Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Percolator coffee

If not the espresso maker than we turn to our stovetop percolator. 

percolator coffee needs to be prepared properly. the general rule for strong coffee is more grounds less percolating time. 

we use about about two+ tablespoons of coarse grind coffee per cup of water.
after pot starts we wait for the coffee to start hitting the glass dome, then immediately lower the temperature to get a moderate perc. we let this perc for about 3 minutes. it is too easy to over brew percolator coffee so keep an eye on it. anything over 5 minutes is tends to kill the coffee.

when family comes over we often decrease the amount of grounds we use.

one should not reheated coffee in the perc and microwaved just isn't as good. the compromise is making a pot, pouring it into the cup and then the remaining immediately goes in a thermos. we tend to drink our coffee in a shorter period of time so the thermos is more than adequate for keeping it hot.

facts: caffeine is very water soluble. we get alot of kick with this method

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Blue water fountain

This is a bit ridiculous, but it does matter what color a drinking fountain is.

blue is a good color for one. 

two more louisville park photos.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Louisville slide

A small park near the lake had this slide. all metal and could withstand a direct hit from a tornado.

when sliding down my pants stuck firmly wedging my squares. the family just laughed at me.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

First aid kit

First aid kit ready for action, ready for blood. 
as much as i would like to say it will not be used, i am quite sure it will.

fits inside a tea tin. compact enough to take up minimal real estate in a pack when out hoofing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


This is definitely fodder for my "filling up the empty nail barrel".
hell, the bearded boy alone qualifies this advert.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

3 knives = camping trip

all hail to the casual tailer camping trip this week. we are going to park it between a lake & the platte river and we are going to RELAX! today and tomorrow over 100 degrees but then down to the mid 90's for a couple of days. that 10 degree difference will make all the difference in the world.

for the most part we are always ready for action, but we still go through the motions of an equipment check before we take off. the first equipment to get checked is almost always those items that i might be using to set up camp and/or might be using to make something.

below are some of our larger knives. they happened to be closest to where i was standing so they get the once over first.

next to my carpenter's hatchets, these older u.s.a. knives are a backbone to our camp set up. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Salsa garden

With vegetable harvest going on we are in full pico de gallo mode.

fresh, chunky and not so liquidy (minus some of the juice from the tomatoes and a bit of lime juice). 

a sort of garden disposal condiment: anything and everything can go into it.

the base is always tomatoes rough cut, onion, garlic, sweet peppers (bell or wax), jalapeno, cilantro and a pinch of salt. after that anything goes: if it is in the garden and needs to be consumed immediately it goes in.

wifey couldn't keep her finger out of this awesomeness.

pico de gallo can be a main condiment. it goes well on everything.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ants and sunflowers

For the most part, we prescribe to the notion that what we plant should have a purpose: whether it is something about the individual or an important functional element (food particular to the houses cooking or ornamental to the local are).

so when we travel from place to place we tend to judge the homes occupants by the plants visible from the street. (for example, if a person had purposely planted a large garden of thistle, we might think to ourselves, "that grower must be a tough, good looking complete asshole")


we keep our sunflowers for their fall seeds (us and the birds) and their show of strength during the summer's most brutal heat days. they follow the 100 degree sun as if to say, "is that all you've got".
 this lot ranges from 7 feet to 9 feet. 
we grow shorter varieties in the front of these to get a sort of stairs step look.

this morning for the photo i saw ants and parasitic wasps going after aphids on the sunflowers. during a season we are also guaranteed to see lacewings, lady bugs and the odd preying mantis. 
there are three basic feedings going on during the life of the sunflower. one is us/birds eating the seeds, two would be bugs eating bugs and third is the crazy relationship between that which comes out of the aphids backside and the ants eating it. apparently, ants love the honeydew that is excreted by the aphids. 

one of the better documentaries out there is "microcosmos". a french documentary on insects. they use microscopic cameras and excellent sounds. i am thinking that it is about insects of the french pyrenees mountains. one of the scenes is of ants taking the aphid honeydew right out of the spigot. felt like i had to go to confession after seeing it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dry skies and corn

With water (from the hose) and all this sun our gardens are yielding super sweet corn. amazing.
there was so much we had to cut it up for freezing.

however, the reality is that we are in a nasty dry spell that is really affecting every other aspect of our lives. a situation not really experienced in the cool and plentiful confines of the grocery store.

some corn facts, a snapshot from today:
nebraska is the 4th largest producer of corn in the USA. today the nebraska commercial corn crop is only at 43% good to excellent condition compared to 82% good to excellent. a very low number and not seen for decades. the nebraska corn board has 63% irrigated corn as good to excellent and only 16% of dry corn.

dropping water levels on ground water are leading to some shut offs for junior irrigators.

with some more moderate temperatures, rain and the fact that most of our irrigation comes from wells (although there are still thousands of groundwater irrigators) the potential for poor corn yields can be reduced.

according to the "national drought mitigation center" http://drought.unl.edu/  we are in moderate to severe drought with a small section of extreme. 99.81% of our state is in drought conditions.
on the bottom are the current maps. 

26 states are experiencing drought conditions.

Friday, July 13, 2012

One of one hundred and fifty.

Young william lost the bet and had to paint all of the polled herefords to look like 
angus that had dipped their heads in vanilla ice cream.

3 hours later the first one just about done. he just has to add the sprinkles on the top and chill it for a few hours.

that sounds good!

(dad gets his polled hereford-angus cross ready for 4H. he is spraying to keep the flies away, it is not good to have your entry moving around and stomping during the judging.)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Gardening tools cleaning

It is time for the midseason maintenance of the garden tools. 
starting out with some of my detailing and bonsai tools.

all tools need constant tending to. rust will hit all of them, even when not in use. cleaning, lubricating hinges/joints, sharpening and conditioning the wood. the burden of a lot of tools is the relentless cleaning schedule. sure as hell when you finish you are already behind.

these two are my main bypass shears. bought in Ise, Mie ken Japan. all of the other tools (except the felco bypass shears) were bought in Nagoya, Kuwana or Inabe. they have been serving me for over 14 years now. 

scavenged this seriously abused tool box from grandfather Vic's barn.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hops in early july

25' and growing, glorious cascade hops. the upper third will be ready for harvest soon. this season has long vines and the upper third is far more advanced then the lower two thirds.

there are 8 hills, 3-4 vines per hill and tethered from the plot to the top of the windows on the south side of the house (20' of line and then starts to drape down acting as window awnings). cascade is hardy, productive and very very prolific. we keep tight reigns on its suckers so as not to overwhelm the plot. keeping it airy is the key, reduces pest zones and easier to care for.

cascade hops a real workhorse for our home brews, especially in our pales, ipas, porters, and big barley wines. 

in 1956 this hop was bred in the United States. it became available in 1972. it is the product of crossing a fuggles hop with a Russian serebrianker hop. cascade aroma is "flowery", "spicy" and "citrus-like". the alpha acid content ranges from 4%-7%. quite a bit of difference depending on the growing conditions.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Oldest vs youngest

At least this time it wasn't point blank in the face.

then the youngest retaliates.

finishing a stretch of weeks at 90+ degrees and the last 3 days above 100.

only 20% chance of rain today.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Findley's hatchets III

Findley sent me the color flash he wanted and all is finished.

multiple coats of tung oil have been rubbed into the bare wood.

sights established, with the white bore added.

this polished up very well.

protective coat on the head. the initial coating is different then the metal protectant i apply after starting to use the tool. for day to day use i recommend johnson's paste or gun oil.

both have 18" handles. as discussed in the past this will increase leverage and function. if one needs to detail work they need only choke up on the handle.

great project!