Monday, December 31, 2007

Do it yourself

If I watched TV, I'd probably spend all my time watching the DIY channel. I'm fascinated by the guys woodshops and the metalworkers who fabricate anything they need. In my reality though, as well as most Americans I suspect, when something breaks I buy the parts and fix it. OK, probably most Americans just throw whatever it is away and buy a new one. I'm too thrifty to do that.
My snowblower broke before Christmas. I checked with Sears and they could "order" me the part. I didn't want to wait. Things warmed up after Christmas and I had the day off. I told my sons I was going to make a new one. They didn't believe it was possible.

I had a wide L bracket that I had scrounged somewhere years ago. It was about the same size but a lot wider. Using basic hand tools, I transformed a piece of scrap into a usable bracket.

First I spent about 30 minutes hack sawing off a chunk that was the correct width. Then I filed the sharp edge down. The kids lost interest long before this point. Then I drilled a pilot hole with a small bit using a variable speed pistol drill. I used thick chainsaw bar oil to keep the drill bit lubed up. Then I stepped up a couple sizes at a time until I got to the right size. I don't have a fancy shop, so I just used a C clamp and a piece of angle iron to hold it.

When I was done, I hacksawed the notch in the bracket. Why am I blogging about this? I truly enjoyed making this bracket. It didn't make economic sense. I am no craftsman and it looks rough. However, it does work, my kids thought it was so cool that I could make it, I enjoyed the entire experience, and my snowblower works! I had forgotten how much fun it was to work with metal.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Skiing, Cooking, and Landowner Relations

Half the fun of cooking outdoors is trying out recipes indoors. I'm always looking for simple recipes. My biggest complaint is that recipe books use too many ingredients. Keep it simple and use normal ingredients and you can take advantage of a bad situation.

My wife makes a lot of homemade bread. Often, there will be stale pieces left behind which she feeds to the chickens. However, if you are out on a trip and your bread goes stale, what should you do? Make bread pudding!

Simple Bread Pudding Recipe I adapted

2 c Milk (use some evaporated milk)
2 tsp cinnamon or nutmeg
1/4 c Butter or oil
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs (I haven't found a good source of powdered eggs- has anyone else?)
8 slices old bread (NOT moldy- just crunchy and stale)
1/2 c Sugar
1/2 c Raisins

In dutch oven, heat up the milk and melt the butter into it. Beat eggs and salt together in the milk mixture. Break or rip bread into small pieces into the bowl, add the cinnamon, the raisins and then mix. Stir until bread is well soaked. Bake until toothpick comes out clean at approx 350, about 30-40 min.

If I ever get a reflector oven, I'll try this there. Until then, I'll stick to the dutch oven.

We went cross country skiing today on the 20 acres behind our house. It was fun looking at the tracks. There are snowshoe hares everywhere on the land that was clear cut 10 years ago, which probably explains the hunter tracks we found all over the place. If you hunt on someone else's land, please take the time to contact the owner. This guy gets way to close to our horse pasture and house and makes us feel uncomfortable.

I'm tempted to post our land "Access by Permission Only". I'm not opposed to hunting at all. I just want to know who is on my land and why they feel the need to get so close to my kids, my animals, and my house. It is very inconsiderate of this one fellow. If he had the sense to meet me, I'd tell him where it was OK to hunt on my land and we'd all get along just fine.

So if you guide hunters, please be considerate to the landowner. A little time spent on landowner relations goes a long way.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Learning the Ropes of Knot Teaching

I was asked to teach knots to kids last night. I thought I was ready. I went to Home Depot and bought 50 feet of yellow poly rope. I bought 20 feet of brown/orange poly rope. I cut 2 foot pieces of each for each kid (20 ropes total). I came up with this cool idea that the kids would tie their ropes together using square knots (the knot I was supposed to teach) and then throw an inner tube to a teammate 20 feet away.

I thought the game would be fun. Well, the kids had fun but it was chaotic and confusing. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes. First, spend the money on softer rope. I spent extra money for fatter rope but clothesline would have worked great with their little hands. The large diameter poly rope was difficult for them to tie and the knots came out easily. The kids were frustrated. I was frustrated. Fortunately the kids like to throw things so I was covered there.

I used a 20' piece of rope, tied it to the inner tube, and we played the game. I learned a lesson. The two colors of rope was a good idea. The poly plastic rope was a bad idea. The fat rope would be good for teaching splicing but not for teaching elementary school aged kids knots. I'll post about this again- if I try this again.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Adventures of Bill Geagan

Leading the simple life isn't so simple as you might know. Shortcuts often complicate things. Recently I've been making the time to read Bill Geagan's book Nature I Loved which was printed in the 50s and reprinted in the 70s. My parent in-laws and brother in law highly recommended this book to me when they gave it to me while I was studying for my Maine guide exam earlier this year. Unfortunately I haven't made the time to read it until now.

It seems Bill was unsure about what he wanted to be when he grew up. He paid $50 for a cabin on the edge of a pond in the North Maine Woods and proceeded to make a life there. Along the way he has described how he came to befriend a skunk and a crow. He goes into great detail about his piscatorial adventures as well as his interactions with reynard. Imagine being free to live the good life being eaten alive by black flies as you cook wizened trout for breakfast beside the brook where you camped under your canoe the night before. Mr. Geagan has done a great job so far and I can't wait to hear about more of his misadventures with his canvas canoe and the shelf ice as I head into Winter and the last half of his book.

Has anyone else read this book? I haven't seen this referenced in anyone else's recommended book list. Did you read it and like it? Would you recommend something else? Drop me a line....

Christmas List

We all have different things we're hoping for this year. I thought I'd list out some of the things I'd like to see under the tree.



Membership Renewals:
Maine Combination Hunting and Fishing License $38

Misc. Supplies:
Tung Oil, Boiled Linseed Oil, Turpentine

Mini Adventures:
A Day Ruffed Grouse hunting with someone who can demonstrate how to prepare and cook them
A Day Rabbit hunting in my back yard with someone who can demonstrate how to prepare and cook them

Should I be wishing for something else? Let me know.