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Blood Glucose Experiment n=1

Blood Glucose Experiment Design

This experiment is an “n=1,” which is to say that it was an experiment on me, and in this case by me.  For the design I went with the recommendations of Chris Kresser, made in a 3-part series of posts:

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2019 Maple Syrup Season Planning

Primal Woods Our Purpose

Michigan Maple Syrup, The Making of

If you like knowing not only where your food comes from, but also the “why” of decisions made regarding its production, read on for the unvarnished, inconventient truths.  Primal Woods exists to achieve The Purpose, it is a vehicle for achieving The Purpose.  Decisions made need to be consistent with and support achievement of The Purpose, though maintaining that consistency may at times be inconvenient, which is to say, maintaining consistency to The Purpose may make profitability far more challenging.  I want to take a moment here though, to write about what will not change.  To change some aspects of the Primal Woods Pure Michigan Maple Syrup business would, in my opinion, run counter to the business’ “reason for being,” as documented in “The Purpose.”  Since I have repeated myself so often, I’ll stop trying to drive home the importance of The Purpose. Read more

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Adventures in Traditional Soap-Making

A Brief History of Traditional Soap-Making

traditional soap-making

Pannikin of soft-soap on chair at left

Then Almanzo was left alone in the kitchen, to take his bath.  His clean underwear was hanging on a chair-back to air and warm.  The wash-cloth and towel and the small wooden pannikin of soft-soap were on another chain.  He brought another washtub from the woodshed and put it on the floor in front of the open oven-door.

He took off his waist and one pair of socks and his pants.  Then he dipped some warm water from the tub on the stove into the tub on the floor.  He took off his other pair of socks and his underwear, and his bare skin felt good in the heat from the oven.  He toasted in the heat, and he thought he might just put on his clean underwear and not take a bath at all.  But Mother would look, when he went in the dining-room.

So he stepped in the water.  It covered his feet.  With his fingers he dug some of the brown, slimy soft-soap from the pannikin and smeared it on the washcloth.  Then he scrubbed himself well all over.

Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Chapter 7 Saturday Night)

That “soft-soap” is what we are after.  I’ve called it “man soap,” or “kick ass soap.”  The traditional methods of making soft-soap go back literally thousands of years.  The basic process involves leaching ashes in water to produce “lye-water,” and then mixing the lye-water with a fat, or fats, usually over heat, to “saponify” the fats.  In Almanzo’s case the soft-soap would probably have been made from cooking and heating-fire ashes, saved from the previous winter, and left-over fats from cooking.  Soap-making was springtime work, and it was work, without question, and usually the responsibility of the woman of the house.  In a perfect world, the resulting product contains neither fat nor lye, but only soap, the two ingredients having been totally consumed in the saponification process.  I’ve called it “man soap,” or “kick ass soap.”  It’s real, it’s natural, it was traditionally made from waste products, and it does the job.  And, the devil is indeed in the details; more on that to come in this post. Read more

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Thoughts On Diet and Health

Diet and Health – A Journey

diet and health

The diet and health bookshelf, part 1

What Am I Going to Tell You?

I’m going to tell you that what you put in your mouth is of paramount importance.  You can make remarkable, and swift, improvements to your health and fitness.  Even at what you might now consider to be “later stages of life.” You are in control.  You can do it.  In fact, you alone can do it.  No one can do it for you, and you cannot “do it” for anyone else.  With that having been said, strap on, we’re going for a ride. Read more

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The Making of Milling Memories

Portable Sawmill Service and Lumber-Making: What Does it Take?

portable sawmill serviceI suppose it’s a combination of things: the milling itself must go well for starters.  I have written fairly extensively on the preparations necessary, and the further from home you are, the more important is that preparation. I have written about the customer’s part in “How to Find and Work With a Local Sawmill Service.”  I have written about my preparations, in “The Quarter-Sawing Process, and Problems, Oh No!,” and in “Portable Sawmill Service Load-Out.”  You might say those preparations are necessary, but not sufficient, in the creation of a truly memorable experience.  Which brings us to the complement to preparation, the thing that in combination with preparation is sufficient for creation of the truly memorable.  That thing is People. Read more

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Wood-Mizer Rodent Infestation

Wood-Mizer Rodent Infestation: Background

Wood-Mizer LT40 from right side

View of Wood-Mizer LT40 from right side, black engine cover top in background

Mice!  I’m sure they are necessary to the ecosystem, but damn can they do some damage.  I would venture a guess that most Wood-Mizer sawmills are stored outside; the LT40 is 26 feet long, so to get it under cover normally involves a pretty substantial structure of some sort.  There are fabric covers, and we bought them all.  Three can be in place when towing the Wood-Mizer; covers for the operator controls, the de-barker, and the engine.  Then, there is a large cover that will protect whole carriage, including the engine, de-barker, feed motor, movable blade guide including its motor and drive, drive and idle blade wheels, mast, and a few other bits that don’t come to mind at the moment.  The downside of the large cover is that it can only be used when the portable sawmill is stationary.  A problem with all of these covers, but especially the engine cover and the large cover, is that mice also love cover!  I have repaired numerous mouse holes in the engine and large covers.  Of course mice seem to love gnawing on wiring as well.  There is really no place for the mice to go under the operator controls cover, or the de-barker cover.  So then, what’s a guy to do? Read more

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Well Pump Pressure Switch Repair

Homesteading DIY: Well Pump Pressure Switch Repair

In recent months, I’ve had to file the points (contactors) in the well pump pressure switch on a few occasions, after loss of water pressure to the house.  I finally decided to replace the contactors in the switch.  Our pressure switch is made by Square D, and while you can buy the entire switch, I decided to see if a contactor repair kit was available on

Amazon, and sure enough, it was.  You will need to switch part number to search for the appropriate repair parts.  Our switch part number is 9013FSG, located inside the switch cover, and the corresponding Square D Replacement Contact Kit 9998PC241 worked perfectly; $12 more or less, delivered.

If a fella wants to spend more time on the homestead than off, spending less money is important, which brings us to yet another homesteading DIY project.  This one is relatively small, it took me a couple of hours, and as usual, it was my first time out.  If I have it to do over again, it could probably be done in 30-45 minutes.

Once you have the parts on hand, and you’ve notified the significant other that there will be no water pressure for a bit, it’s time to get started.  Read more

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Portable Sawmill Service Load-Out

portable sawmill primal woods

Preparing For Portable Sawmill Service Work

The key word here, is portable.  Which is to say, you are some distance from the usual support systems of a typical stationary sawmill.  You may not have access to your full suite of tools; on weekends technical support from the manufacturer of your portable sawmill may or may not be available.  And as the Sawyer time is not on your side.  Downtime is the enemy, and everything must be done to prevent it, and respond to it if Murphy shows up.  So, what exactly does that entail? Read more

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2018 Post Season Update from the Sugar House

pure michigan maple syrup

Jonah, Sheila and Carl; kick-ass humans being

2018 Primal Woods Pure Michigan Maple Syrup | Year in Review

And what a Primal Woods Pure Michigan Maple Syrup season it was!  It probably included the biggest changes we will ever take on in the Sugaring business; production was up roughly 8X on 2017, and virtually everything in the process was new, or dramatically scaled up from prior years. If you have read this blog for any period of time, you know that I “reflect” fairly regularly on “what went well” and “what didn’t go so well,” with a keen eye on the latter, because the problems represent the bulk of the opportunity for future improvements.  This post will be no exception.  Having said that, without question, the most fulfilling, satisfying, and fun part of the 2018 season, was that we were able to involve a lot more of our local community in the process.  Before I get to the details, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the contribution of the people who helped us so greatly. Read more

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Late Season Update from the Sugar House

syrup pan - primal woods pure michigan maple syrup

A look into the Leader Evaporator RevMax Syrup Pan

Primal Woods Pure Michigan Maple Syrup – Late Season Update

And what a year it has been so far! We just surpassed 1,000 Half-Pint bottles produced; of the Amber, Dark, and Very Dark varieties.  Check it out in our Shop.  But even better than that, is the experience gained in the process, and the ability to include so many of our Community in the making of those 1,000 bottles.  Virtually all new equipment, the Sugar House conversion project, getting the help we needed in collecting the sap, putting up the necessary firewood, bottling, dressing the bottles, and the list goes on.  All of that with only a few hiccups, none of which could stop us.  I’m convinced we can pull off another big expansion for 2019, perhaps our final expansion; we’ll see.  For more on what we’ve been up to this season, read on. Read more