Winter Wood Supply

Upon moving into our new Homestead, we noticed a couple of trees down. I absolutly did not want them to go to waste, so one of our first chores was cutting them up and having our own winter wood supply.

Stacked Wood Upon moving into our new Homestead, we noticed a couple of trees down. I absolutly did not want them to go to waste, so one of our first chores was cutting them up and having our own winter wood supply. Luckily for us, our home is designed with a super efficient geothermal system for heating and cooling. Since the system is efficient we dont have to depend on wood as our only source of heat in the winter.  Having a fire place and wanting to be self reliant, it made perfect sense to cut it all up and stack it. I opted to put it at the edge or our wooded tree line near the back of the house. What the picture doesnt show is I actually have another smaller stack behind it. We also had the great fortune to have a walk in closet designed in the house for wood storage. The walls are covered with metal plate to keep from breaking thru the drywall. It is actually a very nice setup. So we filled that with wood as well. We have gathered burn piles, for the branches that are too small, and will be burning those in the next couple of days. Next time, I will have a wood splitter though!HAHA! Sure is a comfort knowing that if we loose or electricity we can still stay warm.

Chickens doing great!

Well, we got the chickens in. We started feeding them poultry feed from our local feed supply store. They have been in to 2-3 days and have all gotten used to roosting in the coop.

Rooster

Well, we got the chickens in. We started feeding them poultry feed from our local feed supply store. They have been in to 2-3 days and have all gotten used to roosting in the coop. The first night I was surprised to see them all roosting on the top of the fence when we got home. We scared them off of there and they went straight into the coop. After that they keep going in at night. I will keep them doing this for a couple more days and then open the gate and let them free range. At night they should come back to the coop on their own. Oh yea, we had them in the coop for about 10 minutes when we got our first egg!

Chicken ReleaseFirst Eggchickens at the coop

Sharpen Mower Blades

There is no technical mystery to sharpening a lawnmower blade. It just takes common sense and a bit of know-how. If you have a good bench grinder or a professional blade grinder, you can do a professional job.

Sharpening mower bladesHOW TO: Sharpen rotary mower blades

There is no technical mystery to sharpening a lawnmower blade. It just takes common sense and a bit of know-how. If you have a good bench grinder or a professional blade grinder, you can do a professional job.

  1. Remove the bladeRemoving the blade can sometimes be the hardest part of the job. A good way to start is to squirt some penetrating oil on the blade bolt and nut and let it stand for a few minutes. While you are waiting, pull the spark plug wire to make sure the mower does not accidentally start. I have talked to some people who had stitches in their hands or even a few missing fingers because the engine fired unexpectedly.Next, block the blade so that it does not turn while you are removing the blade nut. A blade holder will make this easy. However, if you do not have one, a block of wood under the deck and a C-clamp will do the job.

    Once the blade is removed, use a scraper to remove excess grass build up around the center hole of the blade. This will ensure a good, tight fit and assists in keeping the mounting bolt from working loose.

  2. Sharpen the bladeNow that you have removed the blade, it’s time for sharpening. The primary goal is to consistently maintain the correct angle on the blade. Manufacturers perform hours of testing to determine the angle that will give the user the best cut with the longest span of time between sharpening. It’s important to keep the angle as it was intended. Around 40 degrees is typical, but this can vary, so check with the blade manufacturer to obtain the exact figure.A narrower angle, such as that of a pocketknife, will cut well initially, but will dull quickly and nick easily. On the other hand, a blade with a less severe (more blunt) angle will not provide the same quality of cut, even though it might wear more slowly.

    Blades come from the manufacturer with a milled edge. Milled edges are the best, but machines that provide a milled edge are expensive. You still can do a good job with a professional blade grinder. A sharpener with a grinding wheel is not preferred, because it will give you a hollow grind.

    As you sharpen, move the blade back and forth across the grinder, maintaining the proper angle until you get the edge you need. Do not force the blade into the grinder. Forcing the blade to grind faster heats the blade and will bein cause the metal to lose its temper (hardness of the blade). Some mechanics will keep a bucket of water handy and will dip the blade in it to cool. If the blade turns a straw color while grinding, it’s too hot and the temper is likely gone.

  3. Check for balance and straightnessIt is not necessary to grind a blade until all nicks are out. Grind until you have a sharp edge on the blade in the area where there are no nicks. A blade with numerous nicks should be replaced, but a few can be tolerated.Try to grind both edges of the blade evenly, removing the same amount of metal from both ends. This is important when you check the balance. An inexpensive cone-shaped blade balancer can do an excellent job. Wall-mounted blade balances are also available. These help you see if the blade is straight.

    An out-of-balance or bent blade can cause severe vibration and damage to your equipment. You can balance a blade by grinding just a little more metal off the heavy end of the blade. However, never try to straighten a severely bent blade. Straightening it could cause a weakened or cracked blade. A cracked blade could break apart when turning at the high RPMs under the deck. The potential liability or injury is not worth the cost of a replacement blade.

  4. Remount the bladeOnce you have finished balancing the blade and checking it for straightness, clean any burrs or jagged edges with a metal file. Now it’s time to put the blade back on the mower deck. Remember you now have a very sharp blade. Use extreme caution when installing.

NOTE!! I did not do it exactly like the article above. I did not have my bench grinder mounted yet, so I just used a hand grinder and it worked just fine.

Chicken Coop

Preparing the chicken coop.

Chicken Coop Yesterday we worked on getting our chicken coop ready. We were lucky enough to already have one built and in place. We cleaned it out and prepared for our new chickens. It should be plenty of room. We ordered 12 laying hens and 1 rooster. Also note that we have a fairly nice grape vine growing in the corner next to the door.  From what I understand, we need to keep them penned up for a couple of days until they are used to the coop, then we can open the door and let them free range! You can build your own chicken coop that also lets them free range. We threw some hay in the boxes and ready for the chickens.

Inside Chicken Coop