Monday, December 23, 2013

Ritter Springs Park

Sunday, I had a few hours to get away and took it to Ritter Springs Park, just north of town off Highway 13. Temps were in the upper 20s and as soon as I got north of Highway 44, things were quite frosted over and lightly dusted with snow.

After the first ten minutes, I stuck primarily along the creek. With recent rain and snow, it was running deep and fast and couldn't easily be gotten across.

From the lake/millpond, I meandered uphill and towards a part of the park I'd not visited before. I ended up on a trail that paralleled a farm plot and adjacent home properties, which bottomed out at a dirt road.

Checking my iPhone for a map, I opted to walk the dirt road back. Thinking it more expedient. But after I made it to some pavement and more houses, it became more apparent I'd goofed in my assertion. Three large dogs came running across their yards at me, an akita, a St. Bernard and maybe a Belgian malinios. After I managed to cautiously ease my way past the angry barking canines that could have actually taken me down, I laughed at my situation and shook my head at the dipsh!ts that just let their dogs run free in the country. There was a small girl in her PJs standing in the glass front door as I passed her home, nearby. Had that been her in the yard, playing, those dogs might have created a funeral or skin grafts and a lawsuit.

On a different note, I did get yelled at by donkeys, which after the dog thing, scared the crap out of me and made me laugh in equal amounts. I was walking past them when they decided to tell the world I was there. Also, the park is thick with bluebirds and cardinals and I may have seen an eagle or very large hawk on the far side of one the fields I was wandering across. Next time I'm out by myself, I'll be going back for that hiking stick I left in the car. Regardless of remembering it five minutes into walking the trail or not.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Home Coffee Roasting for the Holidays

Been doing a little home coffee roasting for the holidays. Part of my family gift giving this Christmas season. I ordered three pounds of green coffee beans from Sweet Maria's a few weeks ago.

Roasting your own coffee is a cool way to experience and get involved in what goes into making a decent cup of mud. I picked up the hobby a couple of Octobers ago, when I met Howard Rice at the Sail Oklahoma Messabaout. During the course of a few days, he talked extensively about his current project in the waters of Micronesia, his adventures around Cape Horn and the simple pleasure of roasting your own coffee aboard a small sailing vessel.

I think I've got it pretty well down, now. I roast mine cowboy-style, with a high-sided pan over a flame. Usually my camp stove in the garage, but last night I used the gas stove top and opened the windows up. I still set off the smoke detector. Can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Polar Express!

Last night, we took our five-year-old daughter to The Polar Express on the Branson Scenic Railway. She's at that perfect age for the magic of it all and was equally as happy to meet the "King of the North Pole" ghost as she was Santa.

The Polar Express 2013

The Polar Express 2013

The Polar Express 2013

The Polar Express 2013

The Polar Express 2013

The Polar Express 2013

The Polar Express 2013

The Polar Express 2013

The Polar Express 2013

The Polar Express 2013

The Polar Express 2013

The Polar Express 2013

The Polar Express 2013

The Polar Express 2013

The Polar Express 2013

The Polar Express 2013

Sometimes, as a parent, you have those moments when you question whether or not you're doing it right. Last night we hit the ball out of the park, no question. She had so much fun and I can only imagine the conversations she's had about it all morning at school. She was "over the moon" excited.

Friday, December 6, 2013

First Snow

Rabbit tracks in our yard this morning.

snow and rabbit tracks

Maggie, our border collie and beagle mix mutt. She's faster than any dog I've probably ever been around. Runs like a freak'n bullet.

snow and maggie, our boarder collie and beagle mix mutt

Wilson's Creek, behind Rutledge-Wilson Farm, on the way to pick up a coworker this morning.

We got a little snow yesterday and over night.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

piddling: pathetically trivial; trifling.

Until a couple of items and books arrive in the mail, I am somewhat aimless in my hobby free time (which drives me nuts). Last night, without any major obsessive interest to bury my head and hands in, I took to general piddling around the garage. These are what I came up with. Nothing too outstanding, but much better than parking my rear in front of the TV all night.

An iPad tablet stand. Version 2.0 will pass through more like a Viking chair instead of leveraging from the bottom. Google 'em. They're pretty cool.

iPad tablet stand

And a wooden antler sculpture made from the (s)crap wood pile. No detail work, just a mashing together of stuff I nearly stuck in the burn pile.

wooden antlers

My office wall is slowly becoming more interesting.>

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Small Forest Axe Restoration

I've been having a lot of fun bringing old tools back from disrepair, lately. A little over a week ago, when Brian and I were down at his friends' cabin in Cape Fair, we saw a small forest axe laying against the wall. It was a little worn, had no wedge, but had two long drywall screws barely holding the head on. Seeing that I just restored an older Norlund splitting axe a couple of weeks before going down there and I was down there to test out my handiwork, well, we couldn't just leave it like that.

Here's the restoration of the small axe. I made it match my large splitter. An ugly duckling is now a swan and Brian is taking it back down there this evening, to leave it where we found it. It's a small payment for letting us use the property a couple of times a year. They are very nice people.


Axes. Genuine Norlund splitting axe and a smaller generic camp or forest axe. I think that's what you'd call it.

2nd axe sheath is done. Time to put it back where we found it.

Also, I made a few drink coasters from one of the red oak logs we split up. I held back a handful of pieces from the burn pile to use as project materials.

Oak drink coasters. Cut from the tree we split last weekend.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

Friday eve, about 8:45, my buddy Brian and I headed out of Springfield for his friends' cabin in Cape Fair, Missouri, just above Table Rock Lake. On cue, it started to freezing rain as we were pulling into the cabin. We had planned to tent camp behind the cabin about 300 yards, but the weather forced our hand and we opted for dry and thawed gear and moved inside.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

Morning broke and we fixed a breakfast of cowboy coffee, thick cut bacon from Horrmann Meats in Springfield (which was awesome!), potatoes, scrambled eggs and homemade biscuits I baked before we left town.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

After breakfast, I got to test out a new pipe I got in the mail a week ago. It's a replica Dutch Gouda clay pipe from the colonial era. Somewhat brittle, I had to keep it in an old cigar box for travel. It smoked the "Morning Coffee" blend tobacco nicely. Being smaller than my Missouri Meerschaum "Country Gentleman" corncob, it held just the right amount of tobacco for a quick smoke before heading off to the hill behind the cabin for a day of cutting firewood.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

I got to test out the restored Norlund splitting axe. It performed very well, splitting some of the densest red oak we'd ever seen. Not all of it, some was so dense it required an eight-pound maul or chainsaw to work through.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

The first trunk section we got to, we sadly took out a few field mice huddled within. The mom scurried off, but her four babes didn't fare so well in the subfreezing morning temps.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

By about 2:30-3pm, we'd filled the trailer with red oak and we headed back to the cabin to fill our bellies again. Brian whipped up a couple of t-bone steaks with the rest of the bacon, potatoes and biscuits. We ate like kings for a second time before packing up and heading back to Springpatch, tired, a little sore and happy to have done an honest day of work and fun.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Flickr Sucks!

I've been using Flickr as a photo hosting site for years. I have thousands of photos on my Pro Account that I've been paying for for a long time. Back in the spring, I believe, Yahoo made a bunch of changes that ended up making the service nearly unusable. It's much harder to navigate, hogs bandwidth and has become a toilet for cell phone picture dumping. All replies to comments made by unhappy users seem to have been met with silence or a tough shit attitude.

And yesterday, they made it even more...

flickr is now even more suckyr

I'm not happy about it and I'm looking for an alternative. Jane, I want off this crazy thing.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Hammer Back from the Dead

Breathing new life into another old tool.

A hammer back from the dead

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

How to Throw an Arrow

I emailed this to a friend of mine earlier today and decided to make it a post. Last night I was reading from the book Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth skills, my wife was watching something girly on TV and I decided to step out in the garage and try what I was reading about.

how to throw an arrow really hard

To throw an arrow, take a piece of string 28" long and tie a granny knot 1/2" from one end. Wrap that end twice around the arrow about 16" from the tip (once if using a wetted leather thong), hitching it with the knot. Keeping tension on the string, wrap it several times around your index finger till its about 3" from the tip. Throw the arrow overhand like a baseball.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Leather Sheath

I finished the axe sheath last night. It's a partial cover sheath in a coffee color heavy thickness leather, sewn with a tan waxed thread similar to the artificial sinew we lashed our kayaks with a couple of winters ago. I used my Leatherman multitool as an awl to punch holes in the leather, after I had marked them by eye with a pencil. If you're careful and not much of a perfectionist, you can get by without all of the fancy leather working tools. I only needed one needle. For the first thread I'd stretch the hole with the awl, then push it through on its own stiffness. The second required a needle and pulling it through with a second smaller Columbia multitool.

I finished the sewing by running the thread back through the last three holes and double stitching them. Then cut the thread off at the base. I then went out to the garage and punched a hole in the wrapping tab I had cut, using a punch for a tarp grommet kit I had in a drawer. After that, I lashed a length of leather shoelace that matched the stitches to the tab using a lanyard hitch and called it good.

The leather sheath is done

An important thing to do when attempting something like this. Make a card stock or cardboard template first. I made mine from a manila envelope. Then trace the final template onto the backside of the leather. Make sure you flip your template over to get the right side you want up on the axe. I goofed on this, but it turns out i hadn't done my planning correct to begin with and my screw up worked out better in the crate box case. Color it a happy accident.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Axe Restoration Update

Making a simple carrying case/crate and a leather sheath. First time working with leather, it's pretty cool. I can see using the leftover pieces to maybe make a knife sheath later. My Leatherman multitool has needed one for over 15 years. Ever since my old yellow lab ate the last one.

axe crate box carrier

leather axe sheath

Now I know why they called it a Leatherman.

Now I know why they called it a Leatherman

Monday, November 4, 2013

Genuine Norlund Splitting Axe Update

Genuine Norlund splitting axe

Over the weekend I gave the axe head a vinegar bath, scrubbed the funk off, sanded it, filed it, sanded the new handle free of varnish, hung the head, filed some more, sharpened it with a puck stone and oiled the handle with Danish oil. Not sure I did it all correctly, but it's really sharp and pretty. Now I need to make a sheath or carrying case of some kind.

Genuine Norlund splitting axe

I also finished up my thumbstick hiking stick project. It has a hickory or sassafras shaft, likely a pine head, a copper pipe end for a ferrule and a glued seizing of hemp for the collar. I also burned rings around the length of it in six inch intervals to help gauge water depth when creek crossing.

Thumbstick hiking stick

A nicely productive project weekend, overall.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Enjoying what fall has to offer, thus far. The fire pit comes in pretty handy in the weather we've had lately.


After these were taken, I broke out the spotlight and let my daughter play lasers in the smoke above the fire. It was a huge hit.