For the love of a tractor…

Today we had a new member join our family.

We had been contemplating buying a tractor as we are going to need one eventually on our 18 acres. With so much brush to clear between the trees we thought about buying a billy goat brush cutter, but once the brush is cut there won’t be much use for that. So, we came across a great deal on this little beauty.

Its a 1985 John Deere model 850. 25 HP two wheel drive with a three point hitch.

It needs a little love, but since I was a diesel mechanic in the Marines I can handle anything that comes up.

It needs a new starter (current one works but is a bit wonky), a new muffler (rusted out), and two new front tires (a little dry for).

Other than it starts and purrs like a kitten. We started touching up the faded paint just for fun and because I still had a can of JD green spray paint in the shop.

So this will make clearing and working a whole lot faster, and we would need one eventually so here we go. The Lord provided the deal as we were trying to plan things out. The price was really good and really….who doesn’t love a tractor. Btw, Maria named her Debbie Deere…

Busy weekend, crazy week..

We finally got the last 650 feet of driveway cleared for a total of 950 of 12 feet wide driveway. Now we have to start leveling and smoothing it. It was a long weekend. Its been really difficult to stay there over night as we haven’t had much cleared area for a campsite. So we’ve been driving back and forth everyday that we go. Normally that’s not a huge deal, but this weekend we drove 3.5 hours up, worked all day and then drove 3.5 hours back. Then on Sunday we repeated the process. That made for some exhausting days.

We did get that driveway cleared and about 1/2 an acre of the 2 acres were the house and barn will be. So that was really exciting. We rented a walk behind brush cutter and it worked like a champ. Its called a “Billygoat”. I think there are two reasons they named their brand that way. 1. It eats just about anything it gets near, and 2. When you are hanging onto the handlebars and it’s getting into rough terrain it kind of feels like you are holding the horns of a really pissed off Billy goat.

That’s me with the billy goat, can you tell which is which?

Ahh, my beautiful Maria enjoying her new driveway.

So that’s the busy weekend part, now to the crazy week…

After the exhausting, but glorious,work we did we had to return to the daily grind.

While we were both at work on Monday, Maria checked the e-mail that we share for our Etsy shop and other business stuff. She immediately called me and told me that I needed to read it because I finally received an e-mail back about appearing on the television show “Forged In Fire” on the History Channel. 

So it looks like Maria and I will be taking a trip to Brooklyn N.Y. so they can film and I can compete. 

If you aren’t familiar with the show its a blacksmithing/bladesmithing competition for a chance to win $10,000 and the title “Forged In Fire champion”.

I’m super excited to be able to compete and show my smithing skills, but I’m also nervous as hell.

Check out the History Channel website, if you are interested. And, if you are interested in the work I do with knives, or the awesome tie dyed items that Maria makes, come visit us @ noharminfarmin.com or http://www.etsy.com/shop/noharminfarmin

We hope that you all have a wonderful week, and we will post more as soon as we get some more work done at the farm.
Chad

Friendly Farm Visitors…

Hey all, we had the opportunity to make a day trip to the farm today to get some more work done.

We were only able to cut another 150 feet or so of driveway. Only about 450 more feet to go.

The briars got SUPER thick for about 50 feet today….

This was a hard fought 150 feet. But we are getting closer. I do think that we are going to have to rent a skid steer with a bush hog deck though to get this finished. Cutting it with a weed eater and saw blade is rough, slow going.

It wasn’t all had work and struggle today though. We spent some great time in and around the creek. We also downloaded the photos from our 3 game cameras. We found that we had some visitors within the month that we’ve been absent.

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A lovely little doe.

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Two neighbors from across the road.

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She brought a friend.

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Sometimes a late night snack.

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This little fat guy is all over.

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We also ran a water test on the creek water. We had notice that it was clear and fast moving when we were looking at the property. We figured that if it wasn’t drinkable for us that it would be suitable for irrigation at least.

Well….we tested it with a pretty substantial test kit, and it show’s as a great quality for potability!! I even had some to drink (after the tests) and it was delicious, cold, and refreshing. Here are the results from the test:

Total Hardness ppm : 0

Total Chlorine ppm : 0

Alkalinity ppm : 0

PH : 7

Nitrite ppm: 0

Nitrate ppm : 0

Copper ppm : 0

Iron ppm : 0

Coliform Bacteria : negative  (this one is the poop test, so..that’s good news)

We were super excited about the results of the test. Over all it was a great day on the farm and we can’t wait to spend more time there. It was so good that I even found my sunglasses in the woods that I lost two months ago while we were just looking at the property!!

So this will eventually be our new hometown. I think this sign coming into town pretty well sums up our farm!

Have a great weekend!

Chad

Trucks, chainsaws, and bar oil…

I thought I would share a bit of unfortunate humor today.

On our last trip to the farm I had the truck loaded with just about every tool and implement I could fit in it. When we got back to town, I unloaded the majority of tools, but I left a few. Mainly just a couple of shovels and rakes. One thing I left was a jug of bar oil for the chainsaw. I didn’t think that there would be a problem with it being in the bed of the truck.

I was wrong.

A few days after we got back from the farm, I had to make a run to the steel yard. I had a couple of blacksmithing orders to fill, and some ideas for more projects. So, off I go in the truck.

While loading the truck at the steel yard I inadvertently poked a small hole in that jug with a stick of 5/8 inch round bar. As I was unloading the steel I noticed a little oil in the bed of the truck. No big deal it’ll keep the truck from rusting, so I thought. What I didn’t realize was that it continued to dribble and got worse.

Tonight, we were getting things together for another trip tomorrow. Maria says to me ” you might want to clean up some of the oil in the truck so all the tools aren’t all greasy”. As always she is full of wisdom.

Then the real fun begins. I pulled the rest of the tools out of the truck and wiped them down. Still not bad.

Then I grabbed the jug. Nearly a half gallon of oil had leaked out. After a bunch of kitty litter, sand, and purple power degreaser and a whole ton of effort, I finally got it cleaned and prevented an ecological disaster. Keeping all that crap contained was a huge pain. But, I got it done.

So, my advice for riding around with a jug of bar oil in the back of your truck ( and of course, who wouldn’t?) is…if it is in a plastic jug, put it in the damn tool box!!!

I didn’t include any photos with this post because I was too angry with myself to think about taking any. I was mad, but now it just kind of cracks me up.

Maria and I hope everyone has a great weekend, and feel free to share any disaster stories big or small that you can laugh about now.

All the best,

Chad

The joy of handmade tools…

Part of what Maria and I do to try to make our foot print smaller is to make a lot of what we need instead of buying it.

Maria sews really well and she has made several work related items;

Notebook covers,

Bags,

Lanyards.

I have a tendency to be little bit of a perfectionist when I’m making tools for others, but for myself they must work well but its ok if they are uglier than a mud fence. And they usually are.

This is my home made belt grinder. Ugly? Absolutely!! But, its sturdy as a rock and runs like a dream. Rather than spend several hundred dollars for a belt grinder, I would rather build one. 

I have built a lot of my own tools and racks.

Hammers,

Chisels,

Punches,

Adze,

Froe,

Bush axes,

And of course knives.

Here are a couple of racks I built. One is for hammers and the other is mounted to my anvil for tongs. (No, I didn’t build the anvil, but I made one for Maria and am in the process of making another)

We really enjoy the process of making things and the joy of using the things we make.

Feel free to comment and tell us all about what you make, either to use or sell. Also, if you have anything special that you would like to have but just can’t seem to find it anywhere, let us know. We just might be able to make it for you!

All the best,

Chad

First day on the farm!

Yesterday was the first day to work on the farm. We only planned on staying over one night and working two days.

Wow, what a start!!!!

We had some success and some set back. I knew it was going to get rough.

  • So, this is the entrance to our new land. Can you see the driveway? It’s plain as day! Right there between those two small pine trees on the left, right through that tall dry patch of grass. Got it? Nope….there isn’t one but there soon will be.

We started with the badass weedeater. That think is a beast. We were able to get about 300 feet cut and then we ran into a snag.

There is a ditch that runs from left to right. It starts fairly shallow, but as it runs to the right, toward the creek it gets pretty damned deep and sharp.

The original plan for the driveway wasn’t going to work as originally planned. It looks to be an old natural ditch that hasn’t seen the flow of water for a long time. We will only need to fill just a bit where its shallow to create the driveway.I don’t want to fill the whole thing is because it runs to the creek and if we end up getting some crazy storm in the future, I want the water to have someplace to go besides through the house or barn.

That’s the first camp set up. Obviously its temporary but it’s a start. We we will keep working into the brush to get to the actual homesite, it’s only 1 ditch and 800 feet away!

Such a happy team! Our head of security (Fletcher) was so wound up to be there that we nearly had to sedate him,lol.

  • We were able to cut a walking trail to the creek that cuts a cross our parcel. It is a winding, meandering trail that got us there. It will also give me the opportunity to attack the really thick brush from both sides to get the homesite and driveway cleared. It really is a beautiful creek.

I got some game cameras set up to find out what’s moving around out there. While cutting the trail I saw some HUGE deer tracks.

So, for now we had to go back to the beach, but we shall return to our future home!

Big day tomorrow!

Well, all of the paperwork is complete. We now own our beautiful 18.38 acres. One of our big struggles will be to find time to drive the 3.5 hours to the farm to work and prep it for when we can move there full time. 

I originally thought that we would have to wait until next weekend to start working on it as that’s when Maria and I would both have time off. But as luck would have it, I can take tomorrow off and Maria has Monday off for the holiday. So we are headed up first thing tomorrow morning and we will have two full days to work. Can I just say that I’m so excited that I can’t stand it?

The first order of business that everything else is dependent on is getting the driveway cut through the brush to the homesite. Depending on the parcel and the terrain this might be a big or small job for some folks. For us, its fairly big. We’ve got to cut a 1000 foot driveway through some pretty heavy brush and briars.

I went on Thursday and got a really nice commercial grade Stihl weed whacker with the metal saw blade. We wish that we could be there full time with some livestock to clear the brush, but that’s not the case, yet.

 Tomorrow is technically day 1 of the physical journey of homesteading for us. Wish us luck, and please feel free to leave any comment you like. Even if you want to let us know that we are out of our minds.

Our next post will be from the farm with lots of pictures!

Have a great Saturday!

Chad

Just a quick update on the smithing..

I just wanted to share a quick update on the knife I was working on yesterday. Like I said, I decided to make some “chainsaw Damascus”. For any blacksmiths out there that haven’t ever made their own Damascus steel, be careful! Once you start you can’t stop!!!!!!

The patterns that come out of it are always a surprise after the acid soak. Not only does it create a beautiful knife, but it helps to increase the strength and edge holding ability of the blade.

Most times I use some 15n20 and some 1095 high carbon steel to make the billets. But I also like to use some various scrap to help lower our foot print and to try to recycle when I can. This one was made from some old, bent chainsaw chains. I’ve got a bunch that have been worn out over the years and I always thought about what I could do with them instead of just throwing them away. So, I cut them up into 6 inch pieces, tacked them together, heated them in the forge, and then pounded the snot out of them. The most challenging part was the initial forge welds. Even though I tack welded them together, it was still like trying to hit a live snake with a hammer until I got them to weld. Good times.

Anyway, here are some pictures in process…

First heat treat for hardness..

After polishing and sharpening…

And finally, after the acid etch, and the fit and finish of the handle..speaking of the handle…..

Is that not a gorgeous maple burl???

I’m really proud of how this one came out. Thanks for reading, I’ve got to keep busy until we can get up to the farm and I’ve got plenty to do.

Please feel free to leave a comment, we love to hear from folks reading our blog.

All the best,

Chad

A little smithing while waiting for the snow..

We are supposedly in the path of the most cataclysmic snow storm ever seen by mankind.

Just kidding, we might get a dusting of snow tomorrow, but if you watch people here on the NC coast you would think that the end of days is near.

Maria and I actually have this weekend off, and COULD go up to our new farm, but we don’t want to brave the other outstanding snow drivers to get there.

We got the e-mail and phone call earlier today that the attorneys have finished up the closing and have everything filed, so THE FARM IS OURS!!!!!

Now, if we’d known that earlier in the week we could have gotten north before the snow. Our 18.38 acres are a little rough and we need to clear a lot of briars and we’ll have to stay in a tent when we go up to stay but its ok as we don’t mind sleeping in a tent in the snow.

Since we couldn’t make it this weekend, we decided to use this time to work on some items for our Etsy shop.

Maria has been working on an order for some cloth napkins, and I’ve got two pending orders. One is for a bearded axe I made awhile back, the other is for a set of holdfasts.

If you do any woodworking or blacksmithing and you’re not using holdfasts, you are really missing out! They are the old fashioned version of a bench vise. They hold way better than any vise I’ve used. These have been a pretty good seller this year in our online shop. It’s good to see folks going back to the old ways of doing things.

I also worked on a new machete / brush knife I made from some coil spring out of an old ford truck. I had to pull some hardness out of the handle so I can drill it for handle pins.

I’m trying to get a few more hunting knives made so I can get them posted for sale. In the last couple of years I’ve really gotten into making Damascus steel (pattern welded) knives. It takes a lot longer to make, but they make better quality knife and look really cool. I think its ok if your tools look nice as well as work well.

The cool thing about making Damascus is that once you get it polished up you can’t see the pattern until you soak the steel in acid to allow the different steels to react differently. That’s a whole other post though.

This is one I’m working on just after the first heat treat. You can just see the pattern (barely). That piece of maple burl sitting with it will be for the handle. That will make it beautiful and functional.

This post has really gotten long enough. I can get a little wordy when I start talking about my smithing.

I will post some photos of the finished knife when I get it done. That steel is made from old chainsaw chains so the pattern should look really cool.

Do you have some winter crafts that you like to do? Or possibly have a shop on Etsy? If so, we’d love to hear from you about either or both.

All the best,

Chad