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:

Screw it, I’m painting!

Picked-up the deck-paint order at HD and it’s a nice warm day today – I’m puttin’ down some paint while this lasts! Tomorrow the forecast is rain in the early AM, and the mower can sit out for that — and I don’t want to wait around for Springtime to get this done.
So, around noon time I rolled on the primer which was more like Elmer’s glue than anything else, hopped in the truck and took the 4-gal bucket back to HD for a whole lotta shakin’ and the special closed-cell foam roller-applicator. A fuzzy polyester roller just wouldn’t work with this goop.
By the time I got back the primer had set-up enough to start rolling it out. Sticky-gooey gritty-messy delicious weird junk that came out of the bucket-spout like runny peanut-butter – but first I cut-in around the base with a disposable brush, because this and the roller-pan tray was not getting a clean-up.

Now I hope it sets-up and cures over the next few days – I’m gonna leave it alone till Monday or Tuesday anyhow.


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?

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.

Get to the Clipper!

UPDATE: Coming from the other direction I was able to get about fifty more feet done, twenty-odd today until I ran into the sun, and like a Vampire had to turn away. It’s thick and tough going, and across the curbing is a lush paradise of rocks and weeds that require removal.
sun-edge adjust

hand edging
Hand edging is a little time-consuming, but this week the heat has lightened a bit and I can stay out there longer, at least long enough to get another forty or fifty feet done.
There’s a lot of crabgrass to snip-through, and a lot of dirt has washed down along with grass that has grown up. Cutting-back to the edging amounts to about four-inches wide of grass and a bunch of dirt too. Some of the sprinkler heads are at least two inches below the grass surface, sometimes they are down below the dirt-surface.
first edging
Edging 2
Along the entry walkway I also had to trim back the ground-cover that the hummingbirds love, but there’s plenty of it. The stuff was on sale at Home Depot recently. I tried looking it up up, but I the name I thought I saw and didn’t properly remember (“Island-Calendula or something?) didn’t come back with any hits — however a little Google-fu revealed: Epilobium canum ‘Silver Select’, Red flowering California Fuchsia with silver gray foliage.
CA Fuchsia
Something like that anyhow. It’s hardy and takes the sun and heat well so I’ll see about getting some more of it for the embankment.ground-cover

Get to the Chopper!

Or something. I went chop-chop-chop and got busy with the big and small lopers (and a saw), and the thick mat of leaves and branches on the ground quickly doubled in size. When Temps hit the 90’s I bailed off.
Today I bagged and chopped and cleaned up the mess on the embankment, sweating like a mule, drinking a blender full of peaches and watermelon.
Got the green-waste bin filled to the brim and now it’s gonna be a heavy pull up the driveway and out to the road, but not for the first time…I always load it up as much as I can, I guess I need the exercise.
Bin to brim