Posted on August 25 2019
This weekend a dozen of the ReadyMan RM#1 members met for the “Homestead Challenge.”
If I do say so myself this weekend was one of the coolest ReadyMan challenges thus far. It was made up of four different challenges with a sprinkling of competition between the teams. Guys worked together to prove their skills in completing basic homesteader skills.
Challenge One was to make a hasty knife or weapon in three hours. The machine shop at the homestead was made available for the heating and grinding that was part of the skill challenge.
As a bonus, master knife maker Charly Mann was on standby to help the men make a variety of knives, cleavers and even an ax head. If you are not familiar with Charly you can find him at www.MannMadeKnives.com. He is without a doubt one of the most talented Bowie knife forgers in the United States. His knife forging is amazing beautiful as it is functional and his patience as an instructor is unparalleled. That alone made the weekend worth it.
We were provided an old truck leaf spring and briefly instructed on how to use the propane forge to heat the metal to flatten it and then use the other tools in the shop to begin the stock removal to fashion the desired knife shape. If you have never fashioned a tool, especially a knife then you are missing out on a ton of fun and something that elicits a sense of satisfaction that is hard to describe.
Challenge two was make a board. Yes that is make a board, as in a piece of lumber. Here is the twist though, you were required to identify and safely cut down the tree then turn that raw tree into a long piece of lumber.
Around the homestead is a forest of maple, and it is only took a matter of minutes to identify a still standing dead maple tree ready for harvesting. After a brief instruction and safety reminders the chainsaw went to work and the twenty foot tree was down and ready to be cut into sections for hauling out of the forest to the mill.
A miniature saw mill was provided and instruction from Jason Ross and Chad Wade who have cut down numerous trees on the Home Stead property for this very purpose.
It is an amazing amount of skill and work to arrive at just one two by four like board. We truly live in an amazing world where the majority of the population has no idea how difficult it is to arrive at a simple piece of lumber.
The final challenge on Saturday was “build a solar station” this section was overseen by Jason’s father who has built several solar power systems and proved to be a wealth of knowledge.
The challenge required us to power a cordless drill battery, power a cell phone and finally the real challenge power a wheat mill. That may not sound like a big deal but wheat mills have tremendous torque and require a strong constant supply of power.
Fortunately for my group we had Butch as a member and he happens to be an electrician. That being said solar is a bit more confusing and difficult than Hollywood would lead you to believe. It took a bit of time to figure out how to set everything up properly so that the solar panel fed the battery that then in turn fed the inverter that then converted the DC current to the required AC so the wheat mill could be powered. It sounds simple but I assure you it is not. Solar is defiantly something that should be learned now rather than in an emergency.
I cannot overstate the camaraderie that these challenges build between the participants. It is amazing to look and learn from the different members of the group. It really is what preparedness is all about, building your own set of skills while building the community that will help each other pull through the thick and the thin.
Sunday was a whole new challenge that we will talk about in the next blog article.