Quick Tip #18

Take whatever knife you regularly carry in the wilderness and check the spine on it. If it is rounded over or doesn’t have a good 90 degree edge on it, modify it. Of course this is only if you are willing to make adjustments to your knife. Well wearing proper eye and hand protection you can either use a file, belt sander or grinder to put I nice 90 degree angle on the spine of your knife. With the adjustment to your knife done, you’ll now be able to use a ferocerium rod more efficiently and you can now use the spine of your knife to make fuss by running the spine of your modified knife down certain types of wood. The fuss will just make it that much easier to start a fire. Hope this was informational and someone finds this helpful. Thanks for reading! What modifications have you made to your knife and why?

Quick Tip #13

When putting together an emergency fishing kit try using braided fishing line instead of mono. If you’ve ever tried to straighten out that emergency fishing line in any of the small kits available on the market today you know it’s a feat in itself to get it untangled and to try to ever get it straight again. Braided fishing line can take being wound up tightly unlike mono line can. Also the braided line is thinner in comparison to the mono for the same pound test line. If you ever need that emergency fishing kit you made you’ll be happy (jumping for joy) that you chose to use braided fishing line over mono. Which fishing line do you prefer, braided or mono, for an emergency fishing kit and why?

Raising Chickens for Meat

Raising meat birds is very easy and if you are conscious about what is in your food, I recommend that you try raising some chickens of your own. I order all my chickens from Murray McMurray Hatchery. I have not had a problem with them and their birds seem to be of very good stock. I buy the XRocks and I order them with no vaccines or antibiotics. They are not genetically modified, they are a cross breed. They are crossbred so that they mature very quickly.  These birds are ready for slaughter in 6-9 weeks. I usually slaughter mine at 8 weeks. If you go too much longer they can start to die off or have health complications. You really don’t gain much by going over 8 weeks. They just continue to eat a lot but not really put too much more meat on.

You will want them in a brooder or some sort of enclosure with a 250 watt heat lamp for the first 3 weeks. I usually order 30 meat chickens at a time and I just took some scrape plywood I had lying around and built a pen 16”x4’x8’ and set it up in one of the spaces in my garage. I then spread out a bag of shavings on the floor. This way I could hang their food, water and heat lamp from the rafters and adjust them easily as the chickens grow. By having the chickens in the garage, they are safe from predators and there should be no cold drafts to worry about. It is also easy to clean up the garage floor when they move out. These chickens eat and drink like crazy so you will want a large feeder and waterier.  I ordered my feeder and waterier from Amazon because my local Tractor Supply didn’t carry any large enough.

After 3 weeks, if the weather is going to be decent for a few days, you can move them outside. I built a 3’x5’x8’ “chicken tractor”. You can see mine in the picture above this post. It only cost around $100. It could have been done a little cheaper. I used pressure treated 2’x2’x8’s to go around the base. I used regular 2’x2’x8’s for the rest of the framing. To save some money you could rip down some 2x4s but I was tight on time when I built mine. I used chicken wire for 3’ of the total length and metal roofing for 5’. This gives them plenty of room to get out of the rain or away from predators trying to reach in through the wire. This is based on Joel Salatin’s chicken tractor model. His are 10’x10’ so I just modified it down in size. My size works perfect for 30-40 meat chickens.

Once your chickens are moved out into the chicken tractor you will want to fill their food and water first thing and move the tractor just enough so that they are off of the ground that they were on the day before. This way they will have fresh grass and be off of their feces from the prior day. This setup works much better than free range for meat birds because it forces them to eat fresh grass and bugs daily. Meat chickens are very lazy and will not free range like egg layers will. This tractor will also protect them from predators. The top screened part of my tractor is hinged with locks on the front so that any predators cannot open it.  I hang the food back under the metal roofing so that if it rains the food doesn’t get wet. You will want to move the tractor before you fill up the food and water. Just slide a dolly under one end with a short piece of wood between the dolly and the top of the tractor to lift the tractor up a bit and then pull from the other end. It moves very easy. Once moved you can now fill the water and food up. If you have to get inside the tractor for any reason you are now standing on clean grass instead of the mess from the prior day.

Your yard will thank you for the fertilization. It doesn’t take long for your yard to recover from the chickens. You do not want to leave them on one spot for more than a day. About the last two weeks you will have to give them food and water in the morning and again when you get home from work. In the summer if it is a real hot and humid day you will want to prop the metal side of the tractor up a bit so that there is some air flow. I just stick a 2×4 under the back side where the metal is and it works well. Just remember to take it out before it gets dark so that predators can’t get in.

When the chickens are ready for slaughter you can either, load them up and pay to have someone else slaughter them for you, or you can slaughter them yourself. I slaughter them myself. This way it saves me money and now I am in charge of how clean everything is. As well as how well the bird is cleaned out and plucked. I feed my chickens locally grown non medicated organic chicken feed. This way I know what they are eating and what they are made of. My last batch of 30 birds yielded around 175 lbs total after slaughter. They are like small turkeys. The meat has so much more flavor and you don’t have to worry about any chemicals ever touching the meat. Its nice knowing what I’m feeding my family is safe and healthy.

Once you have a chicken tractor built it really is easy to raise chickens. I think it only took 5-10 minutes per day until they were ready for slaughter. It takes two people about 3-4 hours to slaughter 30 birds. I’m sure somebody that slaughters chickens everyday could do it faster but this is my average.

It is getting harder to know what is really in our food supply these days and if you are anything like me you can’t afford to go out and buy all organic meat to feed your family but you can grow it much cheaper. You will also feel less dependent on others to supply your family’s food. Chickens are one of the easiest animals to raise for food. Once you taste the meat from the chickens you raised you’ll never want a store bought chicken again. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have and let me know if you want specs for my chicken tractor. I will try to help in any way I can. What is stopping you from raising some chickens of your own (Besides local town laws)? I hope this encourages you to tryout raising your own chickens and becoming more self-reliant. It’s only a 6-8 week commitment so why not try it out at least once?

Review of Dash Yogurt Maker

Review of Dash Yogurt Maker

This is a review for the Dash DSY007CM STAINLESS 7 Jar Home Yogurt Maker w/ One Year Warranty. My wife and I have wanted to make our own yogurt for a long time. We did test making it without a yogurt maker and it can be done but we had a hard time having consistent temperatures for the yogurt and it always came out very runny.  So we finally decided to invest in a yogurt maker.

One of our stipulations was that we wanted the yogurt to be made in glass containers instead of plastic containers. That limited our options big time. I also went online and read a ton of reviews. I found that one of the brands had a common problem running through all their lines of yogurt makers. The heating element would go bad in a short amount of time and would get to hot, which would in turn kill the bacteria. You would end up with soup instead of yogurt. We definitely didn’t want that.

So after doing a search for yogurt makers, and reading a ton of reviews, up popped the Dash yogurt maker. I liked that it used glass jars and as I began reading all the reviews I began to realize that this was the yogurt maker for us. So we ordered one. It only cost us $43.15 with free shipping from Amazon. I didn’t think that was a bad price at all.

Well we received it and couldn’t wait to make some yogurt. The first batch came out soupy but my wife realized it was her fault because when she was checking the temperature of the mixture, she did so without stirring so she ended up overcooking some of yogurt mix. You need to be very careful about not over heating the yogurt mix. Since then every batch has been amazing. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful our yogurt tastes. The wonderful thing is we know what is and isn’t going into our yogurt. We use organic milk for our yogurt. No preservatives and no artificial flavors. We like to add our favorite fruit, a spoonful of homemade jelly or some granola, although the yogurt does taste good enough to eat all by itself.
So far we have not had one single problem with this yogurt maker. Its works exactly like it’s suppose to with no problems at all. The only minor issue I do have is the amount you are able to make. We have a family of six and we love our yogurt. I wish that they made this yogurt maker twice the size that it is. As nice as that would be and as convenient as that would be I’m not sure if that might affect the quality of the yogurt or the possibility of it not thickening. We overcome this slight issue by getting extra jars and making more batches consistently.

Out of a possible 5 stars I give it 4.9 stars. Only because I wish it made larger quantities does it not get a 5. I do highly recommend this machine if you are contemplating making your own yogurt. It’s always nice to know what you are eating and putting into your body. The more things you can make at home for yourself the better off you’ll be and hay its always more satisfying making your own food from scratch and eating it to. Let me know if this review helped you in any way and if you enjoy making your own yogurt. What kinds of things do you add to your yogurt and why?

Quick Tip #2

A straw can be used for so much more than just a straw. You want to use a brand new unused straw. Crimp one end of the straw and melt it with a lighter.  Now either fill the straw full of antibiotic ointment, a cotton ball soaked in either Vaseline or antibiotic ointment, an emergency fishing kit, a sewing kit, spices or anything else you can think of. Now just crimp the other end where you want the straw cut, then cut and melt it. To make the kit reusable, just cut the second end of the piece of straw extra long and fold it over. Cut another piece of the straw and slide it over the folded end. Having it reusable is perfect for spices. You can make these as small or as large as you want and they will fit in any size survival kit.

Ripstop Nylon

Ripstop nylon is an awesome material. It does have some limitations though. It will melt if it comes in contact with flames, sparks or intense heat. Sunlight (UV) will over time wear on the fabric. Even with these limitations ripstop nylon is well worth looking at using for your many needs as an avid outdoors person. There are many different types of nylon fabric for sale. You can buy plain nylon fabric but it will be more susceptible to tares and holes. I prefer ripstop because if the fabric gets a hole or slight tare in it the ripstop sewing pattern helps to limit the hole or tare from getting bigger. That is a huge advantage.

There are many different weights available as well. I generally like to use 1.1 or 1.3 oz ripstop nylon for my projects. You can get ripstop nylon that is uncoated, coated with silicone, silicone impregnated or urethane coated. I like to buy the uncoated ripstop nylon and spray it with a waterproofer myself when I’m done. If you use the uncoated ripstop nylon it’s easier to find in your local fabric store.  For making a tarp for camping I would recommend using either one of the silicon coated ripstop nylons. I’m not sure how the uncoated nylon with waterproofer sprayed on it will hold up to an all out down poor. I have used the uncoated for tarps but have yet to be out in a down poor. Feel free to test it out though. Here is a site where you can buy any materials you might need for your project, if you are not able to find what you need in your local fabric store.

http://www.bearpawwd.com/fabrics_misc/fabrics_misc.html#rip1

They have a lot of good information on their site and if you don’t want to make something yourself you can just buy one of their products. I am in no way affiliated with the website and do not receive any money for recommending them. I have just found them very useful over the years. You will need small sharp needles for your sewing machine and Gutermann polyester thread works the best. I like to use “hot scissors” or a soldering iron to cut the fabric. This way your edges are sealed as you cut them. I cut on top of a piece of glass for safety purposes. I also like to use shock cord or 550 cord for my projects.

Here are some ideas for what you can make out of ripstop nylon. This list is by no means complete. It is just a list to get you started thinking about what piece of gear you could make instead of buying.

Ditty Bags (easiest thing to start with)              Lightweight Backpack or Day pack

Tarp                                                                 Sleeping Bag Cover

Tent                                                                  Hammock

Lightweight Shirt                                               Pants

Sleeping Bag (with added insulation)                Gaiters

Jackets (add insulation)                                     Backpack Cover

 

As you can see this is just a small list to get you started on your way to making some of your own gear. If you are not familiar with sewing I’m sure that there are plenty of YouTube videos out there that can show you how to use a sewing machine. Do your research first and learn how to use the sewing machine you have. If you don’t have a machine, check garage sales for a used one, craigslist or ask anybody you know if they have one you can borrow or buy. Many people have one but don’t use them, so you might be able to get a free machine or at least borrow one. If you want to buy a new one and have the money don’t let me stop you, but research the machines first and ask questions about the machine you are about to buy. Let the sales people know what you are planning on using it for.

Enjoy the journey to making your own gear and good luck! Always remember that it doesn’t have to look perfect, and it won’t at first, but you will get better with practice and time. As long as whatever you make is functional and works the way you want it to, who cares if it’s not perfect. It will have character and you’ll have a sense of accomplishment. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have and have fun. What gear do you intend on making over the next year?