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!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Canned Mushroom Results!

Back in October we posted about trying to can Chantrelle mushrooms after finding 70# of them.

Well, we are back to report on our results.

They are fantastic! Great texture, and the flavor is awesome - nicely concentrated.

Here they are on a steak sandwich. Yum!

Most of the literature we read warned against canning wild mushrooms, but several folks posted online that they had had good results.

We had good results!

After 2 weeks of frequent usage, we are happy to report no 'side effects.'

The only downside is that with all the freezing temperatures outside, it isn't such a good time to hunt Chantrelles anymore, and we want more!

Oh well... next time we will can a bunch.

Kicked By The MULE

Ok, too many projects, and not enough "gettin' out."

Our oldest son just picked up his first hunting rifle, and we had a beautiful day on Saturday to get out and sight it in.

Shooting and reloading are very social activities, and in that spirit we invited a friend along.

He brought some fun items! You know its going to be fun shooting when it we have to work hard to make sure all the proper "paperwork" is along for the trip...

There are plenty of available areas to shoot at out in our neck of the woods.

We brought pumpkins along because they make great targets, they explode in a grandious, satisfying way; and we had lots of them when Mom took down all the fall decorations.

Even though the hunting rifle was not bore-sighted, it only took us about 30 rounds to walk the crosshairs up onto the pumpkin at 100 yards.

Quite a few adjustments were required to bring the bullet up, but fortunately no adjustments were needed for windage. That can always be a bit more tricky.

Third world meets First World... and they were really fun together!

The hardest part of the day was finding a stable platform for sighting the rifle in.

With the "work" taken care of, it was time to ride the MULE!

This bad boy was the icing on the cake...

A great day of shooting always is better with a wide variety of calibers.

30 cal really seemed big at first...

One after another... to clear out the brush in the way of the targets.

The bullet here is bigger than the bolt of the weapon!

Some fun competition at 100 yards.

It was tough to see when the handgun hit the target...

... but easy to see the deer rifle's results.

A great time to get out and enjoy the freezing cold. A warm barrel (or hot suppressor!) is a great way to take care of cold trigger-fingers.