Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sun Day

Well after several days of clouds, cold, even some snow flurries, today was clear skies, warmer weather, and a feeling of life in the land.

The laundry turned out well. This second run of the Wonder Wash did much better this time around. Is it perfect? Nope.. but it will work well for me, especially for mildly dirty clothes. For the normal clothes which get quite dirty for those of us who are living life, creating our own homes and food, well it means a couple of washes most likely.. still given only 2-3 minutes a wash, this really is not a hardship..

The day was spent doing "cleaning" to appease Rancher Bob's wife who along with Bob will return in a couple of days..

Along with the cleaning I have been taking upon other tasks which are easily done, though very rewarding for others. I have repainting the door where dogs have scratched it, touching up poly on cabinets, other paint issues.. Might as well make the lives of others easier..

No more calves today.. just dogs lounging about taking advantage of the good will of anyone around..

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Give the cold front that came in with the rain last night, and the snow flurries this morning, I opted for remaining inside as much as is possible today. Granted, a cow and calf had different notions as I had to walk a calf to meet up with mama in the new pasture..

So after a couple of hours out in the cold this morning, I returned to the big house to once again make use of my little laundry machine. The first go around was less than impressive, but I did have a few complications which may have resulted in a less than stellar performance.

So I have begun round two. I have done three loads in the little washer, essentially the last two weeks of clothes. So far what I have learned is that adding more water than they recommend helps, and has no impact on the ease of turning the crank. The next lesson is to add close to double that amount of water for a rinse cycle. I am still using far less water than a conventional machine.

Because it is cold and wet, and I do not have a rocket mass heater in the big house, like I will in my own underground home, I am using Rancher Bob's high efficiency dryer for the final obvious step :drying..

I will know more in an hour or so..

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Storms again

More storms tonight.. After changing the creek crossing today because of concerns over the depth of the creek, I can pretty well rule out getting across the creek to harvest any trees up in the grove tomorrow..

I finished most of the projects around the big house for Rancher Bob and his wife, so I am at a loss as to what I will be doing tomorrow, but as always I will find something to do. If nothing else I need to pack for the trip to Kansas to work on my mother's house and with luck a new house for a dear friend of mind.

This will mean a month gone from the home site, though this might not be all bad since I am getting to the point where I need the backhoe in to dig out the house, and that seems to be ever in delay mode.. Hopefully when I return we can get that done..

Rain is passing for now, but with a 70% chance for rain tomorrow I expect to take the day to run a couple of errands, including picking up my boots from the really cool bootmaker who has them right now..

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More progress today.. Brought down a good sized cedar snag today that turned into one great post and one good post. Managed to get these and four other posts up to the stacks, leaving two posts a the the bottom of the hill and of course more timbers to harvest in the cedar grove part duex. Though I should say that there are probably between four and six left to harvest up there, clearing the way for wildlife, and other plant life to flourish in the newly opened space. It is surprising, even after clearing one such grove of snags, just how much light dead trees can prevent from reaching the forest floor.

My companions on this excursion were the morons.. my own nickname for Rancher Bob's two small dogs.. Mind you when I say small, I mean that they are under say 50-60 pounds.. most folks would probably call these medium sized dogs, but when you have examples of truly great dogs, ranging from 125 to probably 140 lbs on the property, 50-60 lbs is small..

These two, one a white boxer the other a mutt (with a likely fabricated backstory including wolf heritage.. ) are the sorts of beasts to get into trouble wherever they go. If you go near water, they get into it (especially the mutt), if a car goes by they will chase it, etc.. you get the idea..

Well the mutt in particular has an afinity for dead or otherwise attrocious things. I do not have the stomach to relate some of his more gourmet dishes.. On this trip these two wannabe great killers managed to find a small skunk.. Care to guess how this ended? They got their prey (from the smell the mutt is the killer in this case) but paid a heavy price in aroma. Of course they were very proud and left the carcass right in my pathway so that I too could revel in their prowness.. Sadly I do not share their love of the aromatic, nor their thrill of the kill..

Worse yet the mutt has a detestable habit of running just in front of the equipement which normally is merely dangerous for him, but today also served to treat me to hours of unbroken skunk stench..

And he is now whining about being "punished" by being left alone in the mud room cum laundry room and not allowed into the house proper....

Still, some progress made, much enjoyment had by these dogs, and with it done, I retired to the big house to check on the beef broth/bones specially cooked for all of the dogs. Broth is coming along fine and met the approval of these discriminating tastes.. All of this as the somewhat unexpected rains came in.

As I am typing this I am enjoying a bit of fortified lemonade sitting on the 95 foot long porch (I call it the big house for a reason...) listening to and watching the rain fall..

All in all a damn fine day..

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Eco-friendly" homes

A guilty pleasure to which I have referred before, is watching the shows about "green: building, constreuction, design, etc. So this evening after enjoying the rain that came through, and then enjoying the very clear night sky for a while, I came inside the big house, and turned on the idiot box to Planet Green (discovery). The show on is called "World's Greenest Homes" and you can guess that it highlights homes which are supposed to have less impact on the planet. (Strange how this is measured.. but that is another topic..)

One thing I continue to notice and I am certain will visit again here on this blog, is that all shows like this avoid, seemingly as if it were the plague, reduced consumption unless combined with increased consumption on new gadgets, gizmos, or garbage. They seem to celebrate using solar to power the private movie theater, but ignore the foregoing of a theater system. Building a huge home with a couple of solar panels to heat water is seemingly considered superior to building only what you need, and living without such a large physical footprint.

Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that everyone ought to live in 500 ft sq or the extreme of Tumbleweed Tiny Homes, which can be as small as 75 ft sq.. though anyone who can live like this I certainly respect.. But surely we can look at homes of say 700 f sq to maybe 1400 for two or more people, and recognize that these can be wonderfully comfortable and livable homes, as well as almost inherenetly "green"

Must we have the lastest gizmos, gadgets, and tech to be "green?" No.. I have no plans for artificial air conditioning in my own home, instead allowing the naturally cool temperature of the earth at 10 feet down to regulate the temperature of the house, using windows for further adjustment of temps. Rather than trying to force the world to please me, I am more than willing to work with the world to be comfortable..

Likewise, never have I heard even once any mention of logging snags or fallen timbers, such as I am doing. We hear nothing about reducing the loads needed, instead we are shown vast solar arrays like those of Larry Hagman (to his great credit he is powering his entire large home, as well as giving power to some needy families nearby) . Don't get me wrong, what Hagman for instance is doing is wonderful, but for those of us who do not have that much money, our easiest path lay in reducing our needs, and finding free alternatives rather than investing in the latest gadgets and gizmos.

It seems that there is little difference between the consumerist approaches whether they be fully wasteful approaches condemned by the "eco" shows, and the ways celebrated by those same shows which encourage us to spend willy nilly on the latest solar panels, water reclamation, or whatnot..

We can do it different and better by examining what we need, and not buying, reusing, or using something else entirely.

Rain day

Well all outdoor activity was put on hold today due to rain.

This allowed me to get caught up on some housekeeping, do a bit of reading, and sit out on the generous porch enjoying the rain coming down..

Ordered a couple more books, on frugal gardening and basic electric wiring, the one area of building in which my knowledge is lacking.

Call this my weekend, since I gave up the workaday life, and let nature determine when there will be time off, such days are much more appreciated..

Monday, March 23, 2009

Slaying another dragon..

This is today's project

This was a snag at the end of one of the pastures in the bottoms. It is an oak or other hardwood which was at least 125 years old when it died. Given the amount of decay of soft wood, I would guess that it died about 10 years ago. I took this particular segment which is just over 30 feet long for another wonderful girder which will span the entire width of my home..

You can see from this end, this is almost all hardwood. You can see a little of the soft wood left on the right side of the timber for contrast.

By taking this timber down I was able to open up a section of Rancher Bob's pasture that was under utilized. Also as it was leaning and beginning to decay, it was a threat to the cattle and anyone who went near it. Still it took me close to half an hour to get it cut down. The hardwood had cured completely in the last decade in which it was drying. The wood is so hard that though the chainsaw was sharp and running well, the chain and bar got so hot that they were smoking. It looked like bad exhaust.. I had to be careful of where I set it down for concern of starting a fire from mere contact with the chain.

In the end I did maneuver this monster up to the piles..

The morning started with feeding the two herds, and rescuing a stranded calf which was on the other side of the creek from mama, and since this is her first calf she was not as attentive as one might like.. Fortunately this little gal let me get close enough to pick her up and carry her across the creek. Unfortunately one of Rancher Bob's dogs decided that being a complete ahole would be a good idea.. he ran up as I was setting her down and bit her head before I could stop him..

The calf was not hurt, and the dog lost all privileges.. which given the pampering that these dogs get, this is significant.. At this moment he is sulking in another room because I have withheld attention. Not my normal style, as I am inclined to treat non-human animals better than humans, but he needs to learn not to act like an ahole..

Doubt it will work..

Wonderfully comfortable evening for sitting out reading and enjoying a nice beer or glass of wine..

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Creating a positive imbalance

Ideally I live for balance in the sense that I wish to do no harm, and avoid harm by trying to cause as little impact as possible. My last post is not sitting well with me, not because it is wrong, but because of the unfortunate circumstance of dealing with unfortunate issues and individuals.

But as I stepped outside to relax, and appreciate the life which is all around us while the politicos are trying to keep us down, I noticed the large oak next to the big house.. it must be between 150 and 200 years old, if not older.. (I suspect much older!)

How is this relevant? Well it made me think of a few timbers I have harvested for my own home. I know that I have two timbers which started their lives at least 125 years ago, probably more since I harvested these timbers long after they died..

Still, how does this relate.. well I know that given the methods I am using, this house should stand for more than a century with most likely no maintenance, and hopefully longer than that so that I can get at least the same usage out of these timbers as they enjoyed life.. While I "owe"nothing back to these trees in that I have not harvested live trees, still if I can make them last, that is be useful and live again essentially, for another two centuries., can you imagine how friendly this is to our neighbors, our utilities (though I am on none) and our planet this is?

Compare this to your own ranch style home or the McMansion.. these are built for maybe 30 years if you are lucky and that with constant maintenance.. these waste energy, waste effort, and provide little comfort in comparison.

So the balance I am seeking to find for myself here and perhaps as an example for others, is to live a life without coercion, a life in which I do not make others provide for me, or take advantage of any theft from others. I seek to create what power I need myself, or through voluntary association, with little or no harm to anything else, and most likely with an abundance of power created by solar, wind and personal energy..

Soft hearted but not soft headed

While I am in charge of the ranch I have a guilty pleasure which I indulge from time to time, that being watching Planet Green (one of the discovery channels..) The problem is that I have a love/hate relationship with it.

Let me explain in some detail what I mean.. Like Thoreau, Edward Abbey and others, I am a huge fan of taking care of "the environment." I pick up litter, I reduce my impact to the bare minimum, and I try to encourage others to restrain their own wasteful activities. I appreciate even the rugged harsh areas of our planet, those hard to love areas that only a few see as beautiful. I am amazed by the world, by the beauty of all of those accidents of nature which have resulted in forms which we find attractive, or at least amazing..

I am building a house which can easily compete with virtually every other home on the planet for "earth friendliness."

At the same time, I scoff at all of this political non-sense about "climate change." How can I do so when "all of the science is behind it?" Well I can do so because science is NOT in fact behind this political movement of algore and nader. In virtually every single instance, the top most scientists have fled the IOCC (gore's personal UN promotion machine) protesting the demand of the IOCC and algore to simply alter the results to match the political rhetoric.

A fine example of this is the use of what is known as the hockey stick graph, one of the major pillars of the algore "climate change*" nonsense. The preeminent statistics researcher in the US examined the methodology of the er.. "scientist" (read "political activist) who came up with the hockey stick graph. Turns out that if you put ANY numbers into the equations used by this political activist masquerading as a scientist, you get the very same graph!!

Every other pillar upon which the algores of the world base these political claims of "climate change*" falls just as easily to critical SCIENTIFIC examination. Carbon dioxide has increased? Well turns out that this claim is based upon measuring carbon dioxide in ancient ice.. but what these political activists pretending to be scientists intentionally overlook is that it has been proved repeatedly that under the pressure of ice carbon dioxide LEAVES THE ICE!!!

I go through this admitted very short refutation of the political nonsense masquerading as science only to highlight my love hate relationship with Planet Green.. I love solar energy, wind energy, and other alternative energies.. I love advancement and true science.. I love living frugally and with as little impact on others and the world as possible.. but I loathe the dishonesty and wolf in sheep's clothing which is this whole "climate change*" political agenda..

*remeber last decade when it was global cooling? And then was "global warming" until it was proved conclusively that the temps have DROPPED almost two degrees in the last decade? So they finally settled on "Climate Change" which describes everything from wind, to rain, to daylight to nighttime to the seasons themselves... how much more dishonest can you be?

I will keep on celebraing the REAL scientists who are pursuing truth, including innovative ways to use "free" power from the sun, geothermal, wind, or whatever. I will keep on suggesting that we all save more, reuse more, and waste less.. all of this is simply good on life, primarily our own which is and must be the most important to us. After all we are each the only one living our own life..

But I will also oppose these efforts to seize ever more control over our lives, take away our liberty, and try to convince us that the emporer is wearing new clothes..

To end on an up note, I harvested five more dead trees for timbers for my home which makes Al Gore's home look like dumping toxic waste in a nature preserve.. oh wait.. dumping toxic waste in a nature preserve would do less damage than that particular politicians jet setting, wasteful living, and garbage collection..

Damn.. still need an up note.. Being off grid, I looked up to the night sky and appreciated the incredible night sky which would be denied to us all under the plans for us by our self appointed masters..

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Timber and travel..

Got three of the timbers down to the bottom of the hill, out of Cedar Grove II, and dropped the two cedars which were held up only by vines and another cedar snag. After a few hours of logging, I came down to go check on the cows, discovered a new calf and a cow in the pasture from two days ago.. No idea where she hid to have this calf, as I circled that pasture (which is bounded on three sides by woods) twice trying to find what I thought was a missing calf.. still good to discover her and the new calf. Helped him out of a tangle of dead wood on the little island in the creek on which he had stranded himself. He strangely came right up to me without any concern. Got him directed to mama and they wandered off to eventually be guided to join three other sets of cow and calf who were reluctant to move on into the new pasture today.

Spent the morning in town and swung over east to pick up my boots from the really cool repair guy, but sadly he was closed, so no boots.. Still picked up some groceries, realizing that I have not gone in for grub in weeks.. that should help with the ol' budget..

Read a bit more in one of the latest round of books.. this one is Dependent upon DC.. Should be interesting..

Friday, March 20, 2009

A little logging

Well finally I was able to get back up into Cedar Grove II where I was able to get three timbers ready to haul out, and two more cut but have to be pulled down but are cut free from the stumps, though they still stand because of other trees or vines.

Here is a fine example of how many of the timbers I have harvested begin their new life as part of my home. This particular timber is a cedar on the edge of this grove of dead cedars.

Here you can tell that I have removed the limbs from the lower, thickest portion of the timber. What is a little less obvious is that I have also cut this to length to be a fine post to support the heavy roofing system. The length? Not sure.. I did not have a tape measure on me, so as I do in such instances I found where the timber naturally jumped down to a smaller size, and cut that off so that I could get a timber as long as I could get, plus have a thicker top end to a post so as to be able to support larger beams.
Though spring is here now, not all trees are leafed out, but in this shot that is not the problem. What looks like winter barren trees is actually several cedars which are simply snags, that is they are dead standing trees.

I had to move the cows this morning but this little guy, born yesterday, could not figure out how to get around to the gate. I had to urge him gently, but in the end he panicked and went through some barbed wire. Fortunately it was not tightly strung so he did not hurt himself. Happily back with mama, who you can see on the other side of the fence, he contentedly walked beside her to back near the rest of the herd..

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Photo update

I've been dropping the ball on photos, so I am going to post several here at once..

This was about 11 am.. I could not get a photo earlier because the fog was as thick as I have ever seen it. Ten feet away was a fuzzy shadow at best when I got up..

The first shot of these two was shot going against the rules a talented photographer friend had given me, the second is more in line with what he suggested though still violating at least one rule about lighting, but you tell me, which is more interesting? I myself really like the shimmering evident of the first..

This was the first calf of the season.. he came prematurely and had to be fed vitamins and minerals for three days.. now he is usually up playing with the others.. For now mama had him laying down on the soft hay bed..

This little guy was on the other side of the tree when I started getting shots of him.. guess I spooked him somewhat, since he made for the comfort of mama..

mm.. the moss on the base of the tree is tasty.. (apparently.. )

Down in what Jerry calls "The Rockyard" where the rocks outnumber everything, I have to admire the tenacity of these lovely little blue flowers..

This one is of what I am told are wild pear or plum which seem to just shine against the rest of the forest. In the foreground is the retired bull who still manages to father a calf every now and again, but for the most part just enjoys the life of luxury thanks to the compassion of Rancher Bob.. No slaughter of this old guy just because he is getting too old to be a reliable stud..

Don't we all want to be that lucky?

This is a close up of one of those wild pear or plums..

New calf.. some progress

Went down to feed the cows, and look into getting them into a new pasture per Rancher Bob's instruction and discovered a new calf had been born, probably within an hour of my discovering them.. Up to 9 new members to the herd..

While unrolling the hay, the rains began.. so the ride back up to the big house was rather damp..

Made progress yesterday on clearing a path along the fence line to and then into the woods to the cedar grove. Was lucky with the placement of trees, so that I was able to create a loop that will make keeping the fence line clear of briars and fallen timbers, as well as making getting the dead cedars out with minimal annoyance..

Harvested one fallen cedar in the process and got it top side to the stacks.

I had planned on getting going on the last of the harvesting today, but the rains changed those plans.. With any luck the skies will be clear tomorrow so I can make progress on getting these last timbers out before the snakes start to move about..

Monday, March 16, 2009

Unexpected inspiration

Though I have not gone into it, I am always working on various philosophical notions. I mention this only because this morning talking to Rancher Bob, he unintentionally gave me the necessary examples to balance the idea I have been working on. He was reviewing some seeds that he wanted to order for the new garden which this year we are going to share this one year, but had to recheck everything he marked, this treating himself as untrustworthy (at least his past self..) which is something we all do..

At this point I cannot go into the philosophical points, as I am trying to develop these ideas.. but the point of this post is to point out that the realizations which move us forward may well be somewhat random and inspired by things not at all themselves philosophical.

For years I have argued that there is too wide a chasm between academic philosophers and the intelligent layperson. By listening to everyday people, of which I count myself, though I have much training in philosophy..

But I will cut this short for now..

8 new calves this year, two today alone!! I will try to get photos tomorrow...

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Barn is finally finished!

I picked up the metal for Rancher Bob over three weeks ago, and since that time there has not been one day where we could get it installed to finish up the repair on the barn roof.

Until today.. So we put up the last 12+ sheets of metal, and now he decided to shift all of the others at some point so that the overhang is less, but that won't happen for a while as he leaves this week to go to Paris and then on to Italy. While of course I am left here to care for the hungry multitudes..

Since Bob lets me use his equipment, I really will not complain, plus he always offers to pay me but I just call it square for letting me use the equip and for letting me gather in the unwanted dead trees from his land.

It was a long day, after a very long night of being unable to sleep so tonight I am worn out.. My shoulder still is not healed from the strain of grabbing the tree when the limb did its battering ram impression, as I can feel it quite a bit tonight. Still it is slowly getting better so hopefully in a couple of days, assuming the pastures have dried a bit from four days of rain, I will be able to get back out and harvest several more timbers before our slithery friends decide that it is time to play.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Computer Issues and Weather Woes

The long delay in posting came about because of being unable to power up the computer. An internal connection had broken, necessitating another parts purchase. I am coming to know pretty well how to take apart this machine now thanks to power issues..

The last several days have been largely spent in books. I have delved into several I have had on the shelf for a long while, and several more that I have ordered since being here. They range from a book purportedly about composting human manure (very little useful info there, I will likely post a review of that book soon) to mid-century science fiction, to political writings..

The reason these last few days have been spent in books is that after a few wonderfully warm and sunny days, we got another blast of cold, and long with that ice and rain. Certainly nothing conducive to working outside.

I strongly suspect that tomorrow Rancher Bob is going to want help finishing up the barn roof project. Since I cannot get down to the timbers I have cut without rutting up the fields anyway, due to the 3 inches of rain we've received, I might as well help him get that project done.

Bob and his wife are leaving for two weeks, so I will once again take on caring for the cattle, and the herd of dogs they have. Then I too will once again take to the road to work on some remodeling projects in Kansas..

Hopefully I can get a bit of work done on the house before I have to leave..

Monday, March 09, 2009

Blinded by the light

Or why cities are darker than the open lands..

I have commentecd on this before in different ways, but tonight once again highlighted the enormous difference in light from the city to rural or wild lands.

At first blush our inclination is to think of the light pollution which makes cities brighter. In some ways we are right, but I want for the moment to argue that cities are actually darker than the wilder, more open places.

Seem absurd? Yeah does to me too, except that since I am willing to let reality determine what is actually true, I have to accept that in fact cities are darker* than more wild areas.

*where "darker signifies the ability to see what is around you.

This asterisk comment sets the entire stage. When I last lived in a city, I lived in an enclave or neighborhood which had few streetlights and no curbs.. this is as good as it gets in a city INHO.. still I could barely make it across the street on a normal night without the aid of a flashlight.. and I could only make my way across the patio I myself built without a flashlight only my memory..

Yet here in a place I have lived only a very short time, and where I control none of the placements of obstacles around me (until I get my own home built anyway.. on a different location obviously) I can navigate across an area perhaps 100 yards long with various obstacles ranging from pipes coming up out of the ground for spigots, to flower beds, trees, fences (electric and barbed) an out building, and a house.. all on a night with a covered moon (we have a thin overcast night tonight) and obviously no stars, without any need of the nifty little crank flashlight I have bought..

So why the difference?


There is so much of it in the city that we never see the enormous amount of light which hits this planet when we are turned away from the sun.. As a result everything appears darker, we see less, and we need more light to see only the smallest fraction of what is there around us.. but if we would cut the light around us, we could see so much more without any need for additional light..

Seems paradoxical but I guarentee that virtually every thinking person who has ever experienced both will agree.. Heck even now looking out my window, with my eyes adjusted to one of the only two incandescent bulbs left in my very humble temporary abode, I can merely glance out the window and clearly make out one of the outbuildings and the fact that the trim and the body of that building are of different colors. I can clearly see trees, shrubs and even disturbed soil.. all of this with less than a full moon, covered by clouds and my own eyes accustomed to normal incandesancts. If this does not tell us something nothing can..

KIll the street lights.. kill the highway lights. Kill the adverts after hours.. etc.. we will all see better, save money, and enjoy a night sky that most city folk have simply never even seen...

Unexpected injuries

I awoke in the middle of the night to a very sore shoulder.. the shoulder away from where the limb swung into me like a battering ram. As it got progressively more sore and painful to use throughout the day I realized that this was not from sleeping on it wrong, but rather was the result of taking the brunt of the force of the blow to my body through that shoulder which I had used to reach around the tree to prevent my falling from the ladder with a running chainsaw.

So today I was pretty well out of commission, though I did help Rancher Bob do a few tasks around his place. A night of rest, a good heating cream from north of the border, and a hope that tomorrow will be better.. that is my evening in a nutshell..

Well okay, and reading The Humanure Handbook.. which I fear is going to get a scathing review unless it changes its nature in the second half of the book..

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Life is..

With Rancher Bob back my cow caretaking duties may have lessened, but other projects seem to crop up on his ranch as always happens on any ranch or farm. I am often compelled to participate since I am taking advantage of his generosity in allowing me to place my caravan on his place while I build my U-house.

Though I have been less than motivated for some days, in no small part by the wind which has been howling day after day here (giving hope to the wind generator I want to build), I have been sucked into some planting projects, including planting raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Easy enough since we used the augur on the tractor to dig the holes.. but these morphed into removing some trees for Rancher Bob's wife, who well, hm.. well.. is let us say, less than appreciative of others. I really hate to mention it, but it adds to the tale when you understand the length's to which Rancher Bob goes to to make life easy for his wife. And it applies to the story of today..

But first just a very quick aside.. I am NOT anti-woman in any fashion. I love women and I respect women just as I do any individual. Okay maybe I love women more.. :)

Okay.. that said, after doing the planting, we decided to take down some limbs which have for years made the flower gardens of RB's wife shaded. She had been "asking" for these limbs to be removed, and so wanting to make Bob's life easier I reminded him of this. We get out there, and I climb up the ladder with my running chain saw and proceed to take down a long thick (7-9inches in diameter) limb from a pecan tree. The limb gradually drops at the end to the ground so thinking I am safe to allow the limb to fall down I cut the rest of the way through the limb. It does not drop.. it leaps towards me.. hits me in the chest nearly knocking me off the ladder, where I am still holding the running chainsaw..

Fortunately as many of you know, I have spent two decades on ladders doing painting and remodeling, so I am able to take the blow to the chest from this several hundred pound limb, and shift my weight and grip so that fortunately both I and the ladder stay upright. I take a couple of steps down, hand the running saw to Bob, then make my way down carrying this limb which outweighs me by at least a factor of two.. On the ground and full of adrenaline I check my injuries.. Thankfully I have suffered only the removal of skin for about half of the length my torso which has already scabbed by the writing of this, and quite likely some deep bruising which will show over the next few days. It really could have beem much worse.

I was hesitant to mention this, but a friend said I should blog on it, and so here it is. I will try to get up some photos of the limb, now cut down into pieces I hope to use on my home in vengeacnce if nothing else.. :)

Rancher Bob's wife response at seeing the injuries incured because of her wishes? A mumbled "oh" while never stopping in her channel surfing..

Sadly even in rural areas there are those who just refuse to be in tune with what is right or who get compassion for their fellow beings..

Still I wil lnot dwell on the negativity.. I could have been hurt far worse.. could have finally after all of these years ridden a ladder to the ground, and could have incurred a great expense in medical costs.. so despite some constant pain for a few days, I will still call this a good day.. I helped Rancher Bob on some thing which will make his life better and easier, and certainly he has helped me on other days so I count this as good.. challenging but good..

Oh, and he has another new calf.. two so far this year.. I will try to get photos of them as this too has been requested.. they are really cute little things.. I might have reservations about the industry but some of the specifics are nice to see.. This latest calf, a little black thing was runniing about with that joy o flife that I wish upon all of us..

Saturday, March 07, 2009

There is no change in time

..only in our naming of it..

A blog I read regularly of a guy who is also essentially homesteading, though in the desert, put it pretty well:
What do you know?....the clocks get set forward tonight! Traditionally, this is known as loosing an hour. When I was in college this meant loosing one hour of partying and classes starting one hour earlier the next day. With my new lifestyle here in the desert - this time shift that happens twice a year has little meaning other than figuring out what time it is when I call friends and family in other time zones. I go to work when I feel like it and I quit when I'm done. It is only about sunrise and sunset and the high temperature of the day and whether or not it rains out here.

When you are living your life, you measure time in very different ways. Sun rises.. rain storms, sun sets, seasons, crops..

For instance, tomorrow morning I am going to be helping Rancher Bob put in some berry plants. We are going to do this in the morning.. unless it is raining, then we will do it later.. So what "time" in the morning? When it is time.. When we get to doing it..

Now do not get me wrong, I am not saying that life is all just sort of dabbling about in whatever we want to do.. okay well it sort of is, but certainly for myself as a homesteader, as one who will be living off of this land and in a house of my own construction there are schedules and there are things which must be done. However unlike the workaday world, those schedules are not arbitrary nor do they revolve about the rotation of the hands on the face of the clock.

BTW you know why they are called hands on the face of a clock? My theory is that they are trying to hide the face in shame.. No one should enslave themselves to such a device.

If you are tired, sleep.
If you are hungry, eat.
If you are thirsty, drink.
If you are alive, LIVE dammit!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Cedar Grove deja vu

Rancher Bob came back, so my cow caretaking should start lessening.. But to get him caught up on the condition of the fields, and the progress of the harvest of the cedars up on the hill, I set about looking for one of the monsters I had discovered before, but which I had decided I could not get because of its location. Based upon the size of another cedar, I have guessed the age of this particular monster at 150, so I wanted to show him what he had there. After wandering about a while looking for this monster, I stumbled upon another grove of dead cedars, these even older and thus larger than the first grove I cleared! I can get to these by doing a little fence line clearing which Bob wants done anyway.. So today I got out with the saw and cleared 90 percent of my path so that with a little tractor work and perhaps a few more cuts, I will be able to begin dropping the snags, and pulling out both the snags and the timbers which have already fallen.

These could not be more welcome as I am in need now of large cedar posts to carry the large hardwood girders and beams. In some places there will be timbers almost two feet in diameter over 15 feet in the air! To support this without bending and breaking I need stout large and long posts. These cedars, and a few I have already found, will fit the bill quite nicely.

I could not get a good shot of the grove, but here is one of the of the smaller ones I should note..

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Ever Moving Target

Architects enjoy their work as a matter of creation and practicality, and certainly I have truly enjoyed designing several different homes given the criteria and limitations presented in those circumstances. That said I am no professional architect. I am a designer, a general contractor, a builder of sorts.

However what I am doing now compares to architecture in about the same way as a tent compares to the Taj Mahal. It is not that I am creating the greatest structure ever seen or even one of the most beautiful homes ever to be viewed, though I expect it to be in that latter category in my own eyes, but rather that what I am doing now is creating a finished product while creating the base materials at the same time.

The architect starts with known and constant values. Lumber is all of the same dimensions or rather a limited set of dimensions. Then she adds in tile, or carpet, or hardwood floors or whatnot, all milled to very precise specifications.

I do not enjoy those luxuries in what I am building. I am harvesting dead wood. I am harvesting snags and fallen trees and then trying to find a way to put together a very complicated puzzle with no picture on a box..

I mention this not so as to glorify myself. After all I am the idiot who chose this approach.. I mention this just as explanation for what I am doing.

Tonight I once again visited the latest version of the plans. Plans that themselves have changed a great deal from the idealized concept to the practical application. I revisited them because of what I have harvested since last I worked on them. I have the ubertimber (30' oak 22" in D) to work with, as well as a few other damn fine timbers which were not included in the last survey.. In doing this revisit, I discovered that I need more info on some of those timbers, but even given what I have, I have been able to piece together more than 80% of the roof structure, which in any underground home is the most important element of the build.

But what does this have to do with a moving target? Well when I come across a new snag (dead standing timber) or new fallen timber, I have to adjust my plans. Sure I could stick rigidly to what I proposed at some earlier stage, but by revising, I am able to create a stronger, safer, and more beautiful home.

So I take these approximate measurements, and I design a plan using them. I harvest new timbers, and incorporate them into the plan, adjusting as necessary (often this requires going back to the beginning).

I trust that the end result will be an incredible home for me, and whoever follows me, for this home will outlast me by generations given very little maintenance. Though most folks do not realize this, that is not the case with virtually every stick built (normal) house in the US. They are designed at best to last 50 years, and even that is pushing it. If someone else moves into my home after I am gone, this house will last forever, as long as they watch for the minor issues that may arise.

So my moving target is one of design (changes to suit the material), material (changes depends on what I find) and structure (depends on what kind of material and what size matieral is available). The end result will be less that of my own immediate desire with regard to functional design, and more that of my greater desire to work with the landscape and the materials to create a home that is very efficient, very economical, and most of all very livable.

The target moves, but like trying to take a deer running through a heavily wooded area, it can be done. *

* I do not take those shots JFTR in fact I have not hunted in years, might not again.. but the analogy fits.. :)