Friday, December 24, 2010

Out Behind the Woodshed...

We have a wood stove in our home that was traded to us for a box of .45 Long Colt shells. Friends in the business installed our stovepipe for just the cost of the pipe and we use that little stove for a significant portion of our home heating.

You can see a picture of our stove (and a drying duck) here.

For the past few years I have stored our firewood at the end of our gravel driveway stacked between several T-posts. We covered it with plastic sheeting and tarps and tied them down but it was an unsatisfactory arrangement. The plastic would shred because of the elements, or it would blow off and our wood was always wet or covered in snow just when we needed it the most. So, I resolved to solve the problem. I decided to build a wood shed.

I am not a construction guy. I have had no formal or informal schooling and the only experience I have has been building stuff around High Prairie Acres. I’m sure those of you with experience can tell that right off from the pictures.

I built it from some spare lumber I had laying around and sided it with plywood that I bought. The roof is my standard roof construction – 2-by lumber covered with OSB and topped with tar paper and shingles. I’m getting better at roofing but I still don’t have it perfected yet – I used the wrong sheet metal strips for drip edge... It did go easier this time though because I now own an air-compressor and I borrowed my buddy’s roof nailer for the job. He also helped me to set the rafters - something I'm not that good at yet. I bought us (he and I) a big box of roofing nails and just the other day he stopped by to pick up his gun and I told him the nails were his to use. Barter.

I divided the shed into two sections – one for firewood and one for kindling. I envisioned filling the right side up to the roof with dead branches for use as kindling but I haven’t gotten there yet. I left the back open a bit so that my view of “the bottoms” would not be totally blocked. The overhang is such that rain and snow don’t really blow in there. If it becomes a problem I’ll probably close it off with clear plastic.

I thought the plywood siding would hold up to the elements okay but I was wrong. About a week after I built it, it rained and one side developed a big bulge from water swelling. Great... So I used some old orange paint I had and got a coat on. It was an atrocious color but it was free paint. I couldn’t stand looking at it though and planned to cover it with something better. Then it got cold for a couple weeks and I could no longer paint. When it warmed up, I used some left over white paint I had for a second coat. I figured I’d leave the wood “trim” white and paint the sides with a third coat the color of my house to make it match. Now I am thinking of siding it with vinyl siding – I’ve always wanted to learn how to do that and this is a small project. But for now, I’m done working on it.

It snowed today and this is the first day I’ve really appreciated the effort I put into building this shed. So that's it – nothing major for the blog this time but I thought you might appreciate that an average Joe can take some steps on his own to alter his environment – to improve his situation.

Have a Merry Christmas.
I’ll see ya out there.

And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings. – Leviticus 6:12

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Monday, December 13, 2010

AR rebuild

I have had a collapsible stock AR15 (it’s a civilian version of the M4 – sort of) for years. If you have known me at all either in person or via my writings on the net, you know I’m not big into goo-gaws. The only “accessorizing” I did to it was spray it with some Krylon and paint the front sight post yellow. Oh, and I added a “really highspeed sling” mounted to the rear and the front sight post with 550 cord. About a year or so ago I mounted a bright flashlight and a forward hand grip – the barrel gets hot when you rip through several magazines in rapid succession.

It wasn’t pretty. It didn’t spend hundreds of extra bucks doing the “Barbie for men” bit. And I could still shoot it better than most mortals.

But then I got an EOTech for Christmas one year. I had an ACOG back in the day and really liked it but I had to give it back and couldn’t afford my own. EOTechs are almost as cool – they are very fast for target acquisition out to a couple hundred meters. Well despite my booming business, I’m not made of money so I bought a cheaperthanmud “gooseneck” mount for my rifle and threw the EOTech on it. It worked great once I zeroed it....until I put it away and took it out again – then because the cheap mount would move, I’d have to rezero it. I can imagine what would have happened if I had to run, dive, and jump with it – it wouldn’t work.

I decided I needed/wanted a flat top upper. But they are too expensive. Then some guys on the forums suggested I just build my own. “Can I DO that? I’m not very mechanically inclined”. They all assured me I could.

They were right.

I bought an upper receiver for $100 and a back up/flip up iron sight (BUIS) for another $100. A friend gave me a sweet ambidextrous single point sling attachment back plate and another bud lent me a bunch of tools (punches, vice adapters, punch plates, etc) and a DVD explaining the process (he gave me the DVD). He also consulted with me on the project and provided a lot of help that way too.

I sat down and watched the DVD once and then got to work. First I removed the forward assist by merely removing a roll pin – then I stuck it in the new upper.

Next, I added the ejection port cover which was easy except for the 20 minutes I spent looking for a little C-clamp I dropped – it was tiny and it bounced far. I had a spare cover assembly so I left the original one on the original A2 upper.

Next up was removing the gas tube – again just removing a roll pin and it was out.

Then I had to remove the barrel by unscrewing big nut at the base with a special tool. I used the tool wrong and broke off a piece, emailed my bud asking for advice and he told me how to use it correctly. I felt pretty dumb but once I did it correctly, the barrel came right off and went right on the new upper. It was a bit tricky aligning it correctly to accept the gas tube but we got it done (I went to another friend’s house to use his bench vice – I don’t have one). Then I just replaced the gas tube roll pin and the upper was done. I used my original bolt, carrier and charging handle.

Replacing the old back plate with the new one that allows me to attach a single point release sling was easy – I had replaced a buffer tube before and new about the two springs to watch out for.
All in all (not counting looking for the C-clamp or the first 10 minutes trying to take off the barrel the wrong way) it probably took 2 hours to complete – but I was working slowly and methodically. It would be a lot faster if I did it again.

Anyway there she is. I’ll probably get a decent snap link or something for the single point release instead of the 550 cord I’m using now and it obviously needs new Krylon. More importantly thought, I need to zero the BUIS and the EOTech and I’ll be back in business.

Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend. – Proverbs 6:3

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"I'll just hunt for my food"

I'm a pretty good hunter – in addition to as many squirrels and rabbits as I want, I shoot a couple-three deer a year. This year I have been out hunting about 6 days and have not got ONE deer. This is mildly upsetting. See, we just bought a new upright freezer and I aim to fill it with venison.

While I've been out there hunting I've had the opportunity to do a lot of thinking.
Hunting takes TIME.
Time that I have now but may not have later.
Hunter Gatherer cultures didn’t really thrive. They are not known for robust arts and sciences programs. This is because when one is living that life – one’s LIFE is dedicated to obtaining calories. All day long every day.

Hunting is uncertain.
That's why they call it "hunting" and not "shopping".
During the Great Depression, whitetail deer and turkeys were about hunted to oblivion. Hard to believe, huh? It was through the efforts of many good people that these species made a come back.

There were a lot less people running around in the 30’s. If we hit really hard times the ubiquitous whitetail will disappear me thinks.

So, I want to shoot a few deer to fill my freezer. But if I don’t, I’ll buy half a side of grass-fed beef and call it good. Because I can. Now.
Counting on deer for food – well, I’m just not that good, I reckon.

I came up with a few recommendations whilst sitting in the cold and they make up the bulk of this entry.

Assemble a robust food stockpile. Get into food storage. Canned goods, stuff in jars, crackers, rice, beans, pasta. You know - the stuff you can buy at your grocery store. Buy a lot. Then go get a bunch of wheat and corn and put it up in buckets. Then get some grinders.

That would see you through a lot of problems. Not just The Dollar Crashed Overnight problems but “I just lost my job” problems and “It’s not safe to venture out” problems and so on.

But no matter how much food you store – it will be a finite amount. Some day it will run out. And you’ll go hungry...

To supplement your food storage, in addition to hunting, I recommend you learn how to trap (and find a recipe you like for possum - I saw two I could have run down and brained with a stick). I'm an okay - as opposed to "good" - trapper. I can without too much difficulty trap a coon or possum that decides it likes eating at Joe’s Chicken Coop. I got good enough trapping rabbits that I got bored with it. Then we moved to a place with not quite as many rabbits running around so I began raising my own. I even did some very limited fur trapping but I quit doing it because I really don't like skinning and fleshing. And, truth be told, I still have those skins in my freezer. I did the skinning but really didn’t do the fleshing -I need to bite the bullet and get a fleshing knife and practice some more...but this post is about food. (yeah, I suppose you could eat a fox or coyote...)

So in addition to working on your hunting skills, and trapping skills and building up a robust food stockpile, I have one more recommendation that can be summed up in a word: Sustainable.

Get yourself a garden going that will continue to produce year in and year out.
Get some critters that will provide food and more critters.
It is better to live out in the sticks – but that is not an excuse for not doing this.
You can raise a prodigious amount of food in your backyard or on your balcony.

You can raise rabbits in an apartment. Many municipalities are beginnig to allow chickens in the yard. Some forbid roosters which is not a problem – you don’t need roosters to make eggs.

Something else I have been investigating lately is Permaculture - sustainable agriculture. There is a lot to it. It fascinates me. Google it. Watch some videos.

Food is very important. We are blessed with not having to give it a whole lot of thought. Things may not always be so. Someday we could be focused on nothing but where our next meal is coming from.

If really hard times come (and I believe they eventually will)
Some will starve
Some will get by
Some will have excess to share with others
Where do you picture yourself in this situation?

Do some serious thinking.
Make a plan.
Get started.

And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it. – Genesis 27:5

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America