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.

Click for Pan-O-Rama-Vision

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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.

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!

Around the Homestead

Just in time for 4th of July I got the screen-doors hung at the Ranch, allowing some evening cooling to take place and cross ventilation.

 

 

 

 

The temperatures plummeted from running about 105°-108° the past week-end, down into the upper 80’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Independence Day we grilled Tequila-Lime chicken thighs that had been marinating a day, then enjoyed the relatively mild weather out on the deck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And today I fixed the fan that was going “screee-ting….screee-ting,” at the Low Granite Outcropping, forcing the use of a higher than desired fan-speed. 

 

And early in the morning trimmed back the shrubbery along the long driveway at the Ranch that was scraping up against the truck.

Heat’s coming back so I got that done in the morning.

Breakout on the Western Front


The Western Wall of the Siegfried Line could not withstand the powerful Ariens-Attack, and we made breakthrough around 9:40AM yesterday, crushing the enemy in a widening swath. Further efforts will be deployed shortly, LTO – Local Theater Time. Socks-on!
Meanwhile up on the Embankment silver ground foliage and connecting drip-lines went into place over the weekend.
Looks like I need some more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE (and Local Color):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seen up in Pollock at the old Pony Express restaurant.

Tanbarking


Got a bug up my ass yesterday, and after the morning work spreading seventeen bags of “gorilla hair” (above), I took a noon-time cool-down ride up Pleasant Valley Road, to Snows Road and up to Apple Hill – and the cool/hot dappled light and smell of pines reinvigorated me to continue with another load of tanbark.
Between three o’clock and 5:30 over twenty-two sacks of wet mulch got laid-down and scattered in a plan that had been brewing in my mind for a while. Nobody at Home Depot came out to help as requested, so in the hot afternoon sun I loaded the sopping and heavy bags myself, and got a good workout (and messy pants and shirt) as the tanbark juice oozed and dripped out of the sacks.

In the morning light it looks OK, better than anticipated. Also I need the exercise and burned a lot of calories in the process. Who needs to count steps and silly stuff like that when other. serious and more effective (as far as improvements go) opportunities to exercise abound?

Mostly Sunny

I have the feeling this is going to be a short spring as we are already hitting temps in the mid 90’s. Tan-bark around the raised planter beds needs to be replenished, and also around the cinder-block parapet that supports that.
The prairie is about half mowed but the spring(s) are still running, and the center is still very muddy. The clear water in the large spring-pool is kind of marvelous and cool. Maybe I’ll build a little brick “wishing-well” wall around it, complete with a roof and a bucket. Or at least maybe lay down some big stones so I keep from driving the mower into the slop.
Also it might be that a new, more heavy-duty mower – one with three blades and 48-inches is in the future. It’s something I keep thinking about it, so it must be an agenda-item.
A good friend keeps trying to come up with ingenious methods to “fix” it (as if it needs fixing, it don’t) that will never work because he forgets that, “the water comes up from below.” A whole mess of fill-dirt brought in my semi-trucks may raise the pasture a foot or two in places, but at what cost and how will the big trucks get out there without getting stuck themselves? I’m really not interested in having an ass-flat parking lot at any price.
At the Gun Club dinner-meeting last night the discussion turned to the August picnic and raffle, so we drift into summer rapidly. Meanwhile bluebirds have taken up residence in the bird-houses.

Up and Down, Sun and Shadow

Over and under. Another week of wet and sunny weather mixed together, and today is a rain-day. My Neighbor-The-Hunter has an arborist over who is limbing some tall pines, not beetle-kill but possibly widowmakers.
Down in the Bay according to Big Sister Dad’s doing alright.
No mowing or yardwork today but Sunday-last, in the warm sunshine we got some tomatoes into the planter beds, a San Marzano in the Giant Cage, and some Sweet 100 cherries in a circular thing – and an Anaheim pepper – all set up with drips and water and timed to go when the rain lifts. Still under water restrictions up here, but the floodgates at Folsom are pouring as the fresh snow-melt comes down the mountain.
And my Fox Creek motorcycle jacket (off eBay, 42L) arrived and it fits! Heavy duty stuff. I just realized my Arai Signet/e lid is about as old as the Gentleman’s Express and maybe I should look into a new one. They simply wear out over time, from inside-out, and even though they may appear to be new the interior foam degrades and becomes compromised. Indeed checking the chinstrap on the D-ring side, it’s stamped “08/98” which would coincide with the Edelweiss High Alpine Adventure trip and the age of the R1100R itself. It’s a little dated in style, and lacks the dual forehead vents my wife’s Signet GT has and improved chin-ventilation. And my dirt-lid is of similar age and decrepitude.
Sheesh, it’s been a while! Maybe something red metallic to match the bike. Or Captain America style…
I need to get with the times!