Archive for DIY

Calcium Supplement


All laying birds need calcium to make sure that their egg shells are hard enough to withstand being delivered. Calcium supplements are cheap enough, but there’s an even easier way to do it!

At first the idea of saving egg shells to feed back to the very chickens that laid them made my stomach a little queasey. Then one day, while reading about placenta encapsulation, it hit me: animals eat their placentas when they give birth, feeding the shells to my chickens is the exact same thing. For some off reason, this made everything click for me.

It’s an easy enough process to do. After using the eggs, I rinse the shells in cold water to clean off any left over.
I then toss them on a sheet pan. (Don’t judge me on the condition of my pan – this baby has been through a lot!) I turn the oven on to 250F and those the shells in while the oven is heating up. I leave them in there for half an hour or until I remember that they’re toasting away.


After the shells cool, I use my mortar and pestle to work them into as fine of a flake as I can. I know that some people feed the shells to their chickens without breaking them up, but to me, that’s just asking to convert these ladies into egg-eaters.

There you have it – free calcium supplements for your girls!

Hot, hot, hot!

Wow. While it would be nice to say that everything is picture perfect at the Raymond Homestead – which would be the ultimate excuse for not posting in forever – things are….well, they’re not falling apart, but they’re far from perfect.

Saturday was a bit hectic. With everything going on lately, we just haven’t been able to get to splitting up the wood until now. While last year we did about 80% of it by hand, we came to the decision that this year we might not be able to. Hubster really wore himself out last year of on the massive rounds that called for the “sledge and wedge” treatment. So we made a decision: We rented a log splitter from the local TrueValue and hammered out about a cord or so of split wood. Hubster’s mom – GiGi – was able to come over and watch Little Mister once he woke up so that Hubster and I could go out and work as a couple on the wood. This is something that we’ve rarely had the chance to do since someone’s been up and running on his two legs. It was <i>wonderful</i> being able to work together.

Sunday saw the death of our 9 year old washer, which at the time contained a full load of water and laundry. Thankfully Hubster was able to come in from doing something – I can’t remember what –  and fought with the thing to get it to drain. We’ve been debating for the past year or so about getting a new control knob as it had been flaky for a while now. Now we’re glad we held off since the motor died on it. That would have been a bit of a waste of money, for sure. Needless to say, we lucked out. The in-laws still had the washer that came with the house that they bought from us and weren’t using it. Now we have a working washer. It doesn’t have a “quick wash” setting, and it’s not energy efficiency rated, but it’s better than nothing.

Tuesday the car had to go in for rear shocks and a sticker. It passed, which I wasn’t to surprised about, and we were able to figure out how to get it back despite the sweltering heat that is just too much for the pup and the boy. Unfortunately the car still needs tires. But, that will come later. They’re still legal right now and holding air.

On top of this all, we’ve now been working on staking the split wood as it dries. The past two mornings what little exercise I’ve been getting this week has been half hour spurts of stacking wood out in 90F heat. Now, I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m just pointing out that sometimes the reason why those of us with a homestead don’t get time to do certain things that we want to – or need to – is because of recuperating time that we need to take for ourselves. Too many people forget this and over do it. I guess the only point of this last paragraph of this random post is more of a PSA: PLEASE take it easy in the heat. Yes, do work. But do it slow. Take your time. Reset.

New muffler on the truck

Our Ford Ranger’s muffler was ready to go to the great metal pile in the sky.  Actually it looked like it was getting ready to swim to the bottom of the ocean since it had evolved gills in the sides.

I decided to replace the muffler as well as convert the truck’s exhaust to a side exit.

For the muffler I chose a compact Jones Turbo Tube (model ATT12S-3) that was only $23 from  It was the best fit for the custom exhaust I was planning, not glass packed and made in the USA – perfect!

I installed a new exhaust gasket, bolt/spring kit and tailpipe piece along with parts of the existing tailpipe to make my new exhaust.  I welded it together with my 50amp 110v buzz box running 1/16″ 7014 rod, despite everyone telling me I couldn’t weld exhaust with a stick welder.  Maybe it’s easier for some with a MIG, but I don’t have one, so I use what I do have.

See the pictures below which chronicle the adventure.

Old Rusty Muffler

Here is the old muffler, removed and sitting in the bed of the truck, waiting to go to the metal bin at the dump. Notice the rusty “gills”.

Newly Welded Exhaust

Here is the newly welded exhaust, ready to be mounted to the truck.

New Exhaust on the Ranger

Here is the Ranger with it’s new side exit exhaust. The Jones Turbo Tube sounds great and was easy to work with. No complaints.

We’re Expecting


That’s right. Tonight we’ll be bringing home octoplets, if all goes smoothly. We decided that a good starter meat/layer combo for us would be speckled sussexes. They’re known to be very docile, which is great since this will be our first time raising them from chickhood. The game plan is to keep one, possibly two, for layers and have the rest butchered this fall. Here’s hoping my emotions don’t get too tangled up in these birds. It’s easy for others to say “don’t get attached” where they’re not the ones raising them.

Electronic transfer case no more, convert it to manual

Last fall my electronic transfer case decided not to allow me into 4-Low.  Normally this isn’t an issue, but I was needing to pull some trees around after felling them and didn’t want to burn out my clutch.  I’ve always hated the electronically activated portion of my 4wd system, so I decided to get rid of it.  I installed The Shiftster.  A neat little device that takes the place of the electronic shift motor.  It is designed and built right here in the USA which is great and only cost me $60, a new shift motor was 2-3 times that.  I then disconnected the 4wd controller and made an access panel in my floor so I didn’t have to crawl under the truck during inclimate weather to put the truck into 4wd.

This is a picture of the Shiftster the day I installed it.  You can kind of see the make-shift access panel I had above it.

This is a picture of the Shiftster the day I installed it. You can kind of see the make-shift access panel I had above it.

My first attempt at an access panel was quick and dirty.  I cut the hole in my floor, then used that piece as the “door”.  I siliconed on some rubber fuel line around the hole to “seal” it while closed – it leaked horribly.  It stayed closed via 2 eyelets that 2 rods slid into and then a homemade latch using a hitchpin.  I had to physically remove the panel to gain access and put the truck into 4wd.  It took just under a minute to open the panel, take it in or out of 4wd and remount the panel.  Not bad, but pretty bothersome.

Now that better weather is here and I can weld outside again, I’ve fabricated a better solution.

This is a picture of the new access panel closed.

This is a picture of the new access panel closed.

Using 1/8″ thick 1×1 angle iron I made a “frame” for the door, this gave me a flat surface to work with. The hole measures 4″ x 4″. I used a scrap piece of Lexan (polycarbonate sheet) that I picked up from Portland Glass in Farmington for the new door. Then I used a hinge to attatch it, vinyl door seal to seal it and two harddrive magnets to pull the door down and give a positive seal. Works great and now I can check what mode the truck is in just by looking down (dash lights don’t work for 4wd since I disconnected the controller).

This is the new access open.

This is the new access panel opened up.

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