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The Adventures of Pocket the Possum

For over a week now a little possum (about half grown) has been hanging out on my cabins porch. It is now dubbed Pocket.

The first night Lily suddenly woke and started growling at the window. I shined the flashlight out and there sat Pocket on the railing. It froze in the light. Now everyone’s heard of possums playing dead but this one was stuck on the rail and couldn’t curl up, so it just sat there. I kept the light on it and Lily barked but it didn’t move. I went out the door and threw a small stick at it. The stick hit the railing but the possum didn’t move. I went back to bed. In about 10 minutes I heard a thump and shined the light out. The possum had jumped down and was walking away.

The next night, once again Lily started growling. I shined the light and there was pocket right outside the window not a foot from where my pillow was. This time Lily didn’t bark. She just sniffed at it. Pocket again didn’t move. I think we were all getting used to each other. Grown possums are quite ugly but Pocket is kind if cute.

Last night I heard a rattling noise outside and again Lily growled. I shined the light out but couldn’t see anything. So I went outside. I hang my trash bag from a corner post of the porch. I shined the light on the bag and the bag wiggled. A closer look showed a possums tail sticking out of the top. Pocket had climbed the post and must have stuck it’s head in the bag and fallen in. Possums can hang by their tail so it was holding on to the top. After trying to figure out what to do without getting bit I cut the drawstring holding the bag up. The bag fell to the ground. It didn’t move so I figured Pocket was scared. So I went to bed. A few hours later it got light. I went outside and saw the bag on the ground. Pocket was still in it. It is a pretty thin bag so it should have been able to rip it’s way out. I picked up a bottom corner of the bag and dumped Pocket out. Pocket scurried away into the woods. It looked embarrassed.

New Chainsaw

I ordered a new chainsaw. The 38cc Poulan I have works fine for firewood. But it just isn’t powerful enough or long enough to mill boards. So I got a 62cc 20″ X-Bull. A no-name chinese saw. A name brand 62cc saw is $400-$500 minimum. This was $109 so I took a chance. I received it and it didn’t start. Big disappointment. Followed instructions. Mixed gas 25:1. Added chain oil. Set throttle. Set switch on. It pulls nice but will not start. Removed spark plug. There is spark. Gas gets to primer pump. With air filter off appears some gas in carb but not very much. Spark plug was wet when removed. Tried adding a little fuel directly anyway. Still does not fire at all. Even tried another spark plug. Even tried remixing fresh gas. Nothing. And I have been keeping other chainsaws running for years but didn’t want to tear this down so I can still return it.

Contacted the seller and they said all engineers are on vacation and might be back in a week to respond. Must be a celebration of a pretty big slaughter by Chairman Mao of his own people to last a week. Or maybe the engineers got called up to shoot civilians in Hong Kong.

My patience ran out so I tore it apart. Found the coil gap about 1/16″. I was taught to gap the coil with a piece of paper so I knew it would never have enough spark with that big a gap. Gapped it to a paper width and buttoned it up. Two pulls and it started. Still not happy I had to fix it brand new but I’ll keep it. I’m no expert and someone without at least a little knowledge of small engines would never have got it going. They are supposed to test start it before shipping. They even warn there may be oil from the testing. But there is no way they could have test started this one.

Chainsaws, or any small 2 cycle engine, are not that complicated. Maybe, as an amateur, I’ll do a basic instruction on keeping one running. Most “professionals” always make it sound harder than it is. I guess that’s so you bring it to them instead of fixing it yourself. I’m not going to tell you the secrets of fixing computers.

Cabin ceiling – updated

I’m sure my one reader (yes I’m sure there’s one out there and you know who you are) is wondering if I only care about the shed and forgot about the cabin. Well I’m back working on the cabin. The ceiling joists are too high and I am having to heat space I don’t use. Plus I want to start using the space for storage of items still back at the house. So I’m lowering the joists. Not as easy as it sounds because the joist are structural and keep the walls from bowing out and the roof collapsing. So I am putting extra side supports plus struts angled down. Here is one joist brought down. The struts are not yet in place and the king board needs extended.

Once all three are lowered and secured I’ll put ceiling panels up with access doors for storage. There should be a lot more space since I’m lowering over a foot. In fact if I need to put too much up there I may add some more joists for support.

Update:

Here are some of the panels temporarily in place. I am not sure if I want them above or below the joist. I like above because I could stain them and hang guns or lanterns from them.

Even with them above look at all the storage space up there.

I have decided to put in four more joists between the existing ones. More strength when I crawl up there and I may even want to have a small room there. The trouble is getting four 12 foot 2 x 6 boards home from the store.

Hickory Nuts

Autumn is getting very close. Mid September. Beautiful days in the 60s and low 70s. Nights in the high 40s and 50s.

I noticed several deer always hanging out in the same area when I walked through the woods. So I finally went over to investigate.

I found a nice Hickory tree. Still producing many nuts on the ground. Some fresh, some ovee a few weeks old. There are still quite a few still on the tree but it is almost past the normal harvesting for Hickory nuts. I gathered a basket to test which ones are better. The hulls are very easy to remove. I’m told the easiest way to tell the good ones from the bad are to put them in water. The bad ones will float.

Most are floating. And yes that is a Halloween candy dish.

I’m not sure I buy that. Almost all of these floated. But then I gathered a lot of overripe black ones so maybe many are bad. About half of the black hulled ones were already rotting inside. We’ll see how they turn out.

Next they need to dry in a well ventilated, rarely warm but not hot, area.

Tomorrow I plan on gathering just fresh ones for eating.

Don’t worry. I’ll leave some for the deer.

Cedar Shakes

I learned something about staining the cheap Eastern White Cedar shakes I got at Home Depot. The stain is supposed to age the wood and give it a gray and reddish look. The procedure I found for making the stain is to put steel wool in vinegar (white, although cider vinegar will work) and let it rust for a day or two. Well after a week the steel wool had barely rusted. Then I figured out to just wet the steel wool with water, and vinegar, then let it sit outside the liquid. Here is what it looked like barely rusted after days in vinegar. The only parts that rusted we’re sticking out of the vinegar.

And here it is just hours after wetting it and setting it out.

Then I simply add it back to the vinegar. I also add some black tea bags. The combination of these affects the tannins in the wood. Here are some before and after.

It only takes a few minutes to age. Really looks nice and rustic, like an old barn.

Here are some on the roof.

So if you find instructions online to age wood be sure not to leave the steel wool in the liquid. Get it wet and then leave it out.

And the tea bags help to give a little redder tint while just the steel wool will be more gray.

More windows!

The shed is very close to being buttoned up for the winter. Today I added 3 more windows. I think that is enough. A few more small end boards, the gables and finally the doors and it is sealed.

The shed is becoming much more solid than I had planned. It will basically be a tiny house when I’m done. But I should have used the level and square a little more. Many crooked corners.

The Shed Roof

Time to replace the tarp on the roof with some tarpaper and cedar shakes.

First I had to do a lot of leveling and trimming. Then I put on rolls of tarpaper.

Now I am going to put on cheap white cedar shakes. Here’s a sample.

I will either paint or stain them. This is what the same shakes look like on the front of the cabin.

I got five bundles of them. Since I use a very narrow overlap this should be enough. They are really just for a rustic look so full coverage isn’t important. But I’m done for today. I’ll continue tomorrow.

The Gathering

My cabin is located in the middle of mushroom paradise. Good for mushroom lovers but also means mold grows fast in the summer. This time of the year is great for gathering mushrooms. Here is about 15 minutes work.

Some of these I don’t yet know so I won’t eat them, but most of them are edible, even if they don’t taste good. The ones on the left of the basket are delicious. They are Chicken of the Wood and Black Trumpets.

Chicken of the Wood (Sulfur Shelf) and Black Trumpet mushrooms

I fried them a little bit in coconut oil and then mixed them in cream of chicken soup. It is delicious.

Chicken of the Wood actually has the taste and texture of chicken strips. Really. Black Trumpets have a smoky, woodsy taste.

A Dehydrator

Here’s something I have been thinking about for some time.

Solar Dehydrator

A dehydrator. The picture says solar but it can actually be used over a wood stove by just using the upper box. The lower sloping box is just an air duct with a glass top. The inside will be painted black and the absorbed sun rays will heat the air. The heated air will rise up to the upper food rack box. Then the air and moisture will vent out the top at the back. To use it over a wood stove I will put a small fan to keep the air moving.

In the photo the dehydrator is not quite finished.

Freedom

The Pithole Homestead is not just a place of freedom for me from the hustle and bustle of civilization and it’s many rules and regulations, it is also a place for Lily to be free to run without a leash and enjoy the forest. Up until now I have been hesitant to let her loose. Well today is freedom day and she is doing very well. I am carrying hotdog pieces to encourage and praise her. It seems to be working. The video below is just around the homestead. Earlier we walked all around the Pithole Ghost Town for an hour and she ran like a greyhound, but still listened when I called. But I forgot to film it. Maybe we’ll go back soon and get it on camera.

 

 

Upgraded Heat

In order to be able to heat up the cabin quickly, or if I’m too lazy to build a fire I got a Mr Heater Big Buddy and a 20 pound propane tank. Heats quick and shuts off immediately if I need to leave. To help keep the heat in iI put a tarp across the ceiling until I get panels. Made a world of difference.