Homemade Orange Juice

Recently we bought a 40 pound box of oranges from Bountiful Baskets. We decided to turn all these oranges into our own juice. It was not a hard process but it did take a little bit of time. We sat down in front of the TV, put on a good show, and whipped out the knifes and oranges. Peel, peel, and peel some more. Then we ran the oranges through a juicer and skimmed off the foam. Lastly we put the juice in jars and froze them. When we use the juice, we have to add sugar and water it down.



Quick Gardening Update

Well it sure has been awhile since we last posted. We have just been busy with life I guess. The garden and all the rest of the plants are doing well. The spinach and lettuce and both close to being able to pick. That is good because they will probably both die off soon due to the summer heat which is just now starting to set in. The potatoes are also doing great although I am not sure when we are suppose to harvest them.

Some of the plants, in particular the broccoli, have suffered damage from various small bugs. We are trying to grow without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, or essentially using organic methods. However the bugs still need addressing. I sprinkled the plants with some diatomaceous earth and that stopped the caterpillars in their tracks. Diatomaceous earth is a safe and natural way to treat for most insects. It is a finely powdered rock that feels like baby powder but under a microscope it has very sharp edges to it. When an insect crawls on it, the diatomaceous earth makes microscopic cuts in its skin and the insect will then die of dehydration. It is perfectly safe to humans so long as you don’t inhale it of eat it. All you have to do is wash the plant before you consume it to remove any left over powder.

Our apple trees are producing fruit that are growing rapidly but one of the trees has shed all of its young fruit. It may have experienced some sort of stress but seems to be doing well now. The garlic plants planted at the trees base are also growing very well and might be ready to harvest in another month or so. Some will certainly be ready sooner than others.

The squash, green beans, and corn have all grown to about a foot tall and then stopped. I believe the soil might be too packed or wet for these plants to really survive where they are at. The sunflower plants along the barn are growing well though.

Lastly, the grape vines are trellising up the fence by the bees and have numerous grapes on them that are still green. The raspberry bush has already given us a few tasty fruits to enjoy this summer.

Hope you enjoyed the update. Coming soon is a few posts on ham radio builds and an update on the bees.


DIY Jewelry Organizer Update!

Hi everyone! I wanted to take a moment to let you know that I finally made the inserts for my jewelry closet.

Of course, I had to draw my plans up first. I couldn’t just start sewing away without any plan in mind. I ALWAYS advise you to do this if you think you have an idea in mind, because sometimes your idea won’t fit exactly, or work like you need it to. So I took my piece of paper and started drawing what I thought I wanted. This image below is my third attempt because the first two weren’t going to work.

IMG_0015 (2)

So as you see above, I measured out each insert and each pocket so I would know what size to sew everything to. The little rectangles are place holders for Command hooks.

I used clear vinyl for the pockets and black binding (1/4″) to edge everything so I wouldn’t have to worry about raw edges on anything. I measured out each pocket and made a tiny mark with a Frixion Pen (the marks from this pen iron right off) and stitched a straight line to divide the vinyl up. I then made a button hole stitch on the top of each panel to hang from a hook, as you can see at the top of the panels below. Once the panels were made, I hung them up and then proceeded to hang the hooks. I measured out where they needed to be placed and staggered them mainly for visual interest.

IMG_0016 (2)

What do you think? I think I need to ask for more bracelets and rings from Dale for our anniversary/birthday/Christmas!


To see how we built this box, go to https://homesteadingfortwo.wordpress.com/2016/03/03/hidden-jewelry-box-mirror/

Homemade Chicken Stock

What is the difference between stock and broth? Stock tends to be made more from bones versus broth that is made from just meat. Therefore stock has a richer taste from the gelatin in the bones.

If you read our post about butchering chickens, then you know we had some leftover carcasses that didn’t really have any usable meat left on them but we didn’t want to just throw them away because that would be wasteful. So we stuck them in the refrigerator for a few days until we could get around to making some stock. Here is our little home brewed recipe that makes 6-8 quarts of delicious, healthy stock.


  • Chicken Carcasses. We had five plus three necks.
  • Celery bunch
  • One onion (yellow or white)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 or 4 Carrots
  • 20-30 Parsley sprigs
  • 2 Bay Leaves

To start, get a very large pot (20+ quart) and add your chicken bits. Brown them a little bit over medium heat, just make sure not to burn them. After about 5 minutes, add enough water to fill the pot up to halfway and start it simmering.

Next, quarter the onions and chop the carrots and add them to the pot. Cut the root end off of the celery and add the rest including the leaves. Add the parsley and bay leaves. Then add more water until the pot is a little over 3/4 full. Simmer for 4-6 hours.

Once the mixture has a nice strong yellow appearance, usually after 3-4 hours of simmering, taste it and add salt and pepper to suit your taste. Continue to simmer until the meat and cartilage has broken down. The bones will be easy to break apart with a spoon.


Once you are satisfied with the taste, place a mesh colander or cheese cloth over another large pot or bowl. Strain the stock and return to heat.

Prepare your canning supplies. Alternately you can freeze your stock and it should last for a couple of months. If desired, you can thin your stock with more water in order to make more but I wouldn’t add more than 1/3 of what is already there. If you do add water at this point, bring the whole mixture back to a boil before proceeding.

Now just add your stock into your jars, seal, and put in the pressure canner. Click here for canning times from the NCHFP. Now you have some fresh homemade chicken stock that is healthier and has less sodium than store bought stuff. Enjoy.



Homesteading Update

Well today we had some storms move through dropping about an inch of rain, in addition to last weeks two and a half inches. The winter rye grass is now growing good. Lately I have been battling the gophers and I’m not too sure who is winning at this moment. We are WAY past trying to scare them off or poison them. We are now trapping and killing the little pests with a variety of traps. It is working but they are getting smart and figuring out how to push dirt into the traps to either set them off or clog them up. Maybe they aren’t smart and are just a dumb gopher but sometimes I still feel like I am playing some sort of strategic war game with them.

I have had some time off work the last week and will for another few weeks. With my time I made a several page list of things that need to be done around the homestead to prepare for this winter. There is wood to chop and stack for next winter, pipes to insulate, and plenty of things to build.

Last week we made some more applesauce and canned some pears and apples in heavy syrup. They are absolutely delicious. I just wish that it wasn’t so much work to peel and core apples by hand and that we could do more. It also takes quite a bit of time to do. This next week we are looking at making and canning some more salsa and spaghetti sauce.

This week I installed some new lights in my shop to brighten up the place. I also installed some floods on the front of the house so we can see the dogs at night when we let them run around.


I installed three of these super bright lights.




After. You can tell more of a difference in person.

An exciting update on my hand powered water well pump project. I have finally been able to connect it into the plumping in the well house and I am happy to say I can pressurize my household water supply to 30 psi, which although is low, it is still enough to flush a toilet or shower with. With just two minutes of pumping I was able to store enough water in my well’s pressure vessel to run the shower for three and a half minutes! Sure it is not a long shower but in an emergency situation it will still be nice to be able to take, one and if someone was outside pumping we would have unlimited water use. That hand pump really has turned out to be better than I imagined. It has a 5 GPM output rate which is great for a hand pump!

In the wonderful world of amateur radio, I recently have made many contacts throughout North America on various HF bands. My rig only puts out 5 watts and I only work SSB so these contacts lately have re-sparked my interest in the hobby. Last night I pulled an old ground plane antenna that I built from a couple pieces of wire and PVC pipe and decided to put it up. The antenna wires were all bent up from the move so I just straightened them by hand and made them look “right”. I used a 10′ section of PVC pipe and added another 3′ section to it, then mounted the whole thing on my fence. In all the antenna can’t be more than 20′ in the air. I hope to get it much higher in the coming weeks so I can get better coverage but already the antenna is far surpassing my expectations. Today a cold front moved through and brought with it some good weather for VHF propagation. I was able to get into a repeater that is on top of a very tall hill over 145 miles away with only 5 watts! That is one of my furthest distant contacts I have been able to make on 2 meters. Soon I will post an article on my homemade antennas.

Our chickens are doing great. They have been let out daily and since we have started doing that they have become a lot less fussy. There is still some picking as they try to figure out the pecking order but it is not bad. Our Blue Andalusian rooster is crowing like crazy and starting to get a little annoying but he is definitely the most mature and best looking one in the bunch, not to mention the top of the pecking order. Kallie and I want to keep him around because we think he will protect the flock. Speaking of protecting the flock, we have had several visits from the hawk. Last week I walked outside and heard a weird squawking  coming from the chickens. One of the Cochins was making the noise and all the birds were huddled together in some brush under a tree. I walked down to them and as I got close to them the hawk flew out of the tree above them. I am just glad that the chickens are smart enough to know danger and how to protect themselves from it. They are not full grown yet.

Some Bramas foraging for food.

Some Bramas foraging for food.

Well I think that is all for now although I know I am forgetting stuff. We will keep you updated as we get our long list of chores done.


Preparing for disasters big and small

Why should we be prepared for bad times? Well because bad things can happen to anyone at anytime and rarely do they come with a warning. Now I am not going to talk about everyday emergencies such as running out of gas or getting a flat tire in your car. Hopefully you know how to tackle those situations. Nor am I going to talk about some far fetched alien zombie apocalypse. No folks, I am going to talk about simple disasters that could happen at anytime. So put away your tin foil hats.

Lets be honest, we have all seen news. Between wildfires, train derailments, chemical spills, civil unrest and rioting, terrorist attacks, and economical troubles, we all have something to worry about.

Understanding what disasters you are vulnerable to can be difficult. There is just so many possibilities and it seems that new ones are popping up all the time. In reality there is no way to protect your family and yourself from every possible disaster, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try to be prepared for some of the more practical disasters out there. So many people nowadays can’t even imagine something bad happening to THEM. And if something bad did affect them, they would just wait for the Red Cross or the National Guard. I mean that is why we pay taxes right? It could take those organizations several days to bring aid. Meanwhile, those who never thought to prepare will go hungry, thirsty, and cold. They will begin to think that they are entitled to any supplies that anyone else has. It won’t matter to them that they never thought to prepare or they didn’t pay for the supplies you have. Civilization only lasts until the last can of beans and bottle of water are on the shelf. Then things could get ugly. Given a disaster lasts long enough, people will die for very stupid reasons. So why would you want to allow your family to ever be put into those circumstances?

So now that I have hopefully convinced you to not be one of those people who go through life naively thinking nothing bad will ever happen, lets take a look at some various things that could actually happen. To get a good idea of possible disasters that could effect you, start looking at how dependent your household is on utilities. Also take a look at the various industries and infrastructure surrounding you as well as your local demographics. I will illustrate this by explaining where Kallie and I stand here at the homestead.

As you know we have a little over 2 acres. All of our neighbors are very friendly older people who have about the same amount of land. We are at the end of a quite road on the outskirts of a small town, just touching the huge pastures and fields. Getting closer into town the houses get older and are located on smaller lots. We, and all of our neighbors, have private wells and septic tanks. Most of our neighbors, along with us, have 500 gallon propane tanks. In general we are pretty well set.

So what could happen to us? Well we live in Oklahoma, so tornadoes in spring and sometimes ice storms in winter are common. Both of these events could leave us without power for hours to days. In the case of an ice storm, we might not be able to get out and go to the store. We have plenty of food on hand and with our new propane stove we can cook easily. We also have a wood burning stove that can heat almost the whole house. Until recently though, losing power meant not having water since our well needs electricity to pump. That is why I built the hand pump for the well so we will always be able to bring water up to the surface. Hopefully soon I can tie the hand pump into my plumbing and be able to use water out of the facet instead of having to use a bucket to haul water inside. In any case, we would survive a power outage caused by either of these events.

Very close to our property runs a railroad line. There lies a possibility that a train could one day derail, potentially spilling thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals. In this case we would likely have to evacuate quickly. This is why our camping gear is always pack (we will always have at least a tent over our heads) and we have some cash on hand along with some buckets of nonperishable food. We could load up and be gone within minutes, hopefully avoiding any exposure to chemicals from the spill. Even if we didn’t have to evacuate right away, it is likely that the chemicals could leach into the soil and thus pollute the ground water and our well.

Wildfires are another possibility here and in many parts of the country. Of course the smartest thing to do is leave. Most of the vegetation around the house is kept cut back and luckily the house is made out of brick. In case we have to leave, the bags are packed.

Now to take a look at some other possible disasters depending on where you live. For example, a chemical spill or an industrial accident could cause major devastation to a whole town. Just look at what happened in the 2013 explosion in West, Texas. There is probably dozens of different industrial complexes close enough to you that if a major accident happened, it could inconvenience, harm, or even kill you. This website from energy justice is a great tool that tracks power plant locations and pollution. If a nuclear power plant disaster scares you, then take a look at this website to see the possible fallout tracks. Or if you want to see what a regular nuclear bomb might do check out this website.

If you have watched the news lately, you will realize that a terrorist attack could happen anywhere, anytime, and take any form. From random shootings, hostage situations, to dirty or convention bombs, or more serious a chemical or biological attack. What today’s world has taught us is that radical terrorist like ISIS can be influential anywhere in the world. It doesn’t matter how large of a city or how small of a town, terrorist could attack anywhere. You don’t have to be scared but just need to be prepared. Adapt and overcome any situation. Hopefully you own a firearm and have received training on how to properly and accurately shoot it. I also hope that you have a license to carry firearm and do so on a daily basis.

What if the stock market takes a huge plummet. It has been quite finicky for months now. Certain industries are doing very poorly, such as oil. There is talk of default, devaluing, and countries giving up the American dollar as their backing. The stock market can still crash and many people would be without work very quickly. You could lose all your investments. Maybe the stock market keeps going but you get laid off. How will you feed your family? What if you stashed some non perishable food away now just in case you need to survive off it later. At the very least the food saved up today would be a buffer for you and your family while you try and find another job. And even if that day never comes, you can still eat it. Can you eat cash in the bank?

Perhaps you live in a more heavily populated part of a city. How would you defend your family if rioting were to break out after say a police shooting of an unarmed teen as we have seen in Baltimore or Ferguson?

As you can see there are hazards all around us everyday. Start analyzing potential hazards around you and then implement controls to help you survive them. Start small. The disasters listed in this post are some of the more easy ones to prepare for. Once you have a good solution to these, move on to more difficult hazards such as contagious disease outbreak, full scale nuclear attack, complete social breakdown, EMP attack, cyber attack, or any other possible disaster.

What you will need for any disaster are these things, usually in this order. Shelter, water, food, security. You can die without proper shelter in extreme temps within hours. Days without water will kill you. Weeks without food will kill you too. Other threats such as people can kill you anytime in a disaster. Think about these 4 things when trying to problem solve how to survive. Once you have those covered, think about communications, transportation, alternate power sources, long term food supplies, building materials, personal hygiene items, and general resources (in no particular order).

Remember, your family should not have to suffer due to your lack of preparedness. It can be as easy as having a bag with supplies ready to go anytime you need to leave or having extra food on the shelf to see you through hard times. I truly hope you prepare, even if you never have to go through any of these hard times.


DIY hand powered water well pump

Living out in the country has afforded me some piece of mind by not having to rely so much on city utilities. However, water has still been a concern out here. Sure we have our own well, but the pump is run off of electricity. If a winter ice storm were to roll through and take out some power lines, we would be out of luck on the water front. Furthermore, since we do live in Oklahoma where ice storms happen on average about once or twice a year, driving to the store to buy more water would be dangerous with the unplowed roads and dangerous drivers. I needed a way to hand pump the water from my well in an emergency.

Now I will give credit where credit is due. I first got this idea from Flojak which makes hand powered water pumps. However, I don’t have $500 to spend on one of their systems and I was certain that I could build something similar for cheaper. After a little more research I came across SlapShot plans by HydroMissions. I used  these plans along with the Flojak idea and other random bits of knowledge from the internet to come up with my own design for a 50′ well pump which costed me around $50.

First comes the planning. This well pump is designed to fit into a well that has a 5-6 inch diameter case. In a smaller well this system may not work. It is important to know how far down your water table resided in your well. There is two ways to do this. The easiest is to tie a weight to a long piece of string and attach a small fishing bobber to the string about a foot above the weight. Lower the string down into the well until the string goes slack. Give it a few jerks to make sure it is the bobber resting on the surface of the water and it isn’t just caught up on something. Then tie a knot in the string at the top of the well, pull it all up, and measure from the knot to the bobber. That is how far down your water table is.

The second method will allow you to determine where your water table resides and how far down your well is drilled, and possibly how far down your current electric water pump is. Take an absorbent string that is preferably made out of a natural fiber. Think about twine. Attach a weight to one end and drop it down the well. The weight will likely get hung up on the electric pump so multiple jerks and pulls might be required to get it past that. Keep lowering the string until it goes slack. In my well the string slowly went slack in the last 5 feet of the well (probably due to sedimentation) versus suddenly going slack as it will when it gets hung up on the pump. Make a knot, pull up the string and measure to where the string becomes wet (this is the water table) and to the end of the string (this is how deep the well is drilled).

For my well, the water table is around 35′ down so I initially decided to build a 40′ pump. This was a bad idea as I found out because it has been so dry around here and we have been using a lot of water for the plants. That usage dropped the water table below 40′ pretty quickly and the well did not recharge very fast. So plan to build a well that is at least 15+ foot below your water table, the further the better.

*** UPDATE***

After reading through this post I decided that it can get sort of confusing, so I drew up some diagrams. Now bear with me because I am not an artist, but hopefully this with clear up some of your confusions.

Pump Assembly Check Valves Drop Pipe


Without further delay, here is my design and supplies needed for a 50′ water well hand pump that cost around $50. I was able to fill a 5 gallon bucket in 1 minute and 4 seconds, and Kallie did it in 1 min and 14 seconds. So a 5 gallon flow rate is possible however, a 2-3 gallon flow rate is more practical over an extended period of time. Also, the pump holds its prime very well. I can leave it sitting for days and it will produce water on the very first pump. Each full stroke produces 24-28 ounces of water.

Please read all directions completely and thoroughly before buying or building this pump. I used thin walled pipe to keep the weight down. This is for ease of installation and to reduce the amount of extra weight that one has to lift every time you pump up water. If you choose to buy regular walled pipe just be aware that the parts might not fit together and the inner pipe connections may not be able to slide into the outer pipe.

Also a quick reminder on female versus male connectors. A male connector has its threads visible on the outside and a female connector has the threads on the inside. The male connector screws into the female threaded connector. Just think of human anatomy and you won’t ever forget what the difference is between a female and a male connector is again. I know that analogy is kind of wrong but you won’t forget.


  • 4 – 10′ long 1/2″ thin walled PVC pipe
  • 5 – 10′ long 1-1/4″ thin walled PVC pipe
  • 5 – 1/2″ slip connector with Male threads
  • 6 – 1/2″ slip connector with Female threads
  • 5 – 1-1/4″ slip connector with Female threads
  • 1 – 1-1/4″ Male thread to 3/4″ Female thread adapter
  • 4 – 1-1/4″ slip connector with Male threads
  • 1 – 10′ long 1/2″ regular walled PVC pipe
  • 1 – 5 foot long 1-1/2″ PVC pipe
  • 1 – 1-1/2″ to 1-1/4″ pipe reducer fitting
  • 3 – 3/4″ slip connector with 1/2″ male threads
  • 1 – 1/2″ female to 1/2″ male connector
  • 1 – 3/4″ slip connector with 3/4″ male threads
  • 2 – 1/2″ threaded PVC connectors (female threads on both ends)
  • 1 – 5′ long 3/4″ PVC pipe
  • 1 – 4″ long 1/2″ diameter black iron “nipple” pipe. (take a look at the LP gas line post)
  • 6 – washers. The 1/2″ black iron pipe must be able to slip through the center and the washer should be able to just barely slip into the 1-1/2″ PVC pipe (or come close to fitting into the pipe as we can fix it later).
  • 1 – 4″x4″ 1/8″ thick rubber sheet
  • 1 – 1/2″ slip to 3/4″ male thread adapter
  • 1 – 3/4″ Tee (slip)
  • 1 – 3/4″ cap
  • 1 – 3/4″ slip to male thread
  • 2 – regular sized marbles (try a dollar store)
  • 2 – rubber hose washers
  • 2 – 1″ or longer thin penny type nail
  • *1 –  1-1/2″ slip connector
  • *1 –  1-1/2″ slip to 3/4″ female threaded connector

Now I know this is a long list but by making this pump out of PVC, it can still be made relatively cheaply. The items marked with an asterisk * are my original designed parts. Below is a short list of substitution parts for a better design that would allow for access to the piston after being fully assembled.

  • 1 –  1-1/2″ slip to female thread connector
  • 1 –  1-1/2″ male thread to 3/4″ female thread connector

Tools and other items required to complete this project

  • PVC primer and glue
  • 2 pairs of channel lock pliers or pipe wrenches
  • Saw to cut through PVC
  • Bench grinder (or a file or belt sander could also work)
  • Pipe dope
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • 100% clear silicone
  • Electric drill
  • 1/4″ drill bit
  • Pliers
  • Razor blade or exacto knife

Steps below. Please read all steps and follow them closely. Failure to do so will likely result in mistakes leading you to have to buy more parts.

Prep work:

Take all the 1/2″ connectors (all of them) and grind any excess plastic off with the bench grinder so that they are round and the same diameter.

Trim the inside of all the 1-1/4″ female PVC connectors so that a trimmed 1/2″ connector can slide through. This is easiest to do with a knife.

Connector on the left has had the inner ring shaved down.

Connector on the left has had the inner ring shaved down.

First to make the check valves.

  1. For the check valves take a 3/4″ slip with 1/2″ male threaded connector and add a small bead of silicone glue in the bottom of the connector on the slip side. Place a water hose washer on top of the silicone and press the washer down and centered. Wipe off excess glue. Prime the inside of connector with PVC primer but be careful not to get any on the silicone. It might be best to let the silicone dry for an hour first. Repeat this step for the second check valve.CIMG3718
  2. Cut a 2.5″ long section of 3/4″ PVC pipe, deburr, and clean the ends with primer. Apply a thin layer of PVC glue to one end of the short pipe and press it into the connector from step one. Wipe off any excess glue. Repeat this step for the second connector from step one.CIMG3719
  3. Place a marble in the bottom of the check valve and check to make sure it sits well in the center of the washer. With the valve facing down you can blow into the pipe end and you should have very little air slipping past the marble and washer seal.
  4. Take one of the thin nails and chuck it into the drill so that it spin without wobbling. Now with the drill spinning at full speed, press the nail into the PVC pipe just above the connector or 1/4″ above the marble, whichever is greater. Continue to drill the nail through the PVC pipe and half way through the other side of the pipe. Now stop the drill and hold it very steady for about 30 seconds to allow the nail and PVC to cool and solidify. This method is a type of plastic welding. Now un-chuck the nail from the drill and trim the nail as close to the PVC pipe as possible with a pair of pliers or metal saw. Repeat for the second check valve.CIMG3720
  5. Here is where things get different for the two different check valves. For the lower check valve prime a 3/4″ slip to 3/4″ male thread connector, apply a thin layer of glue and press it onto the pipe of one of the check valves. For the upper check valve prime a 3/4″ slip to 1/2″ male thread connector and apply a thin layer of glue. Press the connector onto the pipe end of the other check valve. Afterwards you should have two check valves. Both have 1/2″ male threaded ends on one side and one has a 1/2″ male thread on the other side (the upper check valve) and the other has a 3/4″ male thread (the lower check valve).

    Upper check valve with 1/2

    Upper check valve with 1/2″ connector on the left, Lower check valve with 3/4″ connector on the right.

Now to make the piston:

  1. Take the rubber sheet and use one of the washers to trace 4 circles on the rubber. Use a razor blade or exacto knife to cut out the circles from the rubber. Cut out the center holes too. These rubber circles are now rubber gaskets that will be used to get a water tight fit between the piston and the outer pump casing. Set the gaskets aside for now.CIMG3727
  2. Now we have to make sure the washers will fit inside the 1-1/2″ PVC pipe. I had to shave mine down. To do this I placed the washers on the 1/2″ black iron pipe nipple, donned some leather work gloves, and pressed the outer edges of the washers into a bench grinder stopping periodically to check if the washers will fit into the pipe. The perfect fit will be for the washer to loosely fit into the pipe, with no more than a millimeter of space around the outer edge of the washer and the inner side of the pipe. Place the washers off to the side.CIMG3726
  3. Take the black iron pipe nipple and cover the threads on one end with pipe dope. Screw on one of the 1/2″ female threaded connectors and tighten with a wrench. Place one washer on the iron pipe, followed by a rubber gasket, then another washer, and another gasket, and finally a third washer. Now this next part takes a little guess work. Measure from the end of the washer to the beginning of the threads on the other side. Cut a piece of 3/4″ PVC pipe to this length. Slip that piece onto the black iron pipe followed by a washer, gasket, washer, gasket, and finally another washer. Then coat the threads of the iron pipe in pipe dope and screw on a 1/2″ female to 1/2″ male connector. Tighten until all the washers and gaskets are very snug together. If you cut your 3/4″ pipe spacer to short you might have to cut a longer piece.

    This is how it should look minus the last connector.

    This is how it should look minus the last connector.

  4. Check the fit of this assembly to the inside of the 1-1/2″ pipe. It should fit very snug. If the gaskets are too big around, carefully and slowly shave them down on the bench grinder or by using hand files until they just barely fit in. The assembly will fit better in the next few steps once the piston is properly lubed up.
  5. Attach the 1/2″ male connector of the upper check valve, the side that does NOT have the marble in it, to the 1/2″ female connector on the piston. Just to reiterate, the side with the marble should be away from the piston.

    This is how the piston should look. Don't worry about some of the other connectors as I assembled mine a little different than these instructions (and it was much harder my original way).

    This is how the piston should look. Don’t worry about some of the other connectors as I assembled mine a little different than these instructions (and it was much harder my original way).

Now to make the pump assembly:

  1. Take the 5 foot long 1 1/2″ PVC pipe, a 5 foot section of 1-1/4″ pipe, and the adapter, prime and glue them together so you have a 10 foot section of pipe.
  2. Now take a 1/2″ pipe, prime and glue a 1/2″ female adapter to one end. Screw that female adapter to the 1/2″ male adapter on the piston using pipe dope (not the check valve).
  3. Apply a generous amount of petroleum jelly to the inside of the 1-1/2″ PVC pipe and the outside of the piston around the gaskets. Slip the piston into the pipe with the 1/2″ pipe going in first, then the piston going in last. Work the piston back and forth in the pipe several times and add more petroleum jelly if needed.
  4. ***Next step indicates improved design. Old design requires different parts. See list above and substitute those parts.*** Glue on the 1-1/2″ slip to female thread connector and screw in the 1-1/2″ male thread to 3/4″ female thread connector with plenty of pipe dope. Then, with pipe dope, screw in the lower check valve by the 3/4″ adapter. This change will allow access to the piston at a future date if service is required.

    The piston on top showing the correct orientation in assembly with the outer pipe on the bottom.

    The piston on top showing the correct orientation in assembly with the outer pipe on the bottom.

  5. Lastly, glue a 1-1/4″ female connector to the top of the pump assembly. Pull the 1/2″ pipe until the piston stops at the top and cut the pipe about 2-3″ from the female connector. Now glue a 1/2″ female connector to the 1/2″ pipe and be careful to not push the pipe back in.
  6. Then take the 1/4″ drill bit and drill 4 holes in the 1-1/4″ pipe about halfway up. This will allow any water that slips past the piston to drain back into the well and not be forced all the way up to the surface.

Make the drop pipe assembly:

  1. Follow directions carefully.Make as many of these 10 foot sections as you need to equal the length of the total assembled well depth, minus 10 feet (for the lower pump).
  2. Take a 1-1/4″ pipe and glue a male connector to one end. Take a 1/2″ pipe and glue a female connector onto one end. Slide the 1/2″ pipe with the side without the connector into the 1-1/4″ pipe side without the connector. Once the 1/2″ pipe comes out the end of the 1-1/4″ male connector, glue a male connector to it. Now glue a female connector to the end of the 1-1/4″ PVC pipe.

    Male connectors all at one end.

    Male connectors all at one end.

Final assembly and fitting: (use pipe dope on all connections)

  1. Take a middle drop pipe assembly and screw the 1/2″ inner pipe into the 1/2″ inner pipe on the pump assembly.

    Screw all the inner pieces together at once. This is the pump assembly and the first section of drop pipe.

    Screw all the inner pieces together at once. This is the pump assembly and the first section of drop pipe.

  2. Next, take a second middle pipe assembly and screw the inner pipe to the inner pipe of the previous assembly. It is much easier to screw all the inner 1/2″ pipes together first before screwing the outer pipes together. Assemble all the inner pipes of the drop pipe assemblies together. You will need help from another person to hold once side of the pipe with a wrench since the connections are actually being made inside the larger outer pipe.
  3. (This is to make part of the handle assembly. This next part will slip into the top most drop pipe). Take the 1/2″ regular walled PVC and glue a male connector onto one end. Slide the 1-1/4″ Male thread to 3/4″ Female thread adapter onto the other end of the pipe with the male threads first. This is the cap for the outer pipe to keep the inner pipe centered and to keep debris out of the pump. So at the end of the 1/2″ pipe should be both sets of male threads. Connect the 1/2″ regular walled pipe to the inner pipe of the assembled drop pipes. (The very top drop pipe)
  4. Once all the inner pipes have been connected, you can go about threading together the outer pipes. When you get to the last section of drop pipe, thread on the 1-1/4″ to 3/4″ adapter that we talked about in step 3.
  5. Now push on the inner pipe while holding the outer pipe. Check to make sure you can get a full stroke. When everything seems to work like it should, push the inner pipe all the way in carefully. Make a mark at where the the inner 1/2″ pipe is visible coming up through the outer cap.
  6. Pull the inner pipe back out a little ways and cut it off about an inch down (towards the pump end) of the mark. Now glue a 1/2″ slip to 3/4″ male thread connector on the end. This will ensure that the inner pipe can never be pushed in so far as to break the upper (inner) check valve that is at the bottom of the piston.
  7. Finally, screw on the 3/4″ tee. Cut two 6″ lengths of 3/4″ pipe and glue them into the tee. This makes the handle. Now glue a cap on one end and a 3/4″ slip to male adapter on the other.

    The hand pump (right) without the handles yet next to the electric pump (left).

    The hand pump (right) without the handles yet next to the electric pump (left).

Now you just need a friend to help you lower it into the well. You will also need to find a way to secure it to the top of the well. I will let you come up with a clever solution to that since every well is different. For mine, I replaced my old well seal with a new one that has two main pipe holes.

With the handle installed

With the handle installed

When I first made my pump I did not take into account fluctuating water levels and so it was too short and therefore only pumped air. I had to add another 10 feet so that I can pump water. In the future I want to experiment with tying this pump into the house system and see if I can build up any pressure in the pressure tank. It would be exciting to know that during some cold winter storm when electricity is out that Kallie or I could take a hot shower (propane water heater) while the other pumps.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If I missed anything or you have suggestions on how to make improvements, please leave me a comment.



I ordered garlic online in July from The Garlic Store and I couldn’t wait to plant it. I had heard that it was super easy to grow and it was a good insect deterrent in the garden. PLUS, it smells amazing to have around. Well, I have three potted apple trees that have insects on them almost daily. So I decided that once the garlic comes in, I would plant them under the trees to help get rid of the insects on the trees, as well as repel mosquitoes on the porch.

So here’s my tutorial for planing garlic!

First, you need to start with a head of garlic. Start breaking off the cloves.


These are huge cloves.


Try to keep the skin on them. I had four heads of garlic. This picture (below) shows the cloves I got from one garlic head.


I laid them out around the tree in the pot. Make sure you place the well.


Using a spade, dig a little hole by rocking the spade back and forth to move the dirt out of the way. It only needs to be 3-4″ deep, depending on your garlic variety.


Slide or push the garlic into the hole gently and cover it with dirt.


These next two pictures show two cloves that were rotten. They smelled terrible.

IMG_6083 IMG_6084

Once you have them planted, make sure they are covered with dirt. I then sprinkled a little bit of fruit and veggie fertilizer over the surface of the dirt. I covered this with mulch because garlic loves water and I have a hard time keeping this trees watered and moist. Mulch helps keep the dirt moist. I’ll have to update you guys once they start peeking through the mulch.

Just an Update

Well I have been absent from the blog for a week now as I have taken the last week to fast from technology and focus more on God. I had no particular reason for turning my last week towards God but I did hope to come closer to Him and get into a better rhythm with devotional and prayer time. I guess a relationship with God is much like a worldly relationship in that it takes work. So for the past week I have avoided TV and the computer except when necessary to complete my devotionals or do my job. In the end I can say that I am much more content in my life and I look forward to my relationship with God growing further.

Now on to what I have coming soon to the blog.

Ever thought about building a hand powered water pump for your well for about $50? Well I am happy to say that I just completed that project and hope to have the full write up online in the next few days.

Also on the radar is a blog post about assessing potential disasters for your location and how to be prepared for them. This is an article that I have been very interested in writing and hope to have it up by this weekend.

A quick update on the chickens which will be covered in greater detail on the next chicken weekly posting. We had one of our 8 week old roosters develop a HUGE crop. The crop is their first stomach at the base of their neck. It swelled up to the size of a baseball and was squishy. We decided to put him into isolation for about 4 days and gave him water, water with apple cider vinegar, bread with olive oil, and small amounts of regular food. All of this was in the hopes of strictly regulating his intake while making sure what he did eat would have a laxative effect. After 4 days his crop was back to the size of a ping pong ball. We moved him back to the flock and within hours he had gorged himself so his crop is once again too big. Kallie and I are hoping that this will pass naturally but he may be one of the first ones that gets culled if this is because of bad genetics.

Well, check back in a few days for more posts.


My DIY on LP Gas Lines

Disclaimer: Nothing in this post is intended to be taken as a how-to instruction. Working with gas can be very dangerous and possibly illegal in some locations without a license or permit. Use common sense and know your laws. Once again, this post is NOT an instruction on how to perform your own gas work, but merely a documentation of my own personal experience. The writer is not responsible or liable for any damage or injury/death that may result from the information contained in the post.

Alright. Now that all the legal do’s and don’ts are out of the way, I can begin. We recently bought some new appliances and decided to change out our electric range for a gas one. That way we can still cook during an emergency where we lose power, such as a tornado, ice storm, or bigger more long-term disaster. Regardless of the disaster our 500 gallon propane tank should last us for at least a little while. The only problem is there is not a gas outlet behind the range. So I crawled underneath the house, as I stated in a previous post I have a pier and beam foundation, and took a look at where the gas line was. Lucky for me it comes into the house and runs directly underneath the kitchen. Even better there is was an existing tee in the line that was not being used. It had at one time provided gas to the fireplace but when the previous owner installed the wood burning stove insert they cut and capped the gas line coming off the tee. So after taking a few measurement I headed off to Lowe’s.

The capped T that once led to the fireplace.

The capped T that once led to the fireplace.

One point of concern for me was the diameter of the gas line coming off the tee was only 1/2 inch. The diameter of a gas line, in conjunction with how long the line is, and how many fittings are used affects the amount of BTU’s that can flow through the line. After a few Google searches, I used this PDF for my calculations. For each connection I added 5 feet to the total length since that is a good average for how much each connection restricts the flow. This gave me a max carrying capacity of around 150,000 BTU’s, more than enough for my 90,000 BTU range.

From the store I bought several pieces of 1/2 inch black iron pipe which is threaded and used for gas. It was important to buy a variety of lengths since the pipes would have to be threaded together in some combination to get the correct overall length. I also bought a bunch of 90 degree fittings, couplers, plugs, and what is known as a cross or X fitting. To install the actual gas outlet behind the range I bought a gas ball valve. These are special valves designed specifically for gas. Then I picked up the flexible corrugated stainless steel tubing used to attach the appliance to the gas outlet. Lastly, I made sure to grab a can of plumbing thread paste with Teflon in it. Many times the can will not say Teflon but rather PTFE which is the abbreviation for the scientific name for Teflon.This paste is very important as it is what seals the threads and prevents leaks. The only other tools I would need for this project which I already had was two pipe wrenches, a drill with a 1 inch paddle bit, and a wire brush.

To start the project I turned off the gas at the tank and the main valve at the house. Then I closed the valve on the water heater and central heat (essentially everything that uses gas). Taking all my supplies and tools, I crawled under the house and began laying out the various lengths of pipe to get the correct overall length for my run. In the places where I had to go through a floor joist I used the 1 inch paddle bit and drill to make a hole. To assemble the gas line, first I cleaned all the pipe threads very thoroughly with the wire brush to remove any dirt or rust.


Clean shiny threads are necessary for a good connection.

Then I added a liberal amount of pipe dope all around the male threads which are the pipe. After that all I had to do was screw the pipe with the pipe dope on it into a fitting and tighten it up with the pipe wrenches. I continued the process all the way over to where I had to bring the pipe up through the floor and drilled another hole with my paddle bit. When I had the pipe sticking up behind the cabinet, I screwed on the gas ball valve. Then I attached the stainless steel gas line to the ball valve so that I could hook it up to the range when I got it in.


Adding the pipe dope to the threads.


Now here comes the important step, leak check time. I mixed up about 5 squirts of dish soap in a spray bottle with water. After turning back on the gas, I went around to every fitting on the gas line and sprayed it with the soap mixture looking for bubbles. So long as there are no bubbles, there is not a leak. Of course my nose also helps in detecting any gas smells. I decided to check all the fittings on the gas pipe, both new and old, just in case my messing with the gas line caused a leak in an old section of the pipe.


I used a half-inch cross and capped two ports so that more gas lines could be installed at a later date.


The ball valve before adding the stainless steel corrugated line.


Leak check with a dish soap and water mixture.

After I got the new appliances delivered, I hooked up the range and leak tested all of those fittings after the ball valve. Everything looked good and so I slid the range back into place. It has been really nice to cook on gas and very reassuring to me that we can still cook if we were to ever lose power out here in the country. Remember, gas is dangerous. Hope you have learned something, enjoy.


The gas range with the burners all lit.