Hey folks, you may be trying to view my latest blog post and not having success. The problem is temporary. The reason is because I purchased a custom domain name for my blog and it takes 72 hours to activate.  I should have done this a long time ago as my pallet projects have generated a LOT of interest. In 2014 I had 65,000 views. If I had allowed for small ads in my blog, I could have generated a little income.

I do NOT want to load my blog with advertisements however. I want you, my readers, to enjoy coming to a place where you are not inundated with commercialization. I will be doing my best to keep it minimal. I just get aggravated when I make my material open to public, and then other sites grab it and republish it to make money from it. I am wondering if there is a way I can legally recoup the advertising money they generated by re-posting my articles….


We decideded to raise a few rabbits. My wife looked into how to raise them and which breeds were best for resale and for meat production. It seemed like a feasible way to raise quality meat quickly. We decided on the New Zealand and Lion head breeds though initially we were taking in any free rabbits that were a larger size.

We ended up with 7 rabbits very quickly. After some more research we were able to decide which rabbits to breed. We gave some of the lesser desired breeds away to other folks through the Facebook Backyard Meat Rabbits group. So with 7 rabbits, 5 of them being does, we were going to need a real rabbit hutch. I had some pallets stored for a large barn I am planning to build soon so I borrowed from that pile and bought two sheets of plywood and a few 2×3’s, and still had some leftover metal roofing. Now we needed cages.IMG_20151222_161952725(1)

After shopping around, it seemed that the most affordable setup was the Dumor stackable rabbit cage starter kit. We wanted them to be stackable so that we could make the most of our space. After we purchased them, I began to assemble them….then I saw there were no instructions on how to stack them and the frames had no real way of stacking! I looked all over the internet for some sort of instructions or video or even a better picture….NOTHING!

IMG_20151124_122639587_HDRMy handy neighbor came over to assess the situation with me and we came up with a plan to modify the cages so they would stack. First, we came to the conclusion we needed some sort of dowel or stick to fit inside the metal frame tubing so that the framing on the top cage would fit over the same dowel snugly so that the cages would stack firmly.IMG_20151124_122651955_HDR

My neighbor had some small pieces of oak trim laying around. He cut them into 3 inch strips and planed/sanded them down to the right thickness. Then we nailed a small trim nail through the center of the wood strips. I took them over to the cages and tapped them into the top of each frame tube of the bottom cages. Then I placed the top cage over and fit each corner frame tube down over the rest of the oak strip. It fit very snug and firm. IMG_20151124_122644518

I am happy with the way it came out but VERY dissatisfied with Dumors claim that they are stackable out of the box. Anyone else have any other ideas?IMG_20151203_103206931_HDR

 


Hello fellow readers!

I have kept my promise and I have built something new with a few pallets. I recently came upon a great source of pallets that are in great shape. They are chemically treated, so they will last quite a while. They were used to haul cardboard so at least I know there aren’t any REALLY toxic chemicals on the wood other than what would be in regular pressure treated lumber.

12122653_10153702124083478_7960561557761858400_nSo anyway, I used about 5 pallets to build this coop. I also have a gracious neighbor who gave me two landscaping timbers to use as bottom rails. I mounted the bottom frame on cinder blocks and field stone.

I then bought some hardware cloth and stapled it across the bottom so that the chicken12115535_10153702124208478_6588436197097495638_n manure would fall right to the ground. I made sort of a lean-to roof out of 2X8 lumber I bought and left over 12107281_10153702124708478_5713115505629419724_nroofing that I STILL had leftover from my other pallet barn project. I had the roof sloping so that the west wind would not have a damaging effect should any storms come along.12049402_10153705627458478_136994185988808480_n

I cut out a small entrance door for the chickens, and a human door so we can access the inside. I also built one egg laying box. I will add two more as they all fight over getting a chance to use it. I placed it next to an area where I cut down some brush next to an 12140852_10153728626728478_4030075741522017953_novergrown field. I have a small area of that fenced in. Once I get more fencing, I will increase their forage area.

Ever since they started using it, 12074656_10153744043178478_4754959207487340399_nthey have been laying eggs MUCH better than they were. Although where they were prior wasn’t the most ideal for them, they really worked over our new garden area and turned hundreds of bags of leaves into fertilized, rich, soft soil!

12063333_10153744000423478_8519027066427334673_n 12046864_10153743999693478_4268920681116930929_n 12039496_10153743999198478_1620982966691752573_n


This blog has received quite a few followers since I last wrote here. Which makes me feel extra guilty for not posting regularly. Since then, there have been a few job changes, kids have grown older, and different animals that have come and gone.

We attempted raising a sheep from weened stage to slaughter. It went so well that I think we will try

Lamb and strawberries

Lamb and strawberries

doing some more in the near future. It was easy to manage as it preferred the grass to the weedy stuff that our goats prefer. So there was always enough for it to eat without competing with the goats. The goats definitely ruled the pasture and barn over the sheep. We ended up with 38 lbs. of lamb meat with hardly having to feed any hay and only minimal grain for about 4 or 5 months. Not bad.

We also recently sent our two Boer goats out to get bred. We take them to Little Angel Acres in Millerton, Pa. She has great breeding stock and we have always been happy with her accommodations, price, and kindness. This year they buck was a dapple Boer. His color reminded me of an Appaloosa horse. I have looked online for images of one that looked just like him, but I couldn’t find any that looked as handsome as he does. So, needless to say, we are excited to see the offspring in April.

1.3 acres $139,000

1.3 acres $139,000

We have also put our home up for sale. We had an offer within a months time and it was a long ordeal that eventually fell apart because the USDA does not approve homes with a spring for a water source. Isn’t that so ridiculous? Our spring is an improved spring with a 750 gal. holding tank. There is always plenty of water, no surface contamination, not hard or soft, no sulfur….its what people pay big money for! The wells in the area usually have sulfur and iron in the water. And they would only guarantee the loan if a well was dug. So backwards.

So the house is back up for sale. We are in agreement on another home that we will be able to own mortgage free with a little more land for our goats and chickens to roam.

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Merlin, Me, Phil

I have also partnered in a new company called Remote Intelligence, LLC. Its is a company that provides advanced aerial services using UAV’s, or more widely known as drones. This technology is used for a wide array of useful and productive data capture from wildlife surveys, timber stand evaluation, and mapping,  to security, construction management, precision agriculture, cinematography and more.

I have not posted anything related to political or social current events recently. I have a few thoughts I would like to share in anther post. I will be building another pallet barn once we finally move and will be posting about that as that is what has attracted most of my viewers. But what I wold really like to hear from you all, is what you would like me to look in to? I want to hear from my audience what you would want me to post about.


Those of you who read my blog, or even those of you who happen to come across it looking for pallet ideas, homesteading ideas or the like, I assume you have similar interests as I do. You probably prefer a simpler life away from the city. Maybe you have dreamt about moving a little further out into the ruralness of Pennsylvania….the north central area perhaps.

From reading previous posts you can see how much I value the way things are around here. Having large tracts of state forestland just a stones throw away, a bounty of back roads scented with sweet smelling hay in the summer, calling you to leave a trail of dust on them, the county seat of Wellsboro being a beautiful little town as if plucked from Mayberry and hidden in the middle of the hills here, pure native trout streams…all this and yet still being within a 30-40 min drive to a decent sized “city”. At least a city big enough to be called one, yet not so big that it has the sprawl of the large ones. Philadelphia is an easy 3 hour zip down a few highways, Pittsburgh a bit further the other direction, and Harrisburg about 2.5 hours straight south. This provides enough distance to be far enough away, yet not so far that it cant be driven as often as needed. I should know, we travel to the Philadelphia area at least once a month.

If you desire to call your home here, you have found the right person. Among my many activities, I decided to get my Real Estate license this year. I joined up with RE/MAX in the little town of Mansfield. Its a locally owned franchise and I enjoy being able to tour the many properties that are listed for sale. I am specializing in land, timber, and farm type properties. This would really fit my character and what I enjoy most because it will keep me in contact with those of you who are looking for a spot to enjoy life a little closer to nature. 

Maybe you are looking for a more agrarian lifestyle, or more of a hobby farm idea. I have seen many properties like those come up for sale, ranging from small 5 acre farms to extremely large farms ready for operation, to Grand-pops farm where he is just too old to keep his farm going and has no offspring interested in keeping it running.

Or maybe you are looking for a piece of wooded land to pull in a camper now and then or build a cabin, or maybe even already have a cabin on it. No need to worry, we have plenty of cabins around! Whether lake front, stream front, river front, or just up in the woods, there is usually something to find.

So, if you are considering, or are actually ready to find something like I have mentioned, don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to help someone fulfill their dreams of owning a piece of north-central Pennsylvania!

That goes for those of you who are wanting to sell some too! =)


Hills Creek Lake

Hills Creek Lake

It’s that time of year. The leaves are changing color, the days are getting crisper, and the frost is on the pumpkin. This is my favorite time of year. From the late days of September to late November, no other season beats it here in Pennsylvania.

This year has been outstanding for apples. Trees that had never even bore fruit in a generations memory, were loaded with apples, or pears. We have a few trees on the hill beside our house that I knew were some sort of fruit tree but being that I am not an avid botanist, I was not sure what kind they were. They had never bore fruit to my memory. This year they were loaded with pears! I was so excited that I grabbed one and took a big bite……BLECH! They were very wild pears, bitter, and leaving a “dry mouth” feeling. But in any case, my neighbors apple trees which we usually pick from were loaded down with delicious apples.

Family picking apples

Family picking apples

We usually make applesauce with our neighbors apples. They make the BEST applesauce. Dont ask me what kind they are because I don’t know. They are yellowish green, with a tinge of pink in the skin. This year I was interested in making apple cider as well as applesauce since there was such an abundance. I began looking into what was involved in the whole process. I figured that it couldn’t be any more difficult than the Maple Syrup we make. So I began researching. I found many examples of cider presses,  both homemade and some professionally made. It was clear that I didn’t have the time to make one, nor the money to buy one ($500+ for a good one).

Interestingly enough, that same day I came across a facebook post of one of my friends using a cider press with a youth group. I sent him a message asking where he got the cider press and he told me that a mutual friend of ours had built one and that he lent it to the youth group to use as an activity. So I contacted our friend DJ and scheduled a time that we could bring our apples over one evening.

DJ making the mash

DJ making the mash

He has children of similar ages to ours so it was a great time together. When we arrived we unloaded the apples and he showed us how the whole process works. We had a table where we had the apples sitting in a cold water bath, just as a rinsing method. Then we chopped the apples in half and took them by 5 gallon bucket full to a sink he had attached to some pallets and attached a garbage disposal to the sink. The apples get shoved through the disposal which turns them into a mash. The mash is then poured into a cloth net material that is draped over a

Homemade cider press with empty frame

Homemade cider press with empty frame

hollow frame on the press table. The extra netting is folded over the mash that is in the frame, the frame is removed and a wood lattice, made of slats of oak screwed together with 1/4′ spaces between slats, is placed on top of the netted mash. The frame is then placed on top of the slats for another layer of netted mash. This is done until about 3-4 layers are stacked. Then a car jack is mounted to the top of the press and you start expanding the jack as it presses down on a few blocks of wood that are placed on the top layer of the stack.

Pressing stack

Pressing stack

The press table has a 2-3″ high rim around the perimeter with a notch cut out in the front to allow the juice to pour out, where we placed a 5 gallon bucket underneath to catch the juice. On top of the bucket there is a pillow-case-type cloth rubberbanded over the top to filter out any finer unwanted dirt or pulp. The filter also helps if you’re doing this during the day and yellow jackets start wanting some too. My youngest hung outside with me and my friend DJ in the cold. He was a trooper. He also got to enjoy a drink of cider as it flowed out from the pulp, you should have seen his smile!

Out of about 5 bushels of apples we got about 11.5 gallons of cider….16 oz of which I am drinking as I write this post =). YUM!

close up of stack

close up of stack

Fresh juice!

Fresh juice!


Obama/Putin (pic from voiceofrussia.com )

Obama/Putin
(pic from voiceofrussia.com )

It is interesting to me to stand back and look at all the political followers. You have your liberals who follow Obama and have historically opposed going  into any war. Then you have the conservatives who can’t stand Obama and are all about being a Patriot and conserving America’s foundational values.

The latter group would probably be the group that you would more likely hear how bad Russia is and how unamerican any russian sympathy would be…stemming from the cold war in the 80’s.

So now we are at an interesting crossroads. Now we have Obama wanting to go to war, EVEN against UN’s advice to not do it. And we have Putin asking for diplomacy. Here in the states, the Republicans are all over the place in agreement and against it.

I will enjoy watching who the conservatives line themselves up with. If you don’t like Obama, then you gotta side with a Russian! Hows that for an identity crisis?

Just so you know, I don’t take any political standpoint. I would probably be closer to conservative Ideals, but even they aren’t a group I would align myself with. Read some of my other posts and you will get a feel for where I am at.