ate out at the firepit, so I wanted to move the truck so we wouldn’t have to look at it. I had trouble starting it and smelled gas, but I got it started so I got it moved about 100′ to put it in the woods. When done I turned it off and REALLY smelled gas. Looking underneath there was gas dripping down and it had sprayed all over the place. Great. The really funny thing is that I was going to use it go go get some firewood out of the woods that had been sitting a while. Oh well. Tuesday I put it in neutral and wrapped a strap around the front axle. It pulled with the tractor no problem. I was going to ask the neighbor to come over [… click to continue reading this post]

Lots of shotgun reloading, and some medical issues

I’ve been absent a couple weeks, my wife has had some foot issues starting a couple months ago that have so far not been figured out going to a foot and ankle specialist, physical therapist, having an xray, bloodwork, and MRI, and other things done. She can barely walk around the house, so that has left a bit more for me both in work around the house and also spending more time with her and comforting her. My mother-in-law is a dear though and has been staying with us the last week or two to help my wife out, that has been a tremendous help. Pray for quick recovery, so far this thing has just gone downhill, maybe the podiatrist will figure it out.

In the free time I HAVE had, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and and working on loads for shotguns. My neighbor challenged me to come up with a high velocity buckshot load. This has proved challenging to say the least, not in small part because it is very important to follow shotgun recipes exactly*. My first problems started in the fact that I already had some primers on hand from when I picked up [… click to continue reading this post]

A bit of work, a bit of fun

It wasn’t the most productive 3 day weekend in the world, but it was an enjoyable one. Saturday for some reason we woke up early and were wide awake, so we got up and going around 6 or 6:30. The up side is that I got working in the basement reloading some 357 ammo. I was working up some surplus WC820 powder so I could start using that up for my hot loads of 140gr XTP hollowpoints. WC820 powder has a wide variety of burn rates, but I had made a note on the jug that it was like H110 powder. Thats great, except I couldn’t remember if that was accurate. If I used H110 loading data and it was more like AA#9 then I’d be blowing up a gun. So I loaded some factory H110 and recorded velocity, then I started with AA#9 data with the WC820 and it was VERY light. So I slowly started working up a grain or so at a time. Ultimately I ended up backing off a bit from the H110 max loaded because it seemed like it was a bit over-pressure. I was still getting 1350 fps from a 4″ barrel with the [… click to continue reading this post]

Things I’ve used the tractor for

I’m researching PTO generators (waiting to find the right deal on a used one) and realized it would be a good post to put what all I’ve used my tractor for. I have had it since November, so about 7 months now, most of which were winter. I am only up to about 70 hours on the meter so far, but I feel like I have used it a ton. I only got up to maybe 20 or 3o hours through the winter, it was very mild and there wasn’t a ton of need to use it for snowblowing. So one of the main justifications of the tractor was that we’d have the capability to snowblow our way out if we had to. Sure, my neighbor would be more than willing to plow us out if need be, but I don’t want to HAVE to count on somebody else. Plus at the time I didn’t feel like I knew him well enough. At this point I could call him in a heartbeat and he wouldn’t hesitate (though he wouldn’t have anyway even before we really knew each other because that is the kind of guy he is). 63″ snowblower can [… click to continue reading this post]

Plasma cutter back up, firewood, gun safe, etc

Last weekend was busy mostly with firewood splitting and stacking; I’m up to almost 3 cords split and stacked. Surprisingly, I split some that had been cut into rounds in the fall and they were under 30% moisture. The newly cut trees are a bit over 40%, I really didn’t expect the unsplit stuff to have dropped down to 27% or so just laying in the woods. Unfortunately, I don’t think I kept it all separate, so I may have to buy some seasoned wood this year if/when I get a wood furnace. I have the area scoped out it’ll need to go, I can bring the chimney up through the main floor in the coat closet (blocking it in of course). I’d still need to figure out how I want to handle the ducting, I am thinking of running a separate duct to each room, though I haven’t figured that out. I may or may not consult with an HVAC person and have the do the work. I’m pretty well narrowed down to getting a Drolet Tundra, a furnace that gives a good balance of high efficiency and cost effectiveness.

My neighbor contacted me a few days ago to [… click to continue reading this post]