Saturday, February 23, 2013

Something new...

So we're still out-n-about exploring the Pacific NWest, however the blogging about our adventures has kind of run its course... at least for now.

We do have other projects in the works, and you can read some of the info on them at another blog we tend now-n-then:


Monday, February 6, 2012

Falconry and Hawk Hunting

We caught wind of the Oregon Falconers Association's Winter meeting, and had a great time crashing the party.

There were 8 birds there, and alot of great people who love the sport - they were patient and willing to answer all of our crazy questions.

Here is a young red-tail hawk that was trapped 5 days earlier.

The birds were also very cooperative - always willing to show off and pose for the camera!

The group was slow-roasting a pig in a make-shift oven.

Pretty slick idea... we'll have to give this one a try.

Unfortunately, we had to leave before the pig was done. Next time, though.

This was definitely a "hands on" event.

Several groups with larger birds went rabbit hunting, and two birds were successful.

This falcon warmed up easily with so many admirers.

In the afternoon, the highlight was a pigeon derby - one-by-one the birds took to the field and hunted homing pigeons as they were released.

The pigeons were pretty cagey - only 2 of the 8 or 9 released was caught by the raptors. One flew into the crowd in its effor to escape, with this hawk hot on its heels.

Here is the video link of the hunt- the birds were right in among us, and we could almost reach up and grab them! If you dare - they were moving along fast, and pretty serious!

These birds were all business!

A fantastic day - both the birds and the weather were perfect.

New Year, Fewer Posts

This time of year we should be hovering around the Cowlitz river, waiting for smelt to show up for dipping. However, smelt are no longer 'dip-able' in the Pacific NorthWest, so we've been busy with other things...

We still have lots of trees here in the PNW... so we've been cutting alot of them down to make room for a larger garden.

We've also planted alot of fruit trees, too.

Too many pines and firs!

With the old backhoe fired up, we pulled a few stumps and an old pole, to make room for fruit.

We had a GREAT snowstorm, with lots of sledding, and big snow-ball fights!

Mom and the kids have been baking lots of donuts in the new cookbook she got for Christmas.

These blackberry fritters turned out AWESOME! Good thing they made 36 of them!

Some travel already this year, out to sunny Texas this time.

Beautiful weather, but their drought is bad.

We still have plenty of wet in the PNW...

While in Texas, I made it out to Galviston to see some water. No fishing this trip, but we scouted it out.

With all the donuts, we also made the biggest snow-cone in the PNW.

That didn't last long, either!

Taste the rainbow!

The last few days of nice weather were great to plow the garden up, working in all the leaves from last fall.

We also broke ground on the new garden area cleared of trees.

For projects, we are still using the rawhide, and working out the leather.

We mixed up a batch of Vinegarrete dye by washing off steel wool with acetone, then mixing the wool with Apple cider vinegar. In a few weeks it will be a good, black dye.

The leather has turned out beautiful - a very nice white.

It is dried well, and now we are stretching and breaking it in to be extra soft and supple.

The black dye will look great with blue-glass beads and the white leather...

We won't be posting as frequently these next few weeks, but rest assured there are lots of new projects going on.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from us to you!

Guns on the holiday? Yep - its one of our family traditions each year to get out and keep busy.

No sense sitting around when there are things to do, see, and explore. Traditions make any holiday better.

The night we first put up our Christmas Tree, the kids sleep in the living room with the tree.

Well, most of them sleep, many of them can't. Too excited!

This boy had no trouble knocking off.

Church Christmas programs are another fun way we always celebrate.

Of course there are lots of other projects to do while the kids are off of school, but you've already been watching those.

We have an annual family party together, too.

Grandma loves getting swamped with little kids... and gives them a new ornament every year.

Lots of baking is another tradition - and its not just Mom doing the baking. All the kids do alot of it, making goodies from scratch.

Dad takes care of the testing and volume work...

Barbarian feast is another Christmas holiday favorite - no manners, no utensils, no plates... just lots of good finger food!

This year we added another Tradition that was a BIG hit - one evening each of us picked a song and did an ENERGETIC lipsync to it!

It was a nice chance for the rest of us (boys) who didn't have musical talents to perform at the Talent Show.

Here she is lipsync'ing to her favorite - Harry Connick Jr.

Of course Dad has his work projects, and I have to work hard to keep the kids busy each day with stuff to make their vacation days "meaningful"!

Stacking branches in the winter is a favorite project... for Dad.

Mom gets new puzzles each year, and the kids love working on them and reading.

Lots of reading.

We rent movies for the holiday, too, and on New Years we'll watch Ben Hur or Fiddler on the Roof again.

Making meaningful Traditions is important to us, and valued by the kids.

Of course, the greatest Tradition is celebrating the birth and gift of the Son of God to the world, and all of our family Traditions tie into that greatest event.

Merry Christmas!

Rawhide to Leather

We decided to make the last two deer hides into leather instead of just rawhide.

Using wood ash was much better at taking off the membranes and hair, though we did leave the hides soaking for almost 3 weeks.

They started to stink, but the hair and fat came off FAST!

After rincing the hide, we have started to pickle them.

The hides are small enough to do in a 5 gal bucket - with 4 gal water we added 2 oz "safety-acid" from VanDyke's Taxidermy, and added 3 lbs salt.

Now the hides are in to soak for at least a week, probably 2.

We have some cool gift ideas for Mom, so stay tuned on how the leather work comes along.

Rawhide Cordage

The boys are making new bows, and we set out to make new bowstrings and cordage from the recent batch of rawhide.

We took a 10" x 17" piece of rawhide, and using a strip cutter we quickly cut the hide into 1/2" strips.

The strip cutter was invaluable to cut quickly and uniformly.

Wrinkles in the hide made us slow down, but not much.

Round and around, the hide quickly reduced to a pile of strip.

The end.

From that small piece, we cut a strip 21.5 feet long!

We soaked the dry rawhide strip in some rainwater and salt for about a half hour to make it easier to work.

We tied off one end of the strip, and stretched it out while twisting it.

It was easy work and went quick. Careful, though, because a couple of the 'wrinkles' in the strip broke easily.

It worked well to tie the pieces together and stretch it out - in fact after it dried we could hardly feel the bumps.

We stretched and twisted, then tied the hide outside to dry.

It has been really dry this December, so we didn't go out and restretch it.

After a week, we checked the cord, then worked it over a branch to make it more supple and smooth.

Working it back and forth on a wire fence was better - and easier.

After the final workout, the total cord length had grown to almost 30 feet long!

Very cool. It is strong and easy to use. Fun!

Fungus Fight

The last few years our 'pit' trees have suffered from withered leaves.

Apparently it is caused by a fungus.

The internet is awesome - with Google I could diagnose the root cause, get inputs from strangers all across America, and find several options for fixing it. Oh, and we ordered the chemicals online, too.

Armed with copper sulfate, hydrated lime, and a spray bottle we set out to clear our nectarine and peach trees of their fungal infestation.

The recipe and cost were easy to take. Some care needed to avoid contact.

We sprayed all the trees heavily in December, and will do the same again in Feb and March, just before the new leaves appear.

Obviously the peaches are slow to loose their leaves this year.

The fungiside is easy to see.

Here you can see the withered leaves from summer.

Once the new leaves appear it is too late to treat them for the fungus, so we will hopefully get rid of it before spring.

Too bad a spray won't take care of the other problem the trees face - munching deer.

Busted Backhoe

It has taken a while to fix the busted hoses on the backhoe steering.

The old fittings were actually a 'quick couple' type fitting - all you need is a length of hose and I can manually make a new hose. Nice to have on hand, though NAPA didn't know what to do with it.

So, we have shiny new compression fittings on the replacement hose.

It turns out the steering hydrolics are on their own circuit, separate from the main hydrolics. That is good.

It took us a while to 'bleed' out the air from the steerage, though, since there are no valves in the steering linkage.

So what we did is elevate the front wheels, and while adding fluid we worked the steering back and forth.

It took about 4 quarts of oil to replace that which was lost, and after about 10 minutes the steering responded quite well.

Messy, though.

While we were working on the steering, we also tackled the dislocated stabilizer.

The pin holding the stabilizer to the hoe was loose, and would damage the back tire often.

Our muscle-man, home before college, gave all the leverage we needed while I pounded the pin into place.

Good to have a strong back helping!

Another son worked the steering so we didn't loose a bit of time.

A Christmas elf also located a new snap-ring to retain the stabilizer pin in place.

With a few prybars and that strong back, we soon had the pin and retention ring in place.

Back in business, just in time for the holidays!