Home Security – Fencing

In our efforts to bring you everything pertaining to the outdoors we felt it only right to talk about protecting those things you keep indoors.
Previously we discussed lighting up those dark places and knowing your neighbors.
Today we’re going to talk about fences.

There are about as many different styles of fences as there are styles of houses.
Some are security, some are for looks, and some are for privacy.
We’re going to talk about security fences. Most are going to be made out of metal of some sort, whether it is wrought iron, chain link or just a hog wire fence these offer security in the fact that they let you see what is on the other side. Remember the keyword here is “see”. In security visibility is more important than invisibility.
You want to be able to see anyone that approaches and you want them to know that you can see them.
The most common fence around houses is the chain link these are easily installed, come in varying heights, and offer great visibility. Plus they are really good at keeping your dog in. We’ll discuss dogs later.

Granted any one that really wants in can still get through a chain link fence, but it is going to take them a little time. As they will have to climb over, cut through, dig under or undo the wiring to get in.
No fence is going to stop anyone serious about getting inside, but you don’t have to stop them. You just have to slow them down enough to make them decide that you’re not worth the effort.
Most burglars want to be in and out of a house in under ten minutes, taking what they can carry easily and pawn quickly. Notice I said most.

When installing your chain link fence make sure that the post are set in concrete, this makes the fence harder to uproot. If you want security go for a fence that is at least six feet high, although eight feet is better.
Don’t use the standard chain link fence gate, these are very easy to warp and knock loose.
Not only that but your dog can wedge his way out of them due to the way these gates latch.

You can go to your local farm supply store and get a good metal gate and attach some chain link wire to it using sheet metal screw or if you have someone that can weld galvanized metal they can weld the chain link to it, or you might actually be able to find a gate that is built to keep smaller animals in and then you won’t have to worry about it.
Either way always remember a fence is only as strong as it’s weakest chain link. (you should have smiled at that pun).

Wooden privacy fences although nice, really do not offer much in the line of security, as they hamper visibility, making it easy for some one to hide on the other side and ambush you.

Picket fences although pretty offer nothing in the line of security as most can be jumped over pretty easily.

My favorite fence is the one that is stone up to about two feet and then wrought iron up to about eight feet.
although someone can very easily lay down and hide on the other side of the stone. But the stone and wrought iron are very hard to get through, and a wrought iron gate with proper latching mechanisms are very hard to get through.

Remember no lock, no fence, no door is going to stop someone from gaining access to your belongings, the best deterrent is knowledge. Knowing that no burglars want to get caught, so they are less likely to hit a house in which they can be seen

Next time we talk about Alarm Systems.

Know Thy Neighbor – Home Security Part 2

Last time we talked about lighting up the outdoors, this time we are going to talk about another aspect of home security, knowing your neighbors.

Isn’t it something that in this day and age more and more people don’t know who lives next door to them?
It’s true, most people don’t know.
Well you should. Knowing your neighbors goes a long way in security. You never know when you might need their help, or you never know when they might need yours. Of course if they are criminals then you definitely need to know them.

I guess  I am lucky in that aspect as I know all my neighbors and they know me, if they need me I’m there and if I need them, well they’ll call someone (just kidding).
Remember without neighbors you can’t have a neighborhood watch.

I have retired people on three sides of my house and at least one of them is at home all day. No one shows up in my yard without being seen. The guy we bought this house from would leave for weeks with his doors unlocked and the garage door open and never had any thing stolen. Why not? Because the neighbors kept and eye on things while he was gone.
Aside from watching things good neighbors can collect your mail for you as well as water your plants and even feed your dogs if you need them to.

Knowing who you have living next to you is always a good thing.

An example was that my sister bought a new car, none of my neighbors had seen this car. I was working on my parents house when my sister asked about a woodcarving that I had, I told her she could have it and she could come on down to my house and get it.
My two sisters drove down to my house and got the wood carving. My cell phone rang about fifteen minutes (the time it takes to drive from my parents house to my house) after they had left my parents. It was my neighbor across the street.
“Two girls in a white car just pulled up and went into your house and one of them is walking out with something in her hands. Do I need to stop them and call the police?” He asked.
“That’s my sisters, they’re getting a wood carving.” I said.
“Okay, I didn’t recognize the car.”
“Thanks”. I said. 
“No Problem.” and he hung up.

That’s what neighbors do. They look out for one another.
Anyone shows up here if the cameras don’t catch them the neighbors will. Of course I watch over there places as well.

The exact opposite is I have a cousin that lived next to a guy for 12 years, they shared a fence that separated their property.
He thinks the guys name was Joe. It wasn’t until I showed up on my bike one day that he and Joe, whose name was actually Rick, met. Turns out Rick was a biker and when he heard the shovelhead pull up at my cousins he walked to the fence and started talking. Rick had an old panhead, that he was rebuilding. After that my cousin and Rick got to talking a good bit and actually got to know a little about each other. Of course my cousin is kind of preppy and his wife didn’t much like Ricks wife but they got to where they would help each other out when they needed it.
So if you don’t know your neighbor walk over and introduce yourself.

Next time we will talk about fences.

Light Outdoors – Home Security Part 1

Today on Light Outdoors we are going to talk about home security.

I was talking to a deputy sheriff the other day and he mentioned how the recent economy was leading to an increase in thefts, burglaries, robberies, and home invasions.
He and  I discussed a few things that people can do to better secure their homes, so I figured that since Light Outdoors is all about the outdoors and trying to help people I would start a series on how to help you secure your home.

We all have heard the old adage ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’, well here at Light Outdoors we believe and ounce of prevention is now worth a ton of cure.

Face it, when your home is broken into you lose not only possessions but the sense of security that you once had. You feel violated. Paranoia takes over and you are afraid to leave your house in case it might get broken into again.

Now I’m going to be honest I have had more than a few friends that were slightly on the shady side and I discussed with them what they looked for when they broke into a house. That’s what this series is going to cover, the things they looked for and how to prevent folks like them from destroying your sense of security.

Todays topic on Light Outdoors is going to be one of the things they look for.

Darkness – A house that is not well lit is an easier target than one that is well lit. Darkness means either no one is home, or everyone is asleep. Preventing unwanted people from getting in starts outdoors.
Since this website is named Light Outdoors, lets talk about outdoor lighting for this post.
There are many types of outdoor lights that can be used for many different reasons. We’re going to discuss those reasons and the benefits of each type.

Outdoor lights can be as simple as the solar path landscape lights that you stick in the ground and leave or the hardwired lights that go on a post or pole that come on and go off with the sunset and sunrise.
Lighting up the outdoors is pretty easy once you have a plan.
So let’s make a plan for security.
First evaluate your home. Go outside at night and look at what you see from the road or the edge of your driveway.
Walk around your house and look for dark places.
Check other things as well.
How low are your windows? 
Do you have tall bushes that people could hide behind?
Do you have a fence around your property?
Do you have a dog?
Do you have a security system?
How well do you know your neighbors?

These are all things to consider when securing your home against theft and burglary.
Okay lets talk about light outdoors and what it can do for you.

There are several types of lights that I recommend for your outdoor needs.

The first is the motion activated flood lights.  They can be purchased at almost any home improvement store such as Lowes, Home Depot, Sears, Kmart, Walmart or several others.

These can be installed in place of existing outdoor lights or if you know how to do basic wiring or know an electrician you can install them anywhere (except in the case of the solar powered ones then you don’t have to have any wiring experience).
You want to make sure that your outdoor lights are waterproof so that they don’t short out, burn your house down or fail when you need them. I use the motion activated flood lights outdoors everywhere around my house except where my dog pen is simply because my dogs would be continuously setting them off. I do have other lights in that area that can be activated by the flick of a switch when the dogs bark or yelp as well as a closed circuit camera system.

Tall bushes that people tend to plant around their house leads to a lack of light outdoors behind them, where people can hide pretty easily. I recommend removal of those type of bushes and replacing them with something that grows lower, such as irises or maybe junipers. If you want to leave them you can always find the wall mounted outdoor lights that give off a soft glow but also light up the area, making it harder for people to hide.

Remember the more light you have outdoors the harder it is for anyone to hide.
One thing I do with some of my outdoor lights especially the motion activated lights is I take remove the motion detector and run new wires from it back to the light fixture and set the motion detector up in an area where it would be least expected usually about four feet off the ground that way anyone that walks into the yard sets off the lights before they get to them. I set them as high as I do so that dogs can walk under them without setting them off to often. You do this by mounting the motion detector and then tilting it upward just a hair. Dogs will still set it off but not as often as they would if it was tilted down. Another thing I do is I have a light mounted on a switch in my room that flashes when the motion detectors go off. I put it on a switch so that I could turn it off If I want it off. I know I sound paranoid but all it takes is one time and all that paranoia is worth it, especially where my family is concerned.

Solar landscape lights are another good investment, they produce a soft glow, not enough light to blind you but enough to light up a small area. You can find these at the stores listed above as well as some others.

These are the simplest lights to install as you just have to pick a spot to put them in and usually stick a peg in the ground and slide the tube on top of it. With the low cost of most of these you really can’t go wrong.

Thank you for visiting Light Outdoors, next time we will talk about knowing your neighbors.

Space Saving Bookshelves

Sometimes you have a room that needs a book shelf, but the problem is there really isn’t enough floor space.
How do you solve this problem?
Simple. Install it in the wall.
First check your wall. Is is a load bearing wall or not. Load bearing means that the wall supports the ceiling joists or in the event of a two story (or more) house the upstairs floor joists.
If it is a load bearing wall you can still do this you just have to make a couple of modifications to the plan.

Alright here’s how to do make a built in book case.
Figure out the location that you want the book case first, take into consideration any future home improvements you might decide to do. Because once it’s installed it is a pain to move.
Where a normal book case is built out of 1x10s or 1x12s with all of the case taking up floor space these book cases can be built the same way with only 4 to 8 inches sticking out into the floor. That number varies with the thickness of your wall (most walls are 4 to 5 inches thick).
To start with if the wall is a load bearing wall you want to build your bookcase narrow enough that it can fit in between the studs (easy way) or you want to remove a stud and build a header to go across the top of your bookcase. To build a header you just nail together a couple of 2x6s and install them on top of a couple of studs.
I have tried to illustrate this part.

Okay once you get that done you are ready to build your bookcase.
What I use to build mine is almost always spruce. Spruce is a soft almost white wood that is easy to work with and takes stain very well. You can make it look like any kind of wood you want it to with the right color of stain.
I prefer either a light redwood or mahogany stain. But it depends on what the rest of the room is as to what color I stain it.
Okay I’m getting ahead of myself.
Back to building the book case. First we need to know what depth we want, I usually go with 1x8s or 1x10s and very rarely use 1x12s on a built in bookcase.
What I do is measure the inside between the remaining studs. Then I cut two  sections of the wood lets say the inside measurement is 44 inches. So I will cut a top and bottom board 44 inches long.
Then measure the height. I try to go as far up to the ceiling as I can so lets say we have an eight foot ceiling.
On a non load bearing wall (no header) I would cut two side pieces 94-1/2 inches long, that will make it 96 inches overall.
If it is a load bearing wall and I have a 2×6 header I deduct 5-1/2 inches from the length. (the reason for this is a 2×6 is actually 1-3/4 x 5-1/2 inches.)

After I have my frame pieces cut I will nail or screw them together. For the back of the bookshelf I use a 4 x8 sheet of 1/4″ luan. ( a thin plywood that actually looks pretty good for bookshelf backs).
Check the luan with a framing square and make sure that it is square then line the edges on two sides up with the frame of your bookcase. Attach the luan and if you did this right your bookcase will be almost perfectly square, now lets just hope your walls are. You can take a router with a flush bit and cut off the excess luan.If you don’t have a router you can use a circular saw. Don’t worry if you nick the sides a little because this area will not be seen.

Decide how many shelves you want to put in your bookshelf.
On a seven foot bookshelf I usually put in four shelves. Spacing the bottom ones further apart than the top ones. That way you can put bigger items on the bottom shelves.
Okay so we’re going to put four shelves in this thing.
We cut four boards 42-1/2 inches long. Then install them. I like to mark one side for my shelves, attach them on that side and use a speed square to line them up square.
After you have your shelves in place you are ready to install the bookshelf.
Simply place it in the opening in the wall and then screw it to the studs on the side, the header on the top and the floor on the bottom.
Then you are ready to trim it out If you had to install a header you will have to use something over six inches wide. A 1×8 will work wonders here and you can use 1x6s for the sides. I like to route the outside edges to give it a smooth shapely look.
If you didn’t have to use a header 1x4s will work for  your trim.


That’s how simple it is to build a built in or space saving book shelf.

Planting The Garden

Spring time is the time to get started on your garden.
Whether you know it or not a vegetable garden is one of the best investments you can make.
Vegetable gardens serve several purposes they get you out of the house and doing something, they relieve stress and they provide you with fresh home grown vegetables helping lower your food costs and in this day we all need to lower costs as much as we can.

So let’s get started with that garden shall we.
First thing that is very important is location. Depending on what you are wanting to plant you will need to locate an area for it.
Corn, tomatoes and beans seem to work well on semi-flat surfaces meaning your garden should be able to let water run off but it should retain some water.
Watermelons and pumpkins seem to work best on a mount that drains water pretty well.
Turnip greens have always worked best for me on lower ground that held more water (not a mud hole mind you)
Of course rice needs lots of water to grow, which we’re not going to discuss growing rice at this moment.
Don’t have an area to till and plant? You can always build a small tiered garden using landscape timbers or cross ties. This is basically a square section with dirt put in it and then you move in about a foot and put in another smaller squared section and you can continue to do this for about four levels, planting different things on each level. I have grown tomatoes, onions, strawberries and peppers in a tiered garden.
Another little garden you can do consists of building boxes out of 1×8’s you can build them as long as you want or as short as you want. Basically you take three equal lengths of 1×8 or 1×10 if you choose and attach them with one long piece being the front, one long piece being the back and the other long piece being the bottom, then cut two shorter pieces to make the sides. Make the shorter side pieces about two feet long and you have legs for your garden to stand on (although you may have to put something under the center to help support the weight).
How ever you build your garden you are going to need good soil for it.
Where I live it is mostly red clay with some good soil mixed in. What I do is buy bags of Black Kow fertilizer (basically cow manure) and mix it in with my soil.
To start I till the soil until it is nice and soft and goes deep, then I spread the bags of Black Kow over it and rake it in, then I till it again until it is blended all together really well.
After I get it tilled up I usually add some Triple 13 Fertilizer (13 13 13) to the soil and till it one more time.
Then I wait. Patience is a virtue for a garden. I usually wait for a good rain to come through which dissolves the Triple 13, if after a few days there has been no rain I will water the garden area with a hose making sure the entire garden is saturated.
Wait another day then till it one more time.
After that time I will take a how and cut out my rows (my garden spots are only about a hundred feet long by maybe twenty feet wide and I make one row every two feet).
After the rows are cut out, it’s time to plant the seeds.
Now for corn, watermelons, cantaloupes, squash and beans I plant seeds. For tomatoes, strawberries and peppers I go ahead and by the started plants, for onions I buy the started bulbs.
When planting corn I like to plant the seeds at least 18 inches to 2 feet apart, that gives the stalks room to grow and little or no competition for nutrients. Beans I plant the same way.
Watermelons I plant about six feet apart on little mounds that I build with the hoe.
Strawberries I plant about a 8 inches apart. They spread but they don’t seem to mind.
Basically any vine plant, watermelons, cantaloupes and squash you need to give a good separation of four or more feet.
Bush plants (although they are called vines) like peppers, certain bean and tomatoes you should plant at least two to three feet apart. Okra can be planted about a foot apart.
Keep a check on your garden. Pull out the weeds, don’t step on any vines and keep it watered.
With corn you will need to “Lay it by” Which means basically you cut out the dirt near the roots (don’t cut the roots), usually I will take the hoe and cut a small ditch on both sides of my corn and in between the rows and put in some Nitrate of Soda or Sodium Nitrate, and then rake some dirt over it and over to the stalks of the corn. This makes the corn really grow. Be sure and water it lightly within a day of doing this.
This also helps tomatoes but instead of cutting ditches I just sprinkle the sodium nitrate around the base of the plant and water it a little. Remember you can over fertilize your garden just as easily as you can over water your garden.
Over fertilizing will “burn” your plants up. Over watering will drown your plants.
Next time we will talk about garden pest and garden pesticides.
Thanks for reading

Gun Control – The .357 Magnum

The .357 Magnum was collaboratively developed over a period in the early to mid-1930s by a group of individuals in a direct response to Colt’s .38 Super Automatic. At the time, the .38 Super was the only American pistol cartridge capable of defeating automobile cover and the early ballistic vests that were just beginning to emerge in the post-World War I “Gangster Era.” Tests at the time revealed that those vests defeated any handgun cartridge traveling at less than about 1000 ft/s. Colt’s .38 Super Automatic just edged over that velocity and was able to penetrate car doors and vests that bootleggers and gangsters were employing as cover.

Though .38 and .357 would seem to be different-diameter chamberings, they are in fact identical. 0.357 inch is the true bullet diameter of the .38 Special cartridge as well as the .38 super. The .38 Special nomenclature relates to the previous use of heeled bullets (such as the .38 Long Colt), which were the same diameter as the case. Thus, the only external difference in the two cartridges is a slight difference in length, solely for safety purposes as explained below.

Much credit for the .357’s early development is given to hunter and experimenter Elmer Keith. Keith’s early work in loading the .38 Special to increasingly higher pressure levels was made possible by the availability of heavy, target shooting-oriented revolvers like the Smith & Wesson 38/44 “Heavy Duty” and “Outdoorsman”, .38-caliber revolvers built on .44-caliber frames. The .38-44 HV load used the .38 Special cartridge loaded to a much higher velocity than standard .38 Special ammunition. The .38-44 revolvers were made by using a .44 Special size gun with the barrel and cylinder bored to .357 caliber (the true bullet diameter of the .38 Special). Since the frame, cylinder, and barrel were much stronger than the standard .38 Special components, it was capable of withstanding much higher pressures. The .38-44 HV round, while no longer available, was in most cases the equal of the later .357 Magnum, which works at more than double the pressure of standard .38 Special. The .357 Magnum addresses the safety issues earlier cartridges had by stretching the case by approximately 1/8 of an inch, preventing the high pressure .357 cartridge from chambering in a firearm designed for the shorter, lower pressure .38.[12] Elmer Keith also contributed the Keith-style bullet, which increased the mass of bullet located outside of the cartridge, while leaving more room inside the cartridge for powder. The Keith bullet also employed a large, flat meplat, thus enabling rapid energy transfer for greater wounding properties. At the same time, this bullet design does not deform like a hollow point, and as a result achieves greater penetration. These characteristics of the Keith bullet make it very suitable for hunting applications as well as target shooting.

Revolvers in .357 Magnum caliber have the significant advantage of also being able to fire .38 Special ammunition, with its lower cost, recoil, noise, and muzzle flash. This trait makes .357 revolvers ideal for novice shooters who are not yet used to firing full-strength .357 loads but do not want the expense of buying a second lower-powered gun to train with. However, a .38 Special should not generally be used with any .357 automatic handgun or rifle, such as the Magnum Research Desert Eagle.

Hunting Season

I love to hunt, it’s one of the greatest ways to get back to your basic self.

Really it is, before we got all “technified”, “stupified”, “lazified” and “sensitized” (just another damn word that tries to make sissies out of everybody), man used to hunt.

We hunted deer, buffalo, goose, duck, sage hen, quail, chukker, moose, elk, bear, rabbit, and a large variety of other animals, and by God we ate them. We used their hides for clothing and shelter, and their bones and claws for jewelry, glue, needles and other things.

Now days, you have all the whiny asses out there hollering about how ‘you shot Bambi’. Or animals are our friends, or animals have rights too.

Well let me tell you jackasses something, first, Bambi was a cartoon, got it.
For those that think animals are our friends, sure maybe the old family dog, but go into the wild and try to discuss home decorating tips with a pack of wolves. Hell ask Timothy Treadwell about it. Oh that’s right you can’t because he was eaten by a grizzly bear.
For all you animal rights activists, when animals start having free elections and quit relying on survival of the fittest, then I will believe in animal rights. Now this don’t mean that I am condoning mis-treatment, or torture to animals, because I’m not….. well except maybe to cats…… naa, I take that back,  just because they torture their victims and are emissaries of satan, I don’t agree with torturing cats either.

Getting back to my original thoughts, before the tangent, I love to hunt, but it seems these days there are many people out there that do not know how to hunt.
Here are a few rules, (although not nearly all of them).

1.  Never use another hunters stand without their permission. Unless of course there is no way that they will ever find out.

2.  Never steal another hunters stand. However, if they have successfully killed more game than you have, it is alright to borrow their seat cushions but only until the end of hunting season.

3.  Never urinate in the woods near your stand. Wild animals have a keen sense of smell, and although you might not smell it, they can smell the scent of your urine for miles, depending on the wind. However if you have a guy that kills the most deer and rubs it in at the lodge every evening, peeing near his stand is allowed.

4.  Never take a woman hunting with you. There are a few reasons for this, women have to pee more often than men.
Women have a harder time sitting still and doing nothing than we do.
Women tend to wear hairspray and perfume/deodorant that animals can smell.
But the biggest reason is that if she kills a bigger animal than you do, you will never hear the end of it.

5.  Drinking and firearms do not go together, as a survivor of several ‘Turkey Shoots’ and two hunting clubs, I can tell you the last thing a drunk needs in his hands is a firearm, especially when everyone else has successfully killed their limit.

6.  Always be prepared. This means take the proper supplies, water, rope, a good knife, matches (or a lighter) gloves, extra shirt and toilet paper (yes there are certain leaves you do not want to wipe with).

7.  Be prepared to get bloody, if you kill something you have to dress it out, which means gut it and skin it usually, although in the case of deer, most people now days take them to a processor and let them skin it, but they still have to gut them. In my case I get bloody, not so much because I kill something, but because I usually wind up in the middle of a briar patch somewhere, or from falling off a bluff.

8. Sight in your rifle, one shot, should result in one kill. Don’t make the animal suffer, take it quickly, granted a gunshot is far more humane than being eaten alive by a pack of wolves, coyotes, grizzlies, ferrets, or any other animal, but still always try to kill it quickly. A rifle that is well sighted in, means usually one shot does the job. Although I have regrettably made a few trees and one fence post needlessly suffer, during some of my hunting trips.
The trees recovered nicely, but I am sure they were stressed.
The fence post was never the same again.

9.  Never kill more than you need, if you find that you have taken more game than you want, give it to a needy family, I am sure there are some out there that would gladly accept some venison or other wild game, or you could send it to me, I seem to have been in a dry spell for the last thirty some odd years.

10. Make sure of what you are shooting and what is behind it. I’ve seen so many people who thought they were shooting a deer and ended the life of Farmer Jones’ cow, sure the steaks are bigger, but Farmer Jones will probably miss his cow, and worse he may not let you hunt on his property anymore.

11. Make sure you have written permission from the landowner, before you hunt any part of their land. It also helps to make sure of who the land owner is.  Trust me on that last one, it’s hard to explain to someone who owns the land that they gave you permission to hunt it, when you have never actually met them.

12. Keep up with the laws, they change year to year. It used to be if you shot a deer you had the right to collect it if it ran onto someone elses land before it died. Now you must have permission to cross anyone elses land for any reason what-so-ever. In Alabama, it is also illegal to take a deer alive or dead from water. It is illegal to shoot from the road, or even near the road, and trust me on this one, shooting from your truck in the middle of the night is highly illegal. ( I personally have never done this, but I can’t speak for my redneck-er friends).

Seriously though, when you hunt, use common sense. Be Safe.

Always keep up with the game laws and the seasons as they vary state to state.

Always respect the land and the land owner as you would want yourself and your property to be respected.

Teach your kids to hunt, because one day with the way this country is going, they may have to in order to survive.

For more on hunting in Alabama click here