P14 Restoration Project

As mentioned before, I have a P14 rifle (Remington manufacture) which has a full length barrel, original sights but missing the front part of the stock, the top handguard pieces, the original front piece with bayonet lug, and the associated parts – bands and swivels.

My intention with this project is to carve a replacement for the missing front lower piece of stock out of a chunk of Walnut and splice it onto the sporterised (truncated) original stock (which fits well already), with finger joints, and buy the other parts (which are readily available) to complete my restoration project.

To that end I have placed the order for the various smaller parts with BRP Corp. I am going to buy a suitable Walnut dowel or plank at Exotic Woods of Burlington ON. One concern at this stage is to match the age and patina of the stock. I probably won’t get this “right”, but as long as it is close I am OK with it. I read that there is something called “A-B Bleach” which will lighten Walnut (apparently it gets lighter with age). Further research has indicated that oil soaked into the existing stock will need to be removed as it will repel any glue I use. That will be an extensive (two week+) process.

Other concerns include spoiling the accuracy (it shoots pretty well as a sporter right now) – but everything I have read seems to indicate that the P14 shot pretty well in full furniture as well. The goal is to have a decent period rifle I can shoot in Service Rifle competitions, an excellent vintage piece, and a good all round range and hunting rifle.

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Join the club

Although I can shoot on my own land for free, I decided to join the Dunnville Hunters and Anglers Club. For $225 I got family membership, and that includes OFAH membership – basically some liability insurance. They have pistol and rifle ranges, trap shooting and an archery range. They raise fish hatchlings and release each year, and they are a non-profit member’s club. It was a good decision. They are friendly, and I am meeting fellow shooters and hunters.

As a part of the club membership, I was obliged to take Range Safety Officer training. The training was great, a half day of theory and a multiple choice exam, followed by a few hours on the range, being Range Officer, or practicing shooting a pistol. I have never fired a pistol before, so I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to hit my target with 10 out of 10 shots at 10 yards.

Only trouble is – now I may want to shoot pistols as well. So I would have to take the restricted (CRFSC) course, and buy a pistol to be part of the cool crowd (and shoot pistol poker on Wednesday evenings).

Since my last post, I purchased a P14 rifle (English Pattern of 1914), with a full length barrel, original sights, but cut down stock 🙁 . At the club, I tested all my firearms bar the shotgun. I was delighted by the accuracy of the World War I guns. With the P14, SMLE and the Savage 64 .22, I was able to hit the paper (8 x 11) with all my shots at 100 Yards. As an outright beginner, I think I can pat myself on the back for this. It pleases me that both ancient guns are surprisingly accurate. It would be legitimate for me to take a shot at coyotes or larger game at that range.

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Guns! Guns! Guns!

Gosh but I didn’t think this would get here so fast. I wanted to protect my flock, so I started the process of getting a PAL (possession and acquisition license). It took so long that in a weak moment I picked up a decent crossbow, and killed a couple of rats and a raccoon with it (at a $10 per kill cost in bolts). Eventually the License arrived and I got a .22 Cooey (now called a Savage 64). That turned out to be both fun and a bit blah. I couldn’t hit anything in flight, and hawks were still taking my chickens. I lost them all before getting a shotgun. I was stuck in the idea of needing a $500 firearm. Then I discovered a much more affordable single shot H&R 12 gauge. Then a little later while internet browsing I found a (very) affordable Lee Enfield sporter. At $175 it seemed like too good a deal to pass up, so I jumped on it.

So – last year, no guns. This year, three. For now I am satisfied. Opening the Lee gave me the experience I had been looking for all along. That warm wooden stock with scratches and patina. The heavy steel barrel, the surprisingly smooth bolt action. Even the classic canvas web sling.

Now I have the guns to cover all the bases a Southern Ontario hobby farmer could want. The .22 for small pests. The Shotgun for waterfowl and some pests. The .303 for serious big game shooting, or just loads of fun.

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The Great Gun Saga

I had mused about getting a gun since we contemplated moving out of the city. I had thought it might be useful – for hunting and protecting livestock. Once we moved, we began losing livestock – chickens, at an ever increasing rate.

We lost almost an entire batch of chickens in one night when some nocturnal predator got into the coop. After that, we have lost all but two of 26 birds, 2, 3 and 4 at a time, in broad daylight to hawks. In June, I set a date to get my Possession and Acquisition License (PAL). To that end, I got a date to sit the required safety course and exam. I chose the combined Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC) and Ontario Hunting Education Program (OHEP) courses for June 26. The courses were well run, with lots of hands on time. Thank you and a big shout out to Steve Walsh and Bob MacDonald – very professional.

In the CFSC we had to learn to safely handle the 5 types of action – and there were plenty of guns on hand to do just that. By the end of the first course I was familiar with break action, lever action, bolt action, pump action and semi-automatic firearms. I could load, unload and determine if they were loaded or safe. I knew the rules around storing, carrying and using firearms and ammunition in Canada. I tool a written and a practical test at the end of the initial 14 hours or so of presentation and hands on material. ACTS and PROVE were drummed in again and again (you can look those up).

The OHEP program focused on wildlife protection and management, the rules around hunting stressing safety, permission and access. The regulations around various species and seasons were covered. At the end of this course we were tested on the rules and regulations of hunting in Ontario.

I passed both courses, and the results were sent off to some ministry for clearance. I was immediately able to get my Outdoors Card, Small Game license and various additional hunting permits (I bought a crossbow with which I could shoot many things already). About 2 weeks later I received the confirmed results of the CFSC and I filed my PAL application (which included a sign off by my wife to say she was good with me having a firearm). I bought a gun-safe in readiness, and an air rifle to practice with.

Time passed. We lost more chickens (the Hawks were very active – they clearly marked us as an easy lunch stop). Finally, on September 10th, I received my PAL in the mail. The Friday before, as luck would have it, I received a gift certificate for long service at my company for $100 at Bass Pro. Apparently my love of outdoor pursuits has been observed by others at the company. So on September 11, I drove out to my nearest Bass Pro (Niagara on the Lake) and purchased a Savage 64 F (.22 rifle semi-automatic, iron sights), a 350 pack of Federal .22 Ammo, and a small pack of CBI subsonic ammo (which the customer service guy said may not operate the semi-auto mechanism properly). The subsonic is for rats inside the barn – where ricochets would pose a safety risk. Here is a brief first look review.

My plan is to teach my wife to shoot safely, and she can take a crack at the Hawks during the day. At the least it should scare them away. We will hang some old CDs on strings around the place – I read that this may deter them. I will also set up strings above the barn entrances that would obstruct the swooping down of hawks and owls. I will report on how that goes.

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Savage 64 Review

Disclaimer. This is my first gun. I have never fired a powder actuated gun in my life until this one.

So on September 11, having sat on my newly minted PAL for a whole 24 hours, I drove out to my nearest Bass Pro (Niagara on the Lake) and purchased a Savage 64 F (.22 rifle semi-automatic, iron sights), a 350 pack of Federal .22 Ammo, and a small pack of CCI subsonic (which the customer service guy said may not operate the semi-auto mechanism properly – it worked fine). The subsonic is for rats inside the barn – where ricochets would pose a safety risk. One of the reasons I chose this to start with is the fact that it was made in Lakefield, Ontario – Savage acquired the Cooey company which was an Ontario born and bred gun manufacturer. The gun came with an additional trigger guard (cable type). I thought that was a nice touch. The price was $169.99 Canadian (I was pleasantly surprised that it was basically the same as the US price properly converted).

Once home (by about 6 pm), I checked it out thoroughly. I was initially taken by how small and light it seemed. I somehow expected something heavier – more forbidding. I glanced over the manual, loaded up the magazine (sturdy metal) with 10 rounds, and went outside. I live on 34 acres, so no one is going to complain about a few gun shots. I tried the subsonics, and they were really quiet. Sadly there were no rats about to target. They have become harder to spot since we have less food about for the birds which we have been losing so fast. I plinked a few targets, and then loaded up some federal rounds. I set up a political lawn sign I had lying around against a heavy wooden backstop across the yard, and sighted the gun in. At 10 yards I fired two groups of 5 about 1 1/2″ across shooting standing and from the knee. I set up a board about 4″ across and hit that first time at 50 yards. I added a can and a bottle, hit the can first shot, the bottle with one miss both at 50 yards, so I can say the gun is pretty accurate – and I am not too bad a marksman when sitting with the gun resting on the balcony. The light was getting bad so I stopped practicing and put the animals away for the night. In all I used up 10 rounds of subsonic and about 30 rounds of regular ammo.

I have largish hands, so the safety was no problem using my thumb, although it is a trifle stiff. I expect it will ease up over use. The trigger feels really smooth and light – I have nothing to compare it with, but I certainly found it easy and predictable. There was no recoil at all, and the noise was minimal to me (although the horses were a little disturbed). The ducks and chickens didn’t seem to care. In fact my crossbow has more kick – I find it hard to follow the flight of the bolt from the crossbow, but I could see the impact holes of the .22 bullets on the target. The bolt catch was a little weird at first – but once I got the hang of just pressing it in at the right spot, it was easy to open the chamber to check or for cleaning.

The front sight is perhaps a little large and for me obscures the target a bit too much. The rear sight is a simple notch which has a little elevator piece for range setting. Easy enough to use, but I didn’t change it from point blank for now. At some point I may transfer the optical sight I have on an air rifle and see how that performs.

The cable type gun lock was a little stiff to pass through the chamber and out through the magazine slot, but I was able to make it work, and it provides a great way to protect the gun while it is out of the safe.

The magazine seems sturdy, and I was able to load it reasonably easily – a little stiff perhaps but it is brand new. Following the instructions I easily disassembled the rifle – the barrel comes off with two allen-type screws. I reassembled it in about 5 minutes and was good to go.

So far, so good. I have no significant criticisms of the rifle, and for value for money I give it 10 out of 10.

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Names and places

I was born in an RAF hospital in Nocton Hall, Lincolnshire, England. I grew up in Lincolnshire, living in Lincoln City and Grimsby Town. We went on frequent road trips “there and back to see how far it was” – according to my mom. We enjoyed walks in the country and treks to the various beaches on that wild North East coast.

The odd thing is, the place I now call home, thousands of miles from my birthplace, is dotted with place names from my origin. We are next to the county of Lincoln, and there is a Grimsby. The next village from ours is called Wainfleet. There is a Louth, and a Caistorville (Caistor is in the original Lincolnshire). Not too far is Binbrook, and Ancaster. There is a Pelham (after whom several roads and buildings are named in Lincoln, UK). There is a Humberstone Landfill. There is a Gainsborough Conservation Area. I am sure there are other Lincolnshire names I am unfamiliar with, but this short list is still a lot.

south-west-ontario

It seems I have come full circle to settle down.

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We have Eggs!

Last weekend the Ducks and Chickens began to lay.

20171102_203019Right now we are at 6 Duck and 3 chicken eggs over the last few days – the duck eggs are the pale (duck egg green) ones.

One duck egg was very soft/papery, so I bought a sack of oystershell and plonked a bowl of that down for their munching. Anyhow, eggs since that one are all nicely hard-shelled. They are tasty, and the yolk is a darker colour than the usual store bought ones.

A colleague of mine is a home-brew fanatic, and he has started to give me brewers mash, which they all really like. As soon as I open the bag they are hounding me, and they lap it up as I pour it out for them.

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Water, water.

We had a little oops around the last time we ordered water. We use a cistern, which is replenished by truck from municipal water with 4000 Gallons at $140 a time. The water came as ordered, but when my wife came home she noticed a large puddle in the yard, and a hose was pouring out water. The nozzle on the end had apparently popped off under pressure (probably the expulsion of the air in the pipes from running out of water).

The water we bought then ran out a mere three weeks after filling. So a day (ten hours or so) of hose running used up about 2000 gallons of water. Pretty shocking. Anyhow – that really makes the point that we need to take conservation seriously – not merely from the perspective of cost, but also the convenience.

To that end, I am building a water level monitoring device (using an Arduino and an ultrasound distance measuring sensor) to alert me as to water levels, and I am investing in more rain water storage for livestock and gardening. The previous owner had piped the main roof downspout into the cistern for top-ups – but I am a little concerned about bacteria and debris, so I may disconnect this – or take some steps to mitigate those concerns. I have ordered a downspout diverter that includes a debris filter, and maybe I can add some chlorination to the cistern after rainfall events to stop bacterial build up in the tank.

Either way, I can also store more water for the livestock side of things. I found a disused rainwater barrel in the tall grass out back, and I will add this barrel to the SE corner of the barn. I will buy a 1000 litre bulk liquid container and position that at the SW corner of the barn, and move that (new) barrel to the NE corner of the house and install the diverter there. Altogether that will give us 1400 litres of water storage suited for livestock and gardening.

Ideally I would like to use rainwater for dishwashing and laundry, but that would require some changes to the plumbing, and more capacity for rainwater. At $140 every 6 weeks, compared to $140 for 1000 litres of storage, it would take some time to pay off.

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Settling in

We just celebrated the move with a house-warming party. Friends new and old joined us – many of them new neighbours, as we partied on our deck and in our yard.

Unfortunately I was so busy barbecuing and making the rounds that I didn’t take any pictures. I will shout out to all attendees for pictures to post from that wonderful day. The weather could not have been better – mid 20s in the afternoon, down to a crips 10 or so in the evening, perfect for the late evening fireside chat and marshmallow roast.

Here are a couple of pictures of the ducks settling in.

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and out and about:

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On the Farm. Finally!

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OK, so that was an adventure. Not a vacation. One of those things that we will look back on and tell stories about. Not one of those things that one would like to repeat annually.

The closing happened 24 hours late, so we parked our stuff and stayed at my in-laws overnight (150 km in the other direction). The chickens and ducks had their own adventure camping out at a friends back yard in Hamilton. Then we camped for the next day at our lawyers waiting for the other lawyers to complete everything on the second mortgage. This happened at minutes to bank closing on the second day. So we had paid, but title could not be transfered (and this was Friday). We finally started moving in at 7 pm the day after our official closing day.

The cheques I ordered 5 days before closing day still haven’t arrived (now almost a month later), so we got a draft for the second mortgage holders, which the broker just lost! He asked us to cancel it (I don’t know if that can even be done) and get another one. I pushed back and he agreed we could email transfer the money, and I will hold off on canceling the draft in case it shows up before the 27th.

U-haul have had problems – at first they couldn’t get a double trailer at our location, then their fork lift broke down and they couldn’t load the trailer. Then they loaded the trailer but the tongue sank into the asphalt because someone forgot to put in a piece of wood. All in all, getting the balance of our stuff to the farm was delayed a couple of weeks, but we got there in the end and U-haul did refund excess rental caused by their issues. The problems were exacerbated by the fact that I could not call the people at the U-haul location directly – calls were always routed to somewhere in South Carolina, and their ability to get messages to the people in Ontario seemed to be ineffective. I would still highly recommend using U-boxes to anyone moving, because you only have to load and unload once, and you can spread your move out and move in over as long as you want.

All that said and done, the previous owners were lovely – they left a note with details of suppliers and billing averages (electricity, water etc), and a couple of jars of their own honey (they ran a beekeeping operation). We were not so great with our old house – we ran out of time cleaning out, and I transfered the new owners a chunk of cash to help with their cleanup costs.

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