So you like to wander around and pick up random rocks to bring home. But once you get them home what do you do with them? Or in my case my wife brings me rocks, and then I need to figure out what to do with them. Since our ancient Lortone tumbler motor went out and no one seems to have a replacement in stock I ventured out in the market for a new tumbler to do something with my endless supply of incoming random rocks. And yes I do add to the pile but mine are mainly just agate and jasper.
If you are ever in the market for a new rock tumbler there seems to be an endless amount by different brands out there available. The most common seem to be the small hobby models that hold about three pounds of rocks. For most people this would be the perfect size. But for us we would either need several of those or get a bigger one which is what I did. Thumbler Tumbler has a nice 15 pound model that while a bit spendy it is easy for find replacement parts for if anything wears out. Many of the smaller models are very hard to replace any worn out parts.
To polish rocks you really just need a couple things:
and really that is all you need. Put in rocks, add grit and water. Then plug it in and wait a week for stage two. For this one we are just doing the first stage only. The video below has the full process to load and go for this first stage of rock tumbling.
As I get older I realize that my ability to rototill my garden is going to be harder and harder to do. So in an effort to make my future self not hurt as bad I decided to start making some raised beds that will replace my need to have to till the ground and also just be way easier to work with. After doing a quick measure of my garden I decided to make each bed three foot wide and eight foot long. I could have used the panels at their normal width of 26 inches but that is taller really then is needed. Using a carbide bit saw I cut the panels down to 18″
Over all this build took right at about two hours from start to finish. I am going to need to make 7 more total and then fill them with soil before I can use them. This will be a good ongoing project and I should be able to have it all ready by next spring. The boards on the bottom are treated wood so they should last a good 10+ years. I made sure nothing on the inside had any chemicals that would leach into the soils and into the veggies. I don’t feel like shortening my life by using treated anything on the inside. With some of these beds I plan on experimenting with a couple different methods of mulch and water retention. But those will be a seperate blog. Below is a short video of the finished bed. I am going to make a video series of making some small beds for a friend entirely out of recycled materials.
In addition to doing a lot of outdoors adventures I also like to find and create things from dead falls I find when I am out and about adventuring. While visiting my Dad there was an Oregon bitter cherry at the corner of his driveway that had died during the summer and needed removed. This wood has supplied a lot of the crafting wood for my wood turning hobby.
Since my children are home for a school holiday we decided that it would be nice to leave the house a bit and make something that they could use with a phone or tablet when we go on camping trips. The biggest thing they would like is to be able to hear their music better. I am a big advocate for less electronics while we are camping and found a design for a simple passive speaker that I could make on the wood lathe.
Once the basic shape was made and the slot cut for the phone to sit in we gave it a quick test using my phone. The only thing I didn’t realize is that on my oldest daughters phone is that the speaker is in the back of the phone and to the side. This will require a different style and slightly wider base so her phone will not fall out.
If you have ever wanted to make your own stove this is your chance at an easy stove for day trips, hiking, or to cook after the zombies arrive. With all the trash that tends to be anywhere in the world you should be able to find some type of can that can be used to make a simple stove. To make this stove you will need two cans of the same size. Even though most cans look like they are the same size there is a small difference between brands so if you can find tow of the same kind it would be best. The fuel used for this type of stove can be any type of denatured alcohol that is over 60% alcohol. If you use 60% rubbing alcohol you will get a sputtering burn and a cleaner burn with a higher percentage of alcohol. I typically use the bottles of HEET used to treat gas tanks. They are inexpensive, and as long as they are sealed will last for years until an emergency. Typically a stove will burn for 10-15 minutes on one ounce of alcohol. Which if you have a full bottle will give you at least 160 minutes of burn time total. Just remember to let the stove cool down in between adding more alcohol. I did some testing with different pin hole sizes for the burner, and didn’t get too much variation on the burn time.
These are very simple stoves to make and cost very little. They are surprisingly durable considering that they are made out of aluminum cans. I have used them for cooking many times while out in the woods. The only thing you will need is a way to keep your pan above the stove. Two flat rocks side by side work very well to rest a pan on. If you would like to see one burning you can go to this you tube link. There are many variations to making this stove. I have tried several of them and they all work well. This version is the easiest to light out of the ones I have made. But if you make one try different hole sizes and designs until you find one you like.
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Now that I have made some ground sausage it is time to put it into link form. I am doing this from start to finish to make it easier if anyone would like to make sausage on their own. Which honestly is very easy to make. You need a few items other than meat to make sausage links.
Meat (yes i know that is a given)
hog casings (or other kinds if you prefer)
sausage stuffer (if you want bulk sausage you can skip the stuffer and casings)
For this sausage i am using pork and the seasoning mix i used for making the jimmy dean style sausage. I added garlic and onion to the mix for more flavor. I like lots of garlic in everything. The first thing you need to do is cut your pork into strips or chunks that will fit into your grinder. I don’t add any extra fat to my meat so it is a lot leaner then you will be getting in the store.
Grind up the meat once through on the largest size die that you have. Then put the meat into a bowl or pot and mix in the spices.
After you have added the spices to the meat mix them as well as you can. After they are mixed run them back through the grinder on a smaller die or the large if you prefer. The size used depends on the type of sausage being made. Chorizo and andouille are usually cut bigger then Italian sausage. The second run through the grinder will mix up the seasonings evenly throughout the meat.
After the final grind put your sausage back in the fridge to cool it back down. When pork starts to warm up it gets sticky and hard to work with when doing links.
Do not tie the end of the casing until all the air is out of the stuffer and the meat starts to come out.
After your links are done you can package them up and freeze or bbq. It is easier to cook them if you cut the links apart.
One of my favorite memories as a kid was my parents cooking some Jimmy Dean sausage for breakfast. Now as it was then it is still my favorite sausage. This will be my first attempt at a copycat recipe for making my own version of this sausage. This recipe is for the normal version of their sausage. I prefer the sage sausage but it was requested that I make some that has less sage in it. Maybe i will do a little of both. Since I have a nice picnic roast that I got on sale I will be grinding it up to make my sausage. This recipe can be adapted for wild game also just mix a little pork into your game meat to add some more fat to the blend. I usually do a 3:1 ratio of wild to pork.
My wife saw something like this when she was looking at random things online. It looked like such a good idea that I thought I would give making a new computer desk a try. The design is fairly simple. It is just a wood desktop that is resting on two shelves that are the same height as you want the table to be.
For the desktop I used 2″ x 12″ utility cedar from our local hardware store (Jerry’s home improvement) . Three that are 5′ long and two that are 3′ long. All of it is held together with some decking screws
Overall it came out very well. Only cost me about $70 in materials to build it including the shelves. Now to screw together another one for the wife and everything will match
In the event of an emergency getting clean water is the most important thing you can do (other than shelter from the elements). After a natural disaster water lines maybe broken and local water sources would be contaminated. Boiling the water will destroy any microorganisms in the water, but you will still have bad flavors and murky bits in the water. It is easy to make a water filter out of easily accessible items.
empty 2 liter soda bottle
clean piece of cloth
knife or other cutting tool
charcoal from a fire or aquarium filter
First cut the bottom off of the soda bottle. Only cut off the very bottom of the bottle, you want to use most of it as a funnel for the water. Put the cap back on the bottle and put a small pinhole into the cap for the water to drain out of. Wad up your cloth and put it into the bottom of the bottle. Next put the charcoal into your filter. This will filter out the flavors and smells from the contaminated water. Also it will remove some of the toxic metals from the water if there are any present. Then add a layer of sand than a layer of gravel. You have now completed your basic emergency filter. You can get about 10 gallons of water filtered with it depending on how bad the water coming in is. A simple cloth filter used on the water before you use your purifying filter will prolong the lifespan of it. This filter will not filter out microorganisms, and the water will still need to be boiled to kill them off. Just because water is clear doesn’t mean it is safe to drink! Always be careful!
A good variation that you can store of this filter is to use a 2 inch PVC pipe in place of the 2 liter bottle. Seal a pipe end cap on one end and make it as you would the 2 liter. When you finish you can seal the top with food grade wax to keep the layers from shifting or getting contaminated. When you need it drill a small hole in the capped end and pull the wax off the other end. And you have a ready-made filter for an emergency.
There is nothing like having made your own trail bars when you are out hiking, fishing, or hunting. You know exactly what is in it and how much energy it can provide you. This is my favorite recipe to use when making my own bars. It has peanut butter for a high amount of energy for a small size bar and steel cut oats for a nice chewy texture.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh ground peanut butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups steel cut oats
1 cup dried cranberries (or any other dried fruit)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (2 ounces/60 grams)
1/2 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
Total time to make this is about 50 minutes.
1. First preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
2. Blend the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Then beat the peanut butter, sugar, and honey in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until blended (I love having a kitchen aid). Blend egg and egg whites with a fork in a small bowl. Add to the peanut butter mixture, along with oil and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture and mix together. Mix in oats, dried cranberries (or other dried fruit/berries), nuts, and chocolate chips. Scrape batter into the prepared baking dish. Use a piece of plastic wrap to spread batter into an even layer.
3. Bake the bars until lightly browned and firm to the touch, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack before cutting into 24 bars. One serving is one 2 x 2-inch bar.
You can store these in a jar for several week or you can individually wrap them and store them in the freezer until you need them for a trip. There are about 170-200 calories per bar depending on the exact mix you use. For a little pick me up you can also add instant coffee to the mix.
Oh sweet cider how I love thee. Today’s project was to press 5 gallons of fresh cider to can up for later in the year. Considering how late in the year it is, the choice of apple varieties was dwindling down the winter apple varietles. I probably shouldn’t have used the entire 25 gallons that I had pressed earlier for hard cider, but it is so delicious that I couldn’t help myself. The easiest apple for us to get is a variety called Ben Davis. It is a small crisp apple that when you first press it is a pinkish color. Kinda reminds me of pink lemonade in color. This is a great apple to eat as a snack. This variety was first recorded in the early 19th century. It was one of the best storage apples of the era. Unfortunately it is nearly impossible to find in a store. I have heard that Detering orchard sells them, but I have never been there to check. My father likes to quote “Many a captain’s fortune were made with this apple
Unlike the old apple presses that were all hand powered, we used Dad’s electric crusher and manual press. Makes the process much much easier. First you run the apples whole through the crusher which cuts them up into dime sized pieces. A five gallon bucket will fill up the hopper. Then add the press plate on top of the crushed apples and place it under the corkscrew. Then twist away until you cant twist no more. Five gallons of apples will average about a gallon of cider. This variety gave us a bit more then average. 3 1/2 buckets got us our five gallons of cider that we were after. After that it was home to let it settle and start the canning process.