Friday, December 12, 2014

December 12, 2014, Christmas Parades, Firewood, Kid's Toys, Roof Leaks and Lake Time

We're getting settled in at our new location.  Boulder City had their Christmas parade on the 6th of December.  We went last year at a friend's invitation and had a good time in spite of the freezing temperatures.  This year it was a lot warmer!

The Park Service has a small fire in front of their main office and allows kids of all ages to roast marshmallows and make smores (and they furnish everything). Scott went through the line at least twice.  H'e old enough now to remember the parade from last year and this is what he remembered most.

The biggest challenge was getting him to wait until the marshmallow was ready.

Grandma escorting him back to our chairs.

Scott cleaning his fingers afterwards while we wait for the start of the parade.

This is Athena and Cooper.

The parade had a couple of bands, an ROTC unit, and dozens of floats and displays.

And lots of candy being tossed out to the kids.

Now that we have the wood stove ready to go we needed a source of firewood.  We hit a nearby wash to gather up some of the wood that had been washed downstream in one of the flash floods the area is famous for.

Scott got to open a couple of late birthday presents.  We waited until now because it was easier to transport them in their original boxes and put them together here.  The wagon was a hit and came with it's own power source.

The digger was a favorite as well.

I put together a lawn swing.  We almost brought it last year but chickened out.  It comes apart very easily for transport when we move.  All you have to do is take the swing off, take the legs loose from the top bar, and take one bolt out of the crossbar.  Everything folds up nicely into a relatively small package.

We needed to find and fix a couple of water leaks on the roof.  I found the source (I think!) over the marker lights on the back but decided to caulk up all the seams on top as well.  Four tubes of silicone caulk later we were finished.

Scott lent his expertise as well.

We walk down to the lake for some water time fun.  It's too cold for swimming right now but the dog loves it and Scott never tires of climbing the rocks and playing in the sand.

Odie gives her approval.

Susan is testing the water temperature.  It's still cold!

Odie going for a quick swim.

On a trip into Henderson Scott spotted Santa.  Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas and Scott pointed to the red scooter with the reindeer antlers.  Santa though he just wanted to sit on it but Scott quickly corrected him telling Santa that he wanted the scooter for Christmas.  Scott was polite though so I think Santa still has him on the "Nice" list.  (He still isn't getting the scooter though!)

Sunrise at Lake Mead ...

and ... sunset at Lake Mead.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

30 November, 2014 Venison, House Fires and Snowbirding

The last couple of weeks have been pretty busy as we prepare to head south for the winter.  It was tight but we headed out on schedule.  Of course a few things went wrong on the road (as they usually do) but we're now in Nevada.

Susan has been canning things to take with us.  Here she is canning up Cheddar cheese.  When things go on sale we often buy in bulk then can it for later use,  It saves money several of ways.  First, we got the food originally at a lower price.  Second, once it's canned or dehydrated we don't need to refrigerate it to store it,  Third, if we have it on hand at the motor home we are less likely to make a trip into town for food (either prepared at a restaurant or from the grocery store) which saves money on gas and the extra price of the food itself.

We were given this squash several months ago and finally got around to canning it.  Obviusly it had to be cut up for cooking.

Susan has cubed it and is preparing it for the canner.

I shot a whitetail spike buck to fill my deer tag with.  He is one of the best tasting deer I've ever shot.

I shoot it and cut it up and Susan cans and cooks it!

I put the sides on the trailer so we could use it to transport things to Nevada.  We had some tongue-and-groove boards on hand so I used them for the sides.

The dog knew we were heading south and couldn't wait!  When Susan got the dog carrier in the back of the car the dog jumped in and refused to leave.  Scott arranged a little "nest" of blankets to curl up in and pass the time.

The trailer packed and ready to go.

The home of some neighbors caught on fire just before the Thanksgiving holiday.  I seldom do things like this on my blog but they could use some help.  The home was completely destroyed along with it's contents.  To compound the problem, the husband was recently diagnosed with cancer in his pancreas and liver.  It's going to be a tough time for them during this holiday season.  I've included a link with more of their story and a way to donate to them if you should desire.

Departure time!  On our way out we made the first tracks in our new-fallen snow.

We tried unsuccessfully to get ahead of a snowstorm.  After a couple of hours of driving 30 mph on the icy interstate we called a halt and spent the night in a Deer Lodge motel, 250 miles from home.  It dropped about 6 inches of fresh snow after we forted up.  The funny thing was that the power went off for about thirty minutes the next morning.  Scott wanted to watch television and couldn't understand the concept of the electricity not working.  We live entirely off-grid and he had never experienced a power outage before then.

We took I-15 south the next morning.  Otherwise we'd have followed the snowstorm for the next 300 miles.  It was still a couple of hours of 30 mph driving until we began to hit dry pavement.  This is what it looked like as we entered Idaho.  Once we were on dry pavement we stopped to switch drivers.  I did a quick inspection of the trailer and found out that two of the four lug nuts were missing on one wheel.  One of the studs was loose too. I took  one lug nut off the other wheel so we had three on each wheel then.  We tried getting another stud and two lug nuts at the next town we hit but ours are an odd size and they didn't have any that would fit.  So we took it the rest of the way on three lug nuts per wheel.

We hit headwinds in Idaho.  We were going about 70 mph into a 25 mph headwind with gusts above 45 mph at times.  One of the gust must have been a little harder though because it ripped the kayak and the luggage rack off the Expedition.  We were fortunate that the vehicles following avoided the flying kayak and a section of the luggage rack.  The kayak skidded safely to a stop in the ditch. It sustained only minor damage and is still usable.

One of the cross pieces to the roof rack was still attached to the kayak.

I anchored it to the top of the trailer and we were once again on the road.

Things were looking better as we entered Utah.

This is 26 hours after the photo was taken of the snow-covered Expedition in Deer Lodge.  Palm trees and no snow! 

Our motor home is the one next to the fifth-wheel.  The battery was dead in it and we couldn't get enough power in it to jump start the motor home.  It was Thanksgiving day and everything was closed.  We didn't want to drive into Mesquite or Henderson to buy another battery so we just drove to our camping spot and set up the tent for the night.  That night it got down to 35 degrees.  We were thankful for warm sleeping bags!

On Friday we purchased a battery from NAPA for $112.00.  I put it in and it would crank over now  but wouldn't fire.  I gave it a shot of starting fluid and the motor fired up so I switched tanks.  The auxiliary tank has some issues with dirt (sabotage from a squatter the previous owner evicted) so it isn't reliable.  It got us the mile to the camping area though.  On the way the brake light came on and the pedal went to the floor.  I suspect that there's some fluid leakage somewhere but I haven't checked it out yet.

We'd been having problems with the air suspension on our Expedition as well but the warmer weather seems to have fixed that.  I suspect there's an o-ring seal that needs replaced on the left rear air bag.

Scott found some sand (it's all sand!) in the camping area to play in and got out his construction equipment and began moving dirt! 

Our first evening campfire!

I didn't have time to make the stove for the motor home before we left Montana so I brought the parts and did it here.  We made a trip into the Henderson Harbor Freight Tools store and bought a welder and grinder.  The welder was on sale for $85.00.  I'd planned on buying a 120 volt stick welder but the wire welder was only $5.00 more and is more convenient so I bought it.  For a cheap welder it works very well.  It only uses flux core wire and has only two heat settings but welds nice and functions smoothly.  It weighs only half of what my Lincoln welder at home weighs so I'll use this one for jobs away from home.

I'm taking photos so later I'll be publishing a small booklet on how to make one of these.  You need two propane bottles and some other items to make a dandy little stove.

In the upper photo I've cut the hole in the bottle I'll use for the stove and the door from the other bottle.

Here, I'm welding the hinges to the door (under Scott's supervision).

As soon as I stop he grabs the welder, hammer, or whatever I've been using and pretends to work.  He's making hissing/welder sounds as he runs a bead here!

This is what the finished stove looks like after being installed in the Motor Home.  The cement boards are heat shields.  It works very well in the small spaces of the camper.  We have to watch to ensure that it doesn't get too hot.

You might wonder why we have a photo of the milk and lemons.  One of the things we missed in MT was the lemons they sell here.  Ours are small and expensive.  These are so much better than any we can get up north.

This is at the camping area right outside of town.  We'll probably be moving to our more remote location soon.

I made a separate post for this book but will include it here as well.  This is my most recent book.  It evaluates muzzle loading firearms (modern, traditional, and handguns), crossbows (and crossbow pistols), air rifles and pistols, and bows-n-arrows from a prepper's perspective.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November 19, 2014 New Book Out The Prepper's Guide to Alternative Weapons: Book One

Just became available today.  This one covers muzzleloaders, crossbows, airguns and Bows.  It's available in print or Kindle formats.

  Print Version

  Kindle Version

Saturday, November 15, 2014

15 November, 2014 - Winter on the Homestead, or ... Living in a Deep Freeze

The cold weather hit like a striking snake!  Hard and painful!  Getting cold weather in NW MT is nothing new.  I remember a Halloween night it was bitterly cold but to have it hang on for days as this last one has is a bit unusual.  They keep forecasting warmer weather in a few days but then keep postponing it.  We'll just keep adding more wood to the fire I guess!  (And try to move up our scheduled departure date for going south!)

Susan made pork-n-beans.  She began with beans and real bacon bits.

Then made the sauce.

Put it all together.

And run it through the canner!  

We always test out the new creations before putting them back in storage.  If  something is wrong we need to know before she does another ten canner loads of it.  This is meatloaf that Susan canned.

When it came out of the oven she added the topping.

And opened a jar of the home made pork-n-beans.

Baked some rolls and made potato salad and we had a feast!  The recipes are all great!

This is about a day's supply of wood for heating the cabin.

We brought our SIL's motorcycle up from their cabin to store it in a shed for the winter.  Scott "rode" it up the hill and played on it for quite some time afterward.  (It's firmly strapped to the trailer.)

Our first real snowstorm of the year!

Susan of course got out her ice skates.

The day after!  It's about zero and everything outside is frozen.  I put the solar panels in their vertical position in preparation for winter and heavy snow.

Emily and Stephen, our newest grandchild's mom and dad.

Susan switched swings in the living room so Scott would have some variety.  We bought a wagon and a toy (sit-on kind) backhoe to take with us down south next month. He'll love playing with them!

One advantage of using the wood stove is it saves on propane for cooking.  This is breakfast being made and a cup of coffee being heated up.

I needed to patch my camouflage coat and decided to just use an iron-on patch.  I had to find the iron and get it hot.  We purchased this at a yard sale years ago.  It's designed to use hot coals to heat the iron but it works great just setting in on top of the wood stove.  The stove is really hot so I placed the iron on a trivet to keep it from overheating.

The rip in my coat sleeve. 

I cut one patch to go inside the cloth exterior.

Then I ironed it to set the glue.  I then cut another patch to go over the rip and ironed it on as well.

All finished!  And I didn't even scorch it! (Much!)

We have been known to buy frozen vegetables if they're on sale real cheap then dehydrate them for storage and use later.  We got a super deal on mixed vegetable awhile back so Susan dehydrated them.  Our system is simple.  We scatter them on plastic screens and put them in various places near the ceiling to dry.   This is one rack holding one pound of the vegetables.

We had four pounds and dehydrated them all.  The space savings are great.  All four pounds are now stored in this quart jar.  We can store it anywhere out of the sun too since there's no danger of it freezing.  Plus it took no electricity or other extra energy source to dry it nor does it take any extra energy source to preserve it.

We stopped in Kalispell to do some shopping and see some of the kids.  This is our oldest son.  I posted a photo of his elk antlers the night he got it but the photo was dark and grainy.  This one is a bit better. It was his first bow kill!  It's going to be hard to top in the coming years!