Sunday, February 24, 2013

Why I Hunt

Today I thought I would write a more philosophical post.  Yesterday was the last day I would be able to hunt until September of next year.  The last weekend of hunting season always make a little sad.  I had several goals this year, only one of which I accomplished.  It sure wasn't for lack of trying.  I hunted every weekend since September 1st.  I did take January off because my daughter was on the girls basketball team.  Good times.  On to philosophy.  

Contrary to popular belief, I don't believe that most hunters hunt to kill.  I don't even like that term in relation to the sport of hunting.  I prefer to use the term harvest.  Less negative connotations with harvesting an animal as opposed to killing it.  My goal for this season was to harvest a squirrel, a rabbit, a deer, and a duck.  Of those goals I only got a squirrel, I actually think my season total was four.  Seems like a lot of wasted time for little payback.  I think I walked over 40 miles this year, and I spent at least 160 hours in the woods.  So for every full week of "work", I was rewarded with about a half pound of meat.  Seems like a waste of time.  But I don't hunt to harvest animals.  

No, I hunt to enjoy a simpler life.  There is something magical about being in the woods before dark.  There is something magical in watching two ducks burst forth from a hidden pond, I didn't know existed.  Just watching them climb to sky and quack to let every other animal in the woods know there is a predator nearby is magical.  That is one reason why I hunt.  To see all of God's majestic creations in their natural glory.

I hunt because I like to think I'm smarter than a wild animal.  I'm wrong.  When most people think of squirrels.  They think of city squirrels, the ones that chase each other all around a tree, and will sit there and eat nuts while you watch them in the park.  A forest squirrel is a completely different creature.  One wrong step, and all you will see is a bounding bushy tail, before it's up a tree and and always running up the side you are not on.  Yep, forest squirrels are some of the most wary creatures in the world.  If you don't believe me, take a trip to one of the public forested areas in your state.  And try and count how many you actually see.  I like to refer to them as tree ninjas.  I've seen them jump from twigs and land on other twigs that even birds won't dare land on.  That's why I hunt, to see God's creations show me how stupid I really am.

I hunt because I have to be shown how much I have to learn.  I learn where deer are bedding down at night, I learn what beavers do in their spare time, I learn where squirrels like to hide nuts.  I learn that wild creatures are just as lazy as I am.  They tend to make the same trails year after year.  There is something magical about watching an animal trail appear in the middle of the forest.  That's why I hunt to see what God can teach me about life.  

I hunt to see all of God's glory expressed in the natural places.

Frost Flower

Box Turtle

Stick Bug

Wild Garlic, I think

Mushroom Covered Log
Circle of Trees

I hunt to find God's "treasures" like these. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Growing Garlic and Green Onions

Growing Garlic

I never realized how easy it was to grow garlic.  If you have a small space in your backyard, you can also grow your own garlic.  Growing your own food is a big part of being a renaissance man.  Growing garlic is not essential to being able to feed yourself, but it can be a useful ingredient in many dishes.  And since it is so easy to grow, I ask why not add it to your garden.  

The first step in growing garlic, is to buy some garlic. Simple I know.  Split the garlic into cloves, and put in a jar with some baking soda.  Let the garlic soak overnight.  Now dig a row in the backyard, and plant the garlic with the little end up, about 6 inches apart.  It's best to do this in December, but it's better late than never.  

Growing Green Onions

Green onions are great little plants that are good in a variety of dishes.  We use them in enchiladas, quesadillas, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, and other dishes that need a little kick.  Once you buy a set of green onions, why not use them to grow some more.  

There are several ways to grow green onions.  The two ways I like both use the bulb from onions that you have already purchased at the grocery store.  When you use the onions, cut off the green parts, but leave the white bulbs alone.  The easiest way to grow these onions is to take the bulbs and place in a jar of water on a window seal.  That's it, after a few weeks, you'll have brand new onions like these.  
Green onions grown from cuttings

I'm not sure how many times you cold regrow onions like this.  I think that if you kept the water clean, and added some liquid fertilizer, you could have fresh green onions all summer and winter.  I'm going to try and keep these alive as long as possible.

Second Growth
Probably the better way to keep the plantings alive as long as possible is to grow them in the garden.  I've done this unintentionally all fall and all winter long.  I would take the bulbs whenever we used them and throw them out in the garden.  One day I looked and noticed that I had "wild" green onions growing in my garden.  I would plant them much like I suggested with the garlic.  Dig a row in your garden, plant them about 6 inches apart.  Again, I imagine that if you only cut off the green parts, you could keep the plantings alive all summer long and probably through the fall.  I've got a couple in my garden that have survived snow, frost, freezing rain, and other winter related catastrophes.  If you like green onions and want a fresh supply all year long.  I would keep some on the windowsill, and some in the garden. I have managed to get a second growth from my the green onions I bought a few weeks.

Edit:  The second weeks growth didn't go so well.  I'm not sure if I should have changed the water more often,  or tried some liquid fertilizer.  The bases started to rot, so I planted them in my garden for the spring.

Edit: The second growth green onions I planted in my garden did extremely well.  I used some with some catfish we caught this weekend, and they were pretty tasty.

So in conclusion, you can grow and regrow green onions from the white bases using both a jar full of water, and by planting them directly in the ground.  I suggest the ground option as this seems to require less work on my part.  

Another Edit:  Since I haven't blogged had a chance to write a quality post in a while, I haven't.  I can tell you one thing, green onion bases planted in the garden will not die ever.  I have now harvest almost every week from the ones I planted earlier this year.  Not only do I have plenty of fresh green onions, I also harvested and froze 2 quarts worth of them for meals later on this year.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

How-to: Change A Tire

I've taken a long break from blogging. Between the holidays, starting a new job, and taking on new clients from my small business, it's been a busy few months. On to today's topic.

This may seem like a basic topic today, but it is one that all renaissance men need to know. I must admit, that I didn't know how to properly change a tire just a few short years ago. Also, the next post is going to be about changing the brakes on your vehicle. This will be difficult without knowing how to jack up your vehicle, remove the tire and replace it.

The most important thing I can say about changing your tire, is buy the proper tools. The proper tools always make working on your car so much easier. I've used scissor jacks, bottle jacks, and floor jacks. Buy the best one you can afford. I use bottle jacks, but you must use caution with them. They can be very dangerous if you're not careful. The best jacks to buy in my opinion are floor jacks. They are relatively safe, easy to use, and they make lifting a car a very simple and easy procedure.

I'll show you how to use a bottle jack safely and effectively. When using a bottle jack, you must always consider being safe. To be safe, always use a jack stand. Put the jack stand under the frame first, then put the bottle jack next to it. See the picture below.

Bottle Jack and Jack Stand

Proper Jack and Stand Placement when jacking up your car

Jacking the car is easy, make sure the little screw is tightened, and start to jack the car. When the car starts to lift, make sure the jack is secure and make sure the stand is in place in case either the car or the jack starts to shift.

Once the tire is able to be rotate freely, the car is high enough. To remove the tire is easy, use a tire iron, and loosen the bolts so that you turn them freely with your fingers. If the bolts are too tight to turn, you will have to use your weight. Put your foot on the iron, and apply a steady pressure to the bolt until it "breaks" free. Breaking free is a term used to say that the bolt can be turned freely with your fingers.

Take all the bolts off, and make sure you put them in a safe secure place. You do not want to lose them. They are easy to misplace when you are working on your car. Take the tire off, grab a new tire, and put it back in place.

The next step is one of the most important. Start putting a bolt back on, and hand tighten it. To replace the bolts you want to use a star pattern. See picture below. Hand tighten all the bolts, the use your tire iron to make sure all the bolts are snug. This is another time that you will want to use your weight to make sure all the bolts are tightened as tight as you can get them.
Star Pattern for Tightening Bolts

That's all there is to it. You've changed your tire. Next week changing your breaks.

This was a barebones approach to changing your tire. You can make things a lot easier by spending some money and buying some new tools. If you can afford it, I would buy the best floor jack I could get. I would then buy air compressor. An air compressor will make it easier to remove the bolts and and make sure they tightened properly. See you next week.