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]

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]