Plumbing disaster turns into cool discovery!

Today my kitchen sink had a major clog. I first tried liquid plumber “power gel” and that had zero effect. Since this drain was hooked into a garbage disposal I had quickly shut off the solenoid valves and coils and then I had to get in there with my channel locks and disconnect the trap so I could run the auger through the line.

Of course I man handled the pipe and it broke. Ok, not big deal the hardware store is still open… not the end of the world. I’ll just take the auger and clear out the gunk and then go get a new trap.

The auger is spinning it is hitting the clog like it is made of cement and not moving at all. At this point I’m seeing red so I know it is time to take a break. I leave to the hardware store and after I grab a new trap I decide to look over the plethora of drain cleaning devices available at the hardware store.

There are motorized augers which are like $100 or more and other normal augers like mine except with fancier handles, there was even a slim plastic rod for $2 which claimed several miracles on the packaging.

With visions of myself failing, calling a plumber with my tail between my legs, my eyes catch a simple device for $5. It is called the Drain Cleaning Bladder by Cobra Products.

I had a summer job for my father who was a civil engineer. What I did was throw smoke bombs down manholes and then run through yards with a Polaroid camera taking pictures of smoke coming out of the ground. Sounds like a good way to get shot huh? We had sent notices to everyone weeks beforehand but we still got yelled at on occasion.

Well the reason I mention this is because a few times when we were out on the job there would be a legitimate blockage in the sewer, well what the fire department would do is plug off one end of a fire hose and turn it on. It would launch through the sewer with all the force of the water behind it and you would literally see trash and crap spew out the manhole down the street. It was pretty awesome to see that. Well this thing reminded me of this.

I got home and attached this to my garden hose and stuffed it into the drain. I would say I ran this device for about 15 seconds before it had my entire pipe nice and squeaky clean. In conclusion this simple $5 device is pretty friggin’ awesome and made my night almost pleasurable.

Here is a highly redundant video review:

How to smoke your own homemade beef jerky!

I love beef jerky and no store bought jerky can match your own homemade jerky.

Step up to some real jerky.

Here is the basic recipe:

  1. Choose a cut of lean meat such as top round, buffalo, venison, etc
  2. Cut it into thin strips
  3. Basic Jerky Marinade:
    1. 1/2 Soy Sauce
    2. 1/2 Worcestershire Sauce
    3. Spice to taste… suggestions include hot sauce, jalapeños, garlic, cumin, etc (just go wild!!)
  4. Marinade overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours
  5. Put in smoker at a steady 150 degrees until done. Typically about 3 to 6 hours. To see if it is done give it a taste!


  1. Your Jerky will become more “Jerky like” after sitting around a few days. Don’t overcook your jerky!
  2. If your fire is too cold that is FINE, if it is too hot for too long you will RUIN the jerky.
  3. You can always pull the jerky out of the smoker after a few hours and finish it in the dehydrator or oven

Checkout this youtube video of the Jerky I made this past weekend. It is SO GOOD it is like crack to me right now. It’s all the self control I can manage to not eat the entire bag in one sitting.

How to brew pumpkin beer in a pumpkin

This is one of the coolest things I have seen for awhile. A co-worker sent me this link the other day and my obvious reaction was “we are going to the homebrew supply at lunch… oh and the farmers market too… I need a pumpkin”

I’m going to do this, and it is going to rule (hopefully)

Episode 1: Dennis McClung showcases his amazing backyard aquaponics operation

I’m not in iTunes store yet. For now please

  1. Go to the advanced menu in itunes
  2. Select “subscribe to podcast”
  3. copy and paste in the following url:

I’m going to submit my feed as soon as I get this posted.

I’m very excited to be posting my first podcast. Dennis McClung is our first guest. We talk all about his amazing backyard aquaponics system Please head on over to to check it out.

  • A catfish is used for a natural method of population control
  • Evaporative Swamp cooler powered by the sun
  • Self sustaining system
  • The fish eat chicken poop as part of their balanced diet
  • Permaculture system based on observations of pond habitats
  • Fish scraps are composted using black soldier flies
  • Lots more cool features and aquaponics tips

Make your own lump charcoal

I just came in from stacking apple wood in my backyard and I got to thinking, it should would be nice to learn how to make my own charcoal. I waded through about 10 videos for you guys and found this very talkative fellow who showed a fairly easy method that appeared to be very efficient when compared to others.

It seems there are 2 basic methods to making charcoal:

  1. The indirect method: In this method you don’t burn the wood but rather place it in some sort of container like a 55 gallon drum and then cook it with an outside fire source. Most of these methods seemed silly to me as it seems most people are using propane burners as their fuel source. I’m sorry if I was going to do that I think it would be more responsible of me just to buy a bag of Kingsford. Other videos showed people making massive bonfires to cook their charcoal, again this doesn’t seem very efficient to me as your burning twice the fuel that you are creating.
  2. The direct method involves starting a small fire in a container and then adding your charcoal material to that container. Once you get the fire going you restrict the airflow to the fire, at this point you wait for the wood to dry out and then you cut off the air flow completely. Wait about a day and come back and you have charcoal.
  3. If you don’t feel like watching these 2 videos I took some notes while watching

    How to make charcoal

    1. dig a hole the size of the bottom of a metal drum
    2. compact the dirt in the hole
    3. drill a bunch of holes in the bottom a metal drum using a 3/4 inch bit
    4. place the barrel on the hole
    5. Fill it full of flammable stuff
    6. light it on fire
    7. take a bunch of split wood and throw it on top of your fire
    8. take a metal lid and place it on top
    9. slide a slim branch under the lid to prop it open some
    10. Wait until the smoke stops being white and starts being more blue (2 to 3 hours)
    11. Wack the barrel a bunch… (to stir it up I assume?)
    12. Wack the lid down to seal the barrel
    13. clamp the lid
    14. come back in 24 hours

    Watch the videos

    part 2

DIY Cider Press Review: “Anyone can build a whizbang cider press!”

In this video I show you the basics of a simple cider press I built from plans I purchased from I actually built two cider presses and grinders. One of the presses was a gift for my uncle who plans to grow a lot of fruit at his lake house.

Here are 2 key things that attracted me to the ‘whizbang’ design:

  1. Uses a 6 ton tube jack to press the cider rather than laboriously turning an acme screw
  2. Uses a garbage disposal to create the mash, which I thought was a great idea.

In the book Herrick Kimball recommends that the disposal unit you choose should be modified with a more powerful electric engine to avoid overheating. I got antsy and decided to try it without the modification and it has worked fine for 5+ batches, however I do notice it does rather warm. I don’t run it for very long periods of time since it does such a nice job of crushing up apples.

Please check out Herrick’s blog post here: New Techniques for Cider Making for a more detailed explanation of the cider making process. You can purchase his book on his website as well.

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