It’s a 30 Day YouTube Challenge!

30 Day Challenge titile

It’s a personal challenge. In an effort to do more of what I really enjoy doing, but somehow don’t seem to prioritize and never seem to get around to. Isn’t it a shame that so many of the things we love to do in life are often things we rarely do? Fishing, hiking, a day at the spa for those who are into such things? Well, in effort to do more of what I love doing, I’m going to shoot, edit and upload one video a day to YouTube. I love making videos. I have heaps of ideas of videos I want to shoot, but somehow, just don’t get around to making the videos as much as I would like to.

Enough is enough, personal challenge accepted. It won’t be easy, and I can’t guarantee it will happen flawlessly or that I’ll even end up getting more than 75% of the 30 videos made. But, I’m pretty sure that by at least trying to take this challenge, I will have made more videos that if I don’t. And that’s kinda the whole point.

Stay Tuned.

Our First Giveaway!

win this handmade knifeWell, to get things moving further over on the youtube channel, I have decided to give away a handmade knife. We haven’t really shared much on the knife-making front here the blog, but it does happen and it happens fairly often. What started as a hobby and a way for me to have all the knives I wanted without having to drain the bank (knife collecting can be an expensive habit) has turned into a fun little side hustle that is starting to gain some momentum. It was about 3 years ago that I tried making my first knife, and since then they have steadily been getting better.

I’ve started to sell a few here and there and I am now getting orders for one-off custom knives from collectors in the United States. It feels nice to have people want and appreciate things that you make by hand. Anyway, I did a video on making a bushcraft knife and showed all the steps involved. That video is here:

Part of the reason for making that blade was so that I could have that exact knife to use as a giveaway once the SLL youtube channel reaches 2000 subscribers. We’re at just over 430 now so it’s a bit of a ways to go, but I think that it’s a fairly attainable goal. Especially if we can keep putting up half decent content for people to watch. There are tons of channels on YouTube that have multi-thousands of subscribers, and some in the millions, so really, 2000 is not by any means a big YouTube channel, but I think it’s a pretty decent start. Anyway, here’s the announcement video of the contest. Make sure to subscribe, and comment on the video that I will put up once we reach 2000 subscribers and you could win this knife!

Greenhouse Project Part 3

Well, with the weather turned colder out, I’m gonna wait a day or two before getting back to building the greenhouse. Or, maybe I’ll just have to grin and bear it, it would be nice to have it done. But, we now have all we need here including equipment, to get started on putting this thing back together.

New Zealand Bunny Babies

Our two oldest New Zealand does have both had babies recently. 8 days apart. For the first few days, I think these little bunnies look pretty ugly (I tell the kids they’re uncooked pork dumplings. That in itself is pretty gross) but after a few days they start to get hair and start to get a little cuter.

This is the bunnies at 24hrs old.
This is the bunnies at 24hrs old.
These bunnies are 10 days old and look more like bunnies everyday.
These bunnies are 10 days old and look more like bunnies everyday.

I think one of the more amazing things about living out here and having animals, is for the kids to see life happen. With the pairing up of our buck and doe rabbits to breed (yup, they know that part) to the seeing a doe start to pull hair to make a nest in preparation for birth. Then, the little bunnies growing up, getting noticeably bigger every day and become full sized rabbits. Even I find it so fascinating to see life happen over and over again. The kids love and it’s an experience that we as parents are proud and grateful to be able to give them.

Eyes still haven't opened yet, but they're sure cute.
Eyes still haven’t opened yet, but they’re sure cute.

 

Getting a greenhouse!

We had plans to head out in the next week or two and pick up all the materials needed to build an Ana White greenhouse. Around here, we could pretty much start planting in a green house right away.

Steph did some searching on Kijiji, mostly looking for anyone selling the corrugated plastic panels that we could use to build with. If we hadn’t found anything on Kijiji, we were simply going to buy new. Well, Steph’s search yielded incredible results int he form of a really well built high-end greenhouse that some folks simply wanted removed. And it was for $100. Basically the gentleman simply wanted to reclaim some of his yard and needed the greenhouse removed to do that. He had it built over 15 years ago.

The long side of the greenhouse
The long side of the greenhouse

So, my Father-in-law was willing to run $100 into the city (as Steph and I both had prior obligations we couldn’t get out of that day) so that we could be the first to put down the deposit, and then we could work out a time to remove it from his yard.

Front of the greenhouse
Front of the greenhouse

Well, yesterday I started the removal. This structure is amazing! Very well built and I guess it was the exterior of an office building for Amaco back in the day. Then it was repurposed as this greenhouse. Kind of cool to see something with such a long and ongoing life cycle, rather than just being taken to the dump.

Comes with a working gas furnace!
Comes with a working gas furnace!

Yesterday I managed to get all of the roof panels, trusses, furnace, blowers, doors all other accoutrements removed and hauled back to the homestead. I’ll be heading back tomorrow with my Father-in-law to pickup the rest of it.

Small porch-style door on the one side.
Small porch-style door on the one side. The other side has a double-sliding patio door, but I forgot to get a picture of that.

I think that I’ll end up putting this on a metal skid (I was originally planning on pouring a concrete foundations) as I would then be able to move it around if needs be. Also, no need to permit a building that is on skids, because then it’s not a permanent structure.

Really a nice looking greenhouse for a hundred bucks.
Really a nice looking greenhouse for a hundred bucks.

Looking forward to getting this little project underway on our land. Hopefully within the next 3 weeks to a month, we’ll have it ready with plants growing in it. Stay tuned:)

Billy-Bobs special visitor

This is Billy-Bob Thorton. He's starting to remind me of a goofy adolescent boy.
This is Billy-Bob Thorton. He’s starting to remind me of a goofy adolescent boy.

Our Buck has a special friend staying for a while. It’s a she, and you can probably guess why she’s here. Yup. Some nice folks that live fairly close to us were trying to get their little goat Sadie, bred. We saw the ad and thought why not. Billy-Bob has been really acting like the boss of the pen and even sometimes a jerk. When we had first got him, he was last in command to our two does. They pushed him around and he only ate when they were done. Now that he has come into full (buck-hood?) he is the one in charge. It would actually be nice for us if he were to have his own pen. Maybe that will happen later this summer.

Billy-Bob is a real people loving goat also.
Billy-Bob is a real people loving goat also.
Meet Saddie. The kids new favourite goat.
Meet Sadie. The kids new favourite goat.

Anyway, the folks dropped off Sadie, and what a sweet little goat she is. Sounds weird saying that but she really is  one of the nicest goats I’ve ever seen. She more of a loving companion dog than a hoofed farm animal. The kids don’t want to have to give her back. Where Sadie lives there are no other goats, but rather a horse and a few cows. It’s funny to watch, when we let her free range, she goes straight to Trip (our quaterhorse colt) and stands between his legs. It’s either hanging out between Trip’s legs, or right on following right behind the kids, everywhere they go. Really a great personality.

She's quite a bit smaller than our goats
She’s quite a bit smaller than our goats

She’ll be here for about a month or so and it’ll be fun to have her around. Hopefully she’ll be a mom-to-be where she leaves our little farm. Or, maybe her owners will just let us keep her:)

Headlamps on the Homestead

_MG_7066
Headlamps are a daily must have on the homestead. Especially in the dark winter months.

Well, with spring just around the corner, and the daylight saving time coming, I’ve noticed how much less I need a headlamp to do morning and evening chores lately. I hadn’t really thought much about it before, but headlamps are a critical tool on the homestead. Feeding pigs, chickens, sheep and horses before the sun comes up or closing the chicken door after the sun has gone down. Checking propane levels or resetting blown breakers because you decided to turn on the electric kettle at the same time your wife was blow-drying her hair. Yeah, when you’re in the long dark grips of winter, a headlamp is an item that gets used multiple times per day, every day.

When I was a kid I thought headlamps were the coolest things but typically reserved just for mountain climbers, cave explorers and miners. And back then, it wasn’t all that easy (or cheap) to find a decent quality headlamp. Now with the major improvement with LED technology, a super bright, long lasting headlamp is easy to come by. Most local hunting and camping stores now carry a wide selection of headlamps to choose from. And if that doesn’t work, Amazon and other online retailers offer more choices than you could fully understand or care to for that matter. My favourite place to buy headlamps is Mountain Equipment Coop. They have a really good selection, do a lot of research and investigating before they decide to bring in a certain model of headlamp. A lot of the ground work of trying to figure out what is a decent headlamp has been done for you. Nice.

Here’s a look at the headlamps that we use on the homestead.

Princton Tec Byte
Princeton Tec BYTE. An awesome option for running (because it’s so light) and a great emergency light to stash away.

 

First up is the smallest and lightest lamp of the bunch. The Printon Tec Byte. This lamp only houses 2 AAA batteries, so it’s burn time is noticeably lower than other lamps, but it is still decently bright. Full power is 70 lumens with a lower power setting. One feature of this lamp that I loves the red LED. Why is red a good option? Red light preserves your eyes own night vision. Meaning that when using red light, and then looking into the dark without any illumination, your eyes don’t have to adjust to the dark. Green light has the same effect. This can be nice when reading maps in your car or while hunting. Also it’s much less noticeable and safer to use when you don’t want your location given away by a bright light say, when walking in to your favourite hunting blind before the sun comes up. Also that little red light gives just enough illumination to light the ground immediately in front of you when walking and enough for tasks that require close illumination. If you want to see what just went bump in the night, the red setting on this light isn’t all that useful. The nomenclature claims that this light has 146 hour burn time, but that has to be when only using the red LED. Using this lamp on high (which gives a really good amount of light for even cycling or running in the dark) will only last about 6 to 8 hours. Not the greatest burn time, but it is a very small and lightwheight light. This is an excellent option to keep in your car or emergency kit for sid of the road situation that you will want decent light, but won’t need it for hours on end. Due to the fact that changing out batteries all the time gets old, this light has been put into backup service in one of my vehicle emergency bags. But, this would be an awesome option for kids or a great running headlamp because of it’s light weight.

Petzl TIKKA XP
“Vintage” TIKKA XP

 

The next light on the list is one that I’ve had the longest and use the most. Unfortunately this model is no longer made in this style and the new versions bearing the same name are quite different. The Petzl Tikka XP. I bought this light 8 years ago when I was commuting by bicycle from Rockyford to Strathmore. At the time it was one of the best lights of this size (I don’t like the lights that have a separate battery pack that sits on the back of your head). I can’t give the exact lumen rating since all the info online the Tikka XP varies from model to model (even though they all bear the same name) and the current model XP is quite a different light. I can’t speak to the new versions of this light, but I’m sure they’re pretty good. This light has 3 power settings, uses 3 AAA batteries and has a great burn time. Probably 20 plus hours on high power. It also has a flashing mode which I used quite a bit during the dawn hours of my bike commutes when I didn’t need illumination but still wanted to be seen. My favourite feature of this light though is a frosted lens that slides over the main lens. This allows very quick changes between a spot beam (for seeing farther distances) and a flood beam which is great for working on tasks in close. The newer version of the Tikka XP do offer flood and spot patterns, but they are accessed by a sequence of presses of the button. I don’t like that. In fact I can’t stand having to go through a series of complicated button clicks to access different functions of a light. High, low, spot and flood. That’s pretty much all I like in a headlamp. Unfortunately, a good simple headlamp like this old Tikka XP is getting harder to find.

_MG_7076
Sliding the frosted lens over the main lens. I love this feature.

 

Next headlamp that gets pressed into regular service on the homestead is one I bought for my wife for Christmas this year. I figured that since she was using mine a lot (not that I mind sharing) she should have a nice pink headlamp for herself. It also is a Petzl and the model is Petzl Tikka +. A good light that is the brightest headlamp we have, and also runs on 3 AAA batteries. Max output is 160 lumens and on it’s lowest setting of 5 lumens it will run for 100 hours. That’s a lot! This light has a good mix of spot and flood lighting thought the same lens and 3 different power levels. To get to the different features you do have to go through a series of various button clicks. I’m sure that if you were to use this like regularly you would become familiar with the different modes and how to access them, but there have been times when Steph and I are walking down to close the chicken coop door for the evening and her light is wigging out putting on a show for us. Again, it just takes some time getting used to. The one thing I do like about this headlamp is that the red light option is quite nice and bright, much brighter than the Byte. All in all this is a pretty solid little headlamp. And; it pink!

Petzl Tikka +
Steph’s Pink TIKKA +

 

And the last headlamp we are going got look at is the most simple and least expensive of the lot. It’s the Petzl TIKKINA. This is an exellent choice for task lighting and illumination while walking. The previous two Petzl’s I’ve talked about would both be good options for fast paced outdoor activities such as running or cycling (although for most cycling you use a headlamp as supplemental lighting to your main bike light) but this little TIKKINA would not be as useful for such activities. That isn’t what this light was designed for. The max output is 80 lumens which is plenty enough for daily chores around the homestead. Low power setting gives 20 lumens and the burn time for the high and low are 120hrs and 180hrs respectively. I really like this headlamp. Low, High and off. That all that 3 clicks of the button will do and really who need more than that. I keep this light in my toolbox. At around 20 bucks, it’s a great choice for crawling under your truck doing oil changes or when you have to change out a fan belt on your tractor. It has more than enough light for these tasks, built well and will take abuse and ultimately if it get wrecked, you’re not out a whole much of money.

Petzl Tikkina
PETZL TIKKINA. A good quality simple headlamp.

 

This is just a listing of the light that we have and use, but there are tons of options out there. I would recommend staying away for the lights branded as energizer or cheaper versions found in your big box stores or lumber yards. I used to by these thinking that it would be better than getting a nice light all greasy and dirty. But after using them for several months, I became so frustrated with their lack of performance that I just dedicated one of my “good headlamps” to working in the shop. I’ll tell you this, it makes a huge difference.

The main things I look for in a headlamp are are:

  1. Size: Ones with a batter pack on the back of your head are going to drive you crazy. Trust me.
  2. Battery type: there is an increasing number of headlamps that are rechargeable. A lot with USB adaptors. This is a matter of personal preference, but the thing I don’t like about these options is that when the light dies and you’re halfway done chores, you can’t simply just pop in fresh batteries and keep on going. To me, rechargeable headlamps are just a hassle. I like AAA versions the best. They are light, powerful and spare batteries take up next to no room in your hunting back or emergency car kit.
  3. Simplicity : Again, this might not be a big deal to you but I prefer the simple lamps. Ultimately, I just want hands-free lighting and a few power settings is handy. I don’t care for a light that can morse-code for help or do other crazy stuff like that.
  4. Light output: I have this as one of my least important feature when looking for a headlamp for the homestead. The main use for a headlamp as discussed here is for helping do tasks around the homestead or farm in the dark. I have super powerful flashlights if I need to check fences lines across the field at night, but for a headlamp I just want to see where I’m walking and what my hands are doing.

If you’re doing chores and work around the farm and still using a handheld flashlight, do yourself a huge favour and consider getting a decent little headlamp. $20-$50 is all that you need to spend depending on the options you want, and like I stated about my oldest lamp; I’ve been using it for hunting, camping, shop work and my daily chores for 8 years and it’s still going strong. Well worth the price for the convenience it gives.

Cheers!