Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Meat Dryer

In continued efforts to separate from the world, unto God, one of the things that keeps us currently tied to it is how we process the meat after butchering the animal. At this time, we typically fire up the freezer, running off the generator, and then Sue pressure-cans it all. Processing the meat this way has two main problems: 1) running a generator and an electrical appliance, both which require ongoing maintenance and can break; and 2) using a canner, which also can require maintenance, and for us requires propane. Now, one can pressure-can using a wood burner; but it's apparently not very easy to do correctly; and still, the canner can lose parts or require replacement ones.

And so, how was it all done before there were these things we use today? Or even, how is it done by people today who don't have them either?

If you've studied this at all, you'll know that salt is typically used for preserving meats; but what do you do with it after that, especially when dealing with larger quantities of meat? Again, with further study, even today, especially in countries where freezers, etc. aren't available, the meat is hung in the wind to dry -- the air helping pull out the moisture -- the seed bed of bacteria -- out of the meat. And this can be done any time during the year.

Excellent!

And so, I wanted us to start heading down this direction. With all of the insects we have during the warmer months, I really wanted our place of drying to be enclosed in some way; but in looking for ideas on the Internet, there really weren't many I could see -- it appears in the countries where they process meat like this, they just simply hang it up in the open air. Still not really wanting to do that, I started to try to put a design together myself. And so, the plan was to have something that had removable doors, was screened in, and allowed the hanging of lots of meat of all different lengths.

Using left over sections that were cut off from our house porch posts, I made a base frame using them and treated 2x4s. The overall plan was to use as little wood as possible, being able to fit the dryer's frame under one piece of plywood as a roof, allowing for a little bit of roof overhang all around. I had originally thought about making a large dryer, but then figured I wouldn't use that many more materials if I made multiple dryers instead as needed, and they would be somewhat portable:

Meat Dryer Base


And then added the main frame and bottom frame joists:

Meat Dryer Main Frame


And I planned for the removable doors to fit inside a frame, which is shown here:

Meat Dryer with Screen Door Frame


Here is the bottom of the meat dryer with the screening in place:

Meat Dryer Screened Bottom


And frame strips in place to hold on the screening. The strips are made by ripping the 2x4s into 4 strips each and then cutting to size. They are held by screws, as I wanted to be able to remove them to replace the screening if necessary. I also cut them to size to run counter to the bottom frame/joists connections (the strip would overlap where the joist butted up to the frame), to make it stronger; but next time, for expediency sake, I may place them in the same directions as the frame and joists:

Meat Dryer Screened Bottom with Frame


I thought to use rebar on which to hang the meat hooks. I was going to hang rebar from wires that were hanging from the roof rafters; but one of the men here suggested I take a 2x4, drill holes along it, rip it in half, and us the half circles as the rebar holders. Great idea!

Meat Dryer Rebar Holder Before Being Ripped in Half
Meat Dryer Rebar Holder in Place


Here are the roof rafters and blocks in place:

Meat Dryer Roof Rafters/Blocks, Front View
Meat Dryer Roof Rafter/Block, Side View
Meat Dryer Roof Rafters/Blocks, Top View


With the bottom screening in place, the one thing I told myself was, "Do not drop anything on it." Well, that didn't last too long:

Meat Dryer Hole in Bottom Screening


Oops. It was the thin corner of the roof rafter that got away from me. And so, I caulked it:

Meat Dryer Hole in Bottom Screening, Caulking Applied


And here it is pretty much dry. I purposely designed everything (with screws, etc.) so that I could fairly easily replace the screening if I ever need to:

Meat Dryer Hole in Bottom Screening, Dry Caulking


With Gary, the goose we use to have, being gone and no longer able to supervise as foreman, our cat, William, has apparently taken over:

William the Cat Supervising Meat Dryer Construction


Here is the first frame of the removable screen door with the screening stapled in place:

Meat Dryer Screen Door Screening in Place


And then the other frame pieces were placed on top a piece at a time, secured with wood screws, in pilot holes:

Meat Dryer Screen Door Full Frame in Place


Each frame piece was cut to overlap the pieces of the other frame (like the strips over the bottom frame joists):

Meat Dryer Screen Door Full Frame in Place


I wanted to make sure the door was fairly square and a little stronger, and so I thought to add plywood corners. Here is a scrap piece of plywood, marked for cutting the corners:

Meat Dryer Screen Door Plywood Corner Braces Marked Before Cuts


And then with the corners cut:

Meat Dryer Screen Door Plywood Corner After Cuts


And here is the removable screen door in place on the dryer, showing the corners attached, handles in place, and wood latches on top and below, holding it in place:

Meat Dryer with Screen Door and Screen Door Handles, Corners, and Latches in Place


Here's a picture of the plywood roof in place:

Meat Dryer Plywood Roof


I decided to use flashing for the roof:

Meat Dryer Installing Roof Flashing
Meat Dryer Roof Flashing, Two Sides
Another Angle of Meat Dryer Roof Flashing, Two Sides


On the low side of the roof, I had to move the screen door latch to the side, because I had planned to attach strips of wood under the overhang that the grommeted screws would attach to (which would also help hide the screws so they wouldn't become a skin or clothing hazard):

Meat Dryer Screen Door Latch Placement for Low Side of Roof


And here is the roof with the flashing installed:

Meat Dryer Roof Flashing Installed, Top View


And here are the flashing overhang supports/screw covers:

Meat Dryer Roof Flashing Supports


Here are the rebar hangers in place:

Meat Dryer Rebar Pieces in Place


And some meat hooks bent in shape. I used a coat hanger, cutting the ends to be pointed, and I sanded the paint off. I needed an extra one after the coat hanger was used, and so I thought to use a piece of galvanized electric wire, because it appeared the coat hanger hooks were rusting some. In the end, I might need to have stainless steel ones:

Meat Dryer Meat Hooks


Here they are hanging from the rebar:

Meat Dryer with Meat Hooks Hanging


I initially had the meat dryer facing broadside to the north and learned the hard way that the dryer wasn't very aerodynamic -- a strong wind not only tipped it over, but flipped it upside down. Nice. So, I turned it to be long-ways north and south and staked the legs to the ground:

Meat Dryer Leg Staked to the Ground


And finally, voila! Brined/spiced meat hanging in the meat dryer!

Meat Dryer with Brined/Spiced Meat Hanging


We're still waiting for it to finish drying; and Lord willing, we'll report on that process at a later time.

We are grateful to the Lord for His provisions, and showing us how to handle those He's given us in a way that He has invented (with salt and air) instead of using man's enslaving methods.

-- David

Monday, December 19, 2011

Turnips & Wheat 2012

One of the things we've tried to get going here, but have had some difficulty, especially because of the drought, has been crops. A few years ago we tried oats, just hand spread on a field; some grew, and we harvested a few; but most went to the cows.

Last year we tried again, and the drought seemed to really keep things from flourishing. Again, we tried harvesting some literally by hand (pulling the grains off by hand) as they were pretty small to use the scythe against; and so, that was a pretty arduous task; and most of what was there went to the goats, which did help feed them, which was a good thing from our separatist perspective.

And so, this year we thought we'd try again, as we believe we should continue to try these types of things, leaving the results in God's hands. I decided to go with wheat, in hopes that if we are able to harvest some, we would be able to use some for human consumption vs. trying to use the oats, which have an extra hull around the grain kernel that's difficult to remove.

I also thought I'd throw some turnip seed in the ground to see what would happen.

Here is the field ready after plowing and planting. We were able to get the seed in the ground before the 5-inch+ rain we got several months ago. The turnip area is probably less than 1/4 acre, and the wheat area is a little over 3 acres, I believe:

Wheat 2012 Oct 8


Here are the turnips on Nov 9:

Turnips 2012 Nov 9


And the other day on Dec 17:

Turnips 2012 Dec 17


This is the wheat on Nov 9 and 10:

Wheat 2012 Nov 9
Wheat 2012 Nov 10


And again, the other day on Dec 17 (the more empty place on the left of the first picture is where the geese have eaten it down, but it looks like it's coming back):

Wheat 2012 Dec 17
More Wheat 2012 Dec 17


It appears the chickens and geese love both the turnips and the wheat grass, but I'm pretty sure they can't eat it all. :)

The Lord has graciously granted rainfall to continue the growth, even when it looked like things were starting to fade away some, and we pray that He might grant a harvest, so that we can further separate from dependence on a world that is at war with our love, the Lord Jesus Christ.

-- David

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A House - Update XI - Porch Cross Beams

After the house pony walls were in place, it was time to start on the porch cross beams!

Since we did the porch posts some time ago, they had opportunity to start to torque and bend in the air. I had hoped to get to the cross beams sooner so this problem would be limited, and I never cut them off in hopes that most of the twisting would happen on the top parts that would be cut off; and now in retrospect, I probably should have done the porch posts and cross beams at the same time; but that wasn't going to help now; and so, one of the biggest issues we had to overcome was the un-level, twisted posts.

At first, we used the truck and a ratchet strap to level the posts:

Porch Posts Leveled with Truck and Ratchet Strap


But then switched to using the tractor because it was more maneuverable into the tighter areas around the house:

Porch Posts Leveled with Tractor and Ratchet Strap


A few posts only required a single 2x6 brace to get them untwisted:

Porch Post Twisted Straight with One 2x6


Others required two, in the shape of an "L", and with some of these we did a brace on each side (also notice the 2x4 from the cross beams, which was used to twist it flat onto the top of the post):

Porch Post Twisted Straight with Two 2x6s in an L Shape with a Cross Beam Torquing 2x4


Quite a few required three 2x6s in the shape of a "U", which gave us a lot of twisting counter-pressure:

Porch Post Twisted Straight with Three 2x6s in a U Shape


Here is a post leveled with the ratchet strap off of another post, and two "L" braces in place keeping it torqued straight (although, we could have probably done it with only one "U" brace instead):

Porch Post Leveled with Ratchet Strap, Twisted Straight, and Braced


Once leveled and twisted in shape, the tops were cut off:

Cutting Off the Top of the Porch Post


In similar fashion to leveling the foundation piers, we used the water level from one post to another, and we tried to use the same starting post each time so any errors introduced were not additive:

Using the Water Level to Get the Level from One Post to the Next


And here is a cross beam in place. The cross beams are treated 4x6s, like the porch posts:

Porch Cross Beam in Place


We used two T-straps, inside and outside, to join each post to each cross beam, used 3 1/4" 16d galvanized "Common" nails to attach the T-straps (come to find out, there are 3 1/4" 16d galvanized "Box" nails, which have a smaller diameter and aren't as stout, even though they cost more at the place we got them), and used bolts to further secure them:

Porch Cross Beams Joined with T-Strap


So, as I mentioned, we were able to put quite a bit of twisting force on the posts to get them straight, which some of them really required. One of the biggest fears with that though was having the post come apart from too much twisting.

Well, with one badly torqued post, we got it almost straight. I looked at it, and looked at it, and said, "Just a little more, to get it just a little more straight." And yep, that was it...snap! Bummer:

Porch Post Broken After Too Much Twisting


Well then, what to do. Mr. Gurau, who has been helping with the house building, had an idea. He first cut off the post at the porch floor joist support level:

Cutting Off Broken Porch Post
Broken Porch Post Cut Off


And here is how he installed the replacement post, using the T-straps:

New Porch Post Strapped in Place
Another View of New Porch Post Strapped in Place


Here is what it looked like when it fell to the ground after being cut off. In thinking about it, the Lord might have been especially gracious in allowing the post to crack now, giving us opportunity to replace it now, rather than having to do it some time in the future, when the whole porch roof was up:

Broken Porch Post on the Ground in Pieces


As Mr. Gurau progressed and got to the corners, here is how he handled them, using the T-straps:

Outside Corner of Porch Cross Beams with T-Strap
Inside Corner of Porch Cross Beams with T-Strap


And here are the porch posts complete!

Completed Line of Porch Cross Beams
Another Completed Line of Porch Cross Beams


We're grateful again to God for granting us provisions for the house, and for the help in Mr. Gurau He has allowed, and for Mr. Gurau's continued safety while he works, for which we continue to pray.

-- David