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This question plagues ranchers and farmers all over the United States. Purchasing a tractor isn’t quite like picking up a product from the store. Every angle must be assessed, every feature considered multiple times, comparing parts and accessories, ergonomics, and more. Buying the perfect tractor for your needs is a big financial decision.

Luckily, there will be more than enough information below to give you everything you need to purchase a Mahindra or Kubota tractor confidently. At the very least, you’ll get all the info you need on the perpetual showdown that is Mahindra vs. Kubota.

So, what is better, Kubota or Mahindra?

Mahindra Tractors

This tractor company is primarily based in India, where they have grown very popular and expanded into many other countries. Their parent company, Mahindra and Mahindra, have been making farm equipment since 1963.

Today, Mahindra Tractors sell the most tractors by volume in the entire world. They mainly operate in India, China, Australia, and the United States. However, they also have large consumer bases in Iran, Syria, Serbia, some African countries, others in the Middle East, Asia, and North and South America.

Where Are Mahindra Tractors Made?

The Mahindra Tractors has five US sales and service buildings in:
• Houston, Texas (Mahindra Tractors USA Headquarters)
• Marysville, California
• Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania
• Lyons, Kansas
• Chattanooga, Tennessee

Mahindra mostly builds their tractors but has been known to source tractors from elsewhere whenever they may find it profitable. Some of Mahindra’s main products come from a company in South Korea named Tong Yang Moolsan, which is the leading tractor manufacturer in that country.

All Mahindra tractors are manufactured overseas, either in India or China. Mahindra Tractors USA only has sales and service in the United States. This fact presents a massive contrast in Mahindra vs. Kubota tractors. At least half of Kubota tractors are made in the United States with plans on that percentage going up quickly.

Kubota Tractor Corporation (KTC)

The Kubota Tractor Corporation, or KTC, is based out of Osaka, Japan and has been manufacturing farm equipment since the 1960s. Its US headquarters is in Grapevine, Texas, where the company handles all the sales, distribution, financing, and insurance services throughout the US.

To view inventory from an authorized Kubota dealer and to get more information on each tractor model, check out Bobby Ford’s Texas Kubota tractor packages.

Along with the US headquarters, KTC has five other distribution and warehousing facilities in:
• Lodi, California
• Fort Worth, Texas
• Groveport, Ohio
• Suwanee, Georgia
• Edgerton, Kansas

Where Are Kubota Tractors Made?

As it stands right now, about half of all Kubota products that are sold in the US are made in Japan. The other half is made in Gainesville, Georgia, where the company has a vast facility to manufacture and assemble mowers, tractors, and other implements and accessories.

Kubota plans to expand the Georgia manufacturing plant so that one day, all Kubota products sold in the US are made in the US. Until that day, it’ll be up to you and your dealer to figure out where an individual tractor came from if you believe in only buying American manufactured tractors.

To see a Kubota dealer for yourself, check out Bobby Ford Kubota Dealer to view a full inventory and get all the information you need to make a wise purchase.

Mahindra vs. Kubota Comparison

Consider the different pricing, service, and design components of both Mahindra and Kubota tractors.


Mahindra vs. Kubota prices varies wildly depending on the model and the dealership you purchase your tractor from. There are accurate reports of Mahindra being the less expensive of the two. However, this is a general comparison that prices only the tractor and not all the other things needed like accessories, parts, service, and implements.


Servicing is huge for tractor owners because when your tool breaks down, the job cannot get done. This can be devastating to those that rely on their tractor for a living. An excellent service network that provides customer service, warranties, parts, and local service shops are essential in a good company. Which service is better? Kubota or Mahindra?

Mahindra Service

Recently, Mahindra has upped their game in the service department. Previously, there was a problem with finding parts for Mahindra tractors. If parts were found, it would take weeks or more to receive them. That downtime presented a significant cost in purchasing a Mahindra tractor.

Mahindra implemented a brand-new system that gives US-based customers peace of mind in knowing they can order and quickly receive parts that are stored at a US-based warehouse. You or your service shop can get parts fast, fix your machine soon, and get back to work.

Kubota Service

Kubota’s technical support and customer service are quite good. They train their tech reps straight from the factory. They learn every piece of every product so that they know how it all works and how to fix any problems that occur. This kind of service isn’t standard.

In most industries, getting a good tech support rep on the phone is rare. However, with Kubota, getting a knowledgeable, trained technician on the phone is the standard. The customer service reps are trained to help with any problem or situation you may find yourself in. They can help with warranty information, maintenance, seasonal tips and questions, operator manuals, and much more.

To find Kubota parts, just call or stop into a dealer to get what you need. Alternatively, you can find many third-party companies that supply genuine OEM Kubota parts. Kubota is the industry leader in parts service in the United States. They have warehouses that stock anything you may need, and they network with many other companies to ensure that Kubota customers can have access to the parts they need when they need them.


The quality of both Kubota and Mahindra are incredibly close in comparison. Mahindra is known for being rugged and long-lasting, especially with their older models. As time goes on, their newer models will likely carry the same reputation.

Kubota is known for being a smooth operator. Everything on the tractor works perfectly to give you power and performance that is rivaled by few. Kubota also has a reputation for having the longest lasting tractors and accessories in the industry.

When it comes to quality, it is almost impossible to compare which is better. You can’t go wrong with buying either tractor based solely on the quality of the product.

Design and Performance

Both Kubota and Mahindra Tractors have risen above the industry standard in their older models and especially with their newer models. You can find the latest technology, hydraulics engineering, new implements and accessories, and the best performance in a Kubota or Mahindra machine.

Both companies have dozens of tractor models to choose from, so making one-to-one comparisons can be difficult. Each model from each manufacturer is going to have unique features and incentives that go with it. Be sure to look over them all before you purchase.


Both Kubota and Mahindra have solid reputations. They both make excellent tractors that can tackle any job you need them to. The options and features in different models are great because you can basically build a tractor tailored to your needs precisely. You can almost guarantee that whichever tractor you choose will last as long as you’re willing to maintain it.

The views expressed herein are those of the sponsor; they do not necessarily reflect the views of Countryside Publications. About Bobby Ford Kubota

Bobby Ford is an authorized Kubota Dealer near Houston, Texas serving road crews, contractors, landscapers, farmers and ranchers throughout Texas.
If you’re interested in learning more about Kubota tractors, mowers, utility vehicles, or construction machines, contact Bobby Ford today for specs and a quote!

The post Kubota vs. Mahindra Tractors: Which Brand is Better? appeared first on Countryside Network.

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By Ellen Grunseth – Deer hunting and processing has been a family tradition for as long as I can remember. As kids, my brother and I would joke that this was our family’s “quality time.” Today, I am grateful for the knowledge and experience as I pass the tradition on to my children and teach them how to process a deer.

After harvesting and field dressing the deer, we bring the animal home for processing. We hang it from its hind legs — high enough off the ground that the animal can’t be reached by our barn cat. If the weather is 32 degrees or lower, it can hang for a week. A cold deer is harder to skin and will add time to the overall processing.

My husband prefers to skin the animal as soon as possible. He starts by making a slit in the hide on the inside of the back legs, up to the knee. Then, going around the knee, he pulls down on the skin. He works from top to bottom to avoid getting hair on the meat.

After the animal is skinned, he removes the loins which are located along the backbone — from the neck until just about to the hind quarters. He makes a cut along the backbone first, then starting from the top and working down, peels the loins out. This process works much better when the deer is warm. It involves more knife-work and finesse when the deer has been hanging for a while.

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He quarters the animal and brings it into the house. If we can’t get to it right away, we put the quarters into the refrigerator to work on when time permits.

Before Deboning the Quarters

• Make sure your work surface and tools are clean. It is helpful if the cutting area is at the correct height to avoid getting a sore back from hunching over your task.
• Have a separate work area for wrapping the completed roasts and steaks. It is best to have one person designated to this position if possible. Freezer tape and paper need to stay clean to work best.
• Have cutting boards set out and sharpen all knives ahead of time.

Photo by Lansky Sharpeners

Knife Safety Tips
  • When I learned how to process a deer, the first rule was to cut away from yourself. The lesson that needs to be taken away from this age-old rule is to be mindful of where your blade is moving and where the edge will end up if you slip.
  • Always hand a blade handle first and edge facing up when passing a knife to someone.
  • A dull knife is far more dangerous than a sharp knife. Dull knives won’t bite into material and are liable to slip when cutting. Also, dull knives need extra force to be used. Using extra force increases your odds of slipping and hurting yourself/others.
  • Keep your knife clean and oiled. Especially folding blades. Corrosion can cause steel to weaken and can affect the knife’s cutting ability.
  • Knife storage is also important. A knife is not currently in use, it should be sheathed or folded. A fixed blade should not be stored in its sheath for long periods of time (1 month+) because this can cause corrosion.
Honing vs. Sharpening

Sharpening is defined by the act of taking material away from the edge of the blade. Usually, this is accomplished by “grinding” the edge of a knife against an appropriate sharpening stone or apparatus. The process of sharpening includes setting an edge’s bevel so that both sides meet evenly to form a proper symmetrical edge.

The best angle for sharpening knives is a 20° angle. It provides an excellent edge for kitchen cutlery and filet knives which work best when processing meat. It is commonly used for higher quality blades, and possibly the most often used.

Honing is really just the process of preparing and maintaining an already sharp edge. As you polish out the rough surface of the edge and slowly work the wire edge into a more durable state you are making your blade more efficient.

Photo by Lansky Sharpeners

“Rule of Thumb” Ideas

1. Make sure to have a knife sharpener handy. Accidentally cutting into the bone or cutting board can take the edge off.
2. Having the meat cold (but not freezing) makes handling the meat and trimming it much easier.
3. Deer fat and tallow will carry a “wild” taste when cooked. We remove all fat and tallow from the meat we are processing. This is easy with a sharp knife and cold meat.
4. If there is something on the meat that you wouldn’t want to see when you thaw and cook it months from now, cut it off.
5. Depending on what you want your end product to be, cut the cleaned meat into the desired size. We typically try to save as many roasts as possible. Anything too small to be a roast will be used for canned venison or hamburger later on.

How to Debone a Deer

First, determine if you have a front or back quarter. Front quarters have a shoulder blade that you will have to cut along. You want to get your knife as close to the bone and shoulder blade as possible, without cutting into them, as that will make your knife dull. Front shoulders have a lot that needs to be cut out, lending itself to more scrap meat than roasts. Hind quarters have less bone and tendons to negotiate. And, if you study the meat, you can see where the muscles come together to form natural places to cut — giving you nice sized roasts to wrap and freeze.

Trickier sections to clean are the ribs and neck. Some people prefer to make a roast from the neck. As my family appreciates more canned venison and hamburger, we clean the meat and put it in the scrap meat pile. The same with the ribs. Some people keep the ribs intact to grill. We take the scrap meat off the bones. Knowing how to process your own deer gives you the option to make the cuts you and your family like best.

In the past, I have canned small pieces of cleaned venison left after cutting the roasts to the desired size. The processing time with the pressure cooker adds significant time to processing the deer, but in the long run, makes for a very quick meal on those busy nights.

Recently, however, my family has started grinding the meat, mixing it with seasoning, and making seasoned burgers. We have used straight venison, which can be slightly dry when cooked. Another variation is to add about 50 percent ground pork to the ground venison and seasonings to make the burgers.

Knowing how to process a deer yourself can be very rewarding when you open your freezer or pantry and see the results of your labors in front of you.

How do you prefer to preserve your venison?

The post How to Process a Deer: Start with Sharp Knives appeared first on Countryside Network.

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Chainsaw safety gear, albeit costly, is a necessary addition to any operator’s collection of farm tools and equipment. Unfortunately, farmers tend to be prone to disregarding safety devices, safety equipment and user warnings. As such, the running joke; “OSHA is a small town in Wisconsin” can be heard on farms and homesteads across America.

Chainsaw Safety Gear

Chainsaws are intrinsically dangerous, yet useful power tools that every homesteader and farmer should own. Along with that dangerous but useful tool, you most absolutely should have some standard chainsaw safety gear.

When dealing with trees, you can expect to have limbs or branches whip or fall when cut. A hard hat and face shield will protect your head and face from the flailing mess around you.

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In addition to falling branches, even top-rated chainsaws are loud enough to damage your hearing, especially over an extended period of time. Many manufacturers offer a combination hard hat, face shield and hearing protection device to cover all the bases. I own one and find it to be comfortable, cheap insurance. It’s also really useful for bush hogging, especially in overgrown fields.

Chainsaws are adept at cutting all sorts of things, including bone and meat. Many butchers use chainsaws to cut up large animals like swine and beef cattle, and rest assured they are effective. If you get yourself into a situation that ends with your chainsaw hitting your leg, you will either be grateful for having chaps, or regretting your choice to go without.

Chainsaw chaps look similar to riding chaps, but these chaps are meant to stop a chainsaw. They are not cut resistant per se, but instead do an impressive job of jamming your saw to a halt. I have had the unfortunate opportunity to test the effectiveness of chainsaw chaps, and I can attest that they work. This is a piece of chainsaw safety gear you should never go without.

Remember; the object is to cut limbs, just not yours.

In addition to the dedicated chainsaw safety gear, wear a pair of heavy chainsaw gloves. In addition, even if you have a face shield, safety glasses are a wise choice for obvious reasons. Additionally, wear good hard-toe work boots. You wouldn’t want to cut a toe off would you?

Before You Pull

Let’s make sure the saw is up to the task. Before we even start the saw, we should fuel it up and top off our chain oil reservoir. Fueling a hot chainsaw is hazardous, so do it before you start.

Is the chain sharp? Dull saw chains tend to kick back, wander as they cut and make the operator work harder. We all know people do dumb things when they’re tired, so avoid undue fatigue and keep a sharp chain.

I suggest using a sharp, low-kick chain from a reputable manufacturer. I also suggest owning three or more chains for your saw so you have one on the saw, one sharp spare and one out for sharpening. This way, you’ll have no excuse for operating with a dull chain. This is almost as important as your chainsaw safety gear.

Is the chain properly tensioned? Check your user manual for proper tensioning procedures, since over tightened chains and loose chains alike can damage your saw or jump off the bar, striking you with life-threatening consequences.

Having spare chains is always a wise idea.

Does your chain break work? Most, if not all modern chainsaws have chain breaks to halt the chain in the event of a kickback. In the event of a kickback, the guard between the front handle and the bar contacts your arm and engages a breaking system to stop the chain. To test it, push it toward the bar and expect a snap or click. To disengage it, pull it back toward the handle bar. You can test this without starting the saw, which you should do, but once you start the saw it’s wise to check it again.

If you see anything broken or worn on your saw, be sure to have it checked by a reputable shop before operating. Having a chainsaw break while working is dangerous, so proper inspection and maintenance is paramount.

Start Up

Once you don your safety gear and give your saw the once-over, you’re ready to start it.

I may be guilty of such things, but do not “drop-start” a chainsaw. Bad things can happen. Always start a chainsaw on the ground or while it’s sitting on a solid surface. Many modern saws have cylinder head pressure relief buttons; push it to release the pressure in the engine so it’s easier to turn over.

Start the saw at least 10 feet away from flammables such as a fuel can. Spark arresting mufflers are standard fare on chainsaws, but there is always a chance of spark.

Be prepared for the bar to start spinning immediately when starting a saw. Keep the bar in a safe direction and be mindful of it.

Many chainsaws need to be started in a specific manner. Check your user manual for saw-specific procedures, however it is common to start your saw in wide-open-throttle. When doing this, be prepared for the chain to move and the engine to torque the saw around.

Once your saw is running, let it warm up. Chainsaws typically don’t run well until they are warmed up, so give them a minute to get up to operating temperature. If it will idle, let it. There is no need to warm up your saw in wide-open-throttle condition.

Safe Operation

When cutting, keep the elbow of the arm that is holding the top bar of the saw straight. In the event of a kickback, keeping your arm straight helps control the saw. If you fail to keep your elbow straight, you run the risk of having the saw kick straight back, which usually means you’re in it’s path.

Pay attention to your footing. Standing on uneven or slippery ground can end badly, so can operating a saw when you’re in an unbalanced or unstable position.

Watch what you’re working on. Is the limb you’re cutting under tension? Where will it go when you cut it? Will that log roll when you free it from that limb? Will your saw be pinched as you cut the log? Constantly be on the lookout for what the tree is doing and be prepared, because anything could happen.

Never cut with the tip of the saw. Your saw could kick, pull away or push back if you try. Avoid a trip to the hospital and be sure to cut with the main section of the bar.

Don’t cut brush with a saw. I’m guilty of this, but it’s unwise to slice and dice little twiggy growth with a saw since you’re likely to get it snagged. If you do get it snagged, your saw will probably go for a ride, or bind up, which would be preferable given the options.

Do you have help, someone to watch you, or at least someone who knows you are out there working with a saw? If something goes wrong, you may be incapacitated, so having a second person there is wise. At an absolute minimum, I will make sure my phone is in my pocket and charged in case I need to make an emergency call.

Did you manage to get someone to lend a hand? Great! Don’t run two saws at the same time. Having a second saw in action means double the chances of accidents, since operators get tunnel vision and can forget the other person is there. The chances of someone felling a tree onto someone who isn’t paying attention is a real risk. Additionally, if you are both cutting the same felled tree, one cut can make the tree move unexpectedly as the other operator is working.

Ladders and trees do not mix, period. If you need a ladder; call a professional tree climber, someone with a bucket truck, or use a rope saw. If you fall from the tree you’re cutting, all the chainsaw safety gear in the world won’t likely help you.

Felling wedges are a useful tool when things don’t go as planned.

Additional Gear

If you plan on cutting lots of trees, or clearing an area on your property, consider these extra helpers.

Pulp Hooks are large steel hooks with handles. Use them to move firewood length log sections quicker, but be careful, it’s easy to hook yourself in the process. Again, that’s a painful lesson I’ve learned myself.

Peaveys are a grapple and lever used to turn logs. Many include feet that let you hold a log up off the ground for easy cutting. When cutting up logs for firewood, this tool helps you avoid kickback or hitting the ground with your chain.

Wedges are great when things don’t go your way. If you start cutting and realize you need to adjust the direction of fall, use wedges to redirect the trunk. Plastic ones are great for saving your chain when you hit them by accident, but steel wedges work wonders.

Throw bags are bell shaped bean bags with an attachment point for light rope. Use something like a light duty rope or para-cord to send a line up near the top of a tree. Once you have the para-cord where you want it, use it to draw up a stronger rope to pull the tree in the direction you want.

Rope saws are lengths of chainsaw chain with rope on either end. Use them in conjunction with your throw bag to get it over the limb you need to cut. Once in position, pull back and forth until the limb is cut. This is a good tool for a simple trim.

Pulleys are used in conjunction with felling ropes. If you’ve attached your rope to a truck or tractor, you want the tree to fall without hitting the equipment in question. Use a pulley to fell a tree in a direction other than directly on top of you.

Tree saver straps are exactly what they sound like; a strap that saves trees. It’s common to attach pulleys to other trees when using felling ropes, and many times damage can be caused to the bark of the helpful tree. Using wide straps helps prevent damage to the bark of that tree. If you expect to use felling ropes with pulleys, it’s the most responsible way to use them.

A spare chainsaw is a great idea, especially if you’re new to using chainsaws. Many times a saw can get pinched in a tree, and the only way to solve the problem includes using another saw, either to cut a relief cut, fell the tree in another direction or cut another limb to change how the downed tree sits.

Be Conscious

Don’t let you mind get sidetracked thinking about how to store firewood, or what’s for dinner. Always keep aware of what’s going on around you. Is the terrain sloped? Is the weather changing? Has the wind picked up? Are those leaves wet and slippery? How will this tree branch react to being cut? Where’s my helper? How’s my saw doing? These are all questions you should be asking yourself as you work.

In the military, they refer to this as “situational awareness” and use simple tactics such as “identify, shoot, scan” to break the tunnel vision. We can do the same by cutting, standing and then observing our surroundings. You can’t avoid a situation you can’t see, so be sure to keep your wits about you.

Dangerous Power

Chainsaws are a fantastic tool. Living in a wooded area, you never know what the next storm is going to topple, so I’m always prepared for the unexpected. Likewise, you should be prepared with the right tools and the right chainsaw safety gear. Never skimp on buying chaps or a logger’s hard hat, because you’re only setting yourself up for disaster without them. Chainsaw accidents happen to the highly experienced and the newcomers alike, so be prepared.

I’ve watched someone nearly halve their own knee cap. I’ve landed a chainsaw on my leg at wide open throttle. I’ve watched a pair of $100 Kevlar chaps do their job. I’ve attended the funeral of a professional logger, and my community lost a beloved high school teacher to a tree-cutting accident. Never think you’re immune to accidents.

Be effective, stay alive, get the job done right and don’t set yourself up for disaster. Buy good gear, use it religiously and please; use chainsaws responsibly.

Did I miss some good safety tips? Share yours with everyone below, it just might save a life.

The post Chainsaw Safety Gear to Get the Job Done Right appeared first on Countryside Network.

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Fall’s a great time to enjoy the great outdoors with friends and family. However, there might be two microscopic parasites in the water trying to crash your party: Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia lamblia. The good news is that a few basic precautions can reduce your chance of getting a dreadful tummy bug this fall.

 What are Cryptosporidium and Giardia? Two Troublesome Parasites

Cryptosporidium and giardia are found all over the world, and are classified as protozoan parasites. This means they’re dependent on a host for shelter and food. In this case, it’s the intestinal tract of humans and animals. Cryptosporidium and giardia get expelled into the environment during bowel movements, where they can contaminate things and make people sick.

They Can Get by Without a Host

You might be thinking: if you get a parasite away from its host, it should quickly die, right? Unfortunately, the answer is “no”. In an apparent quest to make thousands of people miserable for a couple of weeks every year, these two bugs are protected by chlorine-resistant shells called oocysts and cysts (think: “force fields”) that make them difficult to eliminate, allowing them to survive outside their hosts for several months to a year.

These emboldened oocysts and cysts love water just like we do and can live in lakes, streams, swimming pools, whirlpool spas, and even public water supplies. Ingesting water containing them can cause the ailments known as cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis.

There were 15,223 reported cases of giardiasis and 8,008 cases of cryptosporidiosis in 2012 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The number of actual/unreported cases is likely much higher (how often do you go to the doctor every time your stomach seems a little off for a few days?)

They are Numerous, and Unfortunately, Potent

Now, this is where things get really gross: millions and millions of infectious oocysts and cysts can be shed in a single bowel movement, but swallowing just a small amount of water (as few as ten giardia cysts) is all it takes to infect a human. So, you can see why just one contagious person with diarrhea, a leaking diaper, or way-too-common bowel accident in the water can present such a hazard and ruin a great day for everyone.

Food, soil, doorknobs, faucets, toys, or anything that is commonly shared can also become contaminated. That’s why it’s so important to observe hygienic practices — especially while handling food at outdoor parties and picnics, sharing phones and cameras, or even after trips to the bathroom.

They Can Cause Unpleasant Symptoms

Symptoms of cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis resemble a bad case of the tummy flu or take you back to that time you accidentally ate those two-week-old leftovers out of the fridge:

● Foul-smelling or watery diarrhea
● Stomach cramps or pain
● Lack of appetite
● Weight loss
● Bloating
● Nausea and vomiting
● Slight fever
● Fatigue
● Flatulence
● Headache

Luckily, symptoms usually resolve themselves on their own in a couple of weeks. Giardiasis can be treated with medicine, while cryptosporidium treatment usually focuses on relieving the symptoms.

Some people host the parasites but do not show any effects. Children and pregnant women are more likely to develop a more serious illness. Those at risk for severe illness after becoming infected include those with weakened immune systems.

If you suspect you have contracted cryptosporidiosis or giardiasis, it is always a good idea to seek the advice and care of your doctor.

Think the Swimming Pool is Safer? Maybe, Maybe Not

You might find it surprising that a third of treated waterborne disease outbreaks from 2000-2014 occurred in hotel pools or hot tubs.

8 Tips to Avoid Giardia and Cryptosporidium

To reduce your risk of becoming infected at your favorite campground, swimming hole, or backyard barbecue, experts at Ohio State University and the CDC suggest the following :

1. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water before eating or drinking.
2. Outdoors, use the cleanest available water from treated sources such as municipal tap water whenever possible.
3. When prepping foods at the campsite, use a vegetable brush to scrub the outside of fruits and vegetables.
4. If you’re camping/hiking and safe water is not available, boil water for one minute before drinking.
5. Be aware of public boil orders and follow the recommendations.
6. Try not to swallow the water when swimming (this includes pools)
7. On long, lazy days at the pool or splash park, take kids on bathroom
breaks hourly, and change diapers in a diaper-changing area and away
from the water.
8. Don’t swim (or let your kids swim) if sick with diarrhea. If
cryptosporidium is the cause of the diarrhea, wait until 2 weeks after diarrhea has stopped to go swimming.

Go a Step Further: Use a Final Barrier System to Treat your Drinking Water

Since cryptosporidium and giardia resist chlorine, and boiling water is time and labor intensive (not to mention only supplying small amounts of water at a time), your best defense is to put a final barrier system in place to purify your drinking water on a daily basis.

Independent lab tests show that Berkey® gravity-fed purification systems equipped with Black Berkey® elements are extremely effective at removing cryptosporidium and giardia:


The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s minimum removal or inactivation standard for cryptosporidium is 99 percent, or a 2-log reduction. Black Berkey® Purification Elements exceed lab detectable limits, removing cryptosporidium to greater than 99.997 percent (log 4.6). That is over twice the EPA standard, by log 2.6.


The EPA’s minimum removal or inactivation standard for giardia lamblia is 99.9 percent, a 3-log reduction. Black Berkey® Purification Elements exceed lab detectable limits,
having been tested to reduce giardia cysts by greater than 99.994 percent, or log 4.6. This also exceeds the EPA standard.

Berkey® systems equipped with Black Berkey® Purification Elements remove up to 99.999 percent of viruses and 99.9999 percent of pathogenic bacteria, while also removing or dramatically reducing protozoa, trihalomethanes, inorganic minerals, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, VOCs, petroleum products, perfluorinated chemicals, rust, silt, sediment, and even radiologicals.
We hope your next outdoor adventure is a great one! With just a little precaution, you’ll be able to create amazing memories with that will last a lifetime.

The post 8 Tips to Avoid Giardia and Cryptosporidium This Fall appeared first on Countryside Network.

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The oxy-acetylene torch is one tool I can’t live without. Working on old trucks and farm implements alike, you’re bound to find yourself in need of a heat source above and beyond what a propane torch can offer. The solution to your problem can be found in the oxy acetylene torch.

What is Oxy-Acetylene?

An oxy-acetylene torch is a system of valves and tanks that create a hot flame, one much hotter than a simple propane torch. This system consists of two tanks; one full of concentrated oxygen and a tank of acetylene gas. Acetylene gas is flammable, but will not reach temperatures hot enough to turn metal into molten material alone, so oxygen is added as an oxidizer to intensify the heat of the resulting flame.

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What it Can Do

Oxy-acetylene torches are versatile, and in many opinions, an indispensable part of the farm tools and equipment we use on the homestead. The primary use of an oxy-acetylene torch set is to cut metal. It does this well, but it also lets us superheat rusty bolts and parts that can’t be freed with a good old dose of torque.

Without oxygen, acetylene does not burn nearly as hot as we need it to. Adding oxygen to this flame gets us that nice blue cutting flame.

Gas Welding

If you have a full complement of torch tips, you can also weld with an oxy-acetylene torch. Brazing, or gas welding, is an excellent skill to have, and in some situations, works the best compared to ARC, TIG or MIG welding. That being said, I seldom use that feature of my torch set.

What It’s Not so Good at Doing

Oxy-Acetylene sets are not simple, nor are they exceptionally portable. There are small kits and tank caddies available that hold plumber’s B-sized tanks, but these tanks don’t last long when cutting metal. These plumber’s sets are meant for lower temperature torch tips for brazing (or “sweating”) copper pipes. These kits work well for that, but because the small tanks burn out so fast, they don’t usually make it onto many people’s farm tools list.

What Size to Buy

Like I’ve said, the B-size tanks don’t suit our needs very well, despite how easy they are to find in tool stores. This is a “bigger is better” situation, so consider getting a taller tank such as a K-size oxygen and a #4 acetylene tank. If you can afford to, I suggest buying two of each, so you can swap out and keep working instead of putting the project on hold until you can get to the dealer for a refill.

This torch set has served me well over the years. We prefer larger tanks on the farm, so we use K size oxygen (blue) and #4 acetylene (red) cylinders.

Buy or Lease?

Be aware that some gas dealers will try to sell you on leased cylinders. If you’re a busy automotive shop or fabrication facility, this typically works out in your favor. For those of us who use our oxy-acetylene sets sparingly, be forewarned; you want to buy your tanks outright. Unless you want to pay a perpetual lease agreement for something that you use a few times a year, I highly suggest you find a dealer that will sell you the tank outright.

Owner Tanks

Once you buy a tank and deplete it, you have two options at most gas dealers; wait a week for them to fill it, or trade them for an already loaded tank. I’ve always swapped out for a full tank, just understand that the cylinder you’ll receive in return is not as new and not as clean as your brand new tank. Most gas dealers call these owner tanks, so be sure you mention that when you go to exchange them.

Safety First

There are laws about how you transport pressurized vessels that you should know. All tanks that feature that classic-necked design you’ve likely seen before, require a screw-on safety cap when in transit. Don’t show up to a gas dealer without one because they get very cranky if you don’t have one.

Never transport pressurized gas cylinders in the trunk of a car! I know people do it all the time with propane tanks, but it’s not legal and not safe. Cylinders should be transported standing up in the bed of a truck and fully secured. That is the preferred method of transportation and the safest. The last thing you want is to have a tank slide around in your truck, have it impact the neck of the cylinder and turn it into a deadly rocket.

Good kits are expensive but worth the investment. I prefer to buy quality gear at my local welding shop instead of a corporate big box store.

Torch Kits

Torch kits are available in many tool and farm stores, but the best parts and kits you can find are found at your local welding supply shop. An oxy-acetylene torch is a tool you should buy once if you buy the right one. Buying the cheapest kit seldom ends well for the end user, and replacement parts may be non-standard. Be sure to consult your local welding shop for their recommendation, and be prepared to pay a little more for quality.

Parts of a Kit

A full oxy-acetylene torch set should include two regulators, four pressure gauges, a length of double line hose, blowback valves, a torch body, and several torch tips. Each regulator gets two gauges; one to tell you how much pressure is in the tank, and how much pressure you’re allowing to go up the hose and to the torch body. The torch body is where the gas mixing happens, where the high flow trigger for the oxygen is, and where the mix control knobs are. On top of the body is where you screw on your desired torch head.

Moving it All

These tanks are heavy, and so is the oxy-acetylene kit. There are caddies available, but a sturdy hand truck and a ratchet strap also work well. Be sure they are secured well!

Do you use an oxy-acetylene kit at home or on the farm? What tanks do you use, and what tips do you have to share? Let us know in the comments below!

The post Getting Started with an Oxy-Acetylene Torch appeared first on Countryside Network.

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Learning how to clean a chimney is one of those skills every homesteader should know. It’s not the most glamorous thing to do, but it’s exceptionally important. Even if you’d rather pay someone else to clean your chimney, it’s still good to be an educated consumer.


Creosote is the number one reason why you should know how to clean a chimney. Incomplete combustion produces a black tar-like fluid and a crunchy black coal-like product. These products, called creosote, coat the inside of your chimney.

As the creosote builds increasingly thicker layers, it chokes out the chimney and kills your draft. This loss of draft causes even more creosote to build up. Additionally, creosote is highly flammable. A chimney full of creosote is a ticking time bomb waiting to light off, which is why we need to know how to clean creosote out of our chimney.

Chimney Fires

People who know how to clean a chimney, or at least use a chimney sweep service regularly, usually avoid having chimney fires. When cleaned properly, creosote is removed before it can ignite, but sometimes it builds up between cleanings, and the creosote catches fire.

Most people who experience a chimney fire report a rushing wind noise or a crunchy crackling sound in the chimney. Visually, you may see bricks smoking and sparks or flame shooting from the top of your chimney.

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Emergency Measures

If you have a chimney fire, call 911 immediately. Once you’ve called 911, you can try to put out the fire in your hearth or stove if it’s safe to do so. If there’s imminent danger, just get out!

If you have an extinguisher, put a few shots of dry-chem up the flue from the fireplace or stove if the draft is strong. The extinguisher should suppress the fire, but it’s not likely to put it out completely.

There are also products on the market called chimney flares, which are meant to starve the fire. Use one if you have one, and follow manufacturer’s directions.

Next, you want to stop the airflow to starve the fire. If you have a fireplace with an internal damper, close the damper. If you have a wood stove, shut down the air intake. At this point, get out and let the professionals take it from here.

Chimney fires can become structure fires in a hurry. Always call 911 before you try to stop one.

Avoid Chimney Fires

Avoiding chimney fires is pretty easy if you how to clean a chimney. Be sure to clean your chimney two to three times a season to keep ahead of creosote buildup. Many people will clean at the start of the season and again half-way through, which works for most homes. If you consume lots of firewood, use a wood-burning cook stove, or have a wood stove hot water heater, consider sweeping your chimney three times a season.

If you have a stove, put a wood stove temperature gauge on the pipe going from your stove to the chimney. This gauge will tell you how hot your flue gases are, which should be between 300 to 500 degrees. Any lower and creosote builds up quickly, and any higher may cause damage.

Be sure to burn dry, well-seasoned firewood. When you split and stack your wood, it should be left to dry and season for six to 12 months before you burn it. Green or wet wood will produce much more creosote than properly seasoned wood, so be sure it’s dry (under 20 percent moisture content) before burning it.

Quick Inspections

Do a quick check when the chimney is cold. Most chimneys have a steel plate door at the bottom. Open this door and stick a mirror inside. If you don’t have a clean out, you can look through the thimble (where the stove pipe hooks into the chimney) or up the flue of your fireplace.

You should be able to see out the top of your chimney and identify any creosote deposits that may exist. If you find significant deposits, don’t burn until it’s clean!


Using a chimney brush is the best way to clean your chimney, but not all brushes are the same. You will need to measure your chimney and identify if it’s a square, rectangle or round flue. Once you know the shape and size, purchase the correct brush for your chimney.

Weighted Brushes

There are two methods of brushing a chimney — a weighted brush suspended from a rope or a brush attached to flexible rods. We use a weighted brush on a rope at home because it’s faster than linking rods together, but that means we need to get to the top of the chimney.

They may look like something from a sunken ship, but these are chimney clean-out doors. If yours look like this, you need a chimney cap to stop water from raining down your chimney.

Flex Rods

Flexible rod brush systems are a handy method of cleaning a chimney, mostly because you now have the option of cleaning your chimney from the top down, or from the ground up. Many chimneys can be cleaned from the ground by inserting the brush into the thimble, chimney clean-out, or directly up the flue from your fireplace.

How to Clean a Chimney

For your basic chimney, hook up your preferred brush system and run it up and down the flue. With flex rods, brush back and forth with every section. Once you reach the end of the current section, add another rod until you reach the end of the chimney.

For a weighted brush on a rope, make sure you pull up and drop down to get the desired scrubbing effect. Whichever system you use, check and re-check the flue visually to verify that the chimney is, in fact, clear of creosote. Be sure to clean your stove pipe as well! You may need an additional brush to do that.

Once you’ve brushed your chimney, shovel out your clean-out door or vacuum up the creosote bits that have fallen free of the chimney.

Making it Easier

Masonry chimneys can be a challenge. Installing a chimney liner eliminates pockets, shelves, and crevasses where creosote likes to build up, making cleanup much easier. A chimney liner also keeps your flue gases hotter, gives you a stronger draft and reduces creosote buildup. A liner kit should only cost about $600 if you do it yourself.

Cleaning a chimney is a messy job, so cover your floor with tarps. You can also use long skinny tarps called runners to avoid tracking soot through the house as you work.

Be Safe!

Cleaning your own chimney is easier than you think, especially if you have the right tools. If you’re not comfortable getting on your roof, try sweeping your chimney from the ground, or have a competent professional do it for you. In either case, make sure it’s done before it’s too late. Be safe and keep the stove warm this winter!

Do you already clean your chimney yourself? If so, what method do you use? Let us know in the comments below!

The post How To Clean a Chimney appeared first on Countryside Network.

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