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]

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]

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]

The two babies are boys :-/

Well I went out a little bit ago to collect eggs (I am down to about 3 a day, not sure if 2 stopped or if all 5 are laying intermittently), feed the ducks, and let them out. One of the ducks got over the short fence, so on my way back in I encouraged it over. However, at that time I noticed the braaap, braaaap, sound that the males make. So I cornered the other and found it too was a boy. I had my suspicions since I hadn’t HEARD them prior to now (I read females can start making their sounds at 1-2 months). These will have to go soon so I’m not feeding 2 extra male mouths over the winter!

Hopefully today I’ll get their shelter enclosed so I can start locking them up at night. Not because they NEED to be locked up, but because they will be warmer and therefore eat less. If you give them unlimited feed they will do find in some pretty cold weather as far as I’ve been able to read, but MAN will they go through some food. My recent bulk feeder was semi-successful, but I found they went through [… click to continue reading this post]

Getting firewood chopped

It was a beautiful day today, we spent pretty much all day outside. It was upper 40’s/50’s and sunny, so I figured I’d take advantage and get some of these logs and chunks of wood cleaned up. I had my son (7) setting the chunks of wood upright, my daughter (5) carrying the splits, and I was using the maul to split the wood. It went pretty well and I nearly got all of the wood stacked up (at least enough to get it out of my way).

I’m not sure exactly how much there is, but I am guessing it to be close to two cords. I am going to be on propane this year to see how much is used (I blew in an extra 6″ or more when I first moved in), then make an evaluation if I should get a wood burning appliance (as well as what kind). By next year that wood should be nicely seasoned. Winter and cold weather seems a long way off with all these days in 50’s or even 70’s.

I used a couple of my pallets for firewood, getting it up off the ground. Once dry I’ll be able to [… click to continue reading this post]

So easy to learn these days

Tomorrow is my last day of the week, then I have a couple days of vacation, during which my family will be traveling to MO to visit my parents. It promises to be a busy weekend splitting up two travel days and two weekend days between my mom’s house and my dad’s house. The part I’m not looking forward to is trying to fit in working on my car on one end or the other of the trip. Earlier this week I noticed my floorboard was wet, and it had been slick for about a week. The wetness smelled rubbery, so I looked under the dash and saw a slow leak on my clutch pedal. A quick google search of “ford focus leaking clutch fluid” told me I needed to replace my master cylinder for the clutch. I have actually replaced my clutch on this car, so I knew the “clutch fluid” was brake fluid, but I still have a lot to learn about cars.

When I was in my teens my dad would work on his vehicles periodically. I always wondered how he learned how to do such things. By now I have done quite a few things on [… click to continue reading this post]

Complacent security

Wow, it has been a busy spring! I hadn’t really done anything too post worthy until this weekend (and this post won’t even be about that, I’ll have to gather pictures and get that later).

A couple of months ago I had a “break in” in our cars. My phone wakeup alarm started going off and I didn’t want to wake my wife so I took it out to the living room (it gets louder with time and you have to do a couple math problems so I couldn’t just turn it off). I got it shut off and noticed the lights on in my wife’s car with a shadowy figure inside. Her car turns the headlights, taillights, and interior lights on for a minute or so when the door has been opened. I quickly went back to the room to make sure my wife was still in bed (after all… I don’t want to over-react if she just forgot something in the car and ran out to get it!). Indeed, she was still in bed so I grabbed my phone and called 911 and also grabbed my 12 gauge. I was giving 911 a play by play when I [… click to continue reading this post]

Transitioning to rechargeable batteries

I recently have ordered another battery charger and a battery storage rack, reviews / posts coming on those in the near future. It made me think about my transition to rechargeable batteries and how far things have come. When I was in high school I spent nearly $100 on some NiCd rechargeables because I was into flashlights that really sucked down the juice. I really didn’t need to buy them though, and ultimately I regretted the decision. Those batteries did not have a great capacity and the charger was not very good. I do not know how long the batteries lasted, though I do know that they ultimately ended up in the trash.

Come college, now NiMH was available and brought higher capacity at a lower price. Chargers no longer took 4 hours, you could get a 1 hour charger that charged each cell seperately, something that was valuable to me. You see, if you have a device that uses an odd number of cells it makes it hard to recharge on a dumb charger. A dumb charger charges cells in pairs, you HAVE to have two in there, and if there is any difference in the capacity you can [… click to continue reading this post]

Refilling 1lb propane tanks – video

Recently amongst the various forums I browse I have seen several mentions of refilling 1lb propane tanks, so I thought I’d get in on the action. I have had hoses to convert between the tank types, but I hadn’t actually pickuped up a refill adapter. I picked up this Mr. Heater for around $14 on amazon, at least $5 cheaper than the hardware store had it for.

The video is of my first attempt. Now, even before my first try, I was confident that I would be successful, mostly due to the various hints I had read in some posts on various forums. I am quite familiar with PV=nRT, vapor pressures, etc due to my chemistry and chemical engineering degree. You do NOT need such information to be able to fill the tanks if you follow directions. So, here is the video:

So the steps are:

Have a FULL or nearly full grill tank available Fully empty the disposable tank (the mistake I made) at room temperature or warmer until there is NO pressure left. Freeze your tank for an hour or so. Make sure your grill/big tank is room temp or warmer Weigh the small tank, [… click to continue reading this post]

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everybody! I will obviously be with family during this time, hopefully I will resume some operations before the new year. Right now I am soaking some hazel nuts in water, I am trying to sprout them. After soaking they go in the fridge for a few months, so don’t expect an update on that right away.

Another thing I will be working on is making a remote control for my chronograph. Its not that I use it a lot, but I was just doing a project with my Arduino microprocessor for work and it got me in the mood. It was excellent timing too, just earlier this month a guy on the forums at did most of the legwork on getting the buttons working. That is basically all the commercial version does for $100, though it also gets a serial port to hook it to the computer. Who wants to lug a laptop around with them and use that for every shot? I am thinking I can incorporate an LCD and microprocessor to make the whole thing a standalone unit. We will see. If so, estimated cost would be around $50-60 to make it, though it [… click to continue reading this post]

Free garden mulch – fall leaves

As I mentioned in the last post you can get plenty of leaves to mulch your garden with. I haven’t come close to using all the leaves in my neighborhood, in an hour I only got two houses worth. If I had a truck I could have gotten a LOT more leaves, unfortunately, I was only using a 96 gallon or so recycling bin thrown in the back of our car. The hatch was held closed with a strap. I used a snow shovel to get the leaves into the bin.

In an hour I got 5 loads, enough to cover both my perennial raspberry garden and my annual garden. It isn’t enough to use as mulch next year, but it will definitely get me through the winter/sporting minimizing the amount of weeds I will have to encounter. I need to get more this coming weekend so I can stockpile them floor next year. It is almost impossible to have too many, if you can’t use them for mulch (that to its hard, 6” will really help keep in water), you can always mix them with your grass clippings and make compost with the remainder. So, just because you are [… click to continue reading this post]