Back to work, and having some beard fun.

I returned to work finally after being off for 2 months. Now that I have been given the all clear from skin cancer. I surely feel better and seem to have more energy.

While I was off I took the opportunity to grow out my beard. A good solid two months was good let things go. But, going back to work I had to shave and cut my hair. Rather than just cut it off I decided to go in stages to have a little fun..

First was the full beard:

Then I trimmed my chin and center section for the 1850s style mutton chops:

After that, it was time for some disco era sideburns:

From there I went a little stranger to the Mohawk, Fu Manchu combo:

And then finally, before cutting it all off there was the circus strong man handlebar:

So you see, even with mundane tasks, Toots and I like to have some fun. We all hope you have a great week. I’d love to hear which was your favorite, lol. Mine was the handlebar.

All the best,


The negligent blogger part 3 (finale)

Ok, this is the finally installment in my attempt to catch you all up.

This one will have some good, some bad, and some small details.

First, the good…

Maria has enrolled in an online grad school to obtain her master’s degree. I’m very proud of her and thoroughly impressed. She has a ton of work to do, and I will do everything I can to support this endeavor. She is now enrolled through Ball State University. As a cardinal, she will fly!

And then there is the bad. It isn’t terrible, but worrisome still.

At my “real” job I wear a bullet proof best for 12 or more hours a day, in all types of weather. Throughout the year the temperature can go from 15 degrees to 100 degrees. Well, I had a spot on my shoulder blade that became irritated, eventually became an open sore and refused to heal. I attributed this to the sweat and friction caused by the vest. This went on for almost a year. Maria helped me cover it before work and tried to doctor it for me without success.

Now, I’m 47 years old and at that time I had no regular doctor. If slightly sick I went to the local urgent care, and if I really jacked myself up (which I’m known to do occasionally,lol) I would go to the emergency room.

During my last visit to the urgent care for a pretty hefty fever, I was ganged up on by that doctor and Maria to politely, yet forcefully inform me that at my age I NEED a general practitioner. Maria then got me set up with a doctor and I went, reluctantly.

She examined that spot and said that she wasn’t 100% sure without a biopsy, but it was believed to be skin cancer. She then referred me to a dermatologist.

After being examine there, it was determined that I had several areas that had Basal cell carcinoma. There were varying degrees of development in these areas.

I had a few frozen off, about twice that burned off, and then scheduled for 4 separate surgeries space 2 weeks between each one. It seems I had 4 separate areas where the carcinoma was too big and too deep to freeze or burn. They had to be cut out.

I’ve spent the last 2 months off of work, unable to do anything in the forge or go to the farm, or much of anything. I’ve become a beard farmer. I’ve had to shave nearly everyday for work for the last 30 years, a good two month break from shaving was very welcome.

I currently have all the surgeries complete and am currently cancer free. It hasn’t been fun, but it also wasn’t terrible. If you don’t know, basal cell is the most common form of skin cancer and has a very low risk of spreading to other organs. I don’t believe I was at risk of dying from it, but it is very disconcerting to hear the words “you have cancer”.

Those are the two big things…good and bad.

Some little details…

I have the new hydraulic lines for the backhoe as soon as I can get to the farm, I’ve got some great steel lined up for knives as soon as I can get back in the forge. I did have the chance to finish up a great knife for the up coming Fraternal Order of Police state conference. I finished the knife and base just as I started the cancer hiatus.

I did initially mess up the dates and had to sand and reengrave the display stand. But I think it came out well.

Thank you all for reading, I hope this brings most up to speed. I have a about a week and a half left to heal up and then I’m back to work. There should be plenty to document then and I hope to keep up with our blog as I really do enjoy it.

All the best to you, and thanks again for reading,

Toots and Pappy

The negligent blogger part 2

Ok, so now on to the next installment.

In addition to, and coinciding with the truck adventure I found out some super crazy, surprising, strange, wonderful, fantastic news.

Up until a few months ago things were going as I thought had for a long time. I had a beautiful wife, a wonderful adult daughter, a good job, a nice piece of land to build our homestead, and some good retirement plans.

And then….

A few years ago we had taken the 23andme dna test to add ours to the database. My mom has been working on our family tree for a very long time. Well, as a result of that, I ended up receiving an email from someone saying that they were a 49% match with me and a 23% match with my daughter. This would indicate a child to me and a sibling to my daughter.

I made contact with that person and some questions were asked and answered by us both and come to find out…..wait for it….

I NOW HAVE 2 DAUGHTERS that are all grown up!!!!!


I also now have a GRAND-DAUGHTER!!!!!!!!

This is huge news and created a whirlwind of emotions. Freaked me out, made me smile, made me cry, made me laugh…

I won’t go into a bunch of detail, just for some family privacy, but, due to life and circumstances 25 years ago, we were separated before either of us knew the other existed.

But now we have found each other, and both girls now have a sister that they never had. They have hit it of wonderfully and talk all the time.

We’ve been sharing back and forth for months now. Mainly text messages and video chats because she is currently in England with her husband who is in the Air Force. We have yet to meet in person, but soon.

So, we have welcomed Kate, little Hannah, and Dylan (the new son in law) to the family!!!

So now, instead of Rowan being an only child, now there is Rowan, Kate, Hannah, and Dylan. Its almost like the Brady bunch, but cooler.

I’m very proud of all my kids. Rowan is a super smart, and witty, person who prefers non binary pronouns such as “they” and “them”. I don’t fully understand this movement, but I’m doing what I can to be supportive.

Kate spent some time in the Air Force herself before getting out at the end of her enlistment. She is wonderful, smart, and witty, and a good mom.

Dylan is Kate’s husband who is still active duty Air Force. He seems like a good man, a good husband, and a good father. I’m glad that he and Kate found each other.

And then there is Hannah…..that little bugger is absolutely gorgeous. I enjoy talking to her by video chat. Watching her play, and to have her say goodbye and blow kisses just melts my heart. I never really thought about being a grandpa, but you know what? Its really FREAKING COOL!!!

As the conversations have built, Maria and I were informed that we needed to choose grandparent nicknames. That really threw me off. Most people get 9 months to figure that out. We had about 2 weeks, lol.

After some thoughts, we came up with Toots and Pappy. And you know something….I really like the thought of being called Pappy.

So, that’s big news for part 2 of the catch up. Like I said, its been a crazy year. A lot of hard work, a lot of joy, a lot of tears….but really cool.

Stick around for part 3 coming soon…hard to believe but there IS more…lol

All the best,

Toots and Pappy

The negligent blogger, part 1

Hey all. I know that its been a long, long, long time since I’ve written. For that negligence I am very sorry. However, there has been so much going on that it was all just a bit overwhelming. I will try to catch everyone up as best I can. I will also break this down into parts because its been alot.

The first big doings was the unofficial formation of a Motor Transport unit where I work. Before hurricane Florence there was a need for rescue equipment in this county. But, government being what it is the proactive planning was ignored by those in power that had been given by the in house experts, and the dice were continued to be rolled. Well, with Florence our luck with those dice ran out. Tons of storm damage and horrific flooding caused the powers that be to finally understand what had been said. Of course, it was much too late to do anything for that storm. But now we can prepare.

I was brought onboard to help with the work on some surplus military vehicles that are designed for deep water fording.

Prior to this project, any new equipment purchased by the county was then contracted out to be out fitted, painted, wired for emergency lights, etc. This was a cost effective way to do things 10 years ago, but the county has been growing by leaps and bounds since and we are losing entirely too much money on outfitting and maintenance.

Because I was a Motor Transport mechanic in the U.S. Marine Corps (3521 mos) it was my bread and butter for years. So, in addition to working my normal 40 hours a week, I worked nearly another 40 hours a week for 8 months to restore, paint, wire, and prepare 3 trucks for use.

This is how they started out for us.

2 M923 5 ton trucks with 78 inches of fording capability, and

1 MRAP (Mine Resistant, Ambush Protective) vehicle with 36 to 48 inches of fording capability, and being armor plated its great for flying debris.

I put in a ton of work, but doing so we were able save the county approximately $25,000 to $35,000. And hopefully show the bean counters and the politicians that if they follow my recommendations they can start to build the savings into the hundreds of thousands per year. Anyway, off my soap box.

This is more of how they look now. Painted, striped, outfitted, and ready for action.

We then began some cross training with the fire department and a neighboring county. Each of those agencies also had a couple of surplus vehicles. We gathered them before the battleship museum for a photo before we put them through their paces.

So, this is the first installment to get you caught up with us.

There is much more to tell from this past sure to come back for part 2..

All the best,

Chad and Maria

Working hard and being good stewards..

I have worked for the government in some sort of manner for the last 28 years. (Holy crow, has it been that long?)

I have seen some really good things happen, some bad things happen. I’ve seen good procedures, and bad. I’ve seen people do some amazing things with nothing, and have seen people waste resources.

I have always been one to try to do the best work I can with nothing. I like the challenge. Anyone can throw money at a problem and hire some one else to fix things. I like to be the fixer, and the one to make things happen.

From my last post I told you all that I have been working mad hours at my day job. I am still working my normal 42 hour a week schedule. Adding to that another 35 to 40 hours working on the department’s assets. Those assets will be a huge plus, and will be able to save lives and property.

The best equipment for that job is (unfortunately) is 35 years old. That means that they will require some love and attention. In the past, things like this would be “farmed out” to be repaired, painted, and generally set up by outside businesses. I think that during that time is was necessary, and became the rule. Unfortunately, as things grow and progress it becomes an antiquated way of doing things. Myself and a few others are working to change the thought process. Our department has grown over the years and we have a large group of diverse people that come from a wide range of backgrounds. Those folks bring an amazing set of skills with them from a huge pool of skills. Its my belief that we can be good stewards of the tax payers money by utilizing skills and experience that we have in house.

I know that just with this current project we have spent a few thousand dollars, but if we hadn’t done all of the work so far ourselves that we would be closer to twice that amount or more. I’ve got one partner that I work with and so far we have done some great work and purposely kept the bill to a minimum.

The rough part is that we have 2 vehicles now, and have 1 more on the way. None of them “require” us to spend a ton of money. What they do require is time, and lots of it.

Once we are up, equipped, and fully operational, we will have the ability to go nearly anywhere at anytime. This opens the door for us to help the citizens of this county in a myriad of ways. During natural disasters and between storms.

Here are a couple of photos just to give you an idea.

Unofficially we call the black one MadMax, and the green one Fury. Those are the two we have now.

We are supposed to be getting one more that looks similar to the one pictured above.

All three we will be painted black (our normal car color department wide), they will have blue lights, work lights, and striping and graphics as well. By the way, we did the paint job on the Max, it was tan.

That one is called an MRAP, we unofficially call this one MMkay.

Military mechanics tend to be a little weird, and stay that way the rest of their lives, hence the naming. Lol

So, we will have some fantastic assets to save lives and support the rest of operations. If we can continue our plan of action, we will make that happen for a fraction of the cost that it could.

So, I’ve been working some mad and crazy hours, but I think I’m doing the best that I can to do my part for public safety while still being a good steward of the tax payer’s money.

I hope you all have a great week.

All the best,


Sleep? HA!

Hey everyone! We’ve really missed you all. There has been quite a gap since my last post. Things have been busy!!!!!!

Maria is working her tail off with her day job and this being the time of year where tie dye sales pick up. She has been sewing and dying as fast as she can mix up a batch of dyes.

For me, I haven’t been in the forge much at all, nor up to the farm for the last couple of months. I still have a cardboard box full of brand new hydraulic lines to put on the back hoe. Still not done.

At my day job as a first responder (specifics purposely withheld, sorry) I have been working 75+ hours a week. We , as a county, learned some hard lessons during hurricane Florence. It had been brought up, discussed, and dismissed to have vehicles capable of deep water rescues and resupply.

We needed them and didn’t have them when Wilmington became an island.

We have some now, and are working on a couple more.

I got tasked with this project because I am one of the handful of people that had a Motor Transport MOS in the military within our agency. Of those handful, I believe that I’m the only one that was maintenance and not just a driver. Since these vehicles are military surplus they require a familiar touch. This might not seem that exciting to most people, but these trucks are like old friends to me. Lol.

We currently have two M923 5 ton trucks, and an MRAP possibly on the way. Each of the M923s are capable of fording 78 inches of water, and the MRAP is capable of 36 inches. They all require some initial repairs and sprucing up to get them operationally ready. After that I have to keep on top of them on a regular basis. They are tough, but at the same time they are low level maintenance divas.

Meet “Mad Max”

And “Fury”

Those are my two new babies for now. Max came and had a sleep over once, as I had to replace a windshield frame and steering wheel. With all of my tools here in my shop it was better to bring it home.

We haven’t got the MRAP yep, but it should look very similar to this one that we went to look at. It was just received by a neighboring agency.

They are alot of work up front, but a labor of love for sure. They will be used for much more than just storm rescue, but when a storm hits us again they will shine like diamonds.

Here’s a little shot of me using the flame wrench to adjust the tailgate on Max.

I will try to keep you all up to date on things, hopefully I can get to the farm soon to shoot some more video. We hope you all had a great Paddy’s Day.

All the best,


I’m liking the new route…

I really do enjoy our blog. I enjoy our business happenings, milestones, and the creativity. I also enjoy working on the farm. I have gotten a little more creative with the go pro camera and learning to better edit video. I think this will go well with our business plan and of course, our blog.

I think, I will continue to make some forging videos, and as I get work done at the farm.

I spent the weekend at the farm. I needed to take the backhoe attachment up there and hook it up to the tractor. I got it there, hooked it up, and ran it for a grand total of 6 minutes and blew out 5 separate hydraulic lines. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t a total surprise. I could tell that some of them may go, they looked pretty sketchy. So I spent the rest of the weekend removing and measuring lines. Isn’t homesteading fun?

So, I decided to film some while I was there. You can have a quick tour of the main cleared area and see what we are working with. If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, feel free to check it out. I’d love to see some comments, all the feed back I can get would be great.

Our laser engraver is due to arrive tomorrow, we are looking forward to that adventure!

All the best,


New video complete..

We’ve been able to get some projects done lately.

I finished up the punt gun rack and the client was ecstatic!

I was also able to get a knife finished up for another fella, this one was a bit different though. He wanted the city crest from the town in Switzerland where he and his wife were married. I took the blade to an engraver and they did a great job, but, then I started thinking. I thought “Why can’t I just do my own engraving?”. That lead to several hours of research and a conversation with Maria. We then ordered our own laser engraver. We’ve got a few more days before it arrives, but soon we will be able personalize all kinds of things. Be sure to look for those types of items in our etsy shop soon, and offering this service for the knives I forge.

Here is the knife that generated the inspiration.

So now to subject of the title for this post. Today, I had a set of holdfasts to make for a customer and I’ve been wanting to add more YouTube videos to our channel. So I filmed as I made them. I had my photographer friend help some. I realized that you can just about quadruple the time it normally takes to make an item to film AND make it!

I also spent a couple of hours editing. I’m sure that will speed up as I go but for now it took quite a while.

If you have about 6 and a half minutes of your life that you don’t mind not getting back, have a look. If the link doesn’t work, just search “holdfasts project video” on YouTube.

We hope you all have a beautiful week, STAY WARM!!!!

We’ll keep you all posted on the laser engraving adventure,

All the best,


Right place at the right time…

I made my trades and got some treasures the other day, but today was the ultimate.

I made the trade with the truck,

That I traded for a rifle…

I didn’t really need a rifle, but it can be locked up and won’t lose value in storage. Unlike the truck that would eventually for sitting outside.

I had to pay cash (not much) for the next deal…we got a backhoe attachment for the three point hitch on the tractor! Look out tree stumps!!!!

These were decent trades, but like I said, today was the ultimate. I was at the wood shop were I get the exotic woods for my knife handles and I met a guy there and explained what I do. He then said that he had a bunch of scrap that would probably work for handles and I could have them for free. I went to his place a little later and got all of this..

16 different species of exotic lumber!! Nearly a half a truck full. That will keep me in knife handles for a long time. All for free!!

I was super excited about that score. In the spirit of my trading spirit, I plan on trading a portion of it to some other bladesmiths for different, hard to find, types of steel.

Awesome find of the month!

I also finished the rack for the Punt gun.

Again, if you aren’t familiar, a punt gun is a huge shotgun from the late 1800s to early 1900s when people were harvesting wild ducks for commercial purposes.

Now, I don’t own one, as I think its a bit (ok, a lot) ridiculous, but I got a commission to build a display rack for one. Its over 10 feet long and weighs about 87 pound. I had to build it strong enough to hold the gun, look rustic, and be able to be locked up. The build wasn’t particularly challenging, but the engineering plan was quite the job. It’s laying flat in this photo, but it will be mounted on a brick wall.

Good times, good times. Things are going well in the forge. I have 3 custom knife orders to complete and this weekend I have two classes to teach. Now, if I could just hurry up and get to August 24, 2022 (retirement date from “the day job”). Then I could get some really heavy duty work done, lol.

Hope you all have a great week, and we’d love to hear about any good deals you gotten lately, especially with trade or barter.

All the best,


Mud work and goals..

Being the beginning of a new year, I suppose its normal to make plans and set goals.

In 2018 we didn’t spend much time at the farm. This happened for a few reasons.

1. We have been really busy making things and working our day jobs.

2. We had the pleasure (sarcasm, of course) of riding out and working in the middle of hurricane Florence.

3. Until its paid off, we aren’t allowed to build anything permanent on the land.

So, for goals this year.

1. Hope to have the land paid off. The sooner the better. If we hustle, I think its attainable.

2. Add some drainage to the open and cleared areas of the farm.

3. Get more land cleared and graded.

Getting the land cleared should get a bit easier. I have found a deal for a backhoe attachment for the three point hitch on the tractor. The most difficult aspect of clearing is removing stumps. None of them are big, but there are a lot of them. Now I will be able dig them out quicker.

The drainage might be a must. Here on the coast we had 102.4 inches of rain in 2018. The neighbor a cross the road from the farm has lived there since 1978 and he says that he has never seen it that wet. He said that during the snowstorm a couple of weeks ago there was 16 inches of snow. With a clay heavy soil, things don’t drain too fast.

Yesterday, a friend of mine rode with me to retrieve our older truck and bring it back to the beach. That truck had been sitting there in the woods for almost 1.5 years. A quick jump start (dead battery) and it was ready to roll. Here’s the problem. That 946 foot driveway that I have cleared was a slick, clay, muddy mess.

It took nearly 30 minutes and a tractor to get our 2 wd truck out to the road, here’s how she looked after.

The old truck is 4 wd, and didn’t require the tractor. I got it out in about 10 minutes, but I was slinging mud like a fiend. Here’s what that one looked like after.

Now the reason we retrieved it was so that I could trade it. A friend of mine wants an old truck to use as his hunting truck. We really don’t need a second truck, so I agreed to trade it. He wants to trade it for an AR-10 rifle. Now, I don’t really need the rifle either, but, it can sit in the safe and not lose value. If that truck continued to sit out there in the woods, it Damn sure would lose value quickly. So the trade will be made.

I’m still in the middle of the huge shotgun rack commission, but I needed to make a flat platen attachment for my belt grinder.

I know that little video probably isn’t very exciting to most, but I was really tickled with how it came out.

So, more knives will be made soon, to help pay off the farm.

Just remember, custom requests are welcomed and encouraged.

We hope that you all have a wonderful year.

All the best,