Rockin’ the Embankment

The heat has broken and cooler weather has arrived – this week anyhow. The morning dawned cloudy and in the 50’s, low and chilly compared to last month’s overnight average of mid 70’s or more. And in advance of the next Monsoon we have been laying-up stones on the embankment. Some of the bigger ones weigh a good 80-lbs or more.
Perhaps this can ease the runoff and sluicing mud that ran down the embankment last year off my neighbor’s driveway in the Great Seasonal Deluge of Global Warming. Since we have one home with a surfeit of rocks, that is from-where we have been able to contribute. Meanwhile the “Wayne’s Silver” California fuchsia has thrived over the summer and the hummingbirds love it. Towards the middle is the remaining stump from the 14-foot high now dead butterfly bush, and about where the cascade emerges.

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Hobby Cart Update

Went down to the local feed-store and got some leather spur-straps to secure the rifle and scatter-gun. “Youth” size, $4.99 – and I flipped the hinge around because it interfered. Also paint.



Meanwhile over at Cemex the Basilite terrace block came-in and we put the five-foot diameter circle down out in the pasture. 20-blocks to a course. Looks like a fire pit but it’s not. We’ll see what happens when it rains and all the water comes up through there. There will probably be some settling and maybe I’ll add another course.

Heat

We have been enjoying temperatures in excess of 100°+ Fahrenheit for the last few days/weeks (107° yesterday), and I have come to learn that has something to do with tomato production:

When days hit 85°F to 90°F and nights hover above 75°F, tomato flowers often fail to pollinate, then drop — which in turn puts new fruit production on hold. The longer the heat lasts, the longer those tomato flowers will continue to hit the pause button. In short, hot weather can delay your tomato crop.

…and I have also learned something about “Determinate” and “Indeterminate” tomatoes. Indeterminate tomatoes grow out of control unless you prune them, and I have Indeterminate ones, so the giant tomato cage I made from a 4×8 section of screen fencing, cut and bent into a square, is a good thing except that I didn’t prune anything. And now the San Marinzano’s have grown up and out of it, and being that are kind of a one-shot tomato – they fruit-up and the plant dies – and with the heat the plant is now brown and crispy. Buh-bye! Anyhow we got a couple colanders of fruit off them and made some sauce, and that is what they are for.
Meanwhile the indeterminate cherry tomato plant has spread out to cover most of the planter-bed, and the small cage that “housed” it is invisible underneath the tangled and twisted vines – and it’s still producing so it’s a hot-climate pant. Maybe next year I’ll try a Determinate plant and get a second-season of growth and fruit (after a second planting), instead of having this wild and wooly, raggedy tangle of vine hanging about all summer long.
Meanwhile this morning dawned with a pink cast to the sky as the sun rose, still a warm 80° at 6:00AM with night time temps barely breaking into the upper 70’s, but the promise of cooler days ahead. Happy Labor Day and God Bless and keep-safe the people of the Hurricane, in Texas and the Gulf Coast.

Observations from a distance

Could be that in Texas, when it rains it’s good to have 30-inch wheels and a lift-kit on your truck, whether you live in town or outside in the country – and a bass-boat for getting around. Big trucks aren’t just for pretend manly-men.
I think I would prefer to live in the Texas “Hill Country” just because I don’t like flatlands anymore, but I’ve really never been to Texas and don’t know if I could afford it anyhow.

With the continuing high temperatures up/out here and big high-pressure ridge parked over the Great Basin and Sierras, we are acclimatizing to the new normal of 100-degrees. But we had a few cool mornings last week, and the sound of geese on-the-wing reminds us that the seasons are changing.

UPDATE: Meanwhile the skies over the Valley are a dusky and stinky brown from wildfire smoke, and it’s drifting off over the hill to “Burning Man” so the festivities as such should get a real taste of The Burn.
Apparently there are something like 58 60 active wildfires currently in the state.
And…the burgeoning cherry-tomato plant (“Cousin It”) offers up another whole colander of little red fruits.

Crazy Tomatoes

The Gun-Club Summer Picnic was fun and a bit hot – but not as hot as last year. Ticket-stubs were pulled from buckets and prizes were raffled off.
I “won” a gift-certificate (worth slightly more than I paid for tickets, but not the 9mm Shield) to The Sportsman’s Hall, the old Pony Express stop along the route where riders could spend the night and weary emigrant travelers could rest. It’s a nice restaurant and run by a hard-working couple. from Korea. The old barn of a building has needed a bunch of work just to keep it standing, and inside the knotty-pine walls are covered in Reno Rodeo pictures and numerous animals mounts, the largest being a moose.
Morning today dawned clear but with high clouds along the tops of the mountains that quickly spread down into a low overcast and cool winds, quite a welcome change from twenty-five days of 100+degree temps. Summer may be over, but the tomatoes don’t know it and are producing wildly.

Everything in Moderation

Friday was overcast with high cloud-cover, but still an overnight low of 70.9°F it never cooled much, until this morning rang in at a low and chilly 61.8°F. That’s ten degrees cooler than the last two weeks.
With rising hammerhead-clouds all along the spine of the Sierra and moisture from the south, the heat broke yesterday only clocking in at 89.3°F – cool enough to take the cover off the Weber and grill a mess of chicken thighs.
It’s like summer came back, after the heat inferno.
And the Vaquero showed up yesterday, so I went and handled it, ran the paperwork, and get to wait ten days. It’s a nice stick.
Today the skies over the spine of the mountains are thick with more tall clouds. There is some serious weather up on top today.
I bought a fancy silver hatband for my straw ranch-hat at the local feed-store. The folks there are very nice, and looking at the racks of horse-shoes and equipment reminded me of working that gold sluice-box in Colorado and up in the Trinity Alps of NorCal — and packing all that gear up and down the mountain-side on horseback. Fun times, makes me almost want to get a pony.

Git ‘er Done

So…a yard of 1-1/2″ “natural” is just $42.90 with tax and everything.

Cool, and across the street the guys are getting a palette of “tan cinder natural” terrace-block, of which 40 will be mine at a buck-eight a piece, two courses to make a 5-foot diameter circle.

Still, the first half-yard load of rock sunk the shocks on the truck, and the second half-yard bucket dropped it onto the rails practically and the tires were bulging.

And an incredible amount of dust accompanies the rock.

So I drove real slowly, and good thing it was only about a mile. Rock AND ROLL!

Nice day, only about 100 today, nice bit of workout. Who needs a goddamn gym when you have rocks and nature?

Hole is full. Now to make a “wishing well” with a tin roof, just to keep the leaves and dirt out.

Prairie Archaeology

Saturday I continued to dig with the idea that I would level the bottom of the pit at the height of the “alluvial gravels” from whence I believed the spring to sprung.

As I made another wagon-load of dirt, I came upon a large and heavy rock. Interesting, let’s keep going. A few more large nails and then the remains of a ceramic a light socket.

All kinds of weird things fall into the well, I thought to myself…

Down in the middle of the gravels was a fist-size rock that was wet on the bottom when I pulled it out.

Then I hit a larger object that was not of natural origin, and more gravel, and then more and more as I chased my way to the bottom of it and revealed an old terra-cotta pipe.

What?

Was this an early attempt to harvest the spring water? And so I kept digging, leaving myself a ledge about eighteen inches down so I could step-up.

It’s easy to dig yourself into a hole that’s had to exit, and I was already throwing shovel-dirt at shoulder height.

Deciding to err on the side of caution and Science, I got out of the hole and went back up to the garage to get my Marshalltown archaeology trowel and continue what had now become an excavation.

What was revealed was a short length of four-inch clay pipe, and another larger one coming into it that was about eight inches, and a third four-inch pipe at right angles.

I managed to get the short length of 4″ pipe out intact, and it was about half-full with gravel.

Above the short section where the rest of it continued, you can see a layer of fine gravel packed on top, then dirt and sod at the surface level.

The larger eight-inch section one broke apart lifting it out, and it was heavy with sediment.

It appears my “spring” is really an old drain of some sort, going from a large diameter down to a smaller – and with a side-pipe going off into the distance.

It’s coming from who-knows-where and going to who-knows-what – but with the break in the old joints and the pipes silted-up, water arises forth still.

What is (still) feeding it, or rather how is it still getting moisture to it? When did they stop using clay pipe for this sport of thing, back in the 40’s?

Still have to finish this off somehow, so the circle of block might become a little taller, and maybe I’ll just fill-in the hole with medium-sized rock then a foot or so of gravel on top, so it can still bubble up water and keep the birds and wildlife happy.

Hot Cowboy Action

We’ve been having rather warm weather, and on Sunday my first match went fine as it was only about 90° out in the morning.

I had to leave early to meet my Aunt and Uncle who were coming-up this way, and who we had invited to stop-by anytime for lunch — so I missed the last stage (“The Last Stage to Tombstone!”), which was two Drifters and a vulture in a Nevada sweep. Or something.

As you might imagine, I’m one of the younger contestants, but it’s a hoot to clang steel and change arms, from the pistol to the rifle to the shotgun.

I need another .44-40 single action because trying to run the ammo-combination of .45 Long Colt AND .44-40 is a handful at the loading table.


 
The emblem on my campaign hat is for 4th Infantry Regiment, F Company – but also known otherwise in the modern army as 4-F which brings a slightly different connotation.

 
 

Meanwhile back at the ranch. . .’hunnerd degrees plus.

I wanted to get to the bottom of the spring-situation, so digging commenced on a day that was just about 103° with no shade – but there was a bit of a breeze and I had several water bottles.

I have decided to surround the spring with a low manufactured stone curb, so as not to drop a wheel into it when things get wet.

The circle will be about five feet across so with circumference = π x diameter, I’m at 15 feet of rock needed or something like that.

I hitched-up the wagon to the John Deere and headed out into the pasture. Three loads later – about two yards (?) of soft dirt were removed and the hole-bottom leveled.
I dumped the dirt in the low spot by the fence where the water runs-through in the rainy season.  I can plant grass on it.
I basically stopped when I started to hit alluvial gravels in the center, and the circle was about a foot and a half deep.
The dirt was moist and stuck together, whereas elsewhere in the field the ground is nearly rock-hard, so there something down there.  Also found a horseshoe.

UPDATE: More hot Cowboy Action!

Combustibles

Watching the recent, several local conflagrations, I’m glad that my field of pastureland and its combustibles has been cut, and fire danger substantially reduced. However as some survivors have noted, “We only had minutes to grab some clothes,” and so I’m taking a second look at our bug-out bags with an eye towards clothing over gear… The 9mm Shield will have to do as a sidearm, and maybe the 10/22 also because its light weight and versatility are easier to manage than a heavy M1 Garand and its weighty feeding requirements.  

Musings: Fire is different than Civil Unrest, it’s a force of Nature, not a force of Man – and since we moved up to Flyover Country more likely.  Whereas in our former life where any upset to the Main Order that might result in the rapid breakdown of Civility, fire is quickly bottled-up and compartmentalized as a packet.  Buildings are surrounded by fire-hoses and heavy equipment pumps water to prevent the spread. Insurance companies spring into action and lawsuits are filed – but where are they when rioters set fire to dumpsters at the so-called University?

Up here where the infrastructure is less dense and fire less easily contained, somehow the likelihood of social collapse seems also more remote than in the congested asphalt lands of Suburban Elite Utopia. People work together despite the greater distances between homesteads, and rather than being insulated and cocooned from our neighbors, we wave hello and speak the same language. In case of wildfire animals and livestock are herded together and transported to safe venues, like the County Fairgrounds. Trucks are as common as cars, ranchers often have heavy equipment like backhoes and tractors, and the vehicles of Flyover still mainly have combustion chambers instead of toxic batteries…