Why bother building a bat house? North American bats have, like bluebirds, suffered serious loss of habitat and are in desperate need of good homes. Bats comprise almost one-quarter of all mammal species, and they form an integral part of a healthy sustainable ecosystem. Bats disperse seeds, pollinate flowers, and are major predators of night flying insects. Rootworms, cutworms, stink bugs, and corn ear worms are among the many favorite meals of the common bat. A single bat can consume up to 500 mosquitoes in one hour! A simple and inexpensive step towards improving bat habitat is to provide bat roosting houses (approximately $15 per house) around your property.
After you’ve built a small farm blacksmith shop, one of the first decisions that you’ll need to make is which type of fuel you’ll be using. Most people choose either gas (propane) or coal, however, wood fired forges are also an option. All three fuel types have pros and cons. The final decision will likely be based on the type of forging that you plan to do and the local availability of the fuel.
A set of farrier’s tools is a must on almost any farm that employs horses and mules. If you do your own barefoot trims or set your own shoes, you probably keep your tools in a traditional farrier’s box set up for ready use. However, if you’re like me and you hire a farrier every six to ten weeks to work on your equine’s feet, you should still have a basic set of tools on hand to address the occasional emergency, such as a loose shoe or chipped foot. A farrier’s tool roll is a convenient way to store tools that aren’t used every day.
Fabricating steel rings is a common task in my small farm blacksmith shop. They are often used on tie-rings for my customer’s barns, chain latches on gates, neck yoke rings, etc. It’s simple enough to create a ring over the horn of the anvil or with the use of a bending fork, however, if you want to create multiple rings of the same diameter it’s worthwhile to build a hardy bending jig.
Flax is a native species of the Pacific Northwest and was widely used by Native Americans for basket weaving, rope making, and clothing. With the coming of Europeans the flax industry began to flourish around 1868 when numerous flax mills were established in the fertile Willamette Valley. These mills produced high quality linen, linseed oil used for paints and finishes, oil cake for cattle feed, as well as twine and rope, among countless other products.
One place to start is to look at how you relate to your community. If you stay on your homestead and don’t connect with your larger community or neighborhood, you deprive yourself of opportunities for many kinds of mutual support. On the other hand, if you freely help and/or fairly barter with your neighbors and local businesses, your chances of long term success will be greater, and you’ll have a community that actively cares about your well-being.
Forges fired by wood charcoal have been a mainstay in blacksmithing history for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Regions in North America that did not have access to high quality coal and coke depended on wood based charcoal as a forging heat source. Wood charcoal is still a primary blacksmithing fuel in much of the world. In recent years there’s been a renewed interest here in the Pacific Northwest in utilizing our abundant wood resources to provide fuel as an alternative to coal for smithing.