Category Archives: Family

Book Review – Traditional Bowyer’s Bible Vol. 1

trad bowyer bible

I checked The Traditional Bowyer’s Bible Volume 1 out of my library based on the recommendation of Steve Galea at Steve Galea Outdoors when I posted about making a pvc bow.  This post might also help my good buddy Duncan at with his archery problem.

After having read it, and checked out lots of different sources on the net I am committed to making a bow myself.  The book itself is quite detailed.  It has chapters covering why traditional archery, cutting and seasoning wood, bow design and performance, finishes and handles, and self arrows just to name a few.  The book is 324 pages long and is edited by Jim Hamm, with contributions from a variety of traditional bow experts.  I will be up front and honest with you, I didn’t read all 324 pages.  There were sections of the book that don’t particularly interest me at this point so I skipped them.

The book starts with a short chapter by Jay Massey on why he thinks traditional archery is the only way to go.  While I agree with many of his points, I won’t be giving up my compound bow this year, and possibly never.  I plan on starting to make bows, and hopefully soon.  Maybe if I ever become proficient enough at it use a bow I built while hunting I might change my tune.  I can’t imagine the sense of satisfaction of taking a bow from stave or board form and creating a tool with which you could hunt and then using that tool to harvest something that could feed your family.  I suppose if I ever experience that it won’t be hard to give up modern archery gear.  I guess only time will tell.

The next chapter covers cutting and seasoning wood.  From choosing the type of tree to cut down, to how to get the most out of each tree, and then how to get that wood into a usable blank with which to make a bow.  I hope at some point to be able to fell a tree from our property, create staves and make a bows with it, maybe even use deer hide and sinew from a deer harvested on our property to finish the handle, but I think I am going to “cheat” and start with a board.  That being said, the information in here is extensive and very easy to understand and does cover how to choose a board from a lumber store.

The book next moves on to bow design and performance.  It covers all aspects of how design affects performance and what to avoid so that you don’t sabotage your build.  Discussed are such topics as arrow speed, accuracy, comfort, durability, suitability, ease of construction, cost, as well as other topics.  There is a tremendous amount of information in this chapter.  They give estimates on how long different types of bows might take to build for experts and how long that same type of bow might take for a novice.  This chapter alone is probably worth buying to book so as to have the information on hand.

The middle chapters of the book talks about different styles of bow, along with glue, splicing, and backing a bow.  That takes us to tillering.  Tillering is where a bow is truly made.  Jim Hamm describes tillering like this, “Take off wood where the limb doesn’t bend enough, and leave alone the areas where it bends too much.”  Sounds simple right?  From what I have learned, it is anything but simple.  It sounds very easy to move too quickly during this process and ruin a bow.  So if you decide to build a bow, tiller slowly.  This chapter covers topics such as necessary/useful tools for tillering, floor tillering, tiller sticks, tillering trees, long string tillering, and tillering to draw length and draw weight.

The book concludes with chapters on how to finish bows and add handles.  The ways to do this is limited only by the bowyer’s imagination.  There are obviously some rules to follow in order to build a strong and sturdy bow, but google traditional bow pictures and you will see what I mean.  One of the last chapters talks about how to make self arrows.  Choice of wood through cutting in nocks is discussed.  The making of arrows out of one piece of wood, the definition of self arrows, sounds to me like as much if not more work than actually building a bow.  That may make this task one that I put off until later to undertake.

If you have any interest in ever building a bow, or would just like to increase your knowledge base this book is for you.  It may end up being one of the books that I first checked out from the library but need to refer back to it so often that it ends up being purchased from Amazon here.  There is too much information in it to remember, even if taking notes.  Hopefully at some point in the not too distant future I will be posting about my first successful bow build.  If not, sometime in the near future I will be posting about the mistakes I made in attempting to build my first bow.  Either way it should be fun, right?

Back Up for Sale

Well our plans have encountered a little hiccup.  The buyer we had a purchase agreement with was unable to sell their house.  We initially gave them 45 days to sell and then extended it another two weeks.  We would love for them to be able to buy our house but at this point we would like to get it sold.  While we are bummed out about having to list and show our house again we know that the family who was hoping to buy our house is equally, if not more, bummed out that we are now.  From the correspondence that our agent has had with theirs we learned how much they liked our house.  Maybe they will be able to sell their house before we get another offer and still buy the house, who knows?

In the meantime we have tidied up the house and are ready for more showings.  I hope it sells as fast as it did the last time (4 days) as showing a house is time consuming and honestly our house is lived in.  We have four children, five if you include me, a dog, and lot’s of activities, so keeping a house spotless is hard/impossible.  That isn’t even mentioning homeschooling and all the books we have out and the schedule we try to keep.  Hopefully those people who look at the house realize it is lived in, and not a model.

While the house is back on the market I am still trying to get estimates for a septic field, cement work, and driveway work so that we can be ready to move to the new place.  It is amazing to me how hard it is to get a call back form some contractors when you have work to be done.  Maybe they are just that busy.

Anyways, I just wanted to update the situation for anyone who is interested.  I am off to call some contractors.

New Train

Who would have ever thought I would get three blog posts out of a three hour trip to Greenfield Village?  Not this guy.  This will be the last post, I promise.  Greenfield Village recently got a new train and this was the first time I had seen it and I believe the first time my kids had ridden it.  I love the blue color.  At the end of the video is the covered bridge.  It spans a small pond near one of the railroad stations and is home to many turtles(painted I think) as well as a large amount of koi/goldfish.  My mom always brings a sandwich sized Ziplock bag full of Cherios with which the kids feed the fish.  I should have gotten a picture of that, it is really quite amazing to see these fish swarming for Cherios.  There is another pond towards the back of the park that has carp and catfish and they swarm as well.  That pond is circle shaped and quite a bit larger, it had been used for a ferry boat in years past.  Every once in a while we see a snapping turtle in that pond who isn’t interested in the Cherios, he’s interested in the small fish eating the Cherios.  And occasionally he gets a meal too.

I don’t know if I mentioned that my phone got wet a few weeks ago(hopefully no Apple or Sprint customer service reps are reading this).  The phone still works, mostly.  The earpiece doesn’t work, so it has to be on speaker phone, and it won’t play music, or the sound to notify me of an incoming text.  But I was waiting for the announcement on the new Iphone.  All this is to say hopefully soon the pictures and videos I take with my phone for the blog are of higher quality.

Rodeo Weekend

A couple weekends ago our family went to the Sparta Rodeo in Sparta, MI.  The Sparta Rodeo has a long tradition and many people in western Michigan have memories that go back years and even generations for the rodeo.  In the early 2000’s the man who ran the Rodeo passed away and the Rodeo stopped occurring.  My brother-in-law had been wanting to get it started up again, and this year he was finally able to make that happen.

To be perfectly honest, I was not much of a rodeo person.  I didn’t know much about them really.  They just weren’t something I grew up with, but let me tell you they are fun, and very entertaining.  This year’s Sparta Rodeo started on Wednesday at noon when the campground opened up.  Camping is allowed until 5 o’clock on Monday of Labor Day.  With my wife having to work, we went on Saturday early afternoon.  I camped out Saturday night while my wife and the kids stayed at an area hotel.  If my memory serves me it is the first time I have been camping since Boy Scouts, obviously it was long overdue.  Here is a picture of my tent.

The maiden camping trip for the tent that my wife and I got after our wedding, almost 12 years ago. Better late than never.
But back to the rodeo.  The main reason we were there was to support and help my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.  So when the gates opened at 3:30 Saturday afternoon I was manning the entrance gate that allowed campers into the rodeo.  The rodeo itself started at 5 o’clock and there was what I thought to be a good turnout.  About 6 o’clock I left the gate and went to see if there was anything else with which I could help out.  Turns out there was time to try and sell a few more 50/50 tickets.  There was a full slate of rodeo events both Saturday and Sunday including team roping, bull riding, barrel racing, mutton busting, wild cow milking, saddle bronc riding, and the kids shoe run.  That evening’s rodeo was a great success.

A view of the first night of Rodeo
After helping my wife get the kids into the car to head back to the hotel we sat down to a camp cooked dinner made by good friends of my brother-in-law’s and we settled in to talk about the day around the campfire.

The temperature that night was great for sleeping.  The humidity….that was another story.  A fog rolled in, and the underside of the rain fly on the tent looked as thought it had gotten rained on.  Any wall of the tent that I touched ended up wet so I ended up trying to sleep diagonal in the 7’x7′ tent in order to keep dry.  The box for the tent said that it could sleep 3 people and while 7’x7′ doesn’t sound small, when the walls start angling towards the center immediately after leaving the ground, it was a tight fit.  For next year I either need to get a bigger tent, get a camper, or get a school bus and convert it into a camper(like these great people did here).

A view of part of the campground
A look to the left out of my tent door early Sunday morning
A look to the right out of my tent door early Sunday morning

Sunday morning found us getting ready for cowboy church.  My brother-in-law was leading cowboy church and he did a great job.  He talked about the struggle to get the rodeo started again and how he saw God’s hand in making it happen.  Assembling around the arena with all the livestock there was pretty darn cool.  Our younger son, who isn’t always the most excited to go to church, was pretty intrigued by cowboy church he wasn’t disappointed.

After cowboy church we went to Mass and then back to the hotel after stopping to pick up another roll of 50/50 tickets.  After a quick swim in the pool I hitched a ride back to the rodeo with my in-laws to get ready for Sunday night’s rodeo.  That night I worked the main gate with my sister-in-law, mother-in-law, father-in-law, and oldest son.  Our son was a trooper, even in the extreme heat and humidity he kept bringing change and wrist bands as the cars kept rolling into the rodeo.  After another great night of rodeo I returned back to the hotel with my family to sleep the night there.

A view from the main gate over the arena to the right, and part of the campground to the left on Sunday night
I am extremely proud of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.  They did a great job running their first rodeo and I think they did the tradition of the Sparta Rodeo proud.  It is a testament to the type of people that they are the amount of friends and family that rallied behind them to help in making the rodeo a success.  If you are looking for a good time and a camping trip to end the summer next year on Labor Day Weekend consider Sparta Rodeo, that’s where I will be.  You won’t be disappointed.

Limited edition car sticker, hopefully there will be more next year

More from Greenfield Village

If you have never been to Greenfield Village and The Henry Ford you should really make a point to go if you are ever in the Detroit area.  Henry Ford decided he wanted to save historic homes before they were lost from history so he brought them to Greenfield Village.  There are such places as Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Complex, Henry Ford’s boyhood home, and Thomas Edison’s Fort Myers Laboratory.  I will admit that when I was a child and we were taking everyone who came to visit to Greenfield Village, I didn’t think it was so cool.  It seems to me though, that every year it has gotten better and more family(read kid) friendly.  My parents have a membership that allows them to take the grandkids for free, and ride all the rides for free as well.  My kids LOVE Greenfield Village.  Riding horse drawn carriages, model T’s, riding a steam or diesel locomotive, riding a 1931 model Ford model AA bus, or riding on a historic carousel, there is an abundance of things to keep a child’s attention.  And that doesn’t even count the working farm house and other livestock.  I am sticking to my guns when I say it was boring when I was a kid, but is great for kids now.  Either way, make the trip.

Here are some more pictures from our visit last Sunday.

If I were going to restore a historic vehicle, I think this one would be it.

A good looking dually
It’s Mater’s great grandpa
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Our Morning at Greenfield Village

My parents took my children, myself, and my nephew to Greenfield Village this morning.  We didn’t realize that it was The Old Car Festival this weekend.  There were around 860 period cars.  All of them had to be period correct and there is a two year waiting list to be able to show your car.  Here is a video of us riding around in one of the village model T’s and looking at the cars.  It was quite amazing.

Sneak Peek

I wanted to give you all a sneak peek of what the new place will look like.  This will be the view out our back windows once we move.

This is looking out to the middle of the property. The property extends back into the woods and to a marsh behind it.

Honestly the more I think about it, the more excited I get.  I have dreamed of living there since my parents bought the property 8 years ago.  It will be so nice to be able to sit out and enjoy nature and the space.  So there you have it, what will be our new backyard.

Great Info on Dressed Out Weight of Farm Animals

I often ask people who I think are in “the know” how much meat you actually get from the average animal when you butcher it.  Here is everything in one spot, with breeds to try as well.  Great info.

Speaking Highly of Your Spouse

I can’t agree with this article more.  Affirmation in marriage is so important, especially public affirmation of your spouse.  Just think about how you felt the last time your spouse bragged on you in public… chest puffed out a little more or do you have a warm spot in your heart for your spouse remembering that moment?  Think about all the good that could be done by simply affirming and complimenting your spouse in public.  Seriously, do it today.



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