Check The Wind Direction

Himo, one of the ‘Last Alaskans’ was trying hard to get a moose for winter meat on the program the other night. Arriving at a likely spot on a sandbar, Himo reached into a pocket, pulled out a wooden kitchen match, struck it and held it high. After letting it burn for a few seconds, he put out the flame and noted which way the smoke drifted to determine if the wind was in his favor. Evidently, moose and other wildlife in Alaska can’t smell sulphur or smoke.

There are many unscented wind-checking products on the market that work well and are easy to use. But why buy something that you can make yourself.

Milkweed seems to grow all over the country, as do cattails. The seed filaments from the pods/heads can be seen floating in wind currents from up to 50 yards away. You will need a half-dozen or so of these pods/heads from which you will secure the seed filaments from the plumes of the ‘fuzzy stuff’.

If you’ve squirreled away empty film canisters or have empty diabetic test strip canisters you’re almost done. Drill a 3/8 inch hole in the bottom of the canister. Snap open the cap and stuff it as full as possible with the seed filaments that you have removed from the pods/heads before putting the cap back on.

To make it more user-friendly, cut two small pieces off a strip of Velcro. Place the first piece on the side of the canister and the second piece on a convenient location on your weapon. No fumbling in your pocket, looking for the canister, when they’re hooked together.

When it’s time to check wind direction, pull a few plumes from the hole and let them fly.

Keep your fork


Safer Siphoning

I’m sure safety experts would tell us that there is NO safe way to siphon gasoline from one container to another. This ‘Safer Siphoning’ post will work for most liquids including gasoline, other fuels, oil, water, etc. I’m using siphoning gasoline as most of us, in our younger days, probably got a mouthful of gasoline at one time or another and wished we knew how to avoid said experience. Here is a safer way to siphon if we are still up to our old tricks.

After securing a long, clear hose or tube, place the donor container up off the ground and run one end into a donor container, making sure the end is below the surface. You can blow gently into the other end of the hose and listen for the gurgling sound to make sure it is submerged.

Leaving the submerged end of the hose in the donor container, form a downward loop with the hose (tube) making sure the bottom of the loop touches the ground with the end being higher than the gas in the donating container.

Sucking gently on the end of the hose, watch the gas move to the bottom of the loop and begin to rise. At this point stop sucking and let the gas in the hose come up to the level of the gas in the donating container.

Place the free end of the hose into the recipient container and slowly lower it to the ground. When you have the desired amount in the recipient container, raise it above the level of the gas in the donating container. Remove the hose and straighten it out to allow the remaining gas to drain back into the donating container.

Keep your fork


Pickled Eggs

I don’t know why seeing pickled eggs brings back memories of my boyhood days, but it does. Perhaps it’s because as a young lad I had to privilege of accompanying my Dad and Grand-dad into Swede’s, the local pool hall, and seeing the gallon jar of pickled eggs sitting prominently on the bar. I can’t remember seeing either of my two mentors quaffing down those eggs, but other patrons must have really loved them as the jar was always half full or half empty, depending on how one looked at it. I knew that you could go to Red’s, the local grocery store/butcher shop, and get pickled pig’s feet, pickled okra, pickled green beans and pickled asparagus. I knew that old man Keyser had a pickled liver, probably hanging on the back porch, but thought only Swede’s handled pickled eggs. It was many years later that I learned you could pickle your own eggs if you knew how.

There are many recipes for pickled eggs floating around out there, so many people must love (tolerate) these delicate alternatives to beer nuts. The USDA tells us that there is no safe way to pickle eggs for long-term storage, including canning them, but if you are a true pickled egg connoisseur, they won’t last that long anyway.

Here is one method of pickling eggs if you would care to try your hand at it.

Into a larger ‘pickling pot’ place 2 cups of 5% acidity vinegar, 2 tablespoons canning salt, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon dill seed, 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard, 1 clove garlic sliced thinly and 1 jalapeno pepper sliced thinly. Bring this mixture to a boil and maintain the boil for 3 or 4 minutes before removing it from the heat. After straining the garlic and pepper slices from the brine, drop the slices into quart storage jars, retaining the brine. Peel 12 hard-boiled eggs and put them on top of the garlic and pepper slices in the jars. After stirring the brine to make sure that the salt and spices are suspended in the brine, pour the brine over the eggs, leaving 1/2 inch head space in the jars. Place the flats and rings on the jars, shake well and refrigerate for 1 to 10 days, shaking the jars slightly each day to keep the pickling mix suspended in solution.

Keep your fork

Cooking and Baking Safety

With the holidays approaching and much cooking/baking to be done, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind.

  • Be alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire – oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains – away from your stove top.
  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or hot drink is prepared or carried.

If You Have A Cooking Fire:

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

Keep your fork (and keep safe)

Replacement Documents and Records

On a former post, After The Fire, one reference point was ‘Try to locate valuable documents and records.’ Here are some of the documents you will most likely need to replace if they were destroyed, and where/who to contact for information on the replacement process.

  • Driver’s license, Auto registration – Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Hunting, fishing and trapping license – State Department of Natural Resources
  • Bank records (checking, savings, etc.) – Your bank, as soon as possible
  • Insurance policies – Your insurance agent
  • Military discharge papers (DD214) – Department of Veteran’s Affairs
  • Passports – Passport service
  • Birth, death and marriage certificates – Bureau of Records in the appropriate state
  • Divorce papers – Circuit Court where decree was issued
  • Titles to deeds – Records Department of the locality in which the property is located
  • Social Security or Medicare cards – Local Social Security office
  • Credit cards – The issuing companies, as soon as possible
  • Stocks and bonds – Issuing company or your broker
  • Wills – Your attorney
  • Medical records – Your physician
  • Warranties – Issuing company
  • Income tax records – The IRS center where filed or your accountant
  • Citizenship papers – U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
  • Prepaid burial contract – Issuing company
  • Animal registration papers – Humane Society
  • Mortgage papers – Lending institution
  • Animal health records – Local veterinarian

Keep your fork

After The Fire

This is the time of the year when many house fires happen. Here is a quick reference and guide for you to follow after a fire strikes. Hopefully no one has to use these, but if you do, hopefully it’s helpful.

  • Contact your local disaster relief organization, such as The Red Cross, if you need temporary housing, food and/or medicine.
  • If you are insured, contact your insurance agency for detailed instructions on protecting the property, conducting inventory and contacting the fire damage restoration companies. If you are not insured, try contacting private organizations for aid and assistance.
  • Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter.Be watchful of any structural damage caused by the fire.
  • The fire department should see that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.
  • Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after the inventory is completed.
  • Try to locate valuable documents and records.
  • If you leave your home, contact the local police department to let them know that the site will be unoccupied.
  • Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on income tax.
  • Notify your mortgage company of the fire.
  • Check with an accountant or the IRS about special benefits for people recovering from fire loss.

Keep your fork

Safety Tips for Woodstoves, Fireplaces and Chimneys

Sitting here beside the woodstove, enjoying the fire on a cold evening, reminds me that a woodstove, fireplace or chimney could be a source of danger if not properly maintained. More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, woodstoves and other fuel-fired appliances as their primary heat source for their homes. It is estimated that less than 20 percent of American homeowners realize the importance of regular chimney and heating appliance maintenance. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Before starting a fire in any fireplace or woodstove, be sure you have the draft wide open. Proper ventilation is necessary for your fire.
  • Never use your fireplace for burning garbage, Christmas trees, piles of paper or building scraps.
  • Make sure there is a spark shield/arrestor or wire basket installed on top of your chimney. The chimney should be at least 2 feet higher than the roof peak or any tall, nearby objects. If your roof is flat or nearly flat, add another foot to the hight of the chimney.
  • Check your flue regularly for any obstruction such as squirrel or bird nests, debris, etc.
  • Use a thermometer on your woodstove stovepipe to insure proper burning temperature.
  • Don’t pile on the wood and smother the fire as this causes creosote to build up in your stove and chimney. Remember, high flames burning hot will burn cleanly.
  • Woodstoves should be at least 36 inches from unprotected combustible materials.
  • Always use a fireplace screen or glass doors. Never keep your wood burning stove door open unless you have a screen or glass door as a backup.
  • Keep the area around the hearth clear of debris, decorations, and flammable materials.
  • Keep your fireplace and chimney in good condition. Check your chimney for cracks and loose mortar and bricks. If there is a problem, have it fixed before using your fireplace or stove.
  • Never leave a fire in your fireplace unattended. Make sure the fire is extinguished before retiring for the night.
  • Chimneys should be inspected and cleaned yearly by a certified chimney specialist.
  • Gasoline or other flammable liquids should never be used top start a wood fire. An explosion or flare up is a real possibility.
  • Pressure treated wood should never be burned in stoves or fireplaces as it contains toxic chemicals that can make you sick.
  • Artificial logs made of wax and sawdust should never be used in woodstoves and should be used one at a time in fireplaces.
  • Learn about seasoned fire woods and what type of woods are best to burn. Only hardwoods should be used as fuel as softwoods have a high content of creosote and resin. Remember, hardwood trees have leaves and softwood trees have needles.
  • Have a special chimney fire extinguisher handy for every fireplace or stove. Also, keep a standard ABC extinguisher nearby for use if needed.
  • If you are in doubt about fighting a fire, get out and call the fire department.

Keep your fork