Those of you who read my blog, or even those of you who happen to come across it looking for pallet ideas, homesteading ideas or the like, I assume you have similar interests as I do. You probably prefer a simpler life away from the city. Maybe you have dreamt about moving a little further out into the ruralness of Pennsylvania….the north central area perhaps.

From reading previous posts you can see how much I value the way things are around here. Having large tracts of state forestland just a stones throw away, a bounty of back roads scented with sweet smelling hay in the summer, calling you to leave a trail of dust on them, the county seat of Wellsboro being a beautiful little town as if plucked from Mayberry and hidden in the middle of the hills here, pure native trout streams…all this and yet still being within a 30-40 min drive to a decent sized “city”. At least a city big enough to be called one, yet not so big that it has the sprawl of the large ones. Philadelphia is an easy 3 hour zip down a few highways, Pittsburgh a bit further the other direction, and Harrisburg about 2.5 hours straight south. This provides enough distance to be far enough away, yet not so far that it cant be driven as often as needed. I should know, we travel to the Philadelphia area at least once a month.

If you desire to call your home here, you have found the right person. Among my many activities, I decided to get my Real Estate license this year. I joined up with RE/MAX in the little town of Mansfield. Its a locally owned franchise and I enjoy being able to tour the many properties that are listed for sale. I am specializing in land, timber, and farm type properties. This would really fit my character and what I enjoy most because it will keep me in contact with those of you who are looking for a spot to enjoy life a little closer to nature. 

Maybe you are looking for a more agrarian lifestyle, or more of a hobby farm idea. I have seen many properties like those come up for sale, ranging from small 5 acre farms to extremely large farms ready for operation, to Grand-pops farm where he is just too old to keep his farm going and has no offspring interested in keeping it running.

Or maybe you are looking for a piece of wooded land to pull in a camper now and then or build a cabin, or maybe even already have a cabin on it. No need to worry, we have plenty of cabins around! Whether lake front, stream front, river front, or just up in the woods, there is usually something to find.

So, if you are considering, or are actually ready to find something like I have mentioned, don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to help someone fulfill their dreams of owning a piece of north-central Pennsylvania!

That goes for those of you who are wanting to sell some too! =)


Hills Creek Lake

Hills Creek Lake

It’s that time of year. The leaves are changing color, the days are getting crisper, and the frost is on the pumpkin. This is my favorite time of year. From the late days of September to late November, no other season beats it here in Pennsylvania.

This year has been outstanding for apples. Trees that had never even bore fruit in a generations memory, were loaded with apples, or pears. We have a few trees on the hill beside our house that I knew were some sort of fruit tree but being that I am not an avid botanist, I was not sure what kind they were. They had never bore fruit to my memory. This year they were loaded with pears! I was so excited that I grabbed one and took a big bite……BLECH! They were very wild pears, bitter, and leaving a “dry mouth” feeling. But in any case, my neighbors apple trees which we usually pick from were loaded down with delicious apples.

Family picking apples

Family picking apples

We usually make applesauce with our neighbors apples. They make the BEST applesauce. Dont ask me what kind they are because I don’t know. They are yellowish green, with a tinge of pink in the skin. This year I was interested in making apple cider as well as applesauce since there was such an abundance. I began looking into what was involved in the whole process. I figured that it couldn’t be any more difficult than the Maple Syrup we make. So I began researching. I found many examples of cider presses,  both homemade and some professionally made. It was clear that I didn’t have the time to make one, nor the money to buy one ($500+ for a good one).

Interestingly enough, that same day I came across a facebook post of one of my friends using a cider press with a youth group. I sent him a message asking where he got the cider press and he told me that a mutual friend of ours had built one and that he lent it to the youth group to use as an activity. So I contacted our friend DJ and scheduled a time that we could bring our apples over one evening.

DJ making the mash

DJ making the mash

He has children of similar ages to ours so it was a great time together. When we arrived we unloaded the apples and he showed us how the whole process works. We had a table where we had the apples sitting in a cold water bath, just as a rinsing method. Then we chopped the apples in half and took them by 5 gallon bucket full to a sink he had attached to some pallets and attached a garbage disposal to the sink. The apples get shoved through the disposal which turns them into a mash. The mash is then poured into a cloth net material that is draped over a

Homemade cider press with empty frame

Homemade cider press with empty frame

hollow frame on the press table. The extra netting is folded over the mash that is in the frame, the frame is removed and a wood lattice, made of slats of oak screwed together with 1/4′ spaces between slats, is placed on top of the netted mash. The frame is then placed on top of the slats for another layer of netted mash. This is done until about 3-4 layers are stacked. Then a car jack is mounted to the top of the press and you start expanding the jack as it presses down on a few blocks of wood that are placed on the top layer of the stack.

Pressing stack

Pressing stack

The press table has a 2-3″ high rim around the perimeter with a notch cut out in the front to allow the juice to pour out, where we placed a 5 gallon bucket underneath to catch the juice. On top of the bucket there is a pillow-case-type cloth rubberbanded over the top to filter out any finer unwanted dirt or pulp. The filter also helps if you’re doing this during the day and yellow jackets start wanting some too. My youngest hung outside with me and my friend DJ in the cold. He was a trooper. He also got to enjoy a drink of cider as it flowed out from the pulp, you should have seen his smile!

Out of about 5 bushels of apples we got about 11.5 gallons of cider….16 oz of which I am drinking as I write this post =). YUM!

close up of stack

close up of stack

Fresh juice!

Fresh juice!


Obama/Putin (pic from voiceofrussia.com )

Obama/Putin
(pic from voiceofrussia.com )

It is interesting to me to stand back and look at all the political followers. You have your liberals who follow Obama and have historically opposed going  into any war. Then you have the conservatives who can’t stand Obama and are all about being a Patriot and conserving America’s foundational values.

The latter group would probably be the group that you would more likely hear how bad Russia is and how unamerican any russian sympathy would be…stemming from the cold war in the 80’s.

So now we are at an interesting crossroads. Now we have Obama wanting to go to war, EVEN against UN’s advice to not do it. And we have Putin asking for diplomacy. Here in the states, the Republicans are all over the place in agreement and against it.

I will enjoy watching who the conservatives line themselves up with. If you don’t like Obama, then you gotta side with a Russian! Hows that for an identity crisis?

Just so you know, I don’t take any political standpoint. I would probably be closer to conservative Ideals, but even they aren’t a group I would align myself with. Read some of my other posts and you will get a feel for where I am at.


Beautiful contertop

Beautiful contertop

Nice dining room chair.

Nice dining room chair.

Axe handle stool

Axe handle stool

Axe Handle stools with swivel seats.

Axe Handle stools with swivel seats.

Nice milk pail stools.

Nice milk pail stools.


A few months ago I was traveling through McKean County in Pennsylvania on my way back from a job. Years ago in McKean county there was an old railroad bridge that stretched across a great divide.

Here is a quick description from Wikipedia: “

The Kinzua Bridge before its collapse. www.alleghenyratraid.com

The Kinzua Bridge before its collapse. http://www.alleghenyratraid.com

The Kinzua Bridge or the Kinzua Viaduct (/ˈkɪnz/[4] or /ˈkɪnz.ə/) was a railroad trestle that spanned Kinzua Creek in McKean Countyin the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. Prior to its collapse in 2003, the bridge was 301 feet (92 m) tall and 2,052 feet (625 m) long.

The bridge was originally built from iron in 1882 and was billed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World“, holding the record as the tallest railroad bridge in the world for two years. In 1900, the bridge was dismantled and simultaneously rebuilt out of steel to allow it to accommodate heavier trains. It stayed in commercial service until 1959 and was sold to the Government of Pennsylvania in 1963, becoming the centerpiece of a state park. Restoration of the bridge began in 2002, but before it was finished, a tornado struck the bridge in 2003, causing a large portion of the bridge to collapse. Corroded anchor bolts holding the bridge to its foundations failed, contributing to the collapse.

Shortly after the tornado. www.bradfordera.com

Shortly after the tornado.
http://www.bradfordera.com

Before its collapse, the Kinzua Bridge was ranked as the fourth-tallest railway bridge in the United States.[5] It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1982. The ruins of the Kinzua Bridge are inKinzua Bridge State Park off U.S. Route 6 near the borough of Mount Jewett, Pennsylvania.

Now, what’s left of the remaining bridge has been turned into a vista where you can walk out over the edge of the hill and have a scenic look at the remains and the surrounding hills. It really is a sight to see. I would encourage you all to make a trip to it whenever you can. It would be a great trip for the fall when the leaves on the trees are most beautiful.

IMG_20121019_142529

Scenery

The walk out to the edge.

The walk out to the edge.


I am not sure how many of you follow me on Facebook. If you do, then you know all about where I work.  Almost 2 years ago I left my position as Director for Tioga County GIS and joined the team over at Wildlife Specialists, LLC. My good friend, Merlin Benner, began the business in 2007 after leaving his position as a Biologist for Pennsylvania DCNR.

Wildlife Specialists, LLC was founded in 2007 to provide clients with comprehensive wildlife assessment, planning, and monitoring services. A lot of our work is with endangered, rare, or threatened species. We also provide nuisance white tailed deer and feral hog management.

Timber Rattlesnake tracked, tagged, and released via telemetry

Timber Rattlesnake tracked, tagged, and released via telemetry

Long story short, after talking with him, they asked if I would join them to help their GIS program and also their Nuisance Deer/Feral Hog Management program. After getting certified through the Game Commission as a Nuisance WIldlife/White Tailed Deer Agent, I joined them formally as their GIS manager in March of 2012. Since moving over, I have enjoyed a great many days in the field rather than in a stuffy office in front of a computer every day. I have gotten to learn so much about the various species and habitats that we work with.

I have had the chance to work on Timber Rattlesnake habitat surveys, Goshawk

Telemetry equipment picking up a transmitter frequency inside a rattlesnake.

Telemetry equipment picking up a transmitter frequency inside a rattlesnake.

surveys, wetland delineation, rare plant surveys, invasive plant studies and removal, rattlesnake telemetry studies, Allegheny Woodrat habitat improvement projects and so on. This is the kind of work I have always wanted to be doing.

Timber rattlesnake marked.

Timber rattlesnake marked.

Consequently, a lot of the work has come from the natural gas activity in the area. As that slows down, so does the work. We are still keeping relatively busy and hope that New York will soon open up for natural gas drilling. Pennsylvania has really benefited from all the survey work that has been done due to the gas industry. The records of what is really out there in the wilds is now more robust and better documented. And I am glad to be a part of it and see it all for myself out in the woods.

The timbering gear that we carried up the mountains for woodrat habitat improvement.

The timbering gear that we carried up the mountains for woodrat habitat improvement.

Woodrat habitat improvement. Steep rocky terrain!

Woodrat habitat improvement. Steep rocky terrain!


If you have read through my blog you will see a few posts on cheap but effective ways to raise animals on your own small property. One of the posts talked about an egg mobile.

Egg-Mobile 1.0

Egg-Mobile 1.0

This contraption that I built I will call Egg Mobile 1.0. It was modified from it’s original design according to the material I had on hand. I used a lot of wood which made it heavier than desired. Though its design made it relatively easy to pull along the grass for myself, it was a little more difficult for my wife.

I recently tore it down to the pressure treated base frame. I went to tractor supply and bought 2 cattle panels that were 16′ long and about 3.5′ wide. They were $20 each. I attached the bottom of one to the inside side rail, then flexed the other end over to the other side rail board and attached it also, forming a sort of hoop house shape. I made sure that the bottom edges were attached just above the bottom edge of the boards so as to not catch on the dirt and grass while being drug. You can attach the panels in whatever way works best; large staples, screws screwed in on an angle, nails bent over…etc.

Cattle panels attached.

Cattle panels attached.

Then I attached the next panel right next to the first and joined the two in the middle with zipties about every other square to firm up the panels. Then on either end I added chicken wire, also along the sides because the panel holes are large enough for the chickens to get out if they wanted.

For a door, I had saved the one from the previous build (Egg Mobile 1.0). However,

I didn’t want to add more wood for installing the door. My wife had a great idea! She asked if I just couldn’t hinge the door sideways, on the bottom, on the wooden rail. So thats what I did. I really like the way it has turned out. The only issue is that with the door turned sideways, it is difficult to get the waterer and feeder in with ease as they are taller than the opening, and heavy when full.

I then put a tarp over the top, slightly favoring one side (the west), and slid small lengths of wood across the inside corners for perching.

Egg Mobile 2.0

Egg Mobile 2.0

Egg Mobile 2.0

Egg Mobile 2.0 

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