Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tools and Their Real Uses

DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, splattering it against that freshly-stained heirloom piece you were drying.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned guitar calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, "Yeou _ _ _ _...."

ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.

SKIL SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.

BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

WELDING GLOVES: Heavy duty leather gloves used to prolong the conduction of intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub you want the bearing race out of.

WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Once used for working on older British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16 or ? socket you've been searching for the last 45 minutes.

TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new brake shoes, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

EIGHT-FOOT LONG YELLOW PINE 2X4: Used for levering an automobile upward off of a trapped hydraulic jack handle.

TWEEZERS: A tool for removing wood splinters and wire wheel wires.

E-Z OUT BOLT AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool ten times harder than any known drill bit that snaps neatly off in bolt holes thereby ending any possible future use.

RADIAL ARM SAW: A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to scare neophytes into choosing another line of work.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.

CRAFTSMAN 1/2 x 24-INCH SCREWDRIVER: A very large pry bar that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end opposite the handle.


TROUBLE LIGHT: The home mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin," which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids and for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws.

AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal- burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty bolts which were last over tightened 30 years ago by someone at Ford, and instantly rounds off their heads. Also used to quickly snap off lug nuts.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to make hoses too short.

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit. Women primarily use it to make gaping holes in walls when hanging pictures.

MECHANIC'S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Honey Bee Population Problems

In case you are new to this stuff there is a serious problem with the current honey bee population around the world. There has been a drastic reduction in bees and some bees fly away never to return to their hives. This has occurred in the past however there will be a significant impact to crop production if this lasts for long. You are intelligent and can obviously search the web so read a few links below to get you started and decide for yourself.

Colony Collapse Disorder - Acres U.S.A. Magazine
Honeybee Disappearance Puzzles Scientists - PBS Online Newshour
Pollinators help one-third of world's crop production -
Colony Collapse Disorder - Wikipedia
If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.
attributed to Albert Einstein although whether him or not well put
In 1923 Rudolf Steiner (arguably the greatest scientist and innovator of the 20th vote is for Telsa) stated that unless we change our mechanistic way of beekeeping, the honeybee might not survive the century, see his book Beesto learn more. Another book to consider is Toward Saving The Honeybeeby the author the article linked above in the current Acres U.S.A. magazine.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Making Money with Poultry

If you're a struggling chicken rancher then I'd recommend you pick up a copy of Pastured Poultry Profits by Joel Salatin. The book covers a lot of bases with raising chickens for profit but also has some discussions related to keeping it small enough to have a great product but also have some decent net profit to keep yourself in the black. He seems to have a decent grasp of the general market and really wants to get homegrown, semi-organic, free range (although some might argue that his aren't "pure" free ranged. He discusses the minuses of catering so much to customers that you attract the complainers. All around I enjoyed his approach and if we get a larger acreage we might give it a shot.

Just applying a few of the issues he touches on has saved one chicken and is allowing us to generate some side income with minimal effort. The subtitle of the book is "Net $25,000 in 6 months on 20 acres". If you don't have 20 acres don't worry, just take what he discusses and scale it to your operation. The books doesn't lay it out in an all or nothing approach so it is easy to take what he presents and use it on a smaller scale.

I've provided the chapter titles below for those of you wanting a better overview of the book.

Why Pastured Poultry?
Chapter 1 - The Pastured Poultry Opportunity
Chapter 2 - What is Wrong With the Poultry Industry?
Chapter 3 - Fat Animals, Fat People
Chapter 4 - Family Background

In the Beginning
Chapter 5 - Getting Started
Chapter 6 - Choosing a Breed
Chapter 7 - The Brooder
Chapter 8 - Starting the Chicks
Chapter 9 - Ration

Out to Pasture
Chapter 10 - The Pen
Chapter 11 - Moving the Chicks Out to Pasture
Chapter 12 - Pasture Logistics
Chapter 13 - What Kind of Pasture?

Chapter 14 - On-Farm Slaughter: The Advantages
Chapter 15 - Slaughter Mechanics
Chapter 16 - Composting Slaughter Wastes
Chapter 17 - Inspection

Chapter 18 - The Learning Curve
Chapter 19 - Sickness and Death
Chapter 20 - Predators
Chapter 21 - Weather
Chapter 22 - Stress
Chapter 23 - Troubleshooting Poor Performance
Chapter 24 - Shortcuts
Chapter 25 - Seasonality
Chapter 26 - Solving Your Own Problems

Chapter 27 - Marketing
Chapter 28 - Relationship Marketing
Chapter 29 - Advertising
Chapter 30 - Liability
Chapter 31 - Is It Organic?

Chapter 32 - Vision
Chapter 33 - Laying Hens: 3 Options
Chapter 34 - Turkeys
Chapter 35 - Exotics

Appendix A - Resources
Appendix B - Newsletters
What is the Difference?
Addendum for 1996 Reprinting
Addendum for 1999 Reprinting

Chicken Predators

It has been awhile since my last post so I'm going to try to break them up and get caught up....we'll see how that goes.

We had our first chicken get killed by a predator in mid-April, it was one of those rare times when we were gone all day but left the chickens out and when we came back there were feathers everywhere and a decapitated and partially munched chicken. We're not sure of the predator but we're guessing it was a dog. I would highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Pastured Poultry Profits for a multitude of reasons but one is that Chapter 20 is dedicated to predators. Joel outlines the symptoms (IOW what is looks like after) of each predator type and helps you in isolating where your problem might be. Granted he doesn't cover every possible predator type but enough to give you an idea.

It was obvious when we came home that the dog we leave inside the house when gone had been freaking out since he would have been able to see the attack occur. Fortunately whatever is was has not come back (yet?) so we'll see what the future holds.