Farm

In this post I will be telling you the difference between six shot and eight shot shotgun shells.  The main difference is the size of the pellets inside of the shell. The smaller the number, the bigger the pellets. The larger the number, the smaller the pellets.  Another difference is the amount of gunpowder inside the shell and since there is more gunpowder, it has more recoil.  One more difference that I can think of is that the smaller the shot the more pellets will fit inside the shell.

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//Ewinslow

In this post I am going to show you how to clean a shotgun.  There are many ways you can clean a shotgun.  The way I like is with a snake, gun oil, and steel wool.  I am going to start from the inside out.  Start by oiling the snake.  Drop the weighted end down the barrel and pull it through a couple of times. Now you are done cleaning the barrel.  Now we rub the barrel with the steel wool and buff it with a rag with gun oil on it.  Here are some pictures!

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//Ewinslow

 

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Rabbits

Quite a few things have gone on with the rabbits lately. Tiny now has 3 four week old kits pictured below, and 2 of Mixy’s 4 have sold. Also I have added a new buck (Name to be determined) to the breeding staff, and bred him with Mixy. I have also re-bred Rosemarry with the buck Liberty.

Tiny and her kits

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New buck

IMG_5505 He is a purebred mini-rex, of which I would like to find a few females.

 

Here are some pictures of a window box I build last week.  It’s only one of several, but it gets the general idea across.

They were made from cedar fence boards.  They were 6 feet long and a fraction of the price of a 1x6 even though they're almost exactly the same size.

They were made from cedar fence boards. They were 6 feet long and a fraction of the price of a 1×6 even though they’re almost exactly the same size.

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All the pieces are marked out to cut here.

These concrete screws worked very well, both going directly into brick and into the mortar between the bricks.  All you had to do was drill a hole with the included masonry bit and put the screw in.

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Here’s the back attached to the wall:

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And here’s the finished box, before paint.  The box was assembled piece by piece and attached with staples/brads from an air nailer.

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The only thing left was to lightly sand the box, drill drainage holes in the bottom, and paint the outside (not required, but a nice touch since the wood color varied).

Here are the new straps installed, and a picture with a car loaded.  I was impressed as to how well it pulled, the dolly tracked straight and it wasn’t difficult to stop.IMG_2506

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Here are pictures of a rather unsafe way to use a tow dolly that I saw in town a few days ago:

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It was a truck pulling a trailer pulling a tow dolly, but the hitch for the tow dolly appears to be homemade and attached to the trailer with some chains. I’m just glad it was stationary when I saw it.

Here’s another bag I’ve put together.  Completed, it probably weighs 50lbs but it’s easy enough to load into the car when it’s needed.

The box with magnetic lights, a portable winch, and the mounting plate

The box with magnetic lights, a portable winch, and the mounting plate

Power cable for portable winch

Power cable for portable winch

Switch for portable winch

Switch for portable winch

Handle for portable winch, In case we have to turn it manually.

Handle for portable winch, In case we have to turn it manually.

Spare dolly straps - they're pretty worn out, but they're still usable in a pinch.

Spare dolly straps – they’re pretty worn out, but they’re still usable in a pinch.

A light duty come-along

A light duty come-along

The only thing I don’t have in the bag is a recovery strap, but I always keep that in the car anyway.

Here's what it looks like after I've pulled off the metal sides and the wood floor.

Here’s what it looks like after I’ve pulled off the metal sides and the wood floor.

The wood was nailed on.  I've never heard of nailing wood directly into metal, but it apparently worked since we've used the trailer for over 8 years with the same floor.

The wood was nailed on. I’ve never heard of nailing wood directly into metal, but it apparently worked since we’ve used the trailer for over 8 years with the same floor.

The outside of the trailer was fine, but the inside was scraped up and had some light rust because of things being loaded and unloaded.  I ended up painting the inside but leaving the outside alone.

The outside of the trailer was fine, but the inside was scraped up and had some light rust because of things being loaded and unloaded. I ended up painting the inside but leaving the outside alone.

Some of the new hardware

Some of the new hardware

More new hardware

More new hardware

Light gauge angle iron attached to the end we load from keeps the edge of the wood from chipping away.

Light gauge angle iron attached to the end we load from keeps the edge of the wood from chipping away.

Finished product

Finished product.  The new wood was painted on both sides before I put it on, whereas the original wood wasn’t painted or treated against moisture as far as I can tell.

 

 

 

Here are several pictures of the car dolly I brought home last week and the repairs I made. It needed nothing but new straps, some hardware, a ramp, and some welding.

What it looked like when I brought it home, but after the old straps were removed.

What it looked like when I brought it home, but after the old straps were removed.

These brackets hold straps to the dolly.  I pulled them off to change the straps, and decided to replace the bolts too.

These brackets hold straps to the dolly. I pulled them off to change the straps, and decided to replace the bolts too.

The broken ramp, which has been discontinued by the manufacturer.

The broken ramp, which has been discontinued by the manufacturer.

The ATV ramp I built a replacement ramp out of

The ATV ramp I built a replacement ramp out of

The replacement ramp looks ugly, but it should work.  I'd still purchase a new one to match the original if I found a source.

The replacement ramp looks ugly, but it should work. I’d still purchase a new one to match the original if I found a source.

The bottom of the ramp, with some reinforcements

The bottom of the ramp, with some reinforcements

Painted, so it looks just slightly less ugly

Painted, so it looks just slightly less ugly

I welded this bracket onto the tongue to hold a portable winch.  That should assist in loading vehicles that don't run.

I welded this bracket onto the tongue to hold a portable winch. That should assist in loading vehicles that don’t run.

The portable winch attached to aforementioned bracket

The portable winch attached to aforementioned bracket

A newly welded crack in one wheel pad

A newly welded crack in one wheel pad

Another newly welded crack in the same wheel pad

Another newly welded crack in the same wheel pad

All of the bolts I had to remove were rusted in place, so I cut them off. Here’s an easy way to do it with an angle grinder:

Slot the top like so

Slot the top like so

And chip off the four pieces with a heavy duty chisel.

And chip off the four pieces with a heavy duty chisel.

 

I’ll add another post with pictures of the whole thing once the ramp and straps are attached.

In the end, it’s fully functional and heavy duty, but it only looks good 50/50.  That is, 50 feet away and rolling 50 miles an hour.

Last summer I made a mound of good dirt, manure  and etc to plant a pumpkin on. Then, in the midst of winter with all things green forgotten, we put the antenna mast  http://chickenroadlabs.com/2014/01/26/antenna-mast/ right on top of it. This summer I decided to stick a pumpkin in anyway and give it a shot. It will be a keeper picture if we  have pumpkins dotting the tower :)

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Mixy’s kits

I just realized I hadn’t posted an update on Mixy and her kits. She did kindle in a hurry as a storm was coming in, and still has all 4 at about 4 weeks. Not a huge litter, but she has NEVER lost a kit for me in the past. I gave only bred her a couple times, but this is still a great sign of things to come. I am currently working on getting them started into eating pellets.

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Below is the sire and one of the kits. The  sire came from a white female and black male turning out blue. Historically he produces blacks, blues and whites.

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IMG_2226After six years, someone finally had the idea of installing a faucet near the garden instead of using close to 250 feet of hoses for watering.  The hoses tended to degrade and need replaced frequently, and they had to be moved every time the yard was mowed.  This new faucet should save a lot of time when mowing and save the cost of replacing the hoses so often.  The limited amount of hose needed now should last several years without a problem.

The way the faucet works is this: When the handle is lifted, a drain at the bottom is closed and the water supply turned on. When the handle is put down to shut off the water, a drain at the bottom of the hydrant opens, draining all the water from the hydrant and leaving nothing there to freeze.

Here’s a picture of the hydrant I installed:

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For me, the hardest part was digging the hole.  If we didn’t have a water supply nearby, this would be a much more difficult job.  I was able to tap into the main water line where it runs past the garden, so there was no trench required and no new pipes to install.

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The 3/4″ water line in the bottom of the hole – it was about 2 feet down.

The next parts I only have a few pictures of.  One person doesn’t really have enough arms to do this job, much less take pictures. After the main water supply was turned off, I cut about 1/2″ from the center of the water line to install a T.

(Here I’ll add – buy the push-type or gator-bite fittings.  They’re worth every penny – they work underwater and don’t require any time for glue to set.)

When the pipe is cut, water runs back into the hole.  As long as all of the faucets uphill from here stay closed, the amount of water is limited to between 2 and 3 gallons.  If someone were to open a faucet in the house, all of the water from all of the pipes would drain into my hole.

After the pipe was cut, I let water run into the hole until it stopped before scooping it out with a plastic cup.  Now the brass tee is finally installed.

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All it takes is pressing a pipe into each hole, and it seals.

There was one more fitting that allowed me to connect the plastic water line to the hydrant.  One side of that fitting was coated in teflon tape and screwed into the hydrant, the other side was another push-type fitting.

After the hydrant is physically attached to the water line via the tee, the bottom of the hole is filled in with dirt only after turning on the water supply and checking for leaks.

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If you look closely, you can see a drain in the brass fitting at the bottom of the hole. That’s how the pipe keeps from freezing.

The hole from here is filled with around 10″ of gravel to allow the pipe to drain (this is the part there are no pictures of).

At this point, with the hole almost completely filled with gravel, I put in a little more dirt and packed everything down as tight as I could.

The final step is to pour concrete in the hole to keep the hydrant from moving:

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The concrete is about 2″ thick – enough to hold the hydrant, but thin enough I can break it if I ever had a problem with the hydrant.  Lastly, I didn’t fill the hole completely with concrete.  I left room on top to put in 1-2 inches of dirt so grass can grow right up to the pipe.

This is a drawing of the hose reel I’m building from a steel pipe and two wheels:

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Here is how the pipe is welded to a steel plate (actually part of a bent lawn mower blade) and then welded to the wheel:

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Here is the finished hose reel, with the base full of concrete:

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I believe the pictures are self explanatory. I used a bolt for a hinge pin and still plan to add a latch to keep the door closed better.  It is ready to attach a chimney!IMG_4781 IMG_4780 IMG_4779 IMG_4778 IMG_4776 IMG_4775 IMG_4774 IMG_4773 IMG_4771

Here’s a handful of pictures I took over the weekend:

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Rabbits

Rosemarry’s kits are now 4 weeks old, and I will start weaning them next week. At this age they get all the feed they can put away, however there is a large amount of waste due to small mouths dropping pellets.

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Rabbits can be handled as soon as they are out of the box, but with this litter we are just starting long “sessions” of handling now, so they will be ready when sold as pets.

Yesterday I gave mixy her nesting box on day 29 as she was already trying to nest in the cage. She chewed paper, pulled a little fur, and started playing around with the nest box, then just quit. I am guessing she will kindle in the next few days, and just had a sudden impulse to get the nest ready ahead of time. The atmospheric pressure was low yesterday due to a storm, so this may have given her that sudden impulse.

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The secret to keeping the rabbits smelling good is to keep everything dry. Not easy to do in april, but I’m hoping it will get better as things dry out.

Here is a picture of the temporary sides I use for hauling mulch in a borrowed trailer:

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It’s just pieces of OSB or plywood held in place with C Clamps.  When the mulch is loaded, it keeps the boards tight against the sides.  The C Clamps only keep them from moving around while the trailer is empty.

It’s ugly, but it’s cheap and it works.  I borrowed a trailer from my uncle to haul mulch, but the wiring harness was totally different than the one we have on the Suburban.  An adapter is apparently also hard to get, since it has a rather unusual 7 pin connector. I actually wasn’t very surprised when he happened to have an extra wiring socket on hand…He keeps a lot of spare parts around too.  I built a small wood box, bolted a magnet to the bottom, and attached the socket to it.  After wiring the lighting socket to a standard 4 pin connector, I had a fully functioning adapter that didn’t require removing the harness already on the truck.

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I ended up wrapping a strap around the box, because I didn’t trust the magnet to hold up to wind going down the interstate.  I had initially planned on attaching the box to the bumper where wind wouldn’t be a problem, but the only place it fit was blocking the license plate.  I know the trailer makes the license plate hard to see too, but it doesn’t totally block the plate.  I just don’t want the hassle of being pulled over if someone wanted to (A blocked license plate is a justifiable reason to stop a car). Needless to say, it’s now attached to the trailer tongue.  I would actually rewire the truck if I were using the trailer regularly, but I don’t pull it often enough to bother.

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The pulley I’m repairing is one of several that the mower belt runs around.  The bearing in the center wore out and flew apart, but since it was originally built as one assembly and then welded together  I couldn’t press a new bearing in. Usually I could just order a new pulley, but this was attached to a Honda HT4213 that’s nearly 30 years old.  I had quite a time finding an exac replacement pulley and the only ones similar in size were rather expensive, so I decided to cut the old one open and attempt replacing the bearing.

For reference, this is what it looked like before it flew apart and landed in the grass a few feet from the mower:

IMG_2098This is what it looked like when I started work on it:

The pulley and the parts of the bearing that we were able to find

I started by drilling out the four spot welds:

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Then I pried the pulley apart and cut a notch in the cap to get the old bearing out:

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With the old bearing removed, I took all the measurements with a caliper and called NAPA.  They had a bearing in stock for less that $6, and it was waiting on the front desk when I got there.

I cleaned and sanded everything, then put the bearing into the cap before lining up the holes and clamping the pulley together:

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Next step is to weld it back together and reinstall:

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If anybody else has the same problem, this is the bearing:

IMG_2099I know the chances of someone else still using this model mower would seem (and probably are) slim, but just a couple days ago I opened an email newsletter to see a picture of the exact same model lawn mower being worked on. Quite a coincidence, considering that I had just given up on finding a pulley or any more information than I already had about the lawn mower online.

Rabbits

Rosemary’s kits are now out of the box.

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All nine are healthy and doing well. They have quite an assortment of colors, and are all pretty large.

She is now in for some real work. From this point on most of her time will be spent trying to keep away from hungry kits. I am starting to give the kits a few pellets here and there as they will eat them. As soon as they are out of the box they are good to eat solids, however some take to it faster than others.

Here is a picture of them about a week old.

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Tiny also kindled a litter of 4 small kits. In the past hers have been large, but these do appear to be healthy. 3 blacks and 1 white. I did some line breeding and bred her with (below) her kit from last year. It was nice to see some black in this litter, as his past two have had mainly white and blue/gray like him. His sire was black, so I was surprised we hadn’t seen some before now.

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Rabbits

Things have been too busy to post for a couple days, but I will catch back up.

Rosemarry kindled a big box of healthy kits,  11 to be exact. We lost two, but other than that they are doing good. In the past she has been a chronic procrastinator, kindling in the middle of morning no. 30. This time with a different buck she kindled over night on day 31 like normal.

IMG_4590  She is getting good at these things, and made a great nest.

 

Mixy did not fare so well in her kindling. I didn’t know she was pregnant, =ing no box, and several other factors that resulted in her not making a proper nest and losing them. I bred her again within days of losing the littler, which will keep her from getting mastitis.

Tiny is pregnant and  will get her box soon.

These past few weeks we have done  some  early gardening  work. Now is the perfect time, or a little late, to plant onions and  garlic. Last  fall  I build a rock garden bed and have planted some onions in it this spring. Below are some pics of the sprouting  onions.

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After things started warming  up a little, several odd things started  sprouting up. Years and years ago there were decorative bulbs planted here, but they haven’t showed up in years. I dug at the bases of these odd sprouts and found them coming from  below my added dirt. My  theory is after good fertilizing, and some watering, things have started  coming back out.

IMG_5098 IMG_5100 Hopefully these will turn out to be something good.

Everyone says chickens don’t eat onions, which is true. That said, they will dig them up. This is  something to keep in mind when planting, as I will probably be putting up some sort of fence to  keep them out.

Rabbits

IMG_2903   Today I made a nesting box for Rosemarry to kindle in. She is a very odd mother, kindling on the 3oth day at approximately 10AM compared to the middle of the night on the 31st day as usual. I bred her with the buck below who I had not bred successfully yet. At 15 days I put her back in the buck which she resisted, being a pretty safe indicator of pregnancy. I will post back  in a few days and report on how she did.

 

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This is a gate I made in a couple hours from three pieces of EMT conduit and some galvanized fence wire.  Total cost: Less than $5 (not including the T-posts, which were already part of the fence).

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There is an insulated wire run through the conduit on top – This allows me to complete the circuit for the fence to work without electrifying the gate.

Recently I pruned our 13 fruit trees, of some 5 odd varieties. This post will give you the  jist of pruning, and then you can look more specifically into your variety.

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First of  all…

The main thing is just doing it. Once you get out there  with a pair of  hand  pruners and a good sharp saw, it becomes somewhat self explanatory. What I learned is you have to overcome the desire to spare your precious trees and ruthlessly prune. Seldom will you cut something you will wish you left, but you may have to go back many times for a twig here and a twig there. Before you begin check the overall health of the tree, especially for any rot at the base.

Many people prefer to start at the top, however I am giving instructions from the bottom up.

Keep in mind the shape of your tree. Is it supposed to be round, pointed??? Just get a general idea of the shape you are trying to get.  You will usually want to trim the bottom few limbs to keep growth upward vs having branches get massive close to the ground. Below a certain point on the tree there is no point in keeping small branches. At the top you may spare small twigs, but you should trim the bulk of last year’s lower growth.

Keep the future in mind. Will this branch have room to grow? Will this one help create a balanced shape, or is this area over crowded?

NOTE: Some small amounts of type specific info: Peaches need an open and airy center to help keep fruit well ventilated and prevent clear oozing gel (or so I read).

NOTE: Always cut with sharp tools in January/February to minimize damage. Make sure to remove all diseased or damaged growth. It is not a good idea to leave the prunings on the ground by the tree, as they can spread disease. I utilize the prunings as 1st rate rabbit chews.

EDITORS NOTE: Always prune trees/bushes when they are dormant (e.g. 3 weeks ago).  These are good general instructions, but always find specific directions for the specific type of fruit tree you are trimming – almost all fruit trees need pruned a little bit differently. While it may be self-explanatory to some, research anything you aren’t sure about before you start cutting.  If there are questions about a specific type of tree or bush, feel free to ask them in the comments.