Definitely Not Spring Yet

DSC00733Sigh.  Another round of snow and wicked cold temperatures this weekend.  It would have been a good weekend to get some cold weather backpacking done, however, family is more important and with my daughter in town for Spring Break, I stayed home.  Things cleared up a bit this morning and I took the kids down to Garden of the Gods for some light hiking and picture taking.

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CeleryI’m very happy with how well the celery and onion are coming along.  According to my calendar it’s time to start the Cosmonaut Volkov Tomatoes, Jupiter Peppers, Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage, and De Cicco Broccoli.  So far, the seeds from Terroir Seeds have been doing very well.  They also sent along three packets of free seeds that I have passed on friends.  My son’s Cub Scout den is growing Bambina Carrots and Sweet Basil.Onions

 

 

 

 

Well, that’s all for this week.  Take care out there and keep working to make yourselves better.

Is it Spring Yet?

What a week for weather!  Highs in the 70s followed by 50s and freezing overnight.  Fresh snow on Pikes Peak and all of the snow in the yard is melted.  None the less, we’ll likely have some cold nights ahead of us and I did fix the chainsaw last week…

After verifying my repair work by slicing up a dozen logs earlier this week, it was time to do some splitting.  When I first started splitting my own firewood a few years back, I started with a maul, a sledgehammer, and a couple of wedges.  These are great choices for logs around a foot across, but I’ve been splitting logs under six inches and there are better tools for the job.  Now, it’s easy to go overboard when looking for an axe.  I discovered this while hanging out on a knife and bushcraft forum.  Some people there rave about their Granfors Bruks axes and which go back and forth over which size is the perfect axe.  Now, I have nothing against them, but the cost can be mind-boggling.  I needed something to work around the house and maybe take backpacking.  I found the Fiskars X15 to be a nice compromise for those two uses and enjoy using it very much.

Splitting Wood

A few of the bigger pieces needed the maul to get started, but that pile is primarily the product of the X15.  After this, the maul and the axe needed a little touching up to ensure they’d work this well next time.  You might think sharpening an axe is something esoteric and difficult to do, but it’s really quite simple and it takes many of the same tools you might use to sharpen a knife.

Axe Sharpening

Start with a small bastard file and try to match the angle of the axe blade by placing the file as close as possible to the side of the axe blade.  Slowly file the edge with slight pressure to avoid removing too much metal too quickly.  After the major nicks are out, I switch to the a diamond knife sharpener.  Running the sharpener, coarse side first, towards the blade, I try to match the existing blade angle.  After touching up the blade edge with the coarse and fine sides of the diamond hone, I like to use a leather strop to the put that little bit of polish on the edge like I do with my knives.

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You can still see a very small nick in the edge on the right edge of this photo, but the blade will now shave hair off my arm just like it did when it was new.  The Frog Lube puts a layer of oil on things to prevent rust and has a great minty smell.  I love the stuff!

Garden update time!  I now have twelve celery seedling and the onions I started last week are already starting to come up.

Seedlings March 17th

I was not very happy with the stand I built to hold the lighting rig I built.  Half-inch PVC is just not rigid enough to support the weight.  I have since upgraded to 3/4 inch PVC pipe and the result is much better.  You might also notice, I swapped the bungee cord arrangement for chain attached to two eyelet bolts in the top bar.  Total cost was $15.

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Well, that’s all for this week.  Next week, I’ll be starting a bunch of seeds and looking for a different tray arrangement.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Two Weeks Later – High School Chemistry Comes In Handy

Sorry about taking a week off – it was a very humdrum week and I didn’t have anything inspiring me to write.  This week hasn’t been that exciting either.  I got some reloading done to go to a USPSA match here in town, but the weather was nasty and I didn’t go because there was another match down in Pueblo this weekend.  Again though, the weather was horrid and I stayed home.  I’ve got one more opportunity to meet my goal of shooting competitively each month, so I’m praying for good weather.

As I wrote in a previous post, I started some celery seeds last month.  I was starting to get worried as we were inside the 10-20 day germination period and nothing was happening.  Then, on Day 15, one seedling poked above the soil.

Celery Seedling

Celery Seedling

Hooray!  Today, as I post this there are now six celery seedlings coming up and according to my calendar it was time to start the onions.  I’ll give the celery a few more days to come up before I recycle the newspaper pots and soil into the raised bed, but I’ve got enough for my garden now.

The rest of my weekend was spent doing some basic maintenance on our vehicles, changing oil and checking fluids.  Stuff I’ve been doing since I was a teenager and isn’t in my 13 Skills challenge, but I noticed something that makes me think I’ll be replacing a car battery soon.

Battery Terminal Before

Battery Terminal Before

Pretty nasty looking isn’t it?  It’s caused by the sulfuric acid fumes coming from inside the battery.  I didn’t want this causing any more damage so I dug back into some high school chemistry to get rid of this mess.  The cup you see in the picture has some hot water, baking soda, and a wire brush in it.  The baking soda in the water creates a basic solution that neutralizes the acid and makes cleaning this up safe and easy.

Battery Terminal After

Battery Terminal After

Ta Da!  Shiny terminals again.  The copper sulfate turned my baking soda solution that green color.  I rinsed the top of the battery with purified water to clean things up.  This is a maintenance free battery and it’s three years old, so I’m taking this an indication it needs to be replaced soon.

I didn’t take any pictures, but I also repaired my chainsaw this weekend.  It’s an old Husqvarna model that I picked up at a pawn shop for relatively little cash.  Once I got it working last year by pulling the spark plug and replacing the old fuel, it sufficed to handle the minor cutting duties to allow us to use the fireplace a few times each year.  However, my wife had to brainstorm for me to use the chainsaw to level off the top of a large log in our backyard to use as a pedestal for a bird bath.  Shortly after that attempt at chainsaw carving (it’s alot harder than it looks!) the sprocket in the chain bar froze and the chainsaw was now kaput.  Again, the Internet came to the rescue!  After downloading the manual, I found I could replace the original 16 inch bar with a 20 inch bar and new chain.  Total cost was about $60 (over half what I paid for the saw), but it cuts like a dream now.  The extra bar length means I can cut through almost anything left from an old elm tree we had cut down three years ago.

I hope that was worth the wait.  Happiness is a sharp chainsaw!