Sunday, January 27, 2013

13-26 January, 2013 - Vehicle Repairs, Birthdays, Dehydrating Food, New Books, and More...

It's been awhile since my last post. The only excuse I have is that we've been busy!  I finished up my book The Beginner's Guide to Reloading Ammunition (With Space and Money Saving Tips for Apartment Dwellers and Those on a Budget).  As part of the research I did some checking on reloading equipment availability and prices.  Lee no longer makes the original Lee Loader for shot shells but they do make the Lee Load All.  I thought it looked a little hokey but the reviews were very good on it so I ordered one in 20 gauge (I already have two, 12 gauge shot shell loaders).  It's definitely worth the money (I got mine at Midway USA for under $60.00 with shipping included).  It does a nice job crimping and comes with all the bushings you'll need.  The choices are 12, 16, and 20 gauge.  I wish they had one for .410.  I like them but the ammo is horrendously expensive for what you're getting!  You can get conversion kits to use it for other gauges for less than half the price of a new loader.

Set-up is easy but don't do as I did and turn it over.  There's a bunch of parts in the top cover and they'll spill all over the place.  A bunch went behind the counter and I had to get my mechanical fingers and a long magnet to fish them out.

I was doing some photos for the book and Scott wanted to help out so I put some things on the counter and he played for quite awhile (while I took pictures on the other end of the counter). I purchased a 30/06 Lee Loader and a Lee Hand Press to try out some portable and low-budget methods while writing the book.

I was checking reloaded ammo for fit and Scott spotted the rifle.  Our policy with all the kids has been that they can hold the firearms, etc. as long as we are there and they are careful.  We have the same policy with Scott.  We don't want them to fear guns but we don't want them to be stupid with them either.

I got my fill of auto repair work this week.  I replaced the plugs on the Cherokee a couple of weeks ago but they sold us the wrong distributor cap and rotor.  We exchanged them for the right stuff so I put them on the Cherokee.

New wires, cap and rotor.  It's nice to have something that's easy to work on!

The old wires had some corrosion in the connectors to the distributor cap.  Like most scavengers, I have them stashed away ... just in case!

Scott's helping with the U-Haul.  It needed a blower motor and as usual they made it harder to do than was needful.  It's really not too bad.  I have three nuts to take off in the engine compartment and the whole assembly comes loose inside.  If it had A/C it would have been a two-hour job just to get to the blower motor.  (And they could have remedied that very easily if the engineers who designed it hadn't had their heads in a deep dark crevice.)

Well, just to show that things never go as they should I broke the inlet tube to the heater core while getting the assembly out from under the dash.  Once it was on the bench I could understand why.  There was very little solder holding it in the core.  I fixed that though when I re soldered the tube(s).  I built up more solder around the joints to make it more solid.  I also patched a couple of places where the tubes had been rubbing on the steel housing.  (Then I took a round file and enlarged the holes in the housing so that it wouldn't happen again!)

The old padding was pretty much gone so I cut up a foam backpacking pad and used it to hold the heater core in place.  Hopefully it will work for another 30 years.
I put the blower motor in the housing along with a new squirrel cage.  The old squirrel cage was nylon and self-destructed when I tried to remove it.  I wasn't surprised.  Plastic parts tend to do that after thirty-years.  The new part is steel.
A daughter and SIL were having problems with their vehicle so we made a trip in to fix that.  They'd started to but ran into problems.  I ended up taking their battery home with us to charge and test it.  I put on a new battery cable end while I was there.  The starter passed a bench test so I'm hoping it is okay. The battery passed the load test so they picked it up yesterday when they came to see Scott  and took it back with them. 

Scott's helping his monkey learn the ropes on a computer.  When he was little (okay  little-er!) he was afraid of it.  Now they're best buddies.

Ah yes!  Susan and Scott getting in some "tramp time."

Scott giving his monkey a ride ...

... Scott waiting for the monkey to give him a ride!

Two birthdays this month.  This one is for Barbara ...

This one is for Emily.

Susan has been getting things ready for our trip to Nevada.

She's canned some sausage to take with us.

And some Pepper Jack cheese ...

...and some butter.

She uses small jars so that we can use them up before they spoil since we won't have refrigeration.

She also dehydrated some Cream Cheese.  We will take it with us to Nevada but she was also writing a book on food preservation.  (It's finished now.)

She put the slices on drying racks behind the stove.

It didn't take long to dry them (about 12 hours).

Then she ran them through the blender.

This was once eight ounces of cream cheese.

It's now 3.2 ounces (the cup weighs 1.2 oz.).

And now it's living in its own little jar all ready for a trip to Nevada.

She also dried a carton of sour cream.

It was "pasted" onto parchment paper but wax paper would work better.  When it was dry she crumbled it into a jar.
We've both put up more books in the last couple of weeks.  My most recent one is The Beginner's Guide To Reloading Ammunition.  It's available in Kindle for $5.99 or in print for $10.99.  It's already in the top 50 for Kindle books in the hunting and shooting categories.  It's over 150 pages and loaded with photos.  The easiest way to find it is to click on the link above or type in "Steven Gregersen" at the Amazon Books website.  It's listed in two places on the page that will come up.  Of course they put the Kindle version at the bottom of the page because they make more on the print version.  The Kindle version has color photos and the print version is B/W.  The rest of my books are on there too.
My book (The Gun guide for People Who Know Nothing About Firearms) consistently rates in the top ten in Kindle in the hunting and shooting categories.  It's also available in print.
Susan's most recent offering is:  Food Storage: Preserving Meat, Dairy and Eggs.  It's selling well already too and is available on Kindle now and should be available in print soon.  Again, the best way to find it is to click on the link above or type in "Susan Gregersen" in the search bar on the Amazon Books website.
Be sure to check out Susan's blog at Poverty Prepping

Sunday, January 13, 2013

6-12 January, 2012 - Snowmobiles, Canning and Dehydrating

It's been a busy week.  It warmed up the first part of the week which turned the packed snow on the road to eight-inches of sno-cone type mush.  We could barely get in and out in four-wheel-drive.  Our daughter needed to get into town twice this week but is without a vehicle so we took her in for her appointments and she rode home with her husband after he got off work.  On the way home after the last apppointment her husband threw a chain on his truck trying to get up the hill.  The truck slid backwards and got wedged in a snowdrift so me and the neighbors had to get him out.  I ended up using the come-along and a 25 foot cable to pull him over and onto the road before we could go backwards.  Then the battery was dead on his truck so I had to go home to get my jumper cables which were in the Cherokee.  I brought Scott back out with us but then we had a hard time getting the chain back on his pickup.  We ended up being there about an hour before heading home again.  He left his truck there and I gave him a ride out to it the next morning ... at four AM.  At least I got a couple of hours of good writing time in before anyone else got up in the morning.  A neighbor plowed the road and it got cold again so the road is passable now with a 2wd and tire chains.   What fun ... not!

We have had some beautiful weather this week though.  There was one day the sun was shining almost all day long.  The days are getting noticeably longer now which is great.  We can get more done.

Scot was out on one of the warm days we had.  He'd been standing under the solar panels and the water was dripping on his coat.  He has another airplane to play with.  This one shoots plastic "missiles" out of the front.  We seem to spend a lot of time looking for them now!

Scott's supervising while Susan cuts up some pumpkins.  She'll boil them on the wood stove in the big pan and then can them (and make pumpkin bars).

She's also getting stuff together for our trip to Nevada this year.  These are dried "pizza makings," (onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and olives).  The olives are from a can but the rest is home-grown or foraged (mushrooms).

She also canned some mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.

This is the mozzarella after canning.  All of the jars sealed.

Another daughter and SIL came up to visit with their kids so I took the kids out on the snowmobile.  This is Andrew who is 6.

This is Anna suited up and ready to go.  She's 3.

Susan is dehydrating Cream Cheese for our trip.

Once it's sliced she spreads it on drying racks and ...

... puts them on the brackets above the wood stove.  That's breakfast (pancakes) cooking on the stove.
I moved my reloading bench into the cabin because I'm tired of doing it in the shack.  I worry about condensation in the winter when I heat it up from 10 to 60 degrees.  I'm also working on my next book, the beginner's guide to reloading, so I need to actually reload some ammo to take pictures of the process.

Susan's most recent book, Food Storage; Bug-out Buckets, Specialty Buckets and Transition Buckets for Preppers is doing well on Amazon Kindle (it's also available in print). Check it out at:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

30 December, 2012 - 5 January 2013 - Chimney Cleaning, Icy Roads

Another day another ... train?

Susan went through some of the toys we have stored from "yesteryear" and found this train set. It was missing a few pieces but there were enough left to make the loop.  Scott spent hours playing with it.

This is another of his favorite toys.  His big interests in life right now are planes, trains and automobiles.  Here he's making a crash landing on the snow.

Okay, on to the next adventure...

We bought him a kid's computer for Christmas.  He loves it and isn't as interested in "helping" us when we're using ours.

His mom and dad got him a Cars blanket.  Cars is one of his favorite movies.

I was sorting some brass so Scott decided to help a bit.  I gave him a can of 270 and 25/06 brass to mess around with.  I don't have any firearms in those calibers.  (Although if I found some at a good price ...!)

Chimney cleaning time again.  This time we need some repairs on the top pipe.  The bottom and top have both corroded to the point that they need replaced.

I took it off then ran the brush through the pipe a few times to knock the ash out.  There wasn't any creosote build up.  We only burn seasoned wood and I run the stove hot for awhile every morning which keeps creosote deposits at a minimum.  As long as I was already there and had the brush it only takes a few more minutes to scrub out the chimney.

I didn't feel like going to town for a new cap and and we keep a couple new sections of pipe on hand so I just attached the old cap to the new pipe.  It should work okay for several years before it needs to be replaced.

The snow was piling up on the U-Haul so Susan shovelled it off.  I think I hear the camper whispering "let's go south until the snow is gone."

We got a call at 5:30 am from our SIL.  He ran off the road dodging a deer and needed help getting on to work.  The battery was dead in his truck so I drove him to work then we got him out after he got off work.

A neighbor brought his tractor over to lend a hand.  It worked great because he could lift the back of the truck out of the ditch using the loader.  (The bumper is rusted through and was already bent before he hit the ditch.)  I'd have had to chain up all four wheels to get him out with the Cherokee.

I thanked another neighbor who stopped traffic on the curve while we were extracting the truck.  It's pretty icy and we were worried that anyone coming around the turn would ignore the flares I set out and either hit someone or wind up in the ditch themselves.
When Scott's parents came up Saturday there was a wreck blocking the road about two miles closer to the highway than where this photo was taken.  They had to make a ten mile detour (one way) to get to the next road to make it to our place.

We bought some bacon and fried it up for breakfast.  It was a nice treat. It's a lot better cooking it on the wood stove.  Eventually the grease splatters will burn off.

Getting water for the animals is always a chore during the winter.  We don't like using our drinking water if we can avoid it so I set a bucket of snow behind the wood stove.  It warms up during the day so we have water on hand for the animals.  All we have this winter is the cat, dog and seven chickens.  The chickens don't drink a lot but they need fresh water at least a couple times a day.