Dry Day

The sun came out to flirt, and we scooted down to Costco for provisions. Steaks for the freezer, nuts for the larder, whiskey for the bar: Bulleit Rye since they were out of Knob Creek Rye and they don’t carry Tin Cup.
Went up to the other end of town, and at Tractor Supply picked up two 4’x8′ pieces of utility fencing panels in order to make a giant tomato cage for the upcoming crop. A snip with the bolt-cutters here, a bend there, and I should be able to make a 6-foot tall square stairway to heaven.
A couple snips off the bottom cross-rungs and it will be free to poke into the loamy raised-bed.
Meanwhile it’s gonna rain again Sunday so enjoy it while it lasts:

UPDATE: Well that was weird. It clouded-up and snowed big fluff, blobby, bits of snow — then it turned to sleet and covered the pasture.
I awoke to a deck still covered in slush, but everything else melted – and it’s cold. Brrr!

The Emu – at least I think that’s what it is.

A(nother) case for EDC-everywhere. This sum’bitch came quietly wandering up the drive after I had rolled-up the garbage cans to their pick-up location. I turned around and flat stopped in my tracks.
big-bird peckerhead
He (?) was in no hurry, despite the neighbor’s dogs (a white-wolf type and a German Shepard) across the fence barking like crazy.
I thought the dogs were just noisy because they wanted pets from me, but nooo.
He was about as tall as me, and with a similar size shoe-print, and that scared me. His slow and deliberate gait indicated s(he) wasn’t afraid of nobody. Somebody’s escaped pet I suppose, but I hesitate to call an Emu a “pet” because they are just nasty big and ornery birds.
The dogs were barking like crazy and he didn’t care, I picked-up a stick laying on the ground and raised up my arms over my head and repeated, “Keep moving!” And he slowly walked down the road away towards another house.
I didn’t check to see if (s)he had a collar.

Awash in Green

img_1015x800The dead-summer prairie has sprung back to life after a few Fall storms have tracked-through, and I’ve been out there killin’ as much of the nasty weeds as I can, and spreading pre-emergent. The junk I spread is expensive and safe to use around cattle, made with corn-gluten meal that is supposed to “suffocates and suppresses weeds before they begin to grow.”
The field looks nice from a distance but it’s gonna turn nasty and thick, and there’s nothing really to mow just yet except the lawn on the other side of the house and I’ve been avoiding that because I’m lazy.

Pre-emergent spreader-stuff.

Pre-emergent spreader-stuff.

There’s a blanket of snow up on the Sierras and I hope this high-pressure zone stays over us keeping things warm until Wednesday when the shipment of floor-paint for the shed is scheduled to arrive. I want to get it painted and cured before the real cold sets-in.

Shed Solar

The shed doors face …UPDATE MY DIRECTIONAL DYSLEXIA: due-west DUE-EAST…and I needed a way to mount the solar panel on an angle to catch the sun, so I put a 4″x4″ post in the vise to start the mock-up of my corner mount. At Ace hardware I found the 12-foot extension for the Deltran solar panel lede, and a couple t-hinges with about a four-inch leg. t-hinge On the 4×4 post I attached the two hinges on opposing faces, on a 45-angle. At Tru-Value I found some 2-1/2″ eye bolts the proper small-ish diameter thread to fit through the corner holes of the 14″x16″ panel, and got a couple feet of light chain. Then I took a four-link section of chain and ran it through the eye-bolts and the ends of the hinges. Voila!
Next up it needed a brace for the back so the panel laid-out out at the right angle to get the solar waves and rays, so I put a piece of 2″x4″ in the vise, set the saw at a 45-degree angle, and made two cuts so the brace would fit on the corner.
A third cut was made for the angle of attack, which was too shallow at first and had to be re-cut for a steeper angle.
I pre-drilled a couple holes in the 2×4 brace for deck-screws, to make the corner attachment tight to the siding, then ran them in short to mark the hole-locations. It was kinda fiddly to make the final tight-fit without first pre-drilling, because the brace wanted to move around a bit and being on a corner it pushed one way then the other.
I ran the lede up around the brace to the door side, and from the inside-out drilled a 1/2″ hole through a shed 2″x4″ cross-member, to the the hole up-high under the eave. Running the lede through the hole and along the upper interior sill-plate, I screwed-down wire anchors every few feet and dropped it onto the mower location and hooked-up the charger. To finish it off I gooberd a bunch of siliconized plumber’s caulk into the hole to keep the weather and bugs out of the hole.
Now listening to the pitter-pat of rain on the gutters, I’m glad I got ‘er done.

Après le Déluge

UPDATE: Harambe is finito, the Gorilla Hair is done, clicquez voue les embigulament:
After Sunday’s torrent of sky-water, the embankment looked a little worse for wear in some places and there are some places where I need to shovel-out the washed-down dirt, but the shed had not washed away like Noah’s ark.
Dropping-in to Homie Despot to pick-up some fat painting rollers to do the siding (and a long narrow tarp), we went out to the Garden area where we spied a stack of Gorilla Hair bags, and loaded up two platform roller carts of twelve bags each. 24-additional bags will fill in the new voids and increase the general coverage.
In the paint section the question remained, prime and seal, and then what color? There is a lot of cutting-in to do with all the exposed 2×4’s and bare T-100 backing. That’s going to suck-up a lot of paint. White would show dirt to easy and I lean towards a light battleship blue-gray like the garage. Still that could be handled with a standard interior latex perhaps, but will take at least two gallons.
The issue of the floor is also a bit more than I anticipated since most seems to be directed towards concrete floors and some kind of magic epoxy finish, not wood. There’s one to look at called DeckOver by Behr that needs two coats and has some built-in traction effects – might be nice in gray. Hmmm… Ponderings at the Ponderosa.
So instead of doing anything I went to work with some Alex Plus+ white acrylic caulk, and attacked the joints on the tongue-and-groove floor, and the edges and corners where the framing sits. At least it will give the spiders some initial opposition.

The Temple of Mo’

I was greeted by a lovely pink sky at about 6:30AM.picture1013161146_1
Mark Murray and his assistant showed-up at 7:30AM and got to work laying out the floor-framing and getting things leveled on concrete bricks.
He builds the shed-walls in his shop and assembles on-site with a very organized system. The floors are tongue-and-groove sheets.
The walls go up fast.
And pretty soon the roof trusses too, and then the roof-sheathing.
2″x4″s frame the drip-edge and then shingling begins.
There’s not a lot of shingling and they make-up the ridge-shingles from scratch.
Done in less than four hours with time for coffee and conversation.
I found a couple of aluminum ramps at Tractor Supply and drilled a center hole in each tongue.
With the mower’s wheel-track measured out, I dropped a lag-bolt with the impact-driver into the 2×4 frame to hold them in place and not kick-out. Easy enough to remove and store in the shed.
Now I can get a mower with a bigger deck to reduce my cutting time. Maybe next year as I’m running out of money for these big-dollar expenses. Anybody need some user-interface design work?

’53 International Harvester

I had some money burning a hole in my pocket from the sale of my old ’68 Model-10 Smith and the Ninja-Noveske, and at my local neighborhood Candyland there was a piece of farm equipment on the rack that just today they dropped the price on. Magnetism. A ’53 International Harvester M1-Garand of the “gap letter” version, with a sweet wood stock and smooth parkerizing.
Two is one, and one is none, so I really DO need another Garand. Besides the reloading dies are ready for it. I know how to run this better than the AR’s, and even though it’s heavier, what the hell it’s like an older country-cousin in my age-group. Donny from Nebraska. Welcome (back) to the country Uncle Oscar, where farm equipment is lethal. Pics will have to come later.

The Old Shed

It’s been a busy time on the Ranch, with the improved weather I’ve been able to get a bunch more done on the embankment and we kept busy throughout the weekend. Wednesday I picked up a pile of “Gorilla Hair” bark to spread on the embankment (14 bags). I got up onto the steep part of the hillside and began to sift the mulch around, close to the top by the fence and working my way down around the small shrubs, flattening out the dead grasses until I ran out of covering and all the bags were gone. Starting to look like a plan coming-together.
The shed got un-packed on Thursday. I un-bolted everything I could immediately see and removed the weed-whacker, gas cans, and spreader – and such materials as a couple heavy half-sacks of concrete mortar-mix that I threw into the little mower-trailer. I drove that out around the field to park by the little pear tree, at which time I discovered the tires on the little trailer were getting threadbare as well as deflated – so I fixed that.
Friday we stopped-in an picked-up another 24-sacks of the Gorilla Hair stuff and dropped it off on the side of the house and then attacked and tore-down the plastic shed. I’m not sure the lifespan of a “Suncast” shed, but the sun and UV-rays had done a real number on it, and even my neighbor who wondered if it might be salvageable saw clearly that it was not. The general guess was it preceded the previous owner and probably the other guy before that, and was at least 15-yaers old. The roof-panels had been caulked at least once, and the “rafter” steel beams had collapsed at one end. We broke it down everything went into two piles: metal and plastic.
For dinner I grilled marinated chicken breast, and two small petite fillets of beef. With a bottle of Boeger Hangtown Red and a salad it was yummy!
Saturday morning we slid the plastic panels up into the truck fairly easily, running them in on the edges, but some bigger stuff had to stay behind: the metal and the “dormer” ends, so we had to make two dump runs before calling it a day and that included leaving behind some eight sheets of 3’x5′ 1/4″ HardieBacker cement board that the shed-builder had laid-down beneath the plastic flooring. We left that and the mildew and mold that had grown up on it to burn in the sun, until Sunday – it was kinda nasty. There’s an 11’X 14′-7″ base of pressure-treated lumber laid down into the gravel for a “foundation,” but it’s not exactly square and I may need to pound a stake into the ground and then try to knock it into square-shape before the new shed comes on Thursday…
Sunday morning we bagged all the broken-up pieces of HardiBacker for a final dump-run, and we were done…until this morning when we went out and totally depleted our local Home Depot of the last and final 26-sacks of furry Gorilla Hair mulch. It’s easy enough for me to cut a sack, and with a sifting motion spread it around – and the embankment is much improved by it in appearance and traction. There’s better definition between ground and plants (and stepping stones). On the steep hard-pack hillside where my feet tended to slip and slide on the leaves and debris, a layer of this fluffy stuff and my step is much more sure-footed. The next part of the embankment to cover is also less steep and the in-fill will be easier, except for some weeding, and I think it will finish-up pretty quickly and before the rain comes.

Subterranean Rivers

DAY ONE: The ground was awful soggy out behind the house and between the shed where the A/C compressor sat on its pad, and the creeping weed that I call “witches hair” (burr clover), had grown up heavily around the corner and up onto the mesh screen surrounding the A/C unit. I raked away at it the weeds to clear the patch of gravel alongside the house and wonder what was going on. It’s awful damp around here and it can’t be the A/C just extracting moisture. We need to test the irrigation system on lines #1 and #2 that go around the house, going out the planter beds and the perimeter emitters. So we did, but after I first replaced the broken plastic spray-top on a lawn-sprinkler pop-up with a brass one. img_0935x800

With the valve #1 and then to #2 turned on “Manual,” suddenly back around the corner there’s a gush of water coming out of one of the numerous “snake” holes in the side-yard – or gophers or voles or moles or whatever burrowing critters have made homes there.
I chase the water with a shovel, uncovering the path of least resistance it has followed, digging here and there until I get up by the corner and uncover the pipes in a layered cluster of three. img_0939x750
A second run-test clearly shows which pipe-run has the flaw. #2, and it also has a very “scorched” look to it, even purple in places, as though it had been exposed to the sun and even perhaps re-purposed after being used as conduit?… It’s hot and I’m done for the day anyhow.

DAY TWO: I dig up the long run all the way down to the joint, just to see where/how-far that was – and to see if if any other failure might be visible anywhere else. The big 1-inch line is fine and rather fresh looking as is #3. The #2 pipe after the joint has the same scorched look, and I wonder how long it will hold before failure. Time to get some pipe and some glue…
UPDATE: Finito, the glue-up held. Plus now I have a big pile of granite stones and rocks that I dug out and can use for border effects. Or something.