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Homestead Update 4/8/2018

8 Apr

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I had a new pole barn built in the back area of the homestead this past week. First, the truck showed up with the supplies. I was worried they would not be able to carry the material to the back where it needed to be but the man said “no problem. This forklift has wheels that rotate so it can move sideways.”

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Sure enough, he picked up the material, turned the wheels, and slipped right down the gravel path beside the barn.

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There is the opening I cleared out by the creek.

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The men laid out the square where the posts would be set then used a post hole digger attachment on a skid steer to bore the holes.

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They set the posts then used the skid steer to lift and place the steel trusses.

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Soon, they had it finished.

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And by soon, I meant REALLY soon. Those 5 young Mennonites had that 24X30 barn up and finished in three hours. I kid you not! It would have taken me and my three employees 5 days to do what they did in 3 hours, that is why I was willing to pay them $1900 to put it up for me. I am going to enclose the barn on three sides with my employees and myself, but there is no hurry on that.

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I already have two posts installed for the back wall and I am waiting for the concrete to set up and I will continue slowly but surely on the walls. I’ll keep you updated on my progress. Until then, keep prepping everyone.

Homestead Update 3/19/17

19 Mar

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Tomorrow is the first day of Spring, but this is what we had last week, maybe 2 inches of snow.

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I ordered these large bags of wild flower seeds but I need to wait another month before I plant them. I wanted to have some flowers for my bees to feed on. Speeking of bees, I split one of my hives today. I opened it up and every frame was crawling with bees and there was a LOT of brood, much of it capped and ready to hatch. I did a walk-away split on this hive last year and it worked perfectly, I hope it turns out that well again.

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I made 10 telescoping covers for my hives recently and I wanted to put metal on the covers like the ones I buy from Mann Lake. I bought this metal brake from Harbor Freight two years ago so I decided it was time to give it a try.

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I have to admit my first attempt was an abject failure! The cover on the bottom is my second attempt and it looks just fine. The cover on top is the one I had to re-bend and try a second attempt, that is why it is so wrinkled and ugly. After covering six of the tops, I realize I really didn’t need the metal brake because the aluminum flashing is so thin. The flashing might be twice as thick as a store-bought pie plate, but describing it like that is being generous. I could have made a metal brake using a couple of 2X4s and it would have worked just fine for this task, but I might need to bend something heavier in the future so I will hold on to it.

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I had a meeting with one of my clients at his office and I checked out his train set. This is not a child’s set, this is a big-boy set!

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I doubt if I will ever see a more elaborate set than this one!

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I was looking through my pictures for this post and I realized I haven’t posted a picture of Brandy lately. She weighs 9 pounds now and that should be her final, adult size. It is a real ball of laughs watching her play with her toys!

 

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I was in the restroom of Subway recently, and I saw this sign written in braille stating employees must wash hand before returning to work. Then I wondered to myself “how many blind people do they have making sandwiches at this Subway?” Just more unnecessary government regulations intruding on our lives. Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 12/11/16

11 Dec

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Once again, I haven’t accomplished much around the homestead lately. I did cut up two small trees that died during the summer and I stacked the wood on the back porch in the stand Sweet Thing bought at Big Lots. The temperatures fell into the teens this past week. I know you Yanks probably consider that “light jacket” weather, but around here we consider that bitterly cold! I told Sweet Thing it was time to light a fire in the fireplace, but she said “No!”

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She already had the fireplace decorated for Christmas and she refused to take it down unless the power goes out and we absolutely had to have the heat. I guess I’ll have to wait until after New Years to have a warm, cozy fire.

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My niece bought a house recently and the previous owner subscribed to a garbage service which she wasn’t going to use. She called the company and told them to come get this big, green, heavy duty, rolling garbage can. They told her to just keep it because it would cost them more to send a man out to pick it up than it would to just write it off. She asked if I wanted it and I said “of course I do”!

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One of the young men that works for me recently bought a house and he wanted to dump into my back gully some old carpet that he tore out while he was remodeling. He also dumped this wood and fortunately I discovered it before it rained tonight! There was a good 2×4, 1×4, 2×8, 2/3 of a sheet of interior paneling, 1/2 a sheet of particle board, several smaller pieces, a roll of hardware cloth, a package of gutter leaf guards as well as this solid wood door. I asked him why he threw this away and he said he thought I didn’t like particle board. I said I don’t really like it, “UNLESS IT IS FREE’! Then I will take all I can get. This heavy wooden door is way better than the back door I have in my shop right now so I will replace it with this one soon. I told him not to throw away any more wood without checking with me first. I have several projects I can use that wood on. I will keep you updated on my projects, until then, keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 10/11/15

11 Oct

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The weather has turned so cool, my barn kitties were all cuddled up together when I checked on them today. The leaves are falling from the trees, but they have no bright colors this year. I guess the drought we are having are just making them turn brown then falling off.

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I managed to get one of my projects completed and checked off of my list this week. I finished the field lines for my septic system for my bathroom in my shop/barn. That sure will come in handy this winter. There is no way I could have dug the trench for the lines without my backhoe attachment on my tractor. The trench is 2 feet wide and 3 feet deep, and the ground is hard as a rock. Even with the backhoe, it took a long time to dig. I had to drag the bucket along the trench digging up an inch or two at a time. That’s as deep as I could go because the ground was so hard.

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I planted some buck wheat seeds 3 weeks ago and it is blooming! I wanted to have something blooming for my bees to work before they quit for the winter. I’m surprised that buckwheat blooms so quickly. I slung these seeds out by hand and like PP, I got mine way too thick!

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I slung those seeds by hand, but I could have used this seeder I recently purchased. I used it to fertilize the grass up near the house and I used it to plant the deer browse in the back. It works well for something I paid less than $100 for. I had taken the seeder off of my ATV and I didn’t want to take the time to re-mount the seeder  just to spread the buckwheat, so I just used a bucket and slung the seed by hand.

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The crop year is almost finished, all that remains to do is harvest the crops and see if they are good enough for me to come back and work again next year. I need to take this computer into the shop and get some unwanted mal-ware removed from it. That is one reason I have not posted for 3 weeks. My computer is running so slowly, it has taken an hour to put up this one post. If I can’t get it cleaned up, I guess I will have to buy another one. Until then, keep prepping everyone!

Bug Out Bunker for Preppers

24 Jul

I don’t know why I waited so long to tell you about this structure, I drive by it every week during the summer.

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This is a solid concrete bunker house that a man (let’s call him John) built after the Arab Oil Embargo of 1979. John was so convinced that OPEC was going to strangle the US economy by cutting off the oil supply for years and years. He said the price of all fossil fuels would go through the roof. Consequently, the price of not only gasoline would skyrocket, but the cost of producing electricity would be so high most people would not be able to afford to run air conditioners in the summer or heat in the winter. That is when he had this concrete bunker house constructed. All of the walls, floors and ceilings are solid concrete, not only for the insulating factor, but also as a secure fortification from intruders. The front has too much area to be glassed in for either purpose in my opinion, but I guess that could be corrected if the need ever arose. Before he finished the house, the embargo was lifted and things got back to some semblance of normalcy and the bunker sits there unfinished. The locals mockingly refer to the structure as Crazy John’s Bunker, but if TSHTF somebody might just finish it and move in! How would you like to live in a bunker? Keep prepping everyone.

Homestead Update

25 Apr

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I had to work three days this week; still I managed to get the bathroom finished in my shop. The walls are painted, the fixtures are set, and the water lines run and hooked up. We had one connection leaking but we managed to get it stopped. I still need to hook up the septic tank, but I have to wait for the rain to finish tonight. I didn’t want to dig a six foot square hole and have it filled with rainwater tomorrow.

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After we hooked up the water supply lines, I used the stopper and filled up the lavatory to check for leaks. Kensey jumped up and stood in the water with all four feet and proceeded to splash the water out with his paw. Thanks for the help! Oreo was in the other room sleeping, he didn’t even come in until we were finished.

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While I was working, I saw this air conditioner housing in the middle of the road. Being a good Samaritan, I stopped to put it on the shoulder before someone hit it, and I noticed the mesh grill on the back. I immediately realized I had a use for that.

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I pulled it loose and carried it home to cut into 3 inch squares to cover the holes in my swarm traps to prevent the birds from coming in. I can get at least 24 hole covers from this so I won’t have to cut up my rabbit cage wire. I painted the three swarm traps I made and I will put out another one tomorrow. I will have one at the back and one at the front of our property. Oh, the Red Fox showed back up this Spring. Sweet Thing and I both have seen him out in the daytime just about every day this past week. He trotted past the dog pen one morning and Wilma barked at him a little bit but Jethro just stood there and watched. Some watchdogs you two are! Keep prepping everyone!

Swarm Traps, Homestead Update & Roadside Treasure

18 Apr

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I finally took some time to make some swarm traps today. As you can see, I have a large, medium and small size to see which works best. The small size is made from the 10 frame medium super I found on the roadside last Spring. It has propolis and wax on the inside so it should have that good bee smell already. The middle size is made from a new 8 frame deep hive body and the large size is made from a pine 1X12. When I found the 10 frame super I also found 2 frames still intact with old black wax and I will put one in each of the new boxes. Some of the people I’ve read recommended that, but some said not to do that because it would attract wax moths. Well we shall see, after all, this is a new learning experience for me. The weatherman says we will get some storms and rain tonight and tomorrow. If so, I will put a couple of coats of paint on them tomorrow. The lid on the small trap has a single coat of paint I put on it already today. I used a partial can of  paint I bought 17 years ago that has sat in my storage area where it probably froze and thawed repeatedly over the years, but I think it is still useable. Does it have some lumps and clumps? Yes it does, but I am just painting hives with it so I can just flick off the lump when I see it. The bees won’t care if it is a perfect paint job or not.

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When I brought the two boxes of bee supplies over to my shop, I set them in the man cave while I went to unlock the back door. By the time I had walked around, Kensey and Oreo had already spotted the boxes. “Hey what’s this? This stuff is new, we need to check it out!” Thanks for the help guys.

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I had to make a new burn barrel because the previous one finally fell apart. It lasted 2 years but between being weakened by the heat of the fires and the @#$%!! raccoons crawling in and out of it the wire finally broke down. I’m using rabbit cage wire so I have about $10 invested in it as well as 1 hour of my time. That’s much cheaper than the $459 model from DR Manufacturing I reported on last year!

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I also bought this little jewel. I have a large, professional model Troy-Bilt weed eater with the chainsaw attachment. It is a fine heavy-duty machine, but it is difficult to start for the first time of the day, especially if it hasn’t been run for a while. But you can plug this electric starter into the end and push the button and it will fire right up. It cost $29 but it prevents a lot of cussin’ and fussin’ on my part!

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I also found this roadside treasure this week. It is a brand new double roll of plastic warning tape, similar to police crime scene tape only it says “Warning, Buried Electric Lines.” Who knows I might need to mark off an area as off-limits some day and this will do just fine. I made Sweet Thing jump out of the vehicle and pick it up, by the way. She wasn’t too pleased about that! I guess that is enough for now, keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update

11 Apr

We had another warm week here with several days of rain showers. We still haven’t had the damaging winds and hail like others have experienced near us, and I hope we don’t.

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I did manage to get my bath room in my shop insulated, walled up, electrical installed, and painted. Fancy colors, Huh? I got some of the trenches dug for the water lines but I didn’t have time to actually lay the lines. Hopefully I can get that done this week, but the weatherman is calling for 50% chances or more for rain all week so I may just have to straighten up and organize inside my shop. That will be a major task in itself! I also got the push mower running after sitting up all winter. I had to clean the water, rust and varnish out of the carburetor but it runs fine now. I put a new mower deck belt on the ZTR then I mowed for 30 minutes until I got it stuck. I told Sweet Thing it was too wet to mow! There will be plenty of time to mow all Summer! Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update

4 Apr

The weather has really warmed up this past week. We had several really nice days and unfortunately I had to work so I didn’t get as much done around here as I would have liked.

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I put two coats of grey paint on the new addition to my shop and I think it looks good now. I also added 10 shelves on the back wall of the open bays. The shelves are each 2 feet wide by 10 feet long so I should be able to store lots of junk excess material on them.

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I was passing through town and watched a crew tearing down an old motel. The doors to the motel opened to the outside and I noticed they had removed the big plate-glass from each room. I don’t know if they hauled it away to melt and recycle or to sell as used sheet glass. If you will look closely at the picture, you can see doors leaning against the walls inside the rooms so I guess they are not going to salvage those since they were tearing it down as I watched. Seems like a real waste, that would be close to 100 metal doors that could be resold and reused. I could use a couple of those myself! I realize when you are figuring salvaging something for resale on a commercial scale, you have to figure in the cost of the labor involved. That probably makes it more profitable to just tear it down and load it on the truck and bury it somewhere. It still pains me to see that though. I am just too much of a prepper, scrounger, and pack rat to throw all that stuff away.

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I also had to was privileged to attend a wedding last weekend. The theme colors were black and white, and I didn’t know they used black at weddings. I thought they reserved black for funerals, but as I think of it, black is entirely appropriate for many marriages I see!

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The grooms cake was decorated to resemble a corn field at harvest with toy tractors on it for decoration. It was quite tasty as well. Maybe I can get some more projects done in the coming week, I’ll keep you posted. Until then, keep prepping everyone!

Tips For Preppers

31 Jan

Back in December, I attended one of the many educational and informational meetings held each winter, and this meeting just happened to be in Jamaica.

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We stayed at Sandals Resort, and don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with a lot of vacation pictures. Although I do have a lot of nice pictures because Jamaica is a tropical paradise if you can overlook the fact it is a third-world country. We stayed in a little bungalow nestled in the garden, surrounded by tropical foliage, and we awoke to the sound of parrots squawking outside our window each morning.

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We had our own private pool behind our  room where we could relax in peace and quiet.

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We even had some kitties to keep us company. The maid said they keep the cats around to help hold down the mice and lizard population. But I want to point out a couple of things I noticed with an eye toward prepping. After we arrived at the airport, we took an hour and a half bus ride to get to the resort. Some people complained about the ride but I really enjoyed seeing the country from the comfort of an air-conditioned bus. As you ride along the coast, you realize that even though Jamaica was a British Colony until 1962, Jamaica is a very poor country.

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All along the way, you see homes like this one.

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You see entire communities like in this picture I lifted from the internet. I was keeping a sharp eye out as we traveled along our route, and I did not see a single chicken the entire time, which I thought was strange.

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What I did see a lot of was goats. Everywhere you looked you would see goats just like these, and they were mostly nice, healthy looking goats. People would bring them down to the shoulders of the highway and tie the goats and let them graze on the lush vegetation. I guess if times get hard, goats would be something fairly simple to raise and would provide you with milk and meat. I did see a couple of places where people had hacked an opening in the jungle brush and had some cattle, and they were really small, scraggly looking beasts. I don’t think they were a miniature breed, I think they were just interbred and malnourished.

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I also noticed a lot of houses like this. Houses either under construction or with one story finished and rebar sticking up through the roof. Our bus driver, Charles, explained it to us. He said people in Jamaica are poor and they don’t have mortgages on their houses. They save enough money to buy the land and start building the first floor, then they wait and save enough to complete the first floor and move in. Then while they are living there, they save enough money to expand and build the second story. That is why there are so many homes with rebar sticking out of the roof. That might be a lesson we might learn from here in America would it not? When the house is finished they are living in a home that is paid for, mortgage free. He also said most of the homes are constructed with concrete for several reasons. One, if they try to build with wood, the termites eat them up faster than they can build them. Two, the concrete holds up to the hurricanes better. Third, concrete is cheaper because the entire island of Jamaica is one gigantic mountain of limestone rising up out of the sea and ground up limestone is the primary ingredient in concrete. I think I will have more to say about Jamaica in the future, but for now, keep prepping everyone!