Ax and Saw Leather Carry Bag

For awhile now I’ve wanted an ax and saw carry bag. I really like the one Meandering Maker makes as well as Bear Essentials, but I didn’t want to spend the money, even though I know both bags are well worth the money. I thought to myself, why not make one out of leather? I’ve never seen anyone else make one solely out of leather and I had just acquired some nice 4-5 oz Kodiak stone oiled leather that I really liked the look of. So, I quickly began thinking about how I wanted to make it and what I wanted it to look like.

I made sure to design the size of my bag so that I could fit my Boreal21 saw or a 24” take down buck saw once I get one made. When cutting the leather for the ax sleeve I laid my ax on the main pouch and then ran the piece of leather over the ax that would form the ax sleeve and cut it so that when the ax was removed it still formed a pocket.

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I saddle stitched the whole bag and retention strap with waxed thread. I used Chicago screws to attach the anchor points for the shoulder strap as well as on the shoulder strap pieces so that it would make for easy maintenance or changing out any parts that fail over time.

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I used 8-9 oz veg. tanned leather for the carry strap and made sure to have enough adjustment for use during warm months as well as colder months over thick jackets.

I really like how my new ax and saw bag turned out. It should last me years of use and I should hopefully be able to pass it on to my kids someday. The only thing that I wish I had added was a small pouch to hold a sharpening puck. I decided what I’m going to do is make a small pouch that will hold the sharpening puck and a fire kit that will mount on the bottom of the shoulder strap but is easily removable so that it can be placed on my belt. What do you think about the bag? What would you change or add? Any leather projects your working on? Have you ever thought about using an ax and saw carry bag? I’ll keep everyone posted on how well the bag holds up as I use it over this year. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your wilderness wandering.     ax2.jpg

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Homemade Pulk Sled

I’ve wanted to make a pulk sled for winter camping for a while now, so I decided making a pulk sled was next on my list of D.I.Y. projects. I was excited to find that my local Runnings store was running a sale on Jet Sled Jr’s so I grabbed two of them. I figured I’d make two sleds so that either, one of my sons could use one or my brother. I crafted brackets out of some steel stock I grabbed from the hardware store. After shaping the brackets and painting them, I mounted them on the front of the sled with stainless steel bolts and fasteners.

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I added a fin, made from aluminum angle stock, on the rear bottom of the sled. I used galvanized fasteners to attach the fin. This helps with tracking in the snow especially when in hilly areas.

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I used plastic electrical conduit for the poles that connect to the sled and a leather belt for pulling. I used two pieces of conduit because I wanted six foot poles. If I were to make the poles five feet instead of six feet I would have only needed one conduit. On one end of each pole I epoxied a tie rod end and the other end epoxied an eye bolt. Prior to adding epoxy, I heated up the conduit so that I could push the nut for the eye bolt and the nut for the tie rod end in, to make a more secure attachment. The tie rod end connects to the bracket on the sled using a locking pin.

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The eye bolt on the other end of the poles connects to clevis pins which I mounted on either side of a leather belt I made. I put a washer on both sides of the belt before installing the clevis pin and then added a heavy bushing which fit perfectly inside the eye bolt and over the clevis pin. Lastly, I added a hitch pin to keep the eye bolt in place but to also make it easily removable once at camp.

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All in all, I think this project went well and the pulk sleds turned out great. I can’t wait to get out and test my new pulk sled. This should make snowshoeing a bit easier without the extra weight from the pack on my back pushing down on the snowshoes. Do you winter camp or snowshoe? Have you ever used or thought about using a pulk sled for winter camping? Let me know in the comments section if you liked this D.I.Y. project and if you’d like to see more.

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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.