Grab Bag Post

It was a pleasant Spring Break with the kids, watching movies, a little hiking, and just spending time together.  I didn’t get any big projects done, but we did chip away at the on-going garden preparations.

Seedlings Status April 2

Seedlings Status April 2

The broccoli, cabbage, and tomatoes we planted last week have started to sprout.  The peppers haven’t poked up yet though.  The celery is coming along well as you can see and the onions are growing towards the lights in the back of the box. Broccoli and cabbage are pretty cold hard, so they’re going into the ground by the end of April, a couple weeks before the last frost date.  Tomatoes can be transplanted immediately after last frost, but peppers and celery will have wait until June when they will be safe from frost.

I still have some work to do to get the bed ready.  I need to get the garden soil from last year’s container garden put in and possibly buy some more to get the bed filled to about three inches below the rim.  The rest of the bed will be filled with wood chip mulch to protect the seedlings and reduce watering.  That thick mulch layer will shield the soil from the sun and provide a source of organic material to break down and enrich the bed.

Another thing I’ve been doing to enrich the soil is adding coffee grounds.  I don’t have a compost pile, but you can add coffee grounds directly to the soil without composting!50rds of 30-06 for the next CMP shoot

Since I missed shooting in a competition last month, I wanted to be sure I was ready this month.  An hour was spent depriming and sizing brass one night.  Another night, I primed all the brass then started charging the gunpowder and seating bullets.  Mid way through, I found that I deformed some of the brass while trimming it by hand and it needed to be resized.  Ouch.  Looking at the resizing die, I realized I fix this if I took the depriming pin out and ran the now-primed brass back through.  It worked and I now have fifty rounds of 30-06 ready for my M1 Garand at the next local CMP match.

I’m a fan of Dave Canterbury and his approach to preparedness.  I especially appreciate his down to earth approach to things.  Now, I had been keeping my entire backpacking kit in my truck “just in case”, but it was too big and I thought I might have accumulated enough redundant items in my camp boxes that I could build a smaller kit that would fit in a small backpack I’m not using much these days.  Canterbury has several videos on his 10 C’s of survivability with the first five being the most important.  These are:

  1. Cutting Tool
  2. Covering Device
  3. Combustion Device
  4. Container
  5. Cordage

If you’re going to have repeats of any items, it should be these first five.  The remaining five are “nice to haves” and best suited to survival in the woods – Cotton bandana, compass, candeling device (light source), canvas needle, cargo tape (duct/duck/100mph tape).  Here’s my basic kit using the extras floating around my camp boxes:

Multi-tool, Knife, Cook Pot, Toiletries, Fire Kit, Space Blanket, Mirror

Multi-tool, Knife, Cook Pot, Toiletries, Fire Kit, Space Blanket, Mirror

Hammock, Cordage, GI Poncho, and Food

Hammock, Cordage, GI Poncho, and Food

  • Leatherman Multi-tool
  • Buck fixed blade knife
  • Small pot
  • Fire kit consisting of matches, ferro-rod with Gorilla tape handle, cotton pads with petroleum jelly
  • Space blanket
  • Toiletries – paper (can be used for fire) , wet wipes, lip balm (another possible fire fuel), tooth brushes
  • Folding mirror
  • Water purification tablets
  • Gorilla tape wrapped around card (yet another fire starter material)


  • Hammock (shelter)
  • Nylon cordage
  • GI Poncho (rain wear/shelter)
  • Training MRE (similar to but cheaper than a real MRE)

Not shown is a GI canteen or water and a canteen cup in the actual backpack, an Energizer headlamp that stays in the glove box of the truck, a small first aid kit, or the tools and jumper cables kept in the truck.  All of the 5 C’s are covered and most of the last five are included as well.  It’s probably not a full “72 hour kit”, but there’s enough here to keep me going for a day or two.

That’s enough for this week.  The weather is looking good for the weekend (32F nights), so maybe some cold weather camping is in order for next week’s post!


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!

Marksmanship and When to Call the Pros from Dover

Kind of an up-and-down week.  One of my goals for this year was to get out shooting competitively more often and improve my marksmanship.  With the ammunition shortage going on right now, I’ve had to rely on reloading to get enough ammo to do to practice.  One of the local sportsman’s associations hosts a Civilian Marksmanship Program ( shoot on the second Sunday of each month.  I’ve been to these a couple of times in the past year and a half and they’re a laid-back and enjoyable event.  The guys that show up are friendly and very helpful, loaning equipment and giving advice if asked.

Squeezing in some time each night, I managed to get enough 30-06 cartridges loaded last week to be ready for this Sunday’s shoot.  I’m using a single-stage press and don’t have the fanciest equipment in the world, so I have to take my time and be meticulous.  In the middle of this, the drain line for our kitchen sink clogged Thursday night.  It was my fault for running too much down the disposal, so I knew I had to fix it.  Friday afternoon, I was at the local Ace Hardware picking up some Drano and ran into a plumber who is an exceptional salesman.

Now, I’ve done sales before my Navy career, so I can appreciate someone that does it the “right” way.  All this guy did was ask about my problem.  Then he handed me his business card and said if the Drano doesn’t work to give him a call, they only charge $89 to clear a drain line.  No pressure, no dire predictions that the Drano wouldn’t work just a low price and no BS.  I really appreciate that.

Well, the Drano didn’t work, but I wasn’t completely deterred.  I picked up a twenty-five foot drain snake, dismantled a couple of sink drains to get better access to the drain lines and did what the plumber would most likely do.  I found the clog, but only ended up breaking the snake.  This is when I knew I needed professional equipment and a professional to run it.  I pulled that business card out and within a couple of hours the drain was clear.  Will I call a plumber first next time?  No.  I’m still going to try to fix it myself.  Maybe with better equipment next time.

Back to marksmanship! Sunday dawned cold and windy, but thankfully it hadn’t snowed so I drove out to the range and waited for the match.  This CMP match was shot at 200 yards and the course of fire consists of ten, slow fired shots from a standing position, ten rapid fire shots from kneeling or sitting, then ten rapid fire shots lying in the prone position followed by twenty rounds fired slowly from prone.  Out of the three CMP shoots I’ve attended, this was my worst.  I need to get better at discerning the wind’s direction and compensating for it.  The twenty slow-fire prone shots were my worst.  Thinking back on it, I did have trouble getting the sights on the target.  My target picture tended to have the sights low on the target and it was a bit of a struggle to get them high enough.  That and an increase in the wind probably explain why most of those shots ended up low and to the right.

Back to the reloading bench to get some more practice!