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10 Birch Bark Quiver Designs

Want something fun to make for doing archery? Why not make a quiver? Want to make something more traditional? Make a birch bark quiver!

Below are 10 different birch bark quiver designs for you to choose from.

Off Grid Foraging and Vegetation Analysis

Although there are plenty of crops that can be grown in a variety of climates and soil types, native flora can be an ideal place to start. Plants that naturally grow on the property will be easier to cultivate and maintain, and may provide a higher seasonal yield.

Before people visit target properties, they may want to invest the time to look at regional plants that are also edible. This way, they can identify what is already growing that they might be able to expand into a larger area.

However, foraging requires attention, since not all native plants are healthy or safe to eat. Some poisonous varieties will appear like other familiar and safe options. People should research not just which choices are edible, but the parts of the plant that are edible.

For example, potatoes are a common part of the human diet, but the portion that grows above the ground can be toxic. Homeowners must avoid eating anything unfamiliar until they are absolutely sure they know what it is, and how it can be safely consumed.

Kindling and Firewood

Properties with a lot of trees or forest nearby could be a viable source of heat, but they call for careful management.

Homeowners who rely solely on the stock of trees on their property for kindling or firewood may find themselves with bare land in only a few years. People should evaluate each parcel of land for the existing stock of wood, but also its potential.

In areas with a lot of trees and a small population, wildfire is a serious risk. Forested properties that have not been carefully maintained may have a lot of dry brush or dead trees surrounding the home.

In a fire, these materials are most likely to ignite and spread quickly. Land with healthy trees of a variety of ages provides a more sustainable resource for home buyers. People need to be ready to clear out fire hazards as needed.

Analyzing Off Grid Properties Guide

Old Fashioned Wood Treestands

Building an old fashioned wood treestand is a bit like building a treefort or a treehouse. You really just need a ladder and a platform to stand on.

Modern treestands (made of aluminum or various alloys) are usually designed with safety and convenience in mind. But they are also stolen easily.

You set up your hunting location, install your fancy $400 treestand in the nearby tree, you come back a week later and... someone stole it. Or lets pretend you got a super cheap $60 treestand, and someone still stole it.

Another hunter saw your fancy treestand, took a liking to it, and since it is so easy to install and takedown, and transport, they stole it and used it somewhere else.

Old fashioned treestands don't have this problem. You build them with wood, nails, screws, etc and they are literally attached to the tree. "Stealing it" would be a lot of work and thieves are lazy.

You have 7 factors to consider when building a treestand:
  1. Durability
  2. Weight
  3. Safety
  4. Cost
  5. Convenience
  6. How Hard is it to Steal
  7. Comfort

    #6 is taking care of because you are building it out of wood (usually), and it is attached to the tree at multiple points with nails. The effort of taking it down and rebuilding it just is not worth it for most people. (Especially if the would-be thief finds a fancier treestand elsewhere and decides to steal it instead.)

    Wood is durable, but in theory you could also purchase aluminum or other materials that will also be durable. You could even use aluminum siding to make a roof for your treestand, which would keep the rain / snow off of it, increase your comfort, and increase the durability of the wooden bits below.

    You will want something that is lightweight to build / transport / install. Again wood and aluminum make sense here. You will want to avoid any materials that are heavy. Large wood logs may be durable, but they are also very heavy and not needed. You are building a treestand, not a log cabin.

    Handrails are a good idea for safety. They are also convenient for hanging things on. Your platform should be durable enough that you can jump on it with full gear and there is no worry about it breaking.

    Wood and aluminum are relatively cheap. Or even free if you know where to get and recycle materials. The real cost here is the time required to build the treestand and the assumption you are handy with tools. (If you are not handy with tools maybe you should stick to ground blinds.)

    With respect to convenience you really want a design that is easy to construct, easy to install / connect to the tree, and doesn't take too much time. A minimalist approach, plus a few safety features, should suffice.

    Comfort... sitting in a treestand for hours can get really uncomfortable. So you want to be able to sit or stand and move around a bit without any worries.

    And there are lots of designs to consider. Including freestanding designs that aren't actually attached to trees, or designs where that ladder also doubles as a support structure.

    The last one is really minimalist, but takes a long time to make. ;)

    Dating a Bear Grizzly Static


    "Wondering about age and value I believe it's a 1948 from the bits and pieces I have found so far on the internet.

    Jim W.
    Fyi Discovered Bow in our attic in  Port Sanilac Michigan "

    27523 serial number
    53# poundage


    Hey Jim!

    I have nearly the exact same bow, just the serial number is different and the pattern of the fibreglass is different, and mine has aluminum in it. Mine is from 1949 and still shoots perfectly.

    Judging by the serial number, the decal and the fibreglass pattern (no crossweave) your bow is a Circa 1952 Bear Grizzly Static. There is also no aluminum in the limbs so it could be a late 1951 model, but most likely it is from 1952.

    Value might be $150 to $200 USD. Depends on the condition of the limbs, handle, tips, etc. I would need to see about 12 to 16 photos of every part of the bow to make a detailed guess as to the value.

    Have a great day!

    Charles Moffat
    The small Running Bear decal on the left was used by Bear from 1948 until 1953, with the larger Standing Bear decal replacing it in mid-1953 and lasting until the 1955-56 model years. Beginning in 1955-56 Bear began using the silk-screened logo shown on the far.
    The Grayling Era bows of Bear Archery

    Beginning in 1947, Bear Archery moved into a new plant in Grayling, Michigan. Bow sales were now beginning to soar as new archers and bowhunters entered the sport in record numbers due in large part to the successful promotions of Fred Bear.

    Fred realized that he could not meet the demand which would come from these new recruits by making bows one at a time like Bear had been doing since it's inception almost 15 years earlier. So he came up with a new method of mass producing bows, finally allowing his company to meet this demand. But Nels Grumley would not accept that quality bows could be made by any other manner than one-at-a-time, so Nels left the company to go out on his own.

    Upon Nels departure, Fred moved another employee by the name of Bob Meeker over to supervise the manufacturing of the new bow lines. Even though bows were then largely the result of machine work, Bob came to be considered a fine bowyer in his own right.

    The Aluminum Laminated Bows

    The first new bow model which was introduced in 1949 after Nels’ departure was the Grizzly. The Polar and Kodiak were introduced in the following year, 1950.

    These bows of 1949, 1950 and early 1951 can be recognized by the lamination of aluminum in the limbs. This aluminum was scrapped from B-17 bomber airplanes of WWII, the purchase of which was arranged from the government by Glen St. Charles. The aluminum lamination on the Kodiak and Grizzly is found only in the inner lamination, surrounded by layers of maple and glass. However, on the Polar, the aluminum is found both under a layer of maple and glass, and on the outside lamination.

    In 1949 and 1950 Bear was using a bi-directional glass on their bows which looks somewhat like a basket weave pattern. Then in 1951 Bear began using a new Uni-Directional glass in which the glass fibers all ran lengthwise to the bow limbs. This is a good way to tell the difference between the 1949/50 and the 1951 models. The 1951 Grizzly also began production with the aluminum lamination, but very early in 1951 the aluminum was dropped due to the high reported breakage problems of these aluminum bows.

    The Kodiak was introduced in 1950 with the bi-directional glass and the aluminum lamination. Then in early 1951, just as with the Grizzly, the new uni-directional glass was introduced but the aluminum lamination was still present. This glass change apparently occurred around serial number 5000. Then in mid-1951, the aluminum lamination was dropped. So for 1951 you will find Kodiaks with aluminum and bi-directional glass, aluminum with uni-directional glass, and no-aluminum with uni-directional glass.

    This aluminum laminated caused two problems. First, the bows had quite a bit of handshock when shot, and as a result were not comfortable to shoot. Secondly, the large amount of shock contributed to a large number of bows delaminating. This warranty problem caused a substantial strain on the companies finances, but Fred insisted that all bows be replaced if returned broken.

    Wanted - A Sliver of Land to Rent in the Vaughan / Woodbridge Area

    To Anyone in the Vaughan / Woodbridge Area / North GTA

    Do you have a tiny sliver of land you are not using? Say about 50 to 60 yards long, but only about 5 to 10 yards wide? The land could be in a corner of some farmland, a section of unused wooded area, with a backdrop that isn't near any residential area.

    Myself and a group of GTA archers are interested in renting a small space to make a private archery range for our personal use. The range would be maintained by us and only used by archers who are members in our group.

    Ideally we are looking for a sliver of land that is located next to farmland or a wooded area that is simply not used for anything else and won't be disturbing anyone.

    Say for example if you owned a 100 acre farm, but not all of the farm was arable. Say only 80 acres was arable land and there was a section of trees at the back of the property that takes up 20 acres of the total property. We would like to rent part of that 20 acres. We don't even need the whole 20 acres, just enough space to put up four targets at the following distances:

    1. 20 yards
    2. 30 yards
    3. 40 yards
    4. 50 yards

    The targets would be relatively close together, width wise, with a cleared space where archers can walk back and forth from a shooting line.

    So the space could potentially look like the photo below, but with 4 targets spaced at different distances.

    We would also need enough space to park up to 3 vehicles.

    The space would be used by the individuals of our group roughly once per week for a few hours at a time, during daylight hours, mostly between the months of April and October.

    The size of the space needed is actually quite small. Only about 1/10th or 1/12th of an acre. 20 acres would be a huge space and we only need a tiny fraction of that. 1 acre is 4840 square yards. We only need a space that is approximately 250 to 600 square yards, long and narrow, plus space for parking.

    Larger spaces, obviously, would be nicer, but we really don't need a giant space.

    eg. Lets say for example you have a section of woods on your property and there used to be railway tracks that ran through your property in a nice straight line. Or an old laneway that is no longer used. That nice straight piece of non-wooded area would make a very good archery range.

    The rental price is negotiable and the burden will be shared by the members of our group.

    The good news is that unlike a rifle range, which is quite noisy, archery ranges are extremely quiet. So we wouldn't be disturbing you or your neighbours with any loud banging noises from gunfire.

    Contact Info

    Email me at projectgridless {atsymbol} gmail .com to discuss possible rental rates and the conditions of your space.

    And the Backup Plan...

    Failing this, should it prove difficult to find someone close to Toronto willing to rent such a space, I have given thought to setting up a similarly sized private archery range in the region of Bruce County (further north of Kitchener-Waterloo).

    I would personally only be able to visit it 3-4 times per year, to both practice there and maintain it, but on the plus side the sliver of land I would be using would be owned by my family and free for me to use.

    An Alternative Pin Setup for Compound Bow Sights

    Whether you are using a 3 pin sight, a 4 pin, or a 5 pin sight on your compound bow a common theme is to setup the pins in the following order, with 20 yards being the pin most often used:

    1. 20 yards
    2. 30 yards
    3. 40 yards
    4. 50 yards
    5. 60 yards

    Even though most compound shooters when bowhunting rarely use the 40, 50 or 60 yard pins because it is generally accepted to be unethical to take a shot at long distances when you cannot guarantee the accuracy. It is more likely for a bowhunter to end up needing a 10 or 15 yard pin setup as bowhunters often end up being that distance from the deer (or similar game) when hunting anyway.

    The general rule of thumb is that an ethical hunter should only be shooting at any distance they know they can consistently hit a target the size of an apple (roughly the size of a deer's heart).

    Thus a more useful (and ethical) pin setup is:

    1. 10 yards
    2. 15 yards
    3. 20 yards
    4. 25 yards
    5. 30 yards

    The 3 distances most likely to be used are marked in a dark bold green.

    Thus the bowhunter gets added accuracy by setting their target pins to the distances they are more likely to be using.

    If someone actually had 6 or 7 pins they could potentially add 35 and 40 yards to their pin setup, but with the realization they might never use them.

    Any experienced bowhunter will also tell you that you usually first see the deer at 25 yards or less anyway. At further distances they are usually obscured by brush or trees.

    And once they are spotted you still have to wait until you have a clear shot at its heart and lungs, so they will usually end up wandering closer to the hidden bowhunter who needs to be patient to get a good shot at the heart area, which means the deer might only be 5 to 15 yards away by the time they take the shot.

    Rambo Last Blood - Uncertain Feelings

    September 12th 2019.

    Back in May 2019 the trailer for Rambo Last Blood came out and at the time I was excited. Now, 4 months later, and 8 days until the film is released in theatres on September 20th, I am less excited.

    I am not even sure if I will even bother to see it in the theatre. Might just wait until it comes out on Netflix/etc.

    Now I admit I love the whole Rambo and Rocky franchises.

    But I dunno. Something about this newest offering... feels off. I am sure I will watch it regardless, but spending $$ on a film that feels off and gives me feelings of uncertainty... I just don't know.

    Maybe I need to read the reviews. (Except in my experience film reviewers suck and I often disagree with them, and therefore they cannot be trusted.)

    As films go one of the draws for me is that the movie has archery in it...

    Except there has been other recent films which contained archery that I refused to go see too.

    eg. The 2018 film "Robin Hood" which had the main character doing backflips, parkour and shooting a horsebow.

    It looks nice in the trailer, but the lack of realism in archery always annoys me.

    What Do I Look For In An Archery Film?

    #1. Gritty Realism.

    Think Die Hard. The hero should get injured often. Glass in his feet, beat up and bruised. The whole shebang.

    #2. Realistic Archery.

    Any real archer watching movies these days will often have a long list of complaints about the lack of realism in the film.

    #3. A Good Plot.

    An easy to follow plot with only a few twists to make it interesting. Too many twists and weirdness and the plot becomes derailed with too many plot holes.

    #4. The Film Should Stand On Its Own

    Do you know what makes the first Matrix film so good? It stands on its own. It doesn't require sequels. Same with Die Hard. Stands on its own. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark... stands on its own. You could potentially never watch another Matrix, Die Hard or Indiana Jones film after watching the first one, and you would still think the first films in their franchises were great films because they simply are. The film makers didn't set out to make a franchise. That happened by accident.

    Take a film like Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. Awesome film. My personal favourite of all the Robin Hood films. Worthy of a sequel, but they never made one. It stands on its own as a great film.

    #5. A Good Lead Actor.

    Fat Russell Crowe? Bad actor. I wish he could be banned from acting entirely.

    Taron Egerton? I find him annoying. He should be relegated to B movies.

    Kevin Costner? Great actor. I enjoy every film he is in.

    Errol Flynn? The original Robin Hood from 1938. I admit I haven't seen him in many films, but those I have seen have been very good.

    And I am not alone, clearly as the last two flops show.

    The last two big budget Robin Hood films, Russell Crowe in 2010 and Taron Egerton (2018) were both HUGE flops. The 2010 film managed to double its production budget in profits, which means it basically lost money by overspending on advertising. The 2018 film only earned back 84% of its production budget, which meant its advertising budget and 16% of its production costs was all flushed down the drain.

    To find a Robin Hood film that actually does well at the box office you have to go back to 1991 - 28 years ago:

    Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.

    It did so well at the box office it made back its production budget times 8.

    And it led to a toy line which sold successfully.

    You can go on eBay today and search for 'robin hood prince of thieves toys' and find a robust bidding market of 279 action figures for sale.

    Why? Because it was a popular film back in 1991. Still popular today.

    Also trust me when I say nobody wants an action figure of Fat Russell Crowe.

    So what about Rambo Last Blood ?

    Well, the film should qualify for 3 or 4 of the 5 bits of criteria I consider for a good archery film. Gritty, realistic archery and a good lead actor. Whether it has a good plot or can stand on its own is a matter of debate.

    I don't know. I don't want to completely pass judgement on a film I haven't even seen yet.

    Even if it only has a half decent plot and manages to half decently stand on its own that would make it a 4 star film in my book.

    Or maybe it does both well, in which case it deserves 5 stars. I won't know until I watch it.

    So maybe I will go see it in the theatre after all. We shall see.

    Protecting your Ears while Hunting

    It is September, which means bowhunting season for whitetail deer in Ontario is upon us and rifle hunting season is soon to be here too. (And black powder hunting too, lest we forget!)

    If you love hunting then you know that having a keen ear is one of the hunter’s most important assets when it comes to finding the elusive whitetail.

    And you also know that it is essential to protect your hearing against sudden gunshots or other hunting-related noises. Studies have found that men over the age of 48 who hunt regularly are statistically more likely to experience high-frequency hearing loss – the type associated with damage from sudden loud explosions and similar loud noises. At the same time, the evidence shows that many hunters fail to take precautions to avoid serious hearing problems. Many of us think we are invincible, but we clearly are not.

    How can you protect your ears while out stalking your prey? How can you keep your ears in great shape while out hunting so you can even hear the prey in the future? In short...

    How do you protect your ears while hunting?

    The first thing to do if you are worried about your hearing is to understand the risks. Even a single loud gunshot can permanently damage your hearing. Just one. I personally have hearing damage dating back to an incident when I was 12 years old.

    It doesn’t have to be a couple of feet away, either. Shots from twenty to thirty yards away can also degrade your auditory abilities, particularly if heard repeatedly and/or over a long period. Generally, experts report that noises of 85 decibels or more can cause permanent hearing issues, and gunshots are usually in the range of 120 to 130 decibels – more than enough to damage your hearing for good. (And black powder rifles... they are often in the 150 to 160 decibels range.)

    For reference a Boeing 747 during takeoff is 140 decibels. Guaranteed severe hearing damage.

    So remember those numbers in your mind before you head out hunting: There is a constant risk when using firearms of permanent hearing damage, and you need to take precautions. But what are the specific precautions you need to take?

    The most important thing to do is to wear protective gear that muffles sound and vibrations from gunshots such as earplugs and "game ears" (ear muffs designed to dampen noise). This is easily the most important fix you can make that will prevent hearing damage. Fortunately, there are a number of items hunters can use to achieve that outcome.

    Different types of ear protection for hunters to consider

    The most common form of ear protection for hunters is earplugs. Generally made of foam and ridged to ensure they remain securely in place.

    There are also specialist hunting earplugs are available from brands like Sportear or Auritech. These earplugs have been designed with firearms users in mind.

    Not all hunting stores sell such things, but not worry. If you visit a local audiologist / hearing centre they can usually order specialty items for you that cannot be found in hunting stores. eg. Omni Hearing in Vaughan (not far from the Bass Pro) has a wide variety of hearing aids and ear plugs. And if they don't have them, they can order them for you.

    So even if you cannot find what you are looking for at a hunting store like Bass Pro, just visit a hearing centre and they can usually order whatever you need. (Or recommend products you didn't know existed.)

    Auritech Earplugs

    When you choose a pair of earplugs, you will likely come across a metric called the "noise reduction rating."

    To find out how much your earplugs actually reduce gunshot noise, take this number, subtract seven, then divide it by two, and that will give you a rough estimate of the percentage value.

    However, there is a catch: earplugs cannot reduce the impact of vibrations from gunshots, and they are a blunt instrument, blocking out all ambient sound, which can be a big problem for serious hunters who also want to hear their prey.

    This means that many hunters avoid earplugs and prefer ear muffs instead.

    However when practicing shooting, you should probably just wear both. Earplugs and earmuffs. And then during the actual hunt, use just the earmuffs.

    Brands like Peltor or Honeywell manufacture hunting headsets that muffle the sound and vibrations of gunshots by blocking out the louder sound wavelengths. At the same time, they actually amplify other noises via sophisticated detection systems, allowing hunters to remain aware of what’s going on in the brush without risking their hearing. If you intend to hunt regularly, it’s definitely worth checking out these smart ear muffs, which fortunately are not much more price wise than standard models.

    But wait, there is also a 3rd option!

    Electronic ear plugs. The great advantage of these devices (which are worn like hearing aids) is that they can be tuned to block out specific frequencies. The disadvantage is that they provide little protection against vibration, but for hunters who need to remain alert and mobile, this is often a sacrifice worth making.

    What about hunting with hearing aids?

    If you are a hearing aid user, you might assume that hunting is a thing of the past, but that doesn’t have to be the case. There’s no doubt that hunting poses some challenges for hearing aid users. Most importantly, rapid, loud noises like gunfire can overload the microphones on many hearing aid models, rendering them ineffective. And hunters can also fall into the trap of assuming that their device’s noise cancellation function will protect them against gunfire, when that’s not usually the case.

    Abrupt noises can be too fast for many devices to detect, delivering every single decibel to your inner ear. So, what is the solution? A hearing aid that is made specifically for hunting. As we touched upon earlier, there are electronic ear plugs that resemble hearing aids. But there are also hearing aids that feature highly sensitive noise detection and cancellation that can handle gunshots. eg. Starkey’s SoundGear.

    The point is that there are a wide range of options out there for people who want to hunt and want to protect their hearing / preserve their current hearing if they already have hearing damage.

    Rifle Hunting Vs Bowhunting

    Hearing damage is a good argument for learning how to bowhunt honestly. Or spearhunt. Getting close enough to your prey (25 yards or less is normal for bowhunting) is an extra challenge for a hunter, but the benefit is that you don't have to worry about hearing damage. No, you only need to be a good enough shot to get the whitetail in the vitals at 25 yards or less.

    You also benefit (usually, varies on province or state) from a longer hunting season for bows and crossbows.

    For rifle hunting and black powder hunting there are definitely risks. Few know these risks better than Elmer Keith or Nash Buckingham - professional hunters - who didn't take the hearing damage warnings seriously and became almost deafened by their love of firearms.

    And you don't have to be frequent shooters like they are. A single shot that is louder than normal can make all the difference.

    Ask yourself:

    Is protecting my hearing worth paying a few dollars in order to keep it?

    Why not just make every shot count by making certain your ears are protected too? For a tiny investment in earplugs and/or earmuffs it is certainly worth it.

    Personally I already own earmuffs that I use when operating my bandsaw and other machinery in my workshop. It is bright yellow, so I probably won't use them for hunting at any point. But I have them to protect my ears.

    And since I prefer bows and crossbows I don't really need them.

    Off Grid Soil Analysis for Farming/Gardening

    The type of soil and rock present on the land could affect its suitability for building a log home or cabin. A proper foundation needs a solid, level base underneath it. Otherwise, it could shift and cause serious damage to the home over time.

    People can often determine the soil present on the ground by a simple visual inspection. They may need to obtain soil samples from a few feet down to see how they can establish a foundation. Land buyers may encounter soils like:

    • peat
    • silt
    • sand
    • clay
    • chalk
    • loam

    Experts often prefer loam for building/new construction, because it contains a combination of soils that are less likely to expand or erode. If people discover that the soil is sitting on a solid and fairly level bedrock, they may have the best arrangement.

    Homesteaders must buy Alaska land that is already fairly level, or plan to excavate it properly before they put in the foundation. Properties with a notable slope may pose concerns about soil erosion and water flow. People should confirm that the ground below the foundation is unlikely to shift with changes in the water table. This will help to guarantee a solid construction that will last for many years.

    Potential Crops

    Although people will usually have a number of options for growing crops on almost any kind of soil, the type will alter how they approach the growing season. Some soils, like clay, are hard to till, take a long time to change temperature in the spring, and do not drain very effectively. Because of its high moisture content and heavy texture, clay is often better for summer crops than spring vegetables and fruits.

    Drier soils like sand or gravel will drain well, but tend to lose moisture and nutrients quickly. Because they are minimally compacted, they will change temperature rapidly in the spring. Root vegetables and spring plants may be an ideal choice for sand. Peat soil, which is soft and damp, offers similar options for growers. Loam, which is often a combination of sand, silt, and peat, provides a balance between the two extremes. All of these soil types may need replenishment of nutrients through composting or other means.

    Most people can identify the type of soil on a portion of land by looking at it and watching it absorb water. Clay is sticky when wet, and may feel like a brick when dry. Moisture-rich soils like peat could feel spongy to the touch. These soils need additional drainage to avoid over-saturating the crops with water. Sand feels dry and gritty, and chalk usually looks like small rocks. Land buyers may want to research the type of soil on the property to learn more about its maintenance needs.


    Building a homestead that can allow livestock to grow and thrive requires enough space to support them, and, in most cases, soil that is ideal for grazing. As a general rule, people should keep in mind that the larger the animal, the bigger the space needed. Fowl such as chickens and ducks may require the least amount of space — as little as four square feet per bird for shelter. Rabbits are also a viable option for meat that demands only a small area. Although these animals are considered ideal choices for people just starting out, they also need protection. Homeowners need to build a fence to keep them in and predators from gaining access.

    People should also consider how much land they will need to grow food for the livestock they intend to keep. Fowl, rabbits, and goats may be able to eat almost anything already on the property. When allowed to graze free-range, goats can help to clear out brush near the home. By comparison, pigs, sheep, and cows may need much more. For example, experts suggest that homesteaders provide at least one acre of grazing land per cow.

    Proper testing can determine if the soil will support the grasses that most livestock need to survive. As a general rule, the grasses ideal for cows need soil that is a little more acidic. People can use natural components like lime or fertilizer to change the soil acidity. Keeping the soil at the right pH, properly watered, and covered will promote greater output.

    Analyzing Off Grid Properties Guide

    How to use an Airlock for Fermentation

    As a follow up to my post about fermenting ginger beer and making a ginger bug I thought I should include a post about how to use an airlock.

    Or rather post a video about it since someone on youtube (Matt Williams) conveniently has a video on this topic. So kudos to him.

    Fermented Ginger Beer Recipe

    To make fermented ginger beer you first need to learn how to make a ginger bug, aka, a ginger beer fermentation bug. It isn't complicated, and it is so simple you could do it in the kitchen, in the garage, or while living in a cabin up north.

    Makes for a fun DIY project.

    Ginger Beer Fermentation Bug

    500 ml filtered water
    2 heaping tablespoons sugar (roughly 4 tablespoons)
    2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped ginger (roughly 4 tablespoons)

    Stir in a glass or plastic container - DO NOT USE A METAL CONTAINER!

    Cover the container with a cloth (eg. cheese cloth) for 24 hours and let it sit.

    Add 1 heaping tablespoon ginger and 1 heaping tablespoon sugar every day for 2-3 days until bubbly.

    Label and Date your Ginger Bug container so you know when you started it. The ginger bug doesn't stay good forever so once it is ready to use you should try to use it up by fermenting Ginger Beer (or other fermented drinks) as soon as possible. You can sometimes keep it for awhile, but keep in mind it will eventually go bad so it is best to try and use it sooner rather than later.

    Or alternatively, if you really want to keep your Ginger Bug alive just continue to feed it daily the same amount of sugar and ginger. it may still go bad (like eventually...), but if you keep feeding it then it will prolong the lifespan of the ginger bug. Getting too full? Transfer half of it to a 2nd container. Now you have 2 ginger bugs. You could keep them both or give one to a friend who is also into fermenting drinks.

    Note - Now that you have a Ginger Bug you can ferment other things too. Apple juice, grape juice, peach juice, almost any kind of juice. Certain things like Coca-Cola cannot be fermented because it is too acidic.

    Ginger Beer Recipe

    2 quarts of water
    1.33 cups sugar
    0.25 cup grated ginger

    Pour water, sugar and grated ginger into large pot. Boil contents and let simmer for 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool naturally.

    When the contents reach room temperature (takes about an hour or more) strain the contents into a bowl to remove the large chunks of ginger.

    Add 0.5 cup of Ginger Bug (also strained).

    Add 3 lemons worth of lemon juice. Squeeze them good.

    Pour contents of bowl into bottles. Leave 2-4 inches of headroom in the bottle to prevent it from bursting.

    Stopper the bottles. Leave the bottles out in room temperature to ferment for 3-6 days, until they are good and fizzy.

    If using a pressure stopper you can let them sit for the full 3-6 days, but if you are using other kinds of stoppers (eg. flip top bottles) you will need to "burp" them once per day so that the pressure doesn't build up until they explode. Remember to burp them above a bowl or sink.

    Do not store flip top bottles near windows or glass. If they fly open they can also fly off and break things.

    Open above a sink or bowl, because it will likely be really fizzy the first time it is opened and may overflow.

    After the 3-6 days has elapsed store your fermented ginger beer in a cold fridge to kill the yeast. After a day you can now drink at your leisure.

    Off Grid Water Analysis

    Few homesteads can survive without ready access to water.

    The average home uses hundreds of gallons of water per day, not counting water needed for crops or livestock. There are essentially two ways that people looking to build a homestead can find water. The first is from water located under the property, such as an underground spring. People may be able to access this water by drilling a well. The second is water that homesteaders can collect from precipitation, typically rain. Rain collection comes in a variety of methods, and is popular for use in watering gardens. Some buyers may wish to purchase a property that has a stream or river running through it. However, they should keep in mind that water rights to this kind of water source may be controlled by the city, county, or state.

    Water Table

    Underground, if people dig far enough, rock and soil are saturated with water. The more water on the property, the higher the level of underground water will rise. The point just above the water line is called the “water table.” Although it may seem like this saturation line would be linear and consistent across a region, it may not be. People may encounter natural springs on or just below their land that indicates the water table is high. The water table tends to increase in the late summer and fall. It will drop again in the spring and early summer, due to natural evaporation caused by increases in temperature.

    Properties with a water table very close to the surface may be at risk for flooding. If the water table rises to the surface, the ground will not be able to drain effectively. Experts recommend digging a small well and determining the depth of the water with measuring tape. Potential buyers can also research past measurements of the water table in particular areas. Although a high water table is not completely incompatible with crops, people should consider how it could affect the species of crops they can plant.

    Well Water Potential

    The kind of well people need for their homes depends on the geology of the property. Drilling through soil may offer more opportunities and flexibility than drilling through solid bedrock. There are three kinds of wells:

    Dug/Bored: The hole is dug or bored using an excavator or auger, and rarely extends beyond 30 feet
    Driven: The well casing is pushed through the ground, and may range from 30-50 feet
    Drilled: A well created by a special drilling machine, which could run as deep as 1,000 feet

    The first two methods are older technology that rely on a deep soil layer. Recent methods, including drilled wells, allow people to access water far under the surface. For properties with concerns about water contamination, the drilled method may be the only safe choice.

    Buyers who look at homes with existing wells should ask the seller a few questions. Wells can last a long time, but they can also dry up without warning. Buyers should ask for information about the well’s age and condition. They may also want to test the groundwater on the property for the presence and level of certain chemicals or contaminants, before they determine the kind of well they want to dig.

    Rain Water Gathering / Recycling Greywater

    People may also want to consider greywater collection for their homes, especially for regions with minimal annual rainfall. Greywater systems are not unlike rainwater harvesting. Greywater denotes the water that people send down the sink that would otherwise be wasted. Greywater may contain traces of waste, such as food, soap, or cleaning products. As such, homeowners should only use it for watering purposes that do not touch edible parts of plants they are growing for food or grazing purposes.
    Water Flow

    Water on the surface, whether it comes from a stream or a heavy rainstorm, will flow downhill. Home buyers need to be sure that the grade of the property will flow away from structures and areas where they intend to keep a garden or livestock. Low spots on the land will collect water. If they cannot drain away easily or evaporate quickly, they become standing water that can promote the spread of bacteria and insects. Properties that position the home at the bottom will be more likely to flood.

    Sometimes, the property grade is not obvious. People can measure the rise in slope by using stakes and string to create a right triangle between the highest point and two lower points. Homeowners should choose a higher position on the property for the home and land cultivation. Otherwise, they may need to use excavation and landscaping to change the grade to suit their purposes and prevent flooding.

    Microhydro Electricity Potential

    Water can become a useful source of energy for the property, as well as a vital component of daily survival. Microhydro power uses running water from a reliable source to generate energy ranging from 5-100 kilowatts. You don't necessarily need waterfront property to accomplish this—a stream may be enough. This may be enough to provide adequate electricity for the entire homestead, assuming that the system runs well and has constant access to the water source.

    A minor change in elevation causes the water to move from high to low. Flowing water runs to a canal, which is often connected to a pipe that sends the water to a turbine. Homeowners need to establish this canal or pipeline at the top of the property, for maximum effect. The turbine creates rotational energy. An alternator takes that energy and converts it to electricity to power a generator that can run the home. People rely on the system to regulate the flow of water, so that energy production can be consistent and relatively predictable.

    Many people are able to collect energy from moving water on the property. However, finding land with naturally running water may not be an absolute necessity for microhydro electricity. Home buyers do not need to purchase property with a waterfall or stream with a strong current to use this method. They may be able to take advantage of artificial approaches, such as creating a dam to trigger a waterfall. As they investigate equipment options, people should confirm that the turbine will work with the generator they want to use.

    Analyzing Off Grid Properties Guide

    Off Grid Solar and Sunlight Analysis

    How to Analyze and Harness Solar Energy

    Determining the benefits of solar energy requires a nuanced discussion. Solar panels, properly installed and maintained, can be a benefit in almost any region. The path buyers have to navigate shows them how to get the most out of the panels, and whether or not this method will provide enough energy in exchange for the investment.

    Contrary to popular belief, solar panels do not necessarily require direct sunlight in order to capture energy. This means that the panels can still convert daylight to power, even if the sun is not directly shining on the panels all day. That said, direct sunlight is a more efficient and effective means of improving the panels’ output. Since the position of the sun varies throughout the year, homeowners may choose to install panels in a variety of places on the roof for maximum year-round exposure.

    The climate and estimated maintenance of a system can also affect the solar energy yield. A region with many very hot days each year could actually decrease energy capture by as much as 30 percent. Areas of the country with consistent cloudy days may limit efficiency to 40 percent of the maximum. Panels will lose about 10 percent of their potential if they get dirty, so homeowners must prepare to keep them clean. These factors may not be significant enough to reject solar panels as an option. If people know that they will have to deal with these problems, they may want to consider more than one type of energy source for their homes.

    Solar Energy for Growing Crops & Greenhouses

    Growing crops successfully depends on a delicate balance of sun, necessary nutrients in the soil, and a good maintenance routine. Sun exposure is an important aspect to weigh in the purchase of property good for growing produce. Most land, especially properties that are somewhat developed with structures and mature trees, will have spots with a lot of sun and shady areas. Homeowners must understand and respect the unique plant’s needs to get the most from their investment.

    When people start to select plant species, they need to know what the crop requires for sun exposure and whether or not they can guarantee it. Plants labeled “full-sun” need at least six hours of direct sun each day, although some need more. Those with a designation of “partial-shade” should have 3-6 hours of sunlight to avoid damaging them. Although some species are hardy and able to adjust to a range of exposure, not enough sun (or too much) often translates into a lower yield.

    Ensuring adequate sunlight requires the ability to estimate direct sun exposure during the season in which the fruit or vegetable should be grown. It may not be enough to estimate peak summer light and assume it will work for all plants, year-round. Home buyers should also factor in their plans for trees and outbuildings to the shade of the space. For areas in which they intend to plant, people should confirm that they will get the minimum amount of sun necessary for healthy crops.

    Analyzing Off Grid Properties Guide

    Off Grid Wind Analysis and Wind Power Potential

    Like sun or water, wind is a natural resource that many homeowners can use to increase the amount of available electricity without having to rely on the local power grid.

    Similar to microhydro electric power, wind can be harnessed to run a turbine that generates electricity to power a generator. If there is a lot of wind at the height of the turbine, homeowners may be able to generate some or even all of the power they need to run the homestead. Turbines appropriate for residential use yield a power output ranging from 20-100 kilowatts.

    Homesteaders must first determine if the property is suitable for a wind turbine. Experts recommend that homeowners have land of at least one acre. Buyers should confirm that the zoning of the area allows them to install and use a turbine. Wind turbines are often quite tall, simply because taller towers can gather wind at a higher speed. Regulations often specify that there must be at least 30 feet of clearance around the spinning blades of the turbine.

    To get the best output, homeowners should plan to purchase a turbine that stands at least twice as high as the tallest nearby object. If there are existing wind energy systems in the area, people may be able to get data about common wind speeds at the proper height. Most systems need regular speeds of at least 9 miles per hour. Greater speeds can improve energy output.

    Potential Soil Erosion

    While wind is a resource to homesteaders in many ways, it can also pose a threat to soil and vegetation. Soil erosion is a natural part of the life cycle for almost any property. However, people who rely on a particular patch of land to grow crops or plants to support livestock need to understand how erosion could affect the property’s sustainability.

    Areas with strong winds can shift the nutrient-rich topsoil that homeowners need to grow plants. Overgrazing or clearing land could make this problem worse. To prevent erosion, people should plan to keep at least 30 percent of the land occupied with ground cover. Professional farmers suggest tilling plant remains into the soil when homeowners are done with the crops for that season. This helps to preserve necessary moisture, which can make it harder for the wind to move the top layers.

    One way to prevent this erosion however is to build greenhouses.

    Analyzing Off Grid Properties Guide

    Crossbow Restringing

    Last year someone contacted me looking for repairs for both a compound bow and a crossbow. After a few emails back and forth I determined there wasn't anything actually broken about the compound bow and crossbow, they were just looking for new strings and to have them restrung.

    So here was my reply:

    Hey B!

    So you just need to have both of them restrung? Nothing else wrong with them?

    I am going to save you some money then. You don't need to be talking to me at all. Instead I recommend you making a visit to Ballistic Bowstrings in Angus.

    Their place is about 50 minutes north of Vaughan. They used to be in Bradford which was closer, but they moved back in March 2018. I recommend making an appointment.

    • Address: 8954 MCKINNON RD, ANGUS ON   L0M 1B4
    • Phone: (905) 775-4416

    They can set you up with new custom strings for both your compound and your crossbow.

    I get all of my strings from them, so even if it was me installing the strings for you, it is really them who is making the strings. So you might as well cut out the middle man (me, in this case).

    You can check out their website at: http://www.ballisticbowstrings.com/

    It is possible to just order online and have delivered, but the last person I recommended to them went there in person and they strung his crossbow for him, and being there in person means they can double-check to make sure it fits properly. So going there in person has its advantages. You can read about his experience at: http://www.projectgridless.ca/2018/04/crossbow-bowstrings-and-how-to-replace.html

    I do know two people local here in Toronto who also makes strings, but they only make bowstrings for longbows and recurves. They don't make any for compounds or crossbows.

    Please let me know how it goes. It is handy to get feedback from people.

    Have a nice day!

    For Sale - Traditional Hickory Longbow


    35-40 lb Traditional Hickory Longbow - $180

    Design wise it is a Eastern Woodlands Flatbow, a style of bow popular amongst Native Americans on the East Coast.

    Bow and bowstring in mint condition.

    Inquiries from Toronto, Canada welcome. I am selling it locally. I have no interest in shipping it.


    I am selling this bow and possibly several other bows, including a vintage longbow from 1952, because my wife won't let me buy any new bows until I sell some of the bows I don't use that often. And since I don't use this bow that often, or the vintage bow from 1952, I have decided to sell them both to make room for new bows on my wall rack.

    The 1952 bow is a black "Roy Rogers" collectible longbow for children. It really is meant for a kid who is between 5 to 10 years old. I am selling it for $100. No photos yet. That is on my To Do List for later.

    Homemade Crossbow with Decorative Leather

     Above and below are photos of a homemade crossbow which were posted on Facebook (I don't know who the original creator was). What is interesting however is how they used decorative leather on the crossbow limbs and also on the foot stirrup.

    I also really liked trigger, as it looks like it was handforged out of iron. Altogether this is awesome looking crossbow. Just look at the stitching on the leather!

    The Homemade Stemmler Crossbow, Part I

    Stemmler Logo
    A few years ago I found a broken Stemmler recurve bow in the garbage at the Toronto Archery Range.

    At the time I decided it was worth salvaging. Possibly to repair it or turn it into something else.

    Years later, I am currently working on a new project to turn the old broken Stemmler recurve bow into a homemade crossbow. Hence the title: The Homemade Stemmler Crossbow.

    Part I. It is going to take multiple posts to cover this story. Subscribe to Project Gridless if you want updates for when more posts on this subject appear. I will likely do a video of the finished crossbow too, so you can also subscribe to Project Gridless on YouTube.

    My goal is to make it into a folding crossbow, so the limbs can unlocked from their position and be folded towards the stock for easy transport. It won't be very powerful (the original limbs were 45 lbs) and I am using part of the working limbs to attach it to the stock, so I am losing about one fifth of the working limbs. When it is eventually a crossbow it will also be losing a good chunk of its draw distance, so I am expecting the final crossbow to only have a draw weight of 25 lbs - which means it will effectively be a toy crossbow.

    But whatever. I am having fun enjoying my winter working on this project. When I am done I will have a "Stemmler Crossbow" and have turned a piece of garbage into a working crossbow.

    Below you can see the two broken pieces of the Stemmler, and see where the upper limb snapped off from the previous owner. Was it old? Did the previous owner overdraw it? Who knows. We shall see what happens.

    Using a saw, I trimmed the broken limb for a smoother edge. I then measured it compared to the other limb and cut it in the same location, so both limbs are now the same length.

    I still need to epoxy part of the broken limb as part of it has delaminated.

    I will also need to reinforce part of the working limbs, as putting pressure on that section without reinforcement could cause it to snap again. So the section of the working limb where it will be attached to the crossbow stock needs to be reinforced - I am thinking of using oak, and I am thinking I should reinforce both the front and back.

    Once that is done I need to drill holes for bolting it to a mechanism for attaching to the crossbow. The mechanism needs to be able to be locked into position, and to be able to be easily unlocked. So I need to research possible designs. I am currently thinking of using a steel deadbolt approach.

    I have a stock I was making for a different crossbow I could use. But I am also thinking maybe I should make a new stock just for this project, and use a different style of trigger mechanism this time around. Previously I have used a drop-pin mechanism, but now I am thinking I should try using a Roman-style rolling trigger.

    If I do make a new stock, I think I will make this stock wider than last time by laminating two pieces of oak together. It will be more comfortable to shape the handle and stock.

    I could also in theory use a spring-loaded trigger, but I worry the spring would not be strong enough. Plus springs get weaker over time, and I would prefer a mechanism that doesn't need a replacement spring years later.

    I am thinking I will use a steel stirrup this time around, for faster reloading - and it will double as a bipod for more accurate shooting. I also want it to fold for easy transport too.

    Brass sights. Yup. I wanna make a brass sight for this one. Should be fun. V-shaped sights.


    Yes, what you are reading above is basically a To Do List / Checklist for my own personal use. I find this is useful during the design process so I can plan out each stage of a project. Helps get it done faster by creating goals I can set and then do.

    Crossbow Bowstrings


    "Crossbow Repair"
    I need a new string replacement please call or text me at [phone number removed for privacy reasons].



    Hello Lance!

    I don't make crossbow strings, but I do know who does.

    Go to Ballistic Bowstrings in Angus, Ontario.

    Charles Moffat
    Follow Up Email
    Thank you!

    So yes... I don't make crossbow strings for clients. But people keep contacting me asking me this same question or similar question.

    • People looking for crossbow strings.
    • People looking for crossbow replacement parts.
    • People looking for crossbow repairs.
    So yes, I do make my own crossbows - and I do repair compound bows. But I currently am not in the business of repairing crossbows. (And yes, there is a difference between crossbows and compound bows... and compound crossbows.)

    And I do make my own crossbow strings, for my own private use. I do not sell them. Ever.
    I also make / repair my own bowstrings, but I do not sell bow strings either.
    So whenever people come asking for bowstrings (for regular bows or crossbows or compound bows) I always point them to Ballistic Bowstrings. For the following reasons.
    1. They make excellent bowstrings.
    2. They make all types of bowstrings. Regular, compound, crossbow. Custom jobs.
    3. Their prices are reasonable. Not cheap, but not expensive either.
    4. They are right here in Ontario. Not far from Toronto. And I prefer to support local craftsmen.

    Regarding crossbow replacement parts...

    I do buy old compound bows and take them apart for their parts. Typically I offer $15 to $25 for your old junker compound just so I can strip it for parts.

    I am not *currently* in the business of buying / selling crossbows or their parts. Not yet at least. This might change in the future. But for now, just assume that I don't have any crossbow parts at all.

    Regarding crossbow repairs...

    I am not currently in the business of repairing crossbows either. I can restring a crossbow if need be, but I don't currently do any other kind of crossbow repair. I am focusing solely on compound bows. Not crossbows.

    How do I know if my crossbow or compound bow is a junker?

    Honestly, here is how you know:
    Try to sell it.
    If the only offers you receive are people interested in buying it for the parts, or if you receive zero offers period, that means it is not worth repairing and is essentially junk. At which point it really should just be sold for parts.

    So if it is a compound bow, let me know and I can make you an offer.

    If it is a crossbow, I am currently not interested. Maybe in 2020 I might change my mind and get into the business of repairing crossbows / buying junker crossbows for parts, but at present... nope. Not interested.
    Also to anyone thinking their old junker is worth more than $25... nope. It isn't. Old junker compounds are basically a dime a dozen. And they are buyer beware too, as they are used and could have unforeseen problems. Getting $15 to $25 for your garbage is generous as I don't even use most of the parts. Most of them end up in a box, unused.

    In other news...

    I am currently working on a new project to turn an old broken Stemmler recurve bow into a homemade crossbow. My goal is to make it into a folding crossbow, so the limbs can be folded towards the stock for easy transport. It won't be very powerful (the original limbs were 45 lbs) and I am using part of the working limbs to attach it to the stock, so I am losing about one fifth of the working limbs. When it is a crossbow it will also be losing a good chunk of its draw distance, so I am expecting the final crossbow to only have a draw weight of 25 lbs - which means it will effectively be a toy crossbow.

    But whatever. I am having fun enjoying my winter working on this project. When I am done I will have a "Stemmler Crossbow" and have turned a piece of garbage into a working crossbow.

    Happy Shooting!

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