The Wranglerstar Knife Sharpener

The Wranglerstar Knife sharpener
The Wranglerstar knife sharpener

Last week I received the TSPROF knife sharpening system. The Wranglerstar kit. I’ve had a chance to look at it a bit and here are some initial impressions and a quick look at the sharpening system. It certainly looks promising, and I know a lot of you are probably thinking: but how does it compare to the Wicked Edge? Well, next week I’m going to do a sharpener shootout video comparing my 3 main systems. The paper wheels, the Wicked Edge and the TSPROF. In the mean time, check out this video on the TSPROF sharpening system.

Full disclosure, I received this sharpener free of charge from TSPROF however I was not told I had to review it and I am not being paid anything to show this. CheersūüĎć

Win a Foredom!

Win THIS Foredom!
Win THIS Foredom!

If you’ve followed Simple Little Life on YouTube for a while, you probably know that I like to celebrate milestones by doing giveaways! Well, I’m keeping that trend going and we are coming up no one hundred thousand subscribers! 100K! That’s nuts! Never did I ever think this would happen, and I am so excited and honoured to be a part of the maker community on YouTube. More than just a number, it represents a growing community of friends, idea sharers and people wanting to learn to make things, make knives and just improve their skills over all.

For this GAW, I reached out to Foredom Electric Company, and they have donated a Foredom power carver set to be given away once we hit 100K subs on YouTube. Huge thank you to Foredom for getting behind this GAW and supporting the channel in this way. I am so grateful and amazed at their involvement.

I love my Foredom and use it in so many projects, including every knife that I make.

Here are two videos you can check out; the first is the GAW announcement video (please note, this is not the video that you enter to win on, that one is coming soonūüėÄ) and the second is a Tool Time Tuesday I did on the Foredom.

I would like to say a huge thank you to all of the support that you have shown in the past year that have made this channel grow, and it is such an amazing community to be involved in. Hopefully we’ll be launching the GAW soon and get this awesome tool into one of your hands!

CheersūüĎć

 

2016 Strathmore Heritage Days Stampede starts now!

Our favourite weekend of the year is here! So stoked for all the fun and activities and some good ole fashioned visiting with friends and family. We’ll be vlogging the weekend. A¬†highlight for us this year will be the boys trying to get on a pony in the wild pony races. Here’s day one that came with the first attempt to ride. The boys did fairly well for their first attempt and and now they know what to expect, let’s hope night two gets them closer to riding¬†a pony!

Hockey in the off-season

Well, regular season might be over, but that doesn’t mean there is no hockey to be had. Actually, it’s pretty much as easy as pie to play year ’round, or to have your kids play year ’round. As Alan Jackson once said, “It just takes money.”

Some people still think that having your kids in spring hockey or summer hockey means that their kid is somehow a better player than “other” kids from his/her team. Nope. Not true. Not anymore. Now, anyone can pretty much make any off-season team if their parents are willing to fork out the cash to make it happen.

We take a different approach to the game. I want to give my kids all the help they can get when they are playing something they love so much. So during the regular season, we make sure they’re at every practice, have good performing and safe equipment, and we even get them into specialty sessions, camps and a little one on one training. But pretty much only during the regular season. Once hockey is over, it’s okay for it to be over for a while. Grass is turning green, the temperature is warming up and the days are getting longer. There are so many things that can be done outside now, and why waste this nice weather stuck in an arena if you don’t have to be. Okay, that sounds different than how I probably mean it. I love hockey. The game, the lifestyle, all of it. But, with anything that we really enjoy being a part of, it’s good to sometimes take a break. A little stroll in another direction for a while.

I’m looking forward to that part of the year right now. But, our one last kick at the cat is a fun little 3 on 3 tournament that is hosted by the Wheatland Athletics Association. It’s a great time (a little disorganized on the minor level of who get’s which dressing room etc…) and all in all a pretty fun¬†weekend.

Both boys finished their semi-final games on the winning side and are going into Sunday playing for the tournament banner. Coby for PeeWee and Isaiah for Atom.

It’s really nice (and rare) that both boys play at the same arena, and even nicer that all games are here in Strathmore. Kind of makes for a nice little hockey wind-up weekend.

And, here’s the second video in the 30 day video challenge. It’s a vlog of yesterday’s hockey-centric activities.

 

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:)

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.

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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!

 

 

At long last

Nope, no house rising from the earth yet, but still something very exciting. To us at least. 

Our chickens have laid their first eggs this week. Well, one of the chickens anyway. We have gathered 4 (only 3 at the time I took these pictures) little green eggs so far,  and we’re pretty sure they’re all from the same chicken. We actually had eggs three days in a row which quite surprised us. 

  
We had two hens from our very first group of eggs that we hatched. That being the case we should be getting more eggs from another one of those two in the next few days. And let me say it is about time! 

After all the work we’ve done building the coop, the yard and then the months of feeding and watering the chickens, and with winter coming on, the dark thoughts in the back of my head were starting to come to mind more and more. “Is it really worth all this work? Do chickens actually even lay eggs? Maybe we got the bad chickens that don’t lay eggs.” On and on these thoughts were coming to mind more frequently.

So I hope you can imagine the excitement that seeing one little green egg laying on the sawdust floor brought to us. That one little egg was a sign that the work was not a waste. But rather the start of the fruits of our labor.

  
They are quite small as compared to store bought eggs, but they are very tasty, fresh and completely chemical free. I know what these chickens ate because I fed them myself. I know the living conditions of these birds because I open their door and bring them outside every morning and lock them up safe every night. I trust these eggs and they bring us great satisfaction.