Sunday, December 30, 2012

17-29 December, 2012 - More Snow, Christmas, Car Problems

Ever have one of those busy times yet you could summarize it very quickly because so much was repetitive? That's been what most of our winter has been like so far.

Susan is still dehydrating the frozen, shredded potatoes our SOL brought back from work plus she's been cutting and dehydrating onions from our garden. We can't seem to store them for long unless we dehydrate them so once they're harvested we spend the next several weeks drying them for long term storage. We have the daily routine of writing, household chores such as washing dishes, clothes, cooking, bringing in firewood, and caring for Scott.

Last week we had a new project when the Cherokee wouldn't start. I did some investigating and it was in severe need of a tune-up. I thought I'd done it last fall but by the looks of the plugs I didn't. We ended up taking the truck into Eureka a couple of times. I don't like driving it because it uses so much gasoline. My oldest son was here for Christmas so he and I fiddled with the car a bit and got it running again. We drove it into Eureka Friday and bought the parts we needed for it and a blower motor for the U-Haul. I want to get it replaced before we head south this winter.  We have a truck that belongs to one of the kids that we have to get back to the property.  It took a couple of session on the charger to get the battery up again.  They'd left the key on and ran it down to zero volts.  It takes a long time to charge one when they're that dead.  I ran a load test on it after charging and it seems to have survived okay.

 I've been bringing reloading supplies up from the shack this week. I'm going to build a reloading bench in the cabin. It's too cold in the shack during the winter and when I use the stove I get condensation on all the steel and aluminum equipment plus I worry about condensation in the loaded cartridges. I need them all in a warmer environment.

Our book sales have fallen a bit but we've put some new ones up and they're picking up the slack. The reduced sales are widespread according to other authors we've talked to so are probably season related.

The snow is still coming down nearly every day.  It's mostly very light snow and doesn't accumulate quickly but over time it adds up.  The worst part is that we get very little solar power on the cloudy days so we've had to run the generator about three hours every couple of days.  It's still a lot cheaper than being on the grid though.
As usual, Scott's day wouldn't be complete if he and grandma didn't get some trampoline time in.

Sometimes it's kind of nice to just relax and watch TV at night.  Of course it's more fun if you can get away with commandeering grandpa's chair.

Ah, Christmas!  We had almost all the kids here for Christmas this year. 

Of course there was lots of food, conversation and presents.  We played Pictionary after eating then they began to filter back to their own homes in the early evening.

Of course we all had the most fun watching Scott open his presents.  He's two now and understands more of what's going on.  The only other grandchild here was Tommy.  The two families who didn't make it have the other seven grand kids.

Dad is helping Scott with the final steps of opening one of his gifts.  If they built the toys as well as they packaged them they'd never break or wear out.

Susan is waiting to open one of her packages.

...more gifts...

...more gifts...

Tommy playing with some spatulas.

Susan found some things online for Scott to watch. He did very well holding her notebook computer while it was showing.  He loves videos of airplanes, trains, and cars and YouTube has some good ones on it.

I'm writing a book on reloading for beginners and these are some of the illustrations and photos that will be in it. 
My Kindle book (The Gun Guide for People Who Know Nothing About Firearms) is now available in print form from me or on Amazon's site.  The easiest way to find it is to type in my name on a search.  The print version has a slightly different title but it's the same content as the Kindle version.  We did that for marketing purposes.  If they have the same ISBN Amazon buries the Kindle book (which costs less) making it harder to find.  By making a slight title change they both come up on a search.  The Kindle version is selling very well.  The print version hasn't been up long and hasn't sold many copies yet.

I'll be covering things like head space and rim construction so I made some illustrations to go with the text.  The one above is on the head space section.

This one is in the chapter on "Case Preparation."
My goal in writing the book is to take someone who has no experience reloading to the point where they understand how to reload ammunition and what needs to be done in each stage.  I'll have a special section on equipment for the apartment dweller so that they can still reload ammunition even if space is limited. 
The book should be available on Kindle in a two or three weeks and the print version will be along a few days later.  (Setting up the print version is a little more involved.)
I'd also like to mention Susans blog at
It's loaded with information and she does a better job keeping it up than I do on mine.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

9 - 16 December, 2012 Snow, Car Wrecks and Radiator Repairs, Redneck Drive-Ins and more...

We finally got some snow. Not a lot but at least the ground is white like it should be in December.

Scott and Susan playing on the trampoline.

Scott shovelling snow.

The white stuff brought some bad side-effects too.  Our SIL had truck problems and during a test drive after changing the fuel filter he slid off the road on one of the hills we traverse on the way home.  I went to pull him out and I slid in the same place only I was stopped by his truck.  The Cherokee needed a few parts replaced but fortunately I had most of them on hand from another Cherokee we'd salvaged.  We'll have to straighten out his bumper but otherwise his truck is okay.
The same day another neighbor hit a tree on the same hill, breaking it off about three feet above the ground.  Did a bit of damage to his pickup also.

A beautiful sunrise photo taken from the yard at 10:11 am.

Susan playing Christmas songs on the piano.

Scott and I out with the sled.  The cat is following on the road behind us.

Scott looking over our snow covered Santa and plastic snowman.  He loves being outside even when the weather turns cold.

Susan pulling dried leaves off the thyme.  She grows a lot of her own spices and herbs.

We're back to melting snow for water (now that we have snow to melt!).

Our redneck drive-in theatre.

Our SIL works at a grocery store.  They threw out about twenty pounds of frozen hash brown potatoes so he brought them home to us.  Susan is in the process of dehydrating them for future use.  Also on the table are dehydrated onions about to be packed in a jar and the last of the thyme Susan is working on.

The SIL and daughter's Land Cruiser had a radiator leak.  One of the tubes had a split about three inches long so I cut out that section and soldered the tube ends shut.  Once we got that leak stopped we found out it had more tubes split deeper inside the radiator.  It's time for a new radiator.

My $60.00 pawn shop oxy/acet welder/cutting torch.

With the cold weather outside we've been doing more inside.  Susan is writing and editing books to publish on Kindle and in print.  Her book sales have slumped a bit in December but she's still selling around 3,000 books per month.  My kindle book is starting well averaging about two per day in the week it's been out.  I put together a print version today but it will be a couple of days before the proof is ready.  I wanted to do color photos but it triples the price so they'll be BW.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

1-8 December, 2012 - New Book, Phone Problems, Little Boys

Any one want some rain?  We've had weeks of rain and cloudy weather.  We have nearly a thousand watts of solar panels yet the average daily charge rate has been around one amp per hour due to cloudy skies.  We've had one day in which the solar panels brought the batteries up to full charge.  Yesterday it finally cooled off enough that we got some snow (about three inches). 

The good thing is that I finished up a Kindle book and got it published online at Amazon Books.  The listed price is $3.99 and like the title says it's aimed for those who know very little about firearms. 

It's available at:
 So far it's only available on the Kindle format. There will be a print version out very soon.

One thing that sets it apart is the photography.  I took a lot of time putting the photos together and setting them up.  One of my pet peeves are e-books with little tiny photos in them.  Most of mine take up an entire page and the writing is easy to read.

This is one after resizing but before labeling.

I shot most of them free hand but used the tripod on a few.  Susan snapped this when I wasn't looking!

Scott helped.

Scott's showing his youngest cousin some of his toys.  

We found a mini-trampoline for Scott at the thrift store.  The first time he did a flip over the bar he giggled then said, "oh-oh!"  Then he did it again. 

We had some of his bigger toys stored in the barn but he accompanied Susan out there a couple of days ago and discovered the stash.  Now it looks like a toddler's used vehicle lot in the cabin.  We're slowly getting them put back in the barn whenever he isn't watching.

The phone quit a couple of days ago.  I did some checking to see if it was our problem or the phone company's.  It was ours so I re-routed the phone cable going to the cabin and set the phone jack in a new location.  We put the kitchen counter in after the phone was installed.  The problem was that if water drips off the back corner of the counter top it hits the phone jack which corrodes the wires then the phone quits working.  I moved the jack to a safer location so hopefully that will be the last time we have to deal with that problem.

I set the portable phone base outside while I was re-routing the wires so we'd have phone service while I worked.  It's all finished now.

Other than that it's been business as usual for this time of year.   I've got a load of clothes soaking in the laundry tubs.  We still have meals to prepare, dishes to wash, wood to split and bring in every day and other chores to do.  We still have a few potatoes left to sort and store in the root cellar too.  Winters are our slack time so we get a lot of writing done.  I'm not running the trap line this year so we may be able to head for Nevada early next year...we hope!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Holidays, Check-ups, Movies, Firewood, and Winter Life

I don't have a lot of pictures for this post.  Mostly because I didn't take many!  The big game season is over now.  I didn't get a buck this year (mostly because I didn't hunt hard enough!) although I did fill my turkey tag.  I saws dozens of does but the only buck I saw was racing after a doe and I didn't get a shot.  The weather has been lousy this fall.   Rain, rain, and more rain with just a little bit of snow.  It's like we live in Seattle.  It's hard to get into the hunting mode!  We have more rabbits (snowshoe hares) this year than I've seen in years.

We've made a few trips to Kalispell for various things.  Scott had his two-year check-up last week.  The doctor confirmed that he's a happy, healthy two-year-old.  (Which we already knew!)  We did a face-to-face with an online prepper friend which turned out well and has potential for further plans.  We saw the remake of Red Dawn which we enjoyed immensely.  It's best to think of it as a new movie and not make comparisons to the old standby with Patrick Swayze.  There's more action in this one and I'm not going to say more and spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet.  There's the usual nonsense from Hollywierd but we still plan on buying a copy on DVD when it comes out that way.

Other than that it's been business as usual for this time of year.  We've both been devoting time to writing.  Susan is putting up a website to go along with her Poverty Prepping book.  Her blog by the same name is doing very well as are book sales.  She now has a print version of Poverty Prepping available.  The price is reasonable at $4.50 (Christmas special price) plus shipping directly from her at her blog.  The normal price is $5.00 plus shipping.  I won't know until mid-December how my book is selling when I get the royalty check for the first three months' sales.

One of our unplanned trips to Kalispell was after a call from Scott's parents.  Their car died on the highway going home around midnight so we headed out to get them.  We spent the night in Kalispell then took the alternator off the next day and disassembled it to find the problem.  It needed brushes but you can't buy just the brushes and none of the parts stores had a remanufactured unit in stock.  I did a few things to get that one functioning temporarily and Stephen and I drove back out and re-installed it on the car.  It made it into town okay and they ordered the part for it.  They put it on a couple of days later.

One of the symptoms of worn brushes is that the alternator will charge then quit then charge again until it eventually quits altogether.  Many times you can rap the alternator smartly with the plastic or wood handle of a screw driver and it will begin charging again.  What happens is the brushes get shorter and shorter and the spring tension can no longer push them through the brush holder and against the commutator rings.  By rapping the case you jar some of the carbon loose that's making the brushes stick and they make contact again ... for a little while anyway!  In their case the carbon build-up was too hard and I had to scrape it loose from the inside after taking the alternator apart. 

Another rainy day on the road to Kalispell!  This time it was for Scott's check-up.  Note the lack of snow.  The lake is Dickey Lake.  It's usually one of the last to freeze over in winter.  What's unusual is that it's also one of the coldest lakes in the summer time.

When Scott's getting tired or fussy one of us gives him personal attention so the other can get some work done.  Here he's sitting on my lap looking at himself in the computer using the computer's camera.  It's one of his favorite games.  He's playing with my pipe.  (I don't smoke.  It's more like a prop for photo shoots!)

We heard the che chickens squaking and saw them running for cover then this guy showed up in a tree nearby.  You gotta' feel sorry for chickens.  They're pretty low on the food chain and we have to protect them from coyotes, eagles, hawks, ravens, foxes, skunks, raccoons, weasels, badgers, bobcats, bears, and mountain lions. 

I cut down a couple of trees for firewood yesterday.  We finally got a short break in the rain so I took down two small trees that have been dead for a couple of years.  The slash is still on the ground where the cat is walking.  Scott and Susan came down for a bit and Scott did some exploring.

We're potty training another one (number eight!).  That's one of the things we though we were finished with.  Scott added his own twist to it though that none of the other kids thought up. 

It's a good thing he had a dry run!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Grizzly Bears, Firewood Cutting, and more.

The bear came back ... but I had the game camera set up this time so I got a few decent pictures of him.  I put the chicken food inside the chicken house but there was still a little grain on the ground from where I'd scattered it for the chickens.  The bear finished it off and hasn't been back since.

We're still trying to figure out if it's a black or grizzly bear.  The claws are prominent and he has a bit of humped shoulder which both might indicate a griz.

And he has a somewhat dished face look about him plus the small ears.  The nose is a little long for a griz but the problem is that none of these features are all that visible and he could be a black bear.

And this, of course, doesn't give us a lot of clues either except that he hasn't forgotten where I kept the feed barrel.  Oh well, griz or black I'm not going out at night without at least my 44 magnum strapped on and only then after the dog has done some recon.

I set the solar panel angle at their "winter" position.  The sun barely clears the horizon this time of year so the panels need to be almost vertical.

I've probably posted pics of these before but they're an example of how water was piped when steel and PVC pipe wasn't available.

I stopped here for a short break while hunting.  It's about 300 yards from the cabin.

The deadbolt lock cylinder died so I had to replace it.  I had to do a little wood removal to fit the new one. 


We've had a lot of overcast days and have run the generator a couple of times to fully charge the battery bank.  Unfortunately it takes gasoline so we had to refill some of the gas cans.

Victor brought his pickup over so we could install some used rear springs.  He bought new center bolts and "U" bolts so all we had to do was cut the old ones off and install the new parts.  The torch made that job a lot easier.

I used the circular saw with a metal cutting blade for some of the cutting to conserve oxygen and acetylene.

This tree has been leaning a long time so I decided to cut it down before it got too big. 

When they lean that far you have to be careful that they don't "barber chair" when you cut them.  A barber chair is when the tree falls prematurely and splits.  The danger is that the base may fall any direction including backwards so you need to be careful when cutting them down.

It's on the ground without incident.  The wood is green so I'll put it under a tarp to be used for firewood next winter.

These are some odds and ends of firewood we had laying around.  It was nice to get them cut, split and stacked.

Scott is holding his stuffed dino up to the TV to show it to Barney.