December 2018!

I say this every month but really... I can't believe another month has gone by already!

November weather was very unusual. It was quite cold and we had a few good snowfalls but the rain, which was basically every other day, melted it all. 

Along with the rain and cold it was very windy. Not ideal weather for getting things done outside. It's been so windy actually that the lobster season opening day was postponed serveral times. It was suppose to open a week ago. Every few days when the Department of Oceans and Fisheries re-evaluated the weather and forecast it had to be postponed once again due to dangerous conditions. This morning the opening day didn't get cancelled and the boats all left very early to "dump" their traps at their favourite location to catch lobster. It is actually referred to as "Dumping Day" for that reason. 

Propane

This officially happened yesterday (November) however... we had a fellow come out to connect two additional tanks to the existing pair. The propane truck showed up soon after to fill all four. $800 later we have enough propane for a few years hopefully. As you likely already know from previous posts we heat with wood and use propane for cooking, hot water and occasionally the dryer. That works out to just over a $1 a day if the stored propane can last 2 years which is till Dec 2020!  

 "2020" that sounds so futuristic. I remember being a kid and watching Space 1999. At the time that show was 20 years into the future and now it's 20 years in the past!  Incredible! 

Berry Hill

I found a website Berryhill.ca and they sell all kinds of homesteading gear. 

They have a lot of cool stuff. I ordered 50 egg cartons so we can sell and/or give-away and store our duck eggs.

I ordered a few dozen glass jars that hold 1 pound of honey each. I also picked up some labels as this year we will be harvesting fresh honey from our bee hive!!!  I'm pretty excited about that as last year our bees didn't make it through the winter.  This year we tried a different style of hive and there was a lot of honey in the hive come fall. We left all of it in the hive (as we did last year) for the bees to overwinter. I have a feeling in 2019 we will have lots of honey to harvest. 

I ordered 10 three gallon buckets with lids, spiles and tapping bit! That's for tapping the maple trees on the property this spring. There's nothing quite like fresh, real maple syrup on pancakes!

I also bought a "home cheese making" book for when we get 🐐 or 🐑  or a 🐮 we can then make our own 🧀. 

 

Cleaned out greenhouse

Winter blues

It's not even winter yet and I think I'm getting the blues. I actually don't mind the cold and the snow.  It's the short daylight hours that get to me. The sun sets early here, around 5pm in November and December. That is a lot earlier then the 9:30 sunsets in June and July. 

We tidied up the greenhouse today and emptied out all the pots that had plants in them. We stacked the pots up and put away the gardening tools. That was a bit sad as we won't be planting for several months. We are really looking forward to this year's vegetable gardening.  I think some planning of what we are hoping to do in the spring/summer can help get rid of the blues. 

This summer we should get fruit from our trees that we planted over the last few years. We have peach, plum, apple, and cherry trees. We have a few grape vines as well. Looking forward to some fresh home grown fruit. 

This spring I'm hoping to plant a few more fruit trees and lots of wild flowers for the bees.  

We are hoping to plant the following vegetables; carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, cucumbers, zucchini, radish, beans, peas and potatoes in our gardens. We will also plant watermelon and cantaloupe as we did this year. We didn't harvest any of the cantaloupe as they were still quite small by the end of the season unfortunately. 

I think we actually might get some fruit next summer from our blueberry, raspberry, gooseberry and hascap berry bushes that we planted. Only the raspberry plants produced fruit this summer and only a handful at that. 

As for the bees 🐝 , we have decided to get a second hive started this spring. The first hive should produce enough honey 🍯 that we can harvest a bunch and leave enough for them to overwinter.  In another year and a half we should have two hives producing 20-30 pounds of honey each. Pretty exciting stuff. 

This spring we are going to tap 7-8 maple 🍁 trees and collect sap. It's about a 40:1 ratio of sap collected to syrup production! Wow that's a lot of boiling. I plan to build a outside fireplace from cinder blocks and boil down the sap so that it is more concentrated. I will post pictures and detailed explanation of drilling the trees and installing the spiles come spring when we are actually doing it. 

Fruit or Vegetable... that is the question

My wife and I had a discussion today about what makes something a fruit or a vegetable. A friend that works with me, recently told me something I didn't know about fruits and vegetables.  If you eat the root of the plant or the stem or the leaves then that is usually a vegetable! Think about it, carrots, potatoes, beets, turnips etc are basically the roots of the plant. Lettuce and spinach and cabbage are the leaf of their corresponding plant and asparagus is the stem of the asparagus plant. Fruits on the other hand grow from the flower that the plant produces. You don't eat the roots or leaves or stem of an apple tree but rather the "fruit" that grows from the flower. I never really thought about it much I guess. I do remember however when I was in grade school people started saying tomatoes were fruits not vegetables! Whatever 🙄, I know at least that a banana and a orange and an apple are fruit! Basically the rest are vegetables lol. Just kidding. But seriously by the "botanical" definition cucumbers and zucchini are fruit not vegetables. Never thought of that now did ya? When we looked up some stuff on line today, my wife said there actually was a court case concerning tomatoes 🍅 because fruits get a higher tax than do vegetables when they are imported. We also read that there is another definition that is a culinary definition that is different than the botanical definition 🙄  Really, I'm not kidding. So by the culinary definition cucumbers, zukes and pumpkins are vegetables! Wow this is confusing... pass the salt! 😜

Global economic woes

This isn't something I would typically write about but most people don't see the signs of what's coming.  The global economy is close to collapsing. Many countries are in serious trouble. Italy is basically bankrupt. Greece hasn't recovered from its major economic crisis that happened a few years ago. The Deutsche bank, which is the largest bank in Germany, is basically bankrupt.

Venezuela has experienced close to 1 million percent inflation! Yes that's the real number, they have a hyper-inflationary situation there that is out of control. People are starving and basic essentials like toilet paper are no where to be found, and if there was, people couldn't afford any. 

Many other countries are in serious economic trouble as well. Turkey and Argentina are just two that come to mind. The USA and Canada are not in much better shape actually. 

Massive companies like GE and GMC are in trouble. Days ago GM announced they are laying off 14,000 workers and looking at closing 5 plants. Ford just announced they are laying off 25,000 people!  This is real folks, it's happening right now. Alot of people don't see where things are going but the situation is bad and is going to get much worse.  Everything is so falsely inflated, in a bubble, that when one bursts the rest will likely follow. The housing market is seeing a major slowdown for new house starts as well as prices are so artificially high that there is going to be a major market correction. When this happens house prices will likely fall 40-50% from their current values. I'm sure some of you are 🙄 and saying ya right!  Major changes are coming whether you believe it or not.  All counties that have used fiat currency have seen their currency go to zero. It happens every time and Canada and the USA are not exempt. We have a debt based economy, and that can't sustain itself. 

Geo-political problems

It's not bad enough that we have economic problems throughout the globe, we also have political problems in many places that can easily escalate into wars. Russia and the Ukraine, China and the USA., Syria, Saudi, Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, ...  actually a recent article I read stated that globally out of 163 listed, only 11 countries are in a state of peace!!! How crazy is that?

There are dozens of countries that are at war internally, civil wars. The USA is a divided nation, France is currently experiencing tons of rioting as people are rising against the government. Yemen, Israel, Pakistan, Afghanistan,  Syria, Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia, India, Ethiopia, Libya etc...have been experiencing civil war for years, and millions of people have died. Us westerners don't hear much about it, and if we do, it's usually opposite to what really is going on there.  

The world is in a very sad state of affairs. For some reason I feel things are going to get alot worse before they get better. Prepare accordingly!

Thursday is Tractor Day

If everything goes as planned we should be getting our tractor delivered on Thursday afternoon.  We are pretty excited about it. Just in time to move 3 chords of firewood and maybe snow plow the driveway. 

I will post pictures later this week of the new (it's used but new to us) tractor. 

Collections

People have collections of different things. Some people collect stamps, or hockey cards, while others collect cars or motorcycles. My personal opinion is don't collect just for the sake of collecting. At the very least use what you collect. I have a small, maybe a dozen or so, but cool collection of pocket knives. I've been collecting for many years and I try and use all the knives that I have in my collection. Every few weeks or so I change the knife that I was carrying to a different one. Sometimes it's the Buck Vantage (one of my favourite) and sometimes it's a CRKT, Gerber or SOG that I have on me.

There are many different brands and models of knives available. Some are very expensive, hundreds of dollars for one knife. They definitely are nice pieces but personally I'd rather spend a total of $170 on 3 good knives, over the span of a year, than $350 all at once on one knife. 

Some good brands are Buck (USA made), CRKT (which stands for Columbia River Knife and Tool), Gerber, SOG, Kershaw, Benchmade etc.

My wife just gave me an Ontario RAT2 knife that she bought for me. RAT stands for Randall's Adventure and Training.  I think it was suppose to be a Christmas gift but I got it early ☺️.  Ontario knife company is based in the USA and make good quality knives for a reasonable price. The RAT2 is a new model that is smaller than the original RAT. It's my first knife by Ontario and I'm impressed with the build quality. It's blade is made from AUS8 steel. It has a liner lock which I prefer to a back lock. The handle (called the scales) are textured Nylon 6 which are durable and light weight. It also has a pocket clip which is an important feature for me.  

Ontario RAT2

Buck Vantage

Watch for Sales

Most things go on sale and you can save a bundle.  I don't usually pay regular price for anything unless I need it that day. 

When I'm in larger cities for work I try and stop by a Cabellas or Bass Pro to check out the knife section. Once in a while it works out that there is 40-60% off on certain models of knives. I picked up this Kershaw for $19. That was a good price for a quality knife and a model that's likely not too common. 

Kershaw 3/4 ton - $19 on sale!

Cutting Trees

I'm a bit of a tree hugger. I don't like cutting trees down.  It has to be a good reason for me to fell a tree. Yes we heat with wood 🙄. In Ontario we cut our road (driveway) in that was about 1000 ft long and also cleared the spot for the garage, for the septic bed and also for the house. I cut only what I needed too and that wood lasted us several years. We try and harvest trees that have fallen over or are dying. I also don't cut trees down in the spring when birds are nesting. 

The reason for this post is that I have to cut down 3 fairly large trees tomorrow for someone. They are tall and there is a new solar array that is  very close by. We will only attempt it if there's is no wind or possibly if the wind is blowing in the direction that we want the them to fall. 

I have a Stihl FarmBoss MS290 chain saw. It is a fairly large saw at 56cc and has a 18" bar. It can handle the job, the question is can I handle the trees 🌲 . 😳

 

Stihl MS290 FarmBoss

Tools of the trade

Besides a chain saw there are a few other things I will need. 

I'm bringing my safety gear as well as some bar oil, fuel and gas mix. I also picked up some high density plastic wedges to help felling the trees. I also need my saw tool so I can adjust the tension on the chain if required. 

Hardhat with ear muffs and face protector

Stihl wedge

Chainsaw Tool

Notching a tree

Open Face Notch

I will be using a similar approach to the picture above when cutting the trees down tomorrow. There is one difference being the upper cut, which is the first cut. I will be making it at a 70 degree angle rather than a 45 degree like it is shown.  This is safer as when the tree is falling, and the notch is closing, it won't close completely prior to the tree being on the ground. If the notch closes off and the tree is still falling the hinge can break violently and the tree can kick back. This is also one reason the operator of the saw stands to the side and never behind the tree. 

Once I have the back cut (main cut) in part way I will hammer in a wedge or two so that it doesn't sit back and bind my saw. If I get my saw stuck that won't be good as I will only have the one saw with me. 

The part labelled as "gap" in the above illustration is what most call the hinge. This is not cut. Once the back cut is complete the tree will (should) fall forward and the hinge will be the pivot point. 

Birds... lots of birds

Birds birds everywhere!

I like birds. I have seen over 350 different species in my life. I started keeping track maybe 15 years ago. 

Where we lived in Ontario for 12 years we always had several feeders up and went through a few hundred pounds of seed a year.  I think there is close to 700 species in Canada and I've only seen half of them. 

What's incredible is that there is over 9000 different species of birds in the world. 

We got introduced in 2002 to Project Feeder Watch" and to the "Christmas Bird Count".  Project feeder watch starts in November and goes until early January. To participate you register and then basically make a list daily of what species of bird you saw/heard. You also need to record the highest number of a species you see at one time. For example if you see 3 Pine Siskins twice at the feeder and once you saw 4 at the feeder you would record 4 (rather than adding them all together)  With large flocks you would try and estimate 20-30 or 30-40 etc.

If you never had birds come around your home, and would like to, simply put up a feeder and fill it with Black oil sunflower seeds.  Within a week you should have several birds at the feeder and likely a few different species. 

Depending on where you live, you will have different species of birds visiting your feeders. In most of Canada you would likely see some Chickadees, Juncos, Jays, Grosbeaks, Sparrows, Siskins, possibly a few Nuthatches, Woodpeckers, a Chipmunk or two and of course Squirrels!

Once you get into feeding birds, identifying them and possibly taking some pictures, you will find it fun and also relaxing.

In addition to Project Feeder Watch, I also participated in the Christmas Bird Count. Anyone interested would meet at a predetermined location and the person organizing the outing would help get us into groups. Each group was then assigned to an area on a local map. We then drove around and took inventory of any birds that we saw or heard.  We lived in a rural area and the area we surveyed was for the bird count was also rural. The area we were often assigned to, contained one section of a small town and the surrounding area to the west. The west section of our area had a few back roads and farms and then to the south of that was a First Nation. There were typically 3-4 participants in a vehicle and we would drive around slowly with the windows down. Yes it got pretty cold in the truck. Knowing this we dressed warm and kept the heater on. We would meet back in 3-4 hours and tally up what we had seen. Some groups would see 30-40 different species and hundreds of individual birds counted. The data was later sent to Bird studies Canada (BSC) where it was analyzed.  BSC could then see if populations were increasing or decreasing in number and also if certain species' ranges (location on a map where they could be found) were increasing or decreasing in size. Our group often saw owls and raptors (hawks, eagles, falcons). It was a great time and it's always fun to meet with people that have similar interests.

Below are some pictures I have taken over the years. 

 

 

Gray Jay - Northern Ontario

Greater Scaup - Port Dover, ON

Great-blue Heron - Nairn Center, ON

Bald Eagle - Espanola, ON

Golden Plover - Inuvik, NWT

New homestead addition

Tractor with plow attachment

Bring on the snow!

Robert from VanOostrum's in Port Williams NS delivered our tractor a few days ago. My wife even drove it the first day! 

The tractor has a quick connect and disconnect method for changing implements and attachments. Move one lever and slide it over and the front bucket comes disconnected. Drive the tractor over to the attachment you want to use, line it up and slide the release lever the other way.  

Changing over to the bucket

Veseys

Veseys seed catalog just arrived a few days ago. It's their 80th year in the seed business!  They sell flower seeds, vegetable seeds, young shrubs and fruit trees. They sell seed starting equipment, pots, watering systems along with gardening tools and many accessories to make gardening more productive and fun. 

My wife and I went through the catalog together and picked some vegetable seeds such as beet greens, TomCat peppers, Hungarian peppers, and Napoli carrots. We also chose a few berry shrubs, to add to our existing plants, such as gooseberry raspberry, hascap and blueberry. Last but not least we ordered some wild flower mix called "Bee 🐝Feed Mix" which is suppose to be awesome for.... yes bees 🐝!

Seed Catalog

Weather Station

Outdoor sensors

People adjust their plans, work, vacation, etc around the weather. When you live offgrid you even adjust the times that you wash clothes, make bread 🍞 etc., all because of the weather.  There is only so much energy stored in the batteries. Without input from the sun or a generator you won't be doing too many tasks that require electricity when the batteries get low. We have a propane Generac ECO 6kW model which is backup for the house system which consists of nine 265W modules and eight L16 batteries. I plan on installing a wind turbine hopefully this spring as its often windy here.

For our sleep/guest camp we have six 250W solar modules and four L16 AGM batteries. If the sun isn't cooperating then we need to use our generator, a 5000W Honda that is 17 years old, to charge things up.  It ran good until sometime this summer. I finally got it fixed last week at the local Honda shop. They did an awesome job and it wasn't expensive.

Back to the weather station... my wife bought it for us yesterday and I installed it this afternoon. It shows indoor temperature and humidity, and more importantly outdoor temperature and humidity along with wind speed. It has a great interface as shown in the above picture. There is also the ability to set alarms for temperature and windspeed. I installed the outdoor sensor on the shed for now. It's wireless so it won't be a problem to relocate it. I want to install it on the top of our house sometime soon. 

Using tractor to move generator

My dad always said "son, use your head instead of your back", so I did!☺️

Our guest camp can be seen in the background of the above picture. Its about 300 feet from our home. The Generac is hardwired to the house system as it is not portable. Our Honda generator, on the other hand, is started when needed and plugged into the inverter/charger of the camp system to charge up the batteries. 

It is not good to let the batteries get discharged by 60-70% (so that there's only 30-40% of the charge remaining), so we needed a generator for the guest camp as well. 

Snow on solar array

Wet snow usually sticks to everything turning the scenery into a winter wonderland. It builds up even on a clothes-line! A problem however, is that it also sticks to a solar arrray. Even with the solar modules tilted to 70 degrees, for winter's low sun angle, it accumulates. We need to remove the snow or it will freeze onto the glass and then it's a serious chore to clean off. The snow blocks the sun's energy which in turn means no electricity production. That's not good 😳. If the snow is dry/powdery it still manages to accumulate.  A gust of wind or a quick sweep with a broom usually fixes that problem.

One benefit from all the snow was I got to try out the tractor and plow!  Twenty cm of wet snow is pretty heavy. First I had to dig out my plow and then install it onto the loader arms. I had the bucket on the tractor because I used it to fix the driveway just a few days ago. The potholes were getting big and it was a pain to drive around them when we were leaving or getting home. Several buckets of gravel and some fancy back-blading ☺️ and the potholes disappeared. 

Clearing snow off house array

Crazy weather!

The weather has been all over the place this past week. From -10 (-15 with wind chill) just a few days ago, accompanied by 20cm of snow, to plus 15 today! It rained a lot yesterday afternoon and into this morning.  I think we got at least 25mm of rain with more on the way today. All the snow is gone. The temperature over night is going to drop quickly to zero degrees or lower. 

Yesterday I hired a company to come over with a small excavator to fix something that's been causing some problems. Our driveway drops about 10 feet in elevation over a distance of about 80 feet. This section is right before our house and we park at the lower area. At the top of the hill there is a spot in the road that is about 3 feet in diameter that is always wet. In the middle of the summer when the road is dry and dusty,  the "spot" still is wet. In the winter after a snowfall, the "spot" is clear of snow, while the rest of the road has 15cm. The problem is the water from the "spot" runs down the hill onto the lower section and freezes. The hill becomes iced and the lower section is a skating rink. It's makes driving difficult and walking dangerous. Something needed to be done!  The contractor showed up yesterday morning with an excavator and a dump truck dropped off a load of "clear stone". Clear stone as it's usually called has no fines or gravel just 1-2" rocks. It's great for drainiage. 

I asked the excavator operator to dig a hole at the "spot" and see what we find. What we found was the source of the wetspot..... water and lots of it running under the roadway. 

Trenched over towards the duck pen

Big "O" stretched out.

Drainage

The excavator put a thin layer of the clear stone on the bottom of the trench. I laid the 4 inch "weeping tile" into place and held it down as he put buckets of clear stone over top. The drainage pipe has a white "sock" no it to prevent the pipe from getting filled with silt and fine sand. The pipe has perforations all around it which allows the water to get into the pipe and flow out the end. While the excavator operator was finishing at the end of the trench he asked if I wanted a small pond dug for the duckies!  I was like "wow what a great idea!"  It's something my wife and I wanted to do but never got around to it. What better time then right now that there is an excavator right where the pond would go lol. 

Voila! 20 minutes later and there is a pond about 9 feet across and 1.5 feet deep. Its a good size for the ducks to swim around.  Its not to big that it would be difficult to round them up when its time to go back into their pen.  

I built a "dam" to hold back some of the water in the pond so it fills up deeper. 

 

 

Dam for new duck pond

Rainfall Problemo

We had over 40mm of rain from yesterday afternoon to this morning.  The ground surface is thawed out but it is still frozen once you get down a few inches. The water can't drain into the soil, as it normally would, because it is frozen.  The driveway was flooded in places and the creek that runs along side our driveway (which is 1100m) was flowing like it does in the spring when the snow has melted. If it flowed like that all the time I would be installing a small water turbine in the creek to generate power! 

Water over roadway at our gate

Creek that runs along driveway

The picture above doesn't really show the volume of the flow. The creek that had basically stopped flowing has come alive. There were small rapids in places and also a few small waterfalls!  

When we drove out today the truck was making deep ruts in the gravel. I will have to use the tractor to back blade and flatten them out before they freeze as ruts. 

Back-blading the driveway

Ducks enjoying new pond

2 Parcels arrive

Between friday and then today 2 parcels arrived. One was really big and the other really small. The small one had something I ordered that was basically the same price as the large one. The small package had 200 studs for the front tires of our tractor. At $1 each... do the math lol. To give you a better idea of the size, they can all fit in a small pill bottle. I hope to install them over the next few days.  As small as they are they should make a big difference!

The large box 📦 is 3ft wide by 3ft high by 3ft deep, contains lots of fun things. 50 or so new egg cartoonsfor our duck eggs. Ten 3 gallon buckets with lids for tapping maple trees. A special drill bit and 10 spiles. We also got a dozen new empty maple syrup jugs and 2 dozen new jars for honey 🍯 with labels. I'm excited for spring lol and just a few days ago it was the first day of winter!

Climate Change ?

In 2006 I watched the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth". For a few years after that, I was definitely on the global warming train. I made an effort to spread the information that we had to do something to reduce our CO2 emissions or we would be in serious trouble. 

Several year later, after reading some articles, I realized that the phrase "global warming" was somewhat misleading. A better name for what was happening would be "Climate Change". The problem with "global warming" was that a lot of places weren't experiencing warmer weather but rather cold weather. Some places had actually got snow that never had before. 

Upon further investigation there was sufficient evidence that much of the global warming data and modeling were wrong or incorrect. 

Fast forward 10 years or so and I am now thinking that a handful of scientists, that are saying a mini iceage is imminent, are in fact correct. When you have a chance read up on the coming "mini ice age". 

Between the possibility of a mini ice age and the related "pole shift" and weakening magnetic field, we could be in for some major changes to the earth and life as we know it. This topic will be discussed in more detail in days to come. 

 

Merry Christmas!

 

I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! Please do not be offended if you don't celebrate Christmas. The greeting is meant to share the Joy and Peace that this time of year brings to us. 

 

I also want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read our blog. We really appreciate it.

Moving firewood... the fun way

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck...

My wife brought 4 loads of firewood down to the woodshed with the tractor! She's becoming a pretty good operator. 

I piled at least 3 of the loads into the woodshed and hope to do another 3 or 4 tomorrow. 

And nooooo I didn't refer to my beautiful wife as a woodchuck!

Solar Power

This morning when I was down at the sleep camp getting something, I took a peek at the charge controller. I was totally expecting the system to be charging at 40 Amps or so but it was roughly half of that! I looked outside and yup it was still sunny. The sun is low in the sky this time of year and it was shining directly onto the solar array that is tilted to about 70 degree from the horizontal. Something was definitely wrong...

I walked down to the solar array that was on the way back down to the house. With a screwdriver, that I left there, I opened the combiner box expecting to see a tripped breaker. No tripped breaker. Uh oh. I grabbed my tool bag and got my multimeter out. I shut both breakers off and tested each of the two circuits coming from the solar array. 

Sun and to the right the solar array

One circuit 109.9V

The second circuit...zero volts

Troubleshooting

There was definitely a problemo. One circuit was not producing anything. That would explain the Amps being half of what I expected on the charge controller.  

Now I had to find what was wrong. I suspected a connection, where the solar modules are plugged into one another, was not making contact. I followed the wires that were all nicely managed and secured to the rails with quality zip ties. I had to cut several zips to properly follow some of the wires. After verifying each module had output I began to check the wires, called "homeruns" that go to the combiner box. One of them had a problem with the metal connector inside the plastic housing. A plastic piece that holds the actual metal connector in place had broke inside causing the connector to pull away from the mating connector. I replaced the end and plugged them in and voila! 110V on each circuit. I went back to the charge controller and sure enough it was charging at 43A!

Welding

When I get enough money saved up I'm hoping to get a used arc (stick) welder. There are a few things I would like to build for my tractor and making them out of wood won't cut it. The attachments/implements I'm hoping to build have to be made out of metal. I guess you can always drill and bolt metal together but that would seem to be more work than just welding them.

I spoke with a few people and they recommended a mig welder as it is easier to use. Personally I've used a stick welder and i was able to get some nice welds after some practice. I tried a mig and couldn't get it to cooperate. I'm sure it was me and not the machine as I had someone that knows what they're doing set it up. I guess it's what ever you're comfortable with and use to. There seems to be more things to have to get right with a mig than with a stick.  Proper wire size, proper wire feed speed, correct amperage, proper tip size, proper tip shield, and if you're using gas the right flow rate.  With an arc welder the correct rod and amp setting is about all you really need.  There is slightly more to it than that, such as travel speed and arc length, but to me it's a lot easier. Also you can stick weld outside, in the wind, even on metal that has surface rust. I think it's a lot more forgiving if you're not a pro. 

 

Log skidder

I am a tree hugger to a certain extent. I don't cut down trees unless its necessary to and when I do I honestly feel bad 😔.

I plan on salvaging all the dead fall trees for firewood rather than cutting down perfectly healthy trees.

I do however plan to "somewhat" clear an acre of land so we can have some farm animals. The animals will primarily be for milk production which we will use to make cheese.  What type of animals? We're not sure yet. Likely some dairy sheep and a cow. 

Above I said  "somewhat" clear the land as we will leave most of the taller and larger trees standing. It's become a trendy technique called silvopasture or agroforestry.  Many trees are left standing to provide shade for the animals which are still able to roam around and graze between the trees. It's a much more environmental way to build a pasture. 

Birds birds and more birds!

A second feeder

I bought my wife a second bird feeder for Christmas. It's the same as the one we have.  Yesterday we had between 20-30 Evening Grosbeaks and 20-30 American Goldfinches. We had a few chickadees and nuthatches as well but no bluejays. I'm not sure where the bluejays went. Oh ya and there were two squirrels! 

Being prepared...

Most of you have heard of "preppers", crazy people that are prepared for the zombie apocalypse and everything in between! Well that's how non-preppers think of preppers from what I've heard. 

Am I a "prepper"? Not really, but I guess it all comes down to your definition of what exactly a prepper is. 

I consider myself a fairly aware individual. I prepare for the worst most of the time, just in case. When I use a power tool I usually put on safety glasses... just in case something goes flying and is headed for my eyes!

I wear a helmet when I drive an ATV or snowmobile on our remote property. Why? Because stuff happens and I don't need to crack my head and mess up the rest of my life and my wife's. We wore life jackets when we were sailing up through the middle of Lake Huron. There were no other boats in sight so no chance of a patrol boat giving us a ticket. Why did I wear one? I wanted to be prepared incase something happened. 

Why do people with bee alergies carry an epi pen? Cause stuff happens and they want to be prepared and reduce their chance of dying.

Most people with common sense want to reduce the risks and have provision or a plan for worst case scenarios. 

Is there a possibility that life as we know it will undergo a significant change in the future?  Absolutely!  Could the supply chain stop? (that's delivery trucks and trains) For sure it could, indefinitely? Not likely. For a week or two? Absolutely! Could local gas stations run out of fuel? Yes I've seen it happen in the area and last for a few days. Can the power grid go down? Yup, seen it down for days with hundreds, thousands and yes millions of people without power. 

Can you prepare for everything? Not really. Prepare for things that are likely to happen. There's no point in preparing for a hurricane if you live in Saskatchewan. If you live on the east coast of North America however, that might be a good idea. There's no reason to carry rattle snake antidote if there are no such snakes in the province however you might want to have some bear spray if you are hiking in the Kootenays.  🐻 

What type of things should you prepare for? Well that's a good question. Everyone needs access to clean water. Some stored water and water purification equipment is a good idea. Some food. Some medical supplies. Medication both over the counter and prescription if you are taking anything on a regular basis. A few extra dollars. Some extra fuel, such as gas, propane and diesel. 

I've heard it said to make sure you have beans, bullets, bandaids, bullion and the bible. I agree with all of that. As mentioned you also need some water to drink. A person can last 3 days maximum without water. As for food most can survive much longer without grub. It won't be fun but it's doable. Without water we will be in deep trouble. 

Tractor storage compartments

Tool bag for tractor

There's no place in the tractor to store anything really. They have a cup holder and small area beside that which might hold your bank card lol. There's no center console or glove box on a tractor. 🙄

I want to carry a few things with me in case I need them when I'm out and about with the tractor. 

I had a Husky tool bag in the shed and repurposed it for the tractor.  There are two doors to get into the tractor.  I use the left door as the right side has the loader bucket control stick. If you had to you could get in or out of that side but the controls are definitely in the way.   I will keep the tool bag on the floor on the right side of the seat. It shouldn't get in the way there.

I put an adjustable wrench inside and a recovery strap. A recovery strap can be used to tow someone out if required or to rig something up to lift with the bucket. 

Recovery strap

I also added a shackle to make rigging easier with the recovery strap. I picked up a couple of linch pins and threw them in the tool bag in case I lose one off the tractor.  I added a tape measure which usually comes in handy, and I will find a ball pein hammer in the shed that can get relocated.  A good flashlight, knife, along with pliers and a few screwdrivers and that should cover most situations.  

Clevis or shackle

Linch pin

Adjustable wrench

20 ft of 3/8" chain

I picked up twenty feet of 3/8" chain with hooks. It will be useful for pulling or lifting large rocks out of the field/pasture when we are clearing some land. It would also be handy to have if I need to pull out some tree stumps. 

I didn't need 20ft but that's how it was sold at the shop I went to. I plan on cutting it in half so I will have two 10 foot pieces. Regardless on how I cut it the entire length weighs about 30 pounds, so if I keep both pieces...

I have a plan for where to put the chain. Pictures to follow. 

Make sure when you are buying chain, straps, shackles or hooks you buy rated gear that is built for lifting/towing. Regular chain will break. Regular hooks will snap. When this happens someone could get seriously hurt. Always use the proper tools and heard for the job. 

Rated hooks or shackles will have WLL or SWL stamped right on them. 

This stands for Working Load Limit or Safe Working Load. 

2 pieces of chain

I used my cordless angle grinder with a zip disc to cut the 20 feet of chain in half. I also cut 4 links off of one piece to make a "shortening chain". 

A shortening chain does what its name suggests, it allows you to easily shorten a chain or even join to chains. It can do this as it has a grab hook on either end. 

Shortening chain