Thursday, January 11, 2018

Choosing My Medium - Encaustic

I think I have chosen the medium that I will use to make my art.  That medium is Encaustic.
My first encaustic piece.  9x12" incorporates hand laid paper.


Encaustic is a wax mix that is used as the binder to carry the pigment.  At the same time it creates the surface of the painting it resurfaces the painting and creates new layers.  The layers can be opaque or translucent. The layers can be clear, white or tinted.   Dozens of basic techniques can be used to create different effects from pouring a marbled surface to catching the entire painting on fire with varnish to create filigreed patterns.

The process of creating is entirely flexible, can be meticulously controlled, or it can be pretty automatic - where the techniques create the art, not a specific plan.  The medium has no clean up requirements, so I can't "ruin" brushes by leaving them untouched for days or weeks at a time.

Most importantly - because the painting creates itself through process I will not become immobilized with fear, which is what happens when I try to paint.  I start the painting - in fear - get to a point where I can start to see a result - that is inadequate - then I obsess over both the inadequacy of the result and the fear of moving forward.  This brings the entire process to a grinding halt.

Below are the last two art pieces I attempted.  I was halted in both by the combination of fear and inadequacy.



Artwork that is not finished does not EXIST.  Art is PROCESS.  If I can't find a PROCESS for FINISHING art then I am not an artist.  I did have a process that finished art with pottery.


All I had to do with my pottery is go out to my studio and start interacting with the materials.  Once I started touching materials the results occurred.  Glazes got mixed, clay got wedged, cups were thrown, the kiln was loaded, etc.  The material PUSHED the process, and at no point did I have insecurity or fear.  That is not happening with painting at this point.

Insecurity and fear are not the same as obstacles and frustrations.  Obstacles and frustrations are normal and they engage the part of the brain that wants to overcome or solve issues.  Insecurity and fear are paralyzing.  They stop forward movement and activate the part of the brain that wants to avoid and justify not doing anything.

Why don't I just go back to doing pottery?  Because I need something with a higher sales value and I need to create a wider variety of sellable product.  The cups sold for $15 each, and there is a limited audience because only a certain design actually SOLD in a predictable way.

HERE IS A REAL PROBLEM WITH ART:  VALUE

Most art is unsellable because people don't buy "ART" generally.  They buy "MIRRORS" that reflect their own ideas back at them.  In order to make art an income producing career one can't just make ANYTHING and think it will sell.  People are drawn to SPECIFIC ideas, SPECIFIC tastes, SPECIFIC patterns.  In a world where those things are provided by Walmart, Hobby Lobby, and Facebook Memes it is VERY DIFFICULT to actually SELL art.

It is very easy to make art that people "LIKE."  That's easy.  The hard part is to make art that people "have to have" at the moment they see it and are willing to trade Dollars for it.  That's the true test of being a working artist.  Can you make something that becomes more valuable and desired to a person than MONEY.  If you can then they will happily trade their money for your art.  If not then they will "LIKE" it and move on with their life.

If I create art that doesn't sell then it will only pile up on my homestead and become a cost.  Plus I have no interest in producing art that no one will appreciate or buy.  I would rather make art that reflects OTHER PEOPLES' IDEAS and sells than art that reflects only my OWN IDEAS and does not sell.

THE OTHER REAL PROBLEM WITH ART: VOLUME

I don't have access to high end art buyers and my art isn't worthy to be purchased for large amounts of money, so art must be sold in higher volume at lower costs.  My art will never be "in a gallery." Also, what people don't realize about high end contemporary art is that it requires that the artist have a process that can create a steady volume of art.  A writer doesn't live on one article or one book.  They have to write constantly.  Occasionally, there is a "best selling" author.  Just like occasionally there is a "famous artist."  But those are the tip of the iceburg.  For every best selling writer there are tens of thousands of writers who "make a living."  Making a living involves volume.

You can't product one piece per month, generally, and accomplish anything as an artist.  Even highly regarded pieces only sell for so much; then more pieces need to be created.  For me that means I need a PROCESS that creates art on a consistent basis.

ART IS PROCESS.  All the talk of creativity, genius, etc is meaningless because art is PROCESS not genius.  IF an artist creates good processes to create good results then creativity and genius SOMETIMES MIGHT reflect in the work.  Without PROCESS there is no work.  Art is learned by creating art... no other way.

PROCESS IS EVERYTHING IN ART!!!

SO... THE ANSWER IS ENCAUSTIC.

The following works are not mine.  They are examples of encaustic art, both simple and complex - but all are created with process and technique.

(Case in point below:  Even though most people may really "like" the blue ball piece, they will "buy" the dragonfly or the horse, because those things more directly reflect the person's own ideas.  The ball is too foreign a concept to sell easily.  Plus the smaller pieces would be cheaper at $30 each instead of $100+ for the blue ball.






I can make small pieces or large.  Most importantly, however, is that I can integrate words, print and images into any piece at any time.  So, if I have an "art" concept go sideways on me I can always convert it to just an abstract color field and superimpose some meme onto it that will make it sellable.

People buy things that reflect their own ideas back at them. That's why people love Memes on Facebook, the meme reflects the person's idea.  I can "memeify" any piece of art and make is sellable.  Is that art?  HELL YES!

In Greek times people wanted to see their heroes and gods in images, so potters put them on pots for sale, and temples and shops put them on the walls to draw patrons.  In Medieval Europe people wanted to see the face of God so great cathedrals were built all over Europe to draw people to travel to them.  We see cathedrals as monuments.  Cathedrals were the medieval version of Disneyland or a Carnival Cruse Ship.  They were tourist destinations that separated people from their money.

Pop art, decor, this is what people buy.  PEOPLE buy accessible affordable "art." Whatever that may be.

Encaustic is my medium because:

1.  It's Process Art - that is to say the art is made whether I have a particular plan or not.
2.  The techniques applied create organic results that humans are drawn to, so it's Automatic Art.
3.  There is no penalty for delayed clean up.  I can't ruin pieces, materials or tools by leaving them out.
4.  The art is created by techniques that are quantified and easily executed, so there is little frustration and no art stopping insecurity.
5.  I can use printing, embedding and transfer techniques to overcome formal art shortcomings.
6.  Any piece can be converted into a meme for easy sale.
7.  Pieces can be produced in as little as 30 minutes or can be created over multiple multi-hour sessions.  But mostly I can produce 2-4 pieces in a day of working in the studio - even large pieces, so I can make volume.
8.  Size often equals value, so I can make large pieces that have a high perceived value without having to spend weeks creating one piece.
9.  I can incorporate client dog photo images for "dog portraits" that I can sell for a premium of $150 - $250 each.  It's a market to which I already have access.

If I can turn encaustic into a $1,000+ per month medium then I have truly accomplished soemthing that most artists never do.  I will be a 1%er artist.  That is my goal.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

New Mini Art Show for Painting

Last year I learned ceramics and drawing.  There is a mini art show of what I produced in the blog.  (http://tonybluegoat.blogspot.com/2016/11/my-art-review.html)

This year I'll be painting for the first time.  I'll post the successful and not so successful attempts here as I go through the process.  This is good for looking back.

I have decided that I'm going to spent the next 20 years learning "art."  Six to seven years of intensive training followed by making fine art for the remaining years... and perhaps longer.  Right now I am a rank beginner.  Just learning the basics of form, color, texture, technique, materials, etc. But, I do have to say that I'm putting a lot of work into it.  I'm taking two college classes on painting this year plus doing a lot of studying on my own through books, Craftsy.com and TheVirtualInstructor.com.  So this is more than a casual hobby for me.  For the painting side I plan on immersing myself in the Mark Carder System.

This is a print I made from an original photograph
I took of my brother.  Not a painting.  But I like it.
It's a really strong composition.  At some point this year I will paint it.


First Composition and painting using the Mark Carder Method.  I went from the horse painting at the bottom
of this list of images to this one in about 8 weeks. November 20, 2017


First painting done without a tutorial.


This was pretty successful attempt.  It was done with "training wheels" since it's based on a Craftsy.com
online class on painting vibrant fruit in watercolor.  But, it's a good one to lead with.  My 2nd Watercolor.
I placed it in my Fall Garden in order to take a picture of it.

Acrylic from a tutorial on www.TheVirtualInstructor.com  Doing tutorials at this point in my level of experience (none)
is a good way to avoid frustration and have a positive outcome.
A avocado, again from a quick tutorial.  It's a good way to just practice mixing paint, seeing things, learning how to
approach a subject.  It turned out a bit rough and stylized.  I like it.


This isn't all that great final product, but it is great to me because I mixed all the colors from just
red, yellow and blue.  I used a cool red, yellow and blue to mix the lamp colors and a warm version to
mix the ceramic pony colors.  This makes the Pony seem closer.  This was also done from an actual
still life of a small lamp, a ceramic pony and a horse shoe.  I improvised the background.
September 20, 1017
More to Come...

Monday, October 9, 2017

Improving Meat Rabbit Breeding Stock

My best strong breeding doe.
My Great Pyrenees dog is looking up at her.
I have 2 does and 1 buck at the moment.  That's all.  Just enough to keep me stocked with rabbit meat and to provide an "emergency prep" in case I need to ramp up production due to some emergency.  I'm not going for maximum production so I can get about 7-8 litters of 7 rabbits per litter.  That's 49-56 rabbits per year.  Basically one per week.  That's all I want to eat. I also like steak and chicken.

IT'S TIME TO START UPGRADING MY BREEDING STOCK

Today I started separating my rabbits by who might be next year's breeding stock and who is not going to make it.

My criteria are simple:

1.  How fast do they get big?
2.  How confident are they?

Those two traits go together.  The more timid the rabbit the less aggressively they eat and the slower they grow.

Right now I have 8 kits (baby rabbits) that I weaned about 10 days ago.  It's easy to tell who the bigger one's are.  I sorted them into 2 different cages.  Bigger and more confident 4 in one cage.  Timid and smaller in the other.

I am only choosing breeding stock from my "strong doe."  I have two does.  One is confident, larger, has larger litters and is a better mom.  The other is more timid, has smaller litters and is younger.  She may grow to be a good mom, but the jury is still out on her.  So I'm not interested right now in taking stock from a weak doe.

Now I will watch how the bigger ones compete and who is the best of that stock.  Then I will sex them.... I have no interest in gender if they aren't good rabbits in the first place.  I'll keep 1-2 females and no males.  By sorting the larger, stronger rabbits into the same cage I can see who is the strongest of the strongest.  I will also handle them from time to time.  If any shows any aggressive tendencies then I will be rejected for future breeding stock.  Nobody wants their does to bite them when they put their hand in the cage.  There is such a things as TOO confident.

This is a very simple process of looking and sorting.  Which is better, which is worse ... for the attributes I want.  Separate based on what I see.  Give it some time and then do the same thing again.  I might not carry any of the young stock over for breeding, or I might carry 1-2.  The best idea, truly, is to carry the #1 female rabbit from a litter forward.  Then, if you need another breeder, pick the #1 female rabbit from the next litter.

The rabbits are about 6 weeks old right now.  I won't breed them until they are 7 months old.  So, Next MARCH. It's good to always have a couple "up and comers" ready to replace a doe that starts to fade, or gets sick or dies.  You don't want to have too many, however, because the "up and comers" eat food every day.  And once a rabbit is 7 months old I'm not interested in eating it.  I

You don't want to breed brother and sister.  They can make very unstable genetics.  You can "line breed" the same buck to mother, daughter, grand daughter, great grand daughter.  No problems.

If I need a new buck I will buy one from outside my breeding stock.

That's it!

Here are some pictures:


My more timid breeding doe.
In 6 months she will be replaced with a better doe.

My 4 strongest, most confident kits.  You can already see the 3 on the left are
more confident than the one on the right.  That wasn't evident until I put
them all together.

These are the 4 smaller, more timid kits.
Interestingly, they are also darker in color.
It's not an optical illusion.  The whiter California kits
are stronger, bigger and more confident than the
"grayer" kits.
In case there was any mystery, here is the result.  The next morning the 2.5 lb feeder with the 4 larger more confident bunnies was 70% eaten.  The 2.5 lb feeder with the smaller, more fearful kits was 35% eaten.  Rabbits don't grow by magic.  They grow by eating.  The faster they eat the faster they grow.  I'm going to put come apple cider vinegar in the water bottle (just a little) of the smaller rabbits' cage to see if I can stimulate them to eat more.

Friday, October 6, 2017

How You Will Die on Your Bug-Out

These guys aren't "Zombies."
I've been a prepper for about 10 years. Six years ago I got smart and just bought a farm in the East Texas woods. 10 acres with goats, chickens, meat rabbits, solar panels, water collection, garden, usable food storage (canned meat that I can myself, long term rice storage, etc.). I even got elected to the board of directors for the local water supply company. That gives me access to information and a key to the massive water storage tanks if I need it. I drive a Prius and own an EMP proof manual F-250 with a mechanically injected IDI diesel engine. I have a federal alcohol producer's license and a junker car that runs on alcohol. I have a 1,000 gallon diesel fuel storage tank, a 250 gallon gasoline storage tank and a 500 gallon propane storage tank.... and lots of guns and ammo.

The previous information is just to let you know that I'm not an armchair prepper. I have also done full backpack only walking and camping bug-out drills in the middle of a extreme thunderstorms. I've bugged out with just a .22 rifle and nothing else. I'm a Eagle Scout and was a Combat Engineer in the U.S. Army. I try to practice what I preach.

Here's the Sermon:

  1. Unless you have done full-scale tests of your systems then you are UNPREPARED TO BUG OUT. Here's a simple test. On your next three-day weekend go shut off the water to your house and turn off all the breakers. See what happens. Test #2 – grab your bug-out bag right now, without changing clothes or any other prep and go live in the back yard for 48 hours. You cannot use anything from the house.
  2. You are probably preparing for the WRONG THINGS. The most likely disaster to strike your family is a simple house fire. The alarm goes off, everyone runs outside in their P.J.'s and the fire department leaves a few hours later. EVERYTHING YOU OWN is gone. Where's the car? Burned up in the garage. Where's your wallet? On the nightstand. Money? NO. Credit cards? NO. Go to the bank and try to get some money without an ID. Not gonna happen. Cell phone? Probably. How are you going to live? There's no need to Bug-Out. All your stuff is gone!
  3. That's not what this article is about. This article is about how I'M GOING TO KILL YOU DURING YOUR BUG-OUT.

I live “in the country.” Everyone I live next to has lived here for a long time. I'm a “Johnny come lately.” It took them 2 years to start to accept me. Now I'm part of the group. Let me tell you about my neighbors. We each have between 5 and 20 acres.

Johnny moves buildings for a living. He has a bulldozer, a big portable building moving truck, and a truck that pulls mobile homes. The sheriff had to come break up a fight between me and him. He accused me of trying to kill him with my tractor while he was on his tractor. Maybe it's true or maybe I was just trying to piss him off. Either way.. Neighbor's spat.. The Sheriff left it up to us to work out.

David welds and cuts metal. He has torches and welding machines. About 10 years ago he SHOT a Judge's son. The son had it coming and didn't die, so David got off pretty light. Another day some teenagers were hot-rodding on our private dirt road. David walked out in his underwear and put 30 rounds from an AK-47 into the back of their truck.

Mike rode with a very famous outlaw motorcycle gang for 20 years. He wouldn't want me saying who. He doesn't talk much about it, other than “people ended up in the hospital over nothing.” He's the one who taught me, “If you're going to hit a guy with a pipe or a stick be sure to hit him below the neck. That way they can't charge you with attempted murder.”

Jose is a Mexican national who can't go back to Mexico. He won't say why. He always has a knife and a gun on him.

These are my neighbors. I was a Combat Engineer in the Army. Nobody on my dirt road doesn't kill large and small animals on a regular basis from shooting a deer to eat to executing a horse because he's old. Everyone on my dirt road can shoot out to 200 yards, except for Mike because he can't see very well. He likes to be up close and physical, or use a shotgun.

None of this fiction.

Hop in your SUV, load it up with the wife, kids and supplies and start driving across country. Get off the interstate because they are parking lots and run right into RURAL AMERICA. I can tell you exactly what we would do if we needed food and supplies in a SHTF situation. We would cut the road with Johnny's bulldozer and create a nice dirt “BYPASS.” That way everyone has to slow down and turn off the road. You and your wife will still be arguing about whether or not to turn around as you exit the state highway.

Upon hitting the barricades on the by-pass you will be surrounded by some very official looking guys armed to the teeth and covered by other guys who are even more armed. We would be wearing uniforms to make you feel better. “Step Out of the Car, sir. Come into the office.” You can't pull off, there's no where to pull off too! If we are being nice and Christian we will just take half your stuff and let you leave. If we are “evil-doers” you will have your throat cut by someone waiting behind the door in the office and you will be taken out back to be thrown in a ditch with the others. Someone will pull your SUV behind the fenced area and no one will ever hear from your family again.

This assumes, of course, that you make it out of Houston or Dallas in the first place. There are a lot more organized and evil gangs in the cities. Don't think they aren't going to be setting up their own Wal-mart with your stuff.

ALTERNATE SCENARIO – HOW YOU MIGHT LIVE

As part of your preps buy a couple gas masks. They don't have to work. Order some large decals for your SUV that say, “BIO Retrieval and Decontamination.” Put all of your preps in RED GARBAGE BAGS with big stickers that say “BIO HAZARD.” Print a bunch of handouts on your computer that say: “Symptoms of Infection: and list a bunch of nasty symptoms.”

Then when I, or anyone else gets near you, start yelling – through the gas mask and biohazard overalls, of course - “DO YOU HAVE ANY BODIES HERE WHO DIED FROM MYSTERIOUS SYMPTOMS? WE ARE HERE TO COLLECT VIRUS SAMPLES AND TAG AND DECONTAMINATE!” Hand out the flyers.... “DO NOT TOUCH ANY DEAD BODIES, THE VIRUS CAN BECOME AIRBORNE ON SPORES!!! DO NOT BURN DEAD BODIES!!!”

No one will bother you.

The moral to this story is: A) You are probably an idiot who has just bought lots of preps to be taken away from you in a SHTF situation. B) If you look prepared then you will DIE FIRST. C) Have a real plan that understands YOU CANNOT FIGHT. The people who will be taking your stuff are better prepared, better equipped, better armed and smarter than you are. D) Don't fight, use psychological and social warfare instead. You might have a chance.

A quick story. A few years back a company tried to put a strip club on the outskirts of our city. The night before the grand opening it BURNED DOWN. It took the fire department (which was 4.7 miles away) over an hour to get there. No investigation. No nothing. They didn't rebuild.


You just learned what the prepper books and Zombie movies don't teach you. Is the National Guard going to help? We have a National Guard station in our town. We all know each other. You think they are going to let their kids starve while they guard some FEMA camp in Houston or Dallas? They will probably provide the uniforms for our highway check point!

Monday, September 18, 2017

10 Cage Meat Rabbit System (How Many Rabbit Babies Can I Make?)

What if you had 10 full size rabbit cages?  What could you accomplish in a year? REALISTICALLY!!

First, in order to get maximum production you would really need an automatic watering system.  Here's how to build one: Click here to see how to build an automatic waterer.  The reason you need an automatic waterer is because a cage with just 4 growing kits in it will drink 64 oz of water in a day.  If you have 7-8 kits in a cage they will drink half a gallon of water per day.  You would have to fill a 64 oz waterer TWICE each day.  Most people won't do that.

Second, assume that you will need two cages per doe.  One for the pregnant doe and/or doe with young kits.  And a Second Cage to put the kits in at time of weaning (6 weeks).

Third, assume you can get FOUR sets of babies per doe per year.  That about 1 set per 17 weeks.  Technically you can get close to six sets of babies per doe per year, but that assumes 100% production from all does no matter what - heat, cold, sick, sterile buck, etc.  It's not practical.  Four sets of kits is practical.

My does produce (on average) 7 live births per kindling.  I've had as many as 12 live births, and as few as 4.  But a doe can't nurse 12 kits.  Six is easy to nurse, 8 is getting up there.  So an average of 7 kits living until slaughter weight is practical. (As I write this I just last week processed NINE rabbits from a single litter.  The same rabbit right now has SIX live babies that she is nursing.)

Now we have a practical expectation of how many meat rabbits per doe.  4 matings x 7 sellable/eatable kits per kindle = 28 Meat Rabbits per doe.

How many does can you manage in 10 cages?  Practically, the answer is FOUR.  This gives you one cage for the buck and four cages for does.  When the kits from these does hit 6 weeks they can go into the extra four cages.  That's a total of NINE cages.  The 10th cage is use to grow out selected replacement stock for the does, to be used for a 2nd buck, or for some other reason.

Again, if you were trying to maximize production 100% then it's possible to run FIVE does.  But this requires real specific timing on breeding.  And breeding doesn't happen that way - especially if you are reading a "how-to" article about it.

That's it.  You can run 4 does.  Each doe will breed 4 times per year.  Each breeding will create an average of 7 meat rabbits.  4x4x7 = 112 meat rabbits per year to eat or sell.

How much food will they eat?  Assume an average of 2 lbs of food for every 1 lb of meat.  Each rabbit will get up to about 4.5-5 lbs of live weight.  112 x 5 x 2 = 1,120 lbs of food.  Food comes in 50 lb bags.  Round up for waste and you get 24 bags of feed per year.  Round up again to 30 and you'll probably be right.

A bag of food currently costs an average of $15.  I can find it for $13 at the feed and seed, Purina Pro Rabbit Food at Tractor Supply can run $17.50.  $15 x 30 bags = $450 in feed.

So, it will cost $450 to raise 112 meat rabbits.  The cost per rabbit is about $4, not counting the cost of the original stock, cages, housing, etc.

These numbers are pretty accurate for what I've seen out of my rabbitry.

Keeping track of who is pregnant, when to breed again, etc. can be done easily and cheaply by hanging an index card on each doe's cage and writing dates.  Then use your calendar on your phone with reminders to keep up with the breeding, adding kindling boxes, etc.

You can also get software to keep track, but this is mostly if you are going to tag all of your rabbits' ears and sell them as breeding stock instead of meat.  Here's my review of the software to get.  Click Here for Rabbit Software Review.

If you are going to "process" your own rabbits for meat then I recommend the "Hopper Popper."  You can get a version of it (on Etsy at the moment) for about $40.  It makes killing and skinning/gutting a snap!  You'll end up with a 2.5 lb carcass after cleaning.  So you'll get about 280 lbs of meat for your $450 investment in feed.

The cost of growing your own meat will be $1.60 per lb.  I can buy chicken leg quarters all day for 59 to 69 cents per lb.  I buy them 50 - 100 lbs at a time then debone and can them.  I can also find pork shoulder on sale for 99 cents per lb and do the same thing.  I get one pint per lb of pork shoulder - so $99 per pint of final canned meat.  OR I get 1 pint for each TWO lbs of chicken leg quarters (after deboning them).  That means the chicken costs $1.18 - $1.38 per boneless pint/pound of canned chicken.

So why keep rabbits if you can buy the chicken and pork cheaper?  Because I like having an alternate meat source that doesn't require the grocery store.  If push comes to shove I can feed the rabbits grass, hay, clipping, etc.  Or alfalfa that I've grown.  I've never done it, but I know I can.

How much can you sell rabbits and rabbit meat for?  I've gotten $15 a rabbit sometimes and other times I have a hard time giving them away for $5 each.  Depends on the time of the year.

Note: when I started with rabbits I assumed 8 kits per rabbit, 6 kindlings per year.  So that number for 4 does comes to 192 rabbits instead of 112.  IF EVERYTHING (INCLUDING YOU AND THE RABBITS) OPERATES PERFECTLY.  Alternately you can buy a bunch of rabbits and cages and the dog can get in there one night and kill them all.  That's HOMESTEADING!!!

The average American eats 270 lbs of meat per year.  So if it's just you and your wife, that's 540 lbs of meat per year.  The system above would provide you with enough meat for ONE person, so about half the meat currently eaten by the average American couple per year.  Eating only rabbit all year would get pretty boring pretty fast.  Right now my freezer is half full of rabbit meat and half full of Ribeye steak that I got from Walmart for $5/lb.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Today's Goal - 48 Pints of Meat & 28 Quarts of Stock for $71

Today I will can a bunch of food for about $1 per jar.  I'll be canning both pork and chicken plus pork stock and chicken stock.  48 pints of meat and 28 quarts of stock.

That's 46 cans of food on 1 shelf.
14 quarts of stock and 32 cans of meat.
A month's worth of meat for dinner plus stock to cook rice in.
SOURCE:  Kroger's

I normally shop at Walmart, but Kroger's is the only store that carries the best ground coffee in America - "New Orleans' Famous French Market Coffee & Chicory."  It's the Chicory that makes it smooth.  I use a French press to make my coffee, but a coffee maker will probably work too.  Don't use too much coffee.  I use ONE HEAPING TABLESPOON for a QUART of coffee... That's 4 cups.  I bring some water to a boil then pour it into the French press with one heaping teaspoon of coffee grounds.  Wait 5 minutes then press it out. Perfect coffee.

But I digress.  I was picking up the coffee and I always look for meat sales.  They had chicken leg quarters for 49 cents per pound.  I've gotten it for as low as 29 cents per pound, but usually it's 69 cents per pound.  So I bought 50 lbs.  They also had pork shoulder for 99 cents per pound.  So I bought about 25 pounds of pork shoulder.

That gave me about 75 lbs of meat for about $50.  I also spent about $8 on celery, carrots and onions. for a total of $58.  Lids for my jars usually cost about $2 per 12, and I will be using another $13 worth of lids.  Total cost is $71 for 78 jars of food.  Not bad!!

HOW MUCH WILL IT YIELD?

Pork shoulder is about a 1:1 ratio for meat to pints of meat.  A POUND of boneless meat equals a PINT of canned meat.  I bought about 25 lbs of pork. So I cut out the shoulder blades and cut the pork down for canning.  Right now the first 16 pints are already in the canner.  Another 8 pints is standing by to go in the next batch.  That's 24 pints of pork from about 25 lbs of pork shoulder.

Chicken leg quarters runs at a 2:1 ration for meat to pints of meat.  Two lbs of chicken leg quarters with bones, once deboned, makes 1 pint of canned meat.  I bought 50 lbs of leg quarters.  This will make 24 pints of meat.  I can meat 16 pints at a time in my All-American canner.  The big one!  So the first batch is all pork.  The 2nd batch is half pork and half chicken.  The 3rd batch is all chicken.

25 lbs of pork = 24 pints.
50 lbs of chicken leg quarters = 24 pints.

I also make stock.  I have a really big stock pot... it's actually a pot that came with a turkey deep fryer kit.  It will hold at least 14 quarts (4 gallons) of stock.  So one batch of stock made from the pork shoulder bones with celery, carrots, onions and garlic plus salt will make 16 quarts of pork stock.

All the bones and skin for the chicken will make more than 14 quarts of stock.  I could easily make 32 quarts of chicken stock from 50 lbs of bones.  But I only make 14 quarts.  Why?  TIME!  3 batches of meat plus 2 batches of stock takes 12 - 14 hours to cut and process.  If I added a 3rd batch of stock then it would take another 3 hours. I'm not that interested in another batch of stock.

3 pork shoulder bones = 14 quarts of stock.
Bones and skin for 50 lbs of leg quarters = 14-28 quarts of stock (I make 16 due to time)
   * my canner will only hold 16 pints or 14 quarts at a time.  It's the biggest that will fit on my stove.

Emergency Food Storage Note:

This is literally TWO MONTH'S worth of meals.  Take 1 cup of rice (less than 1/2 lb) and slightly less than 2 cups of stock (half a quart) then add a pint of chicken or pork with the juice in the jar.  It's a meal.  It will yield 3 cups of cooked rice and a pound of meat plus the fat.  1400 calories of food x 28 days plus 20 extra pints/pounds of meat in juice.  So, if you put up 15 pounds of rice with this you have a meal a day for 30 days plus lots extra.  If you put away 25 lbs of rice with this then you have almost 2 months of food on hand - that will store without refrigeration for at least 2 years.  25 lbs of rice costs about $12.  So for a grand total of $83 you can store 60 days worth of food (1 meal/day) for 1 person at 1400 calories per day.

Add to that flour and oil to make bread plus about 4 jars of peanut butter and 2 jars of jelly and you've got yourself 60 days worth of emergency food stored up.  2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of jelly and 2 slices of bread is about 400 calories.  24 oz jar of peanut butter will last 1 person 14 days.  So 2 jars of peanut butter and 1 jar of jelly will last a month.  Double it for 2 months.  Now you have 1400 calories from chicken/rice and 400 calories from peanut butter sandwich.  1800 calories per day that can be stored for years in the shelf at the top of your hall closet.


TIMING 

Pork shoulder is easy to cut up.  There is only 1 bone and it's easy to remove.  Then just using a sharp knife will cut it down.  It takes 30 minutes to cut up 3 pork shoulders to make 24 pints of pork.  Chicken quarters, on the other hand take longer.  It probably takes 15 minutes to debone 10 lbs of chicken.  I have 50 lbs.  So it will take over an hour of standing at the sink to process the chicken in order to can it.

Canning chicken or pork is 75 minutes of "canning time" in a pressure canner.  That means 75 minutes with the rocker rocking.  It will probably take 45 minutes before it even starts rocking and another hour of cool down time before I can take the jars out and put in the next batch.  Math says 45 minutes plus 75 minutes plus 60 minutes equals 3 hours per canning batch of meat.  I have 3 batches of meat.  Math says 9 hours to can the meat.

Next comes the stock.  The stock cooked on the stove for 3 hours per batch while the canner was running.  The stock is also already scalding hot when it goes into the quart jars and into the already hot canner.  So it probably takes 30 minutes for the stock canner to get up to temp plus 90 minutes of canning time (for Quarts) and 60 minutes of cool down before I can open the canner.  That means 3 hours for the first batch.  Then I can put in the 2nd batch.  I have to stay up while it's canning but once I turn it off I can go to sleep and empty the canner in the morning.  Math says 5.5 hours to can the stock.

Total time, assuming 30 minutes to cut up the pork before I start canning is 30 minutes plus 9 hours plus 5.5 hours.  

Total of 15 hours to can 78jars of food.

PROCESS

The process for canning meat or meat stock is very simple.

1.  You need a pressure canner.  You cannot can meat in a "bath" canner.  They don't get hot enough.
2.  Cut up the meat and stick it in the jars.  Add salt if you want.  I put 1/2 teaspoon of salt per jar.  NO water or anything else.  Just cram the jar full of boneless meat.
3.  Wipe the rim, put the top on and put the ring on snug (not super tight).
4.  Put the jars in a canner, get it up to where the weight is rocking on top and can pints for 75 minutes, quarts for 90.  The same is true for meat stock.
5.  LET THE CANNER COOL NATURALLY BEFORE TAKING OFF THE WEIGHT!  This is very, very, very important.  Did I say it's important?

If you take the weight off while the canner is still under pressure then the pressure from the canner will release FASTER than the pressure in the jars.  What happens?  At minimum all the fluid in the jars will bubble out leaving you meat but no juice in the jars and lids that aren't sealed properly.  The most likely outcome will be EXPLODED JARS OF GLASS inside your canner.  The pressure from the canner will drop very quickly but the pressure in the jars will still be 10 lbs per square inch.  The surface area of a quart jar is about 100 inches.  So the internal pressure in the jar is about 1,000 POUNDS!!!  Either it's going to blow out around the top or it's going to explode the jar.  How do I know?  I'VE DONE IT!  Broken glass all inside the canner!

THAT'S IT!  

"Wait, what about sterilizing everything, boiling the lids, preheating the jars in the oven and calling upon the favor of the gods?"  If you want to do all that feel free.  I figure if anything can survive 240 degrees F. for 90 minutes then it deserves to kill me.  I have canned this way for years... HUNDREDS OF JARS OF MEAT.... and eaten them all up to 2.5 years after canning.  It's not that hard.  If you want to go thought all of that effort for "bath" canning, feel free.  Pressure canning will kill whatever germs might be on the meat, the jars, the lids, and the inside of the canner!

"Wait, what about the fat on the meat, won't that go rancid if I don't cut it all off?"  Nothing will go rancid that has been properly canned.  The fat is the best part.  Don't take the best part out!

"I'm canning and the rocker is rocking but the pressure gauge on the canner isn't all the way up to 10 lbs."  Don't worry about it.

"It's been an hour and and canner weight is doing something but it's not "rocking" like I think it should."  It's probably just dirty.  Don't worry about it.

"The rings I'm using are old and discolored and kind of crusty."  Don't worry about it.

"I canned some food a year ago and the lid is bulging.  It smelled funny when I opened it."  WORRY ABOUT IT!  Don't eat canned food where the top is bulged out or if it smells bad.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Question: Why is my John Deere 5045 Losing Power?

Answer: The fuel screen at the bottom of the fuel tank is clogged.

My John Deere 5045 would drive OK for a while then lose RPM's and lose power.  Then the power would come back, then it would die off.  I changed the fuel filter.  The problem didn't go away. If you have this issue then it's probably a clogged screen where the fuel line come out of the tank.

There is a fuel petcock at the bottom of the fuel tank, behind the PTO engagement lever.  If you take the fuel hose off of it you should see diesel POUR out.  In my case it dribbed out.  So I got my brother to come help.  I unscrewed the petcock (by hand), and had my brother plug the hole with his finger (to keep diesel from pouring out).  Then I cleaned it with an air compressor.  Done!

By the way a fuel filter is $25-35.  Cleaning the screen is free.  It was time for me to change the fuel filter (430 hours) but if I had cleaned the screen first then I could have not spent the money today.

John Deere 5045 fuel petcock at bottom of fuel tank
near the PTO lever.

Clogged Screen causing the tractor to lose power.

Cleaned with an air compressor.
Now the tractor runs fine.