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.


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!

Meatloaf and Irrigation

Bacon-wrapped meatloaf, before and after. Baked on a cookie cooling-rack, the fat renders out onto the cookie-sheet below, so it’s not boiling in its own juices, and PLUS it’s more of a low-cal food! You flatten it after it comes out off the mold-pan in order to bake more eavenly.

The large stones at mid-left will become the edging for the widened pathway with a gap at the driveway edge, and more of the big stones (instead of small) will line the driveway in proper neolithic fashion. Not quite enough to build a mini-dolmen or cromlech, but the thought has crossed my mind.

All this crap is coming up!

Two points on the perimeter got capped, with some water on “Station #1” continuing to be delivered to the Japanese Maple, while an errant break occurred in “Watering Circuit #3” that had to be patched-up. Oops!! A trip to Ace for some 45-degree elbows and fresh pipe was necessitated.

Something like 1200-calories were burned leaving a sweaty stench in the air and muddy clothes that needed washing.

Landscaping the Neolithic Low Granite Outcrop

While awaiting our carpenter friend with the finally-finished black-acacia-wood cap-rail, I donned my muck-boots and set-to digging up the buried PVC drip-line on the driveway-side of the Airport Lounge. We have decided to level off an area bounded by rocks and a mini-terrace, to create a larger and more useful expanse – and all the stupid connecting drip-lines had to go. This will mirror the improvements made on the opposite side of the house, where we leveled and reduced the number of micro-terraces and joined them together to crate a broad and less cluttered sitting area.
The occasional gardener my wife employs had uncovered the white vertical bits poking up from where the azaleas had once glommed and lush-wet flourished – but the general directionality and arrangement of what was to be removed remained hidden beneath the dirt. So I started at one end and worked my way around digging and garnering directional clues. How was the arrangement of vertical emitters linked together on a single watering circuit?
It’s going to take a while to dig it all up, and we don’t want to remove absolutely everything that makes-up “Watering Station-One,” but I need the muscle-building exercise and the calorie-burning weight loss – a need brought on by the sedentary Silicon Valley computer-centric lifestyle where I had bloomed up to something like 200+lbs. I’m using an Under Armour app on a iPad called “My Fitness Pal” to track physical changes, along with an Omron “Body Composition Monitor and Scale” – and so far the results have been interesting as I lose weight and gain muscle mass.
I looked-up “how many calories burned digging ditches?” on the Interwebz and got a couple different answers. In one case for a 180lb “person” the result was 696 calories for an hour’s heavy labor – with “Related Exercise” considered: Fencing, Rugby, Frisbee – general, Frisbee – ultimate, and Playing an Instrument. I’ve done both fence-post-fencing and foil/epe/saber fencing and while those are each sweaty efforts they are not very similar to each other and nowhere near anything like playing a trombone or an oboe.
In another more precise instance, for a 180lb, 73-inch tall, 59-year old Male-person, the result was 538 calories.
I’m not sure how (or what) a “Xi-xe-xer” or whatever new-pronoun Leftspeak semi-gendered humanoid would measure-up, but recent evidence derived from those who turned from “male” to “female” and now play “female” type sports seem to indicate a win-bias for the original male genes.
Meanwhile, still waiting for our carpenter to show-up, I dug out several large rocks that would dwarf the one recently found in the Prairie and began to set a curved line where the wider pathway would go against the terrace that houses the large blue-spruce. I couldn’t find “stone-stacking” among the exercises but I’m sure it’s somewhere between stacking and splitting wood.

Say hello to my little frien’

While cleaning up deadfall from under the big oak, I came across a bare patch out by the little pear-tree and scraped at it with the rake.
TIINNGGG! Metal on hard-stuff. Not a patch of dirt but a submarine-rock revealed by all the intense rain – and the idea of it lying in wait, torpedoes ready, ate away at me until today.
The ground has firmed-up a bit as the drainage continues so I walked out with the pick, the pitch fork, and the shovel to test the waters and see how big it really was – or if it was a dreaded piece of granite-shelf?
The water table is high here where the old emigrants and 49ers crossing the mountains watered their oxen, and the geology is “interesting.”
Poking around I got a shape figured out and managed to get under it, and despite being about six inches below-grade, between using the crossed-pick and shovel got some leverage to flip it out onto the surface grass with the fork. Big and heavy.
Beneath it where the hole was, water began to fill-in.
I’m gonna have to get some fill-dirt for that.I hitched-up the dumper-trailer to the mower, and drove out to lever it into the back.
Once I got it flipped into place leaning against the angle of the dump-wagon, I used the shovel to lever-up the wagon base while I leaned over to push down and latch the dumper shut.
Meh, did I mention it’s a heavy sumbitch? But my back feels OK.
Then I drove it up to drop it off among the other decorative rocks lining the driveway, I know just the place for it. During the ride-up it put a dent into the “tailgate” of the little wagon.

I’m sure there’s more out there.

First Cut

Got the pasture cut to about 50-feet deep, 200-fet wide, at 3-inches-tall. Went and scraped-away at some brown spots and threw some grass seed onto it and mulch from the cut. There’s a lot more actual “grass-grass” than weed-stuff since I did a seeding in the fall and it seems to have sprung-up! Put one bag of Weed-and-Feed in the spreader and combined it with a bag of Turf-Builder/crab-grass killer, and made cutting passes until I ran out. Just enough.
We’re down to just to the fringe of the swamp. Glad Trump un-signed the ridiculous EPA US Waterways power-grab, now I am free! And it’s still not navigable. But we’re optimistic that we can Make the Pasture Great Again!


Unseen, lying beneath the surface on either side of the steps cut into the embankment, are some two-dozen bulbs waiting to be triggered by the change in season. I’m glad I did it yesterday when it was a bit warm still, because today is just cold and gloomy. All that elbow-twisting in the dirt with the circular bulb-planter device left me with a tweak in the neck-shoulder. Meh. Ibuprofen.
And for your pleasure: