Most recent project – basement partition

I thought originally this was going to bea winter project. After all, it is indoors and works when weather isn’t otherwise cooperating. Well, that did not happen. So despite the weather being pretty good these days, I decided I needed to finally get a partition put up in the basement. The reason for this has several aspects to it: keep the cat from puking all over my side, keep kids out (other people’s kids when we have visitors, I trust my kids around guns and they don’t bother my stuff), and also to give a bit more security and privacy to my guns and accessories. I am thinking here of when I have the building inspector come when I install the wood furnace come this fall (which I have wood from last year, but I am way behind schedule on wood this year having only done maybe 1/2 of a cord split and another 1/2-1 cord dropped and cut to length).

There was already a perfect spot for the wall where they put in a beam (and took out a temporary wall during construction), so I made that the dividing line. I put in a wall that was a bit [… click to continue reading this post]

Tractor refueled – tractor usage tracking

I thought I would start a log of the kinds of things I use my tractor for in case anybody was thinking about getting one. Today I put 5 gallons in (tank holds 7, not quite full) and I have 125.8 hours on the meter. I took possession in November of 2015, so I have had it just over a year and a half. One main reason of getting it was for the snow blower, but I don’t think I have 5 hours of snowblowing use on it since we have had two MILD winters!

For those not familiar, my tractor is a Kubota B2650, one of the larger compact tractors. I went with this for the extra ground clearance and lift capacity of the loader over the smaller B series. I have 10 acres, I wanted something not TOO big so I can toodle around in the woods, but something big enough to do some serious work. I didn’t think the BX series or the Deer 1025 type tractors would do much of what I wanted.

I didn’t track where I was earlier in the season, but this spring I have spent 2 or 3 hours grading the road, [… click to continue reading this post]

Officially out of ducks :(

A couple days ago we lost our last hen duck, I had assumed she went out and something took her in the woods but my wife noticed a few extra feathers around the yard so she thought something came into the pen to get her. I was debating selling or eating the last drake, but then this morning something DEFINITELY came into the pen to get him. Lots of feathers, he was ultimately cornered in the shelter and then drug out. I don’t know what it was, but I am guessing a fox since that is what took out so many.

So at this point we are down to just rabbits. Fortunately, with feeders and water nipples they can be left for long periods with minimal care. I’d love to have ducks and/or chickens again, but it won’t be any time soon. In the mean time I need to get stuff planted in their pen both to help on the erosion as well as take advantage of the fertility that is undoubtedly there. I had thought about using the fencing for a colony style rabbit setup, but that will have to wait for other rabbits since they’d be exposed and [… click to continue reading this post]

New tool for the homestead – a chainsaw

So last year I was borrowing my wife’s grandpa’s chainsaw. He bought a Craftsman little saw specifically for a tree in his yard, but other than that he didn’t have a ton of use for it. He needed it back this spring for a few other things and I was wanting to do a bit of cutting for firewood for the winter (assuming I get my wood furnace installed this fall!). My wife was headed out of town for a weekend so I figured that might be a good time to get a tree or two cut down. I have been trying to decide what saw, but ultimately, I decided to get this Husqvarna 455 rancher from Amazon. They were about $40-50 cheaper than the local place, not to mention with my Amazon credit card I get another 5% off Amazon purchases.

So, I now have a saw! One nice thing is that this should have quite a bit more power than the Craftsman. I may be wrong on that, it is 42cc vs 55cc, but I imagine the output on the Husky will be more (hard to tell since Craftsman doesn’t list the horsepower.

So I have taken down [… click to continue reading this post]

Rabbits getting used to me

So after a couple weeks it feels like the rabbits are getting used to me a bit. I’m no longer getting nipped at, though one still makes me hesitate because she kind of charges my hand. I’m no longer convinced it is aggression, but I’m not sure. They are getting to the point I can occasionally pet them, one (Oreo) seems to be very friendly and will come up to the cage door. I can even get my hands under her belly, but as soon as her feet leave the ground she freaks out and starts kicking.

The J feeders from tractor supply are working well, though in the rain they do let a bit of water in which turns the feed to mush. I’ll need to get a better overhang or a bit of a back wall on the structure at some point. For now I just don’t fill the feeders very full, particularly if it looks like it will rain in the near future.

My siphoning water jug to the rabbit nipples is working well. I did have one mishap though. I have two jugs T’d in to one another. One has an entry down low, one has [… click to continue reading this post]

Rabbit up and downs

So a couple days after I got the rabbits one of them bit me. I was going to pick her up so the kids could hold / pet her, she was having none of it and gave me a little nip. If you have rabbits, you are probably already shouting at me. Basically, everything we did (other than providing housing, feed, and water) we did wrong. Now I know that we shouldn’t have touched them for a minimum of a week, preferably two. I did get lots of good advice on a facebook rabbitry group. For instance, what I should have done the first week, and have been doing since, is simply spending time out there, talking with them, and bribing them with various foods. I’ve learned that they all pretty much love white pine branches / needles and grass, not so much kale and various other things we’ve tried.

So with a week of bribing under my belt the boy I am able to pet about half the time, the most chill rabbit will actually come to the cage door to investigate and can easily be pet. I did try putting my hand underneath her to move her once [… click to continue reading this post]

Rabbits!

So I’ve been looking at getting rabbits for several weeks now, I had made a cage a week or two back so I’d have one ready to go in case I find the right deal. I had been looking for a specific breed or two, but yesterday I really lucked out. On facebook I found somebody who was getting rid of four meat rabbits for FREE! They were changing up breeds and these had been the sister’s but she went off to school. So, I of course was quite interested in this deal! Last night I worked on making more cages, I got a second and third completed. After a DR appointment tonight I met the people and brought the rabbits home, three does and a buck. Tonight for the last 3 or more hours I made a hanging frame to hang the cages from, I modified the cages to add doors, added the feeders, and made a fourth cage.

The kids loved playing with the rabbits, two of them have a good temperament so they will be the kids. I think I’ll breed one of them soon to see how raising babies is. All 4 are unrelated so I [… click to continue reading this post]

Finally some nice weather! Pulled a tree out of the ground

The last couple weekends have been rainy on the weekends and beautiful during the week. Finally we had a weekend that had some good weather! So, I decided to take advantage of it. First step was to remove the boards from the ice skating rink. Of course, I couldn’t find my drill that had the right bit in it, so I distracted myself with another task instead. I had an 8″ or so white oak that was in the way the past two winters, making it hard to back up in the driveway, particularly when another vehicle is here. So, I decided to pull it out of the ground. I didn’t want to deal with the stump though, so I pulled the whole thing OUT rather than cut it down. I dug down a couple feet to try to loosen up the roots and then used my synthetic braid dyneema rope and a few pulleys to get a 4:1 mechanical advantage. I put a chain in the tree as high up as I could reach standing in the bucket, probably 12 feet or so up.

I gave it all a good pull using my back blade for some extra weight. [… click to continue reading this post]

Free hot tub, another dead duck, upcoming rabbits?

This past weekend I found a free hot tub on Craigslist and happened to see it within a half hour of posting. I was the first caller, so on Monday after work I hooked up the trailer and went to get it. The guy helped me out, and with leverage, ramps, and a come-along we were able to get it up the 3′ onto my trailer. So tonight I filled it up (and quickly found the unions were disconnected on either side of the heater and pump). After I got those hooked back up I did see a small leak at one of the fittings, I couldn’t tell exactly why since it is covered in foam. Before I spent too much time and effort on it I wanted to fire it up, so I hooked it up to my PTO generator (my cord wasn’t long enough to plug it in my 50amp outlet in the garage). When I turned it on the panel fired up, but no jets turned on. More concerningly, some smoke started coming from the pump motor after only a couple seconds! Turns out the pump is locked up Between that and the leak, I am not [… click to continue reading this post]

E-bike fail

So actually I’d consider this project a bit of a fail and a success. I was able to mount the motor on a bike frame and even get a decent tension on the belt. At 18v there was very little torque, so I put a second battery to make it a 36v pack. Doubling the voltage would then double the current, thus doubling the torque. That still didn’t do much, so I swapped the sprockets on the bike front to rear to again double or triple the torque (and slow down the speed). With that it was able to move on level ground, but on the second trial run the sprocket came off the aluminum pulley (it wasn’t a well fabricated part). I also managed to short out my battery, DOH! Worse, it was my 3.0aH battery that new is $100. Fortunately I had gotten it for $13, but it doesn’t make me feel a TON better. At some point I will try taking it apart to see if I can fix it somehow. Not sure if it is a fuse or if the circuits are fried.

Still, at this point I’d have to get up to 80v or more [… click to continue reading this post]

New project – electric bike

This past Saturday morning I was surfing Youtube before I was ready to get up and came across a nice electric bike add-on. I thought about it and I have all of the components needed. I have a treadmill that isn’t being used (and won’t be any time soon due to my wife’s foot issues which are what are prompting the desire to make this), a couple kids bikes they have outgrown (not to mention the two adult bikes), an Arduino and a variety of components including a high amperage MOSFET knowing at some point I’d want to control a high draw device. I started disassembly on Saturday and some machining of a pulley and rod, though after I did the math and saw full power would be 40 miles per hour and figured I’d need to re-do this work and use a larger step-down pulley. Part of that math was finding out the RPM of the motor using a strobe disk from here and then calculating the RPM using the gear ratios.

The metal working is a bit time consuming since I don’t really have the lathe set up for using, plus everything in the garage is jam packed [… click to continue reading this post]

Vehicles – almost an expensive lesson learned

So my wife’s car has been making some grinding noise for some time now, a couple months maybe? I had isolated it to the water pump, but figured so long as the water pump was working no big deal right? Eventually I knew it’d seize up and then I’d be forced to replace it, but in the meantime it was working just dandy. A week or two ago I was out with my son and we were killing some time at home depot. When we were done we still had about 10 minutes left so I started the car and he played some candy crush. We hadn’t been inside too long so the engine was still a bit warm. After 5 minutes or so the engine was up to temperature, but no heat was blowing. Fearing the worst I start poking around in the engine compartment. The water pump is still spinning, nothing too out of the ordinary, but I did notice some red liquid that had obviously been slung in a few areas. It was a bit oily feeling, but not like a real oil. I had no idea what it would have been, particularly over in that area [… click to continue reading this post]

Refilling propane tanks safer with the Flame King refillable tanks

So I recently came across this Flame King refillable tank adapter and I figured it was worth checking out. As you can see in the video it is pretty easy to use, even easier to get a completely full tank with no chilling needed. I also like the stand to get the tank in a usable position, and I LOVE the lever actuated filling! I am thinking about hacking it to fill the disposable tanks; as it comes it only fits the flame king refillable tanks , which aren’t exactly cheap. They aren’t terrible though, so I think it is worth having a couple.

Here is my Amazon link to the Flame King adapter with current pricing:

Here is what I like:

Easier to assemble and use (uses the outside threads of the tank with a hand wheel, vs the left handed threads of the Mr. Heater refill adapter which you have to get pretty tight (otherwise, when you tighten the disposable tank it loosens the adapter if you don’t have it in tight) The tank is meant to be refilled. There are a TON of people on my original video commenting that it is unsafe or illegal [… click to continue reading this post]

Working on a reloading bench

For some time now I’ve been having fun experimenting with shotgun reloading and different combinations. But, since I am EXPERIMENTING using a bunch of different hulls, different wads, different powders, and even different case lengths and gauges, it is more than a little bit of a mess in the basement. My reloading table is about 6′ wide and already has my dillon 650, my single stage press, and my powder measure on it. It is a bit small to hold 3 more shotgun presses! It was great for what it was intended; my dad built it for me after I graduated from college and at that time I had only the dillon. He designed it so it wouldn’t take up too much room in an apartment and so it could fit through standard sized doors so I’d be able to use and move it. In the last 10 years though my reloading has expanded. So, its time to get some additional space built.

Looking for ideas I found this cool bench that uses changeable inserts so things can be interchanged and stored out of the way when not in use. I thought that was a great idea, so right now [… click to continue reading this post]

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]