Thursday, August 07, 2014

The year is middle-aged now.

It's that middle-aged time of year.  The trees have finished growing, the leaves are showing signs of wear.  Hopes for growth have now turned to the business of ripening acorns and fruits.  Life is now the daily routine of getting up with the sun, and getting to the business of photosynthesis -trying to put aside some carbohydrates for the future, maybe a starch or two. 

As for the potatoes, all that waiting and excitement of  finally busting through the dirt and taking in the new world is behind them.  Things aren't bad.  Plenty of light, decent water, and occasionally you send out for some MiracleGro.  Gravity is taking its toll.  You stick to the ground now, been knocked down by a storm or two.  Yeah, frost is a couple of months away, closer than it used to be but not so close that it is always in your thoughts -but you do notice the sun is setting a little earlier.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Maysville Heating & Air

Two nights ago, the outside unit for the upstairs heat pump stopped working.  I suspected it was a start capacitor since we have replaced about one a summer over the last few years.   I give Robbie, our HVAC guy, a call and he comes by and we are both talking as he works in the oppressive heat and sun of a July afternoon.  He opens the cover on the heat pump, pulls out the old capacitor, shows it to me and says they just don't work like the old ones now that they are made in China and are filled with eco-friendly castor oil instead of  good old PCBs from the USA. He puts in the replacement and shorts a couple of contacts with his screwdriver to start the motor.  Rrrrrrrr, click.  Oh crap! we both say since this means much money will be needed for a new system with eco-friendly-refrigerant.  Then he says, "Let me try this 480 volt one instead of the 370."  He swaps in the 480 volt capacitor, shorts the contacts again, the compressor goes Hmmmmmmmmm and the cooling fan kicks in and a cold front rolls in and the outside temp drops about 10 degrees in one minute followed by a much needed six tenths of rain.

This guy is good.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Final Stretch

I took this picture yesterday of the final stretch of wire along a 70 foot section near where the barn will be, someday.   The other 2930 feet (or so) are done.  This was multi-year, and, not to complain too much, difficult project.  Completing this stretch was a big deal. Still not done yet but the hard part now is.  What's left?  I need to put up gates or  removable sections of cattle panels in the openings.  There is a gully which will require special attention with steel cable and dangling sections of cattle panel, and I need to run a strand of barbed wire or electric along the top.  But, once the openings are gated/closed we can put the horse in there and, well, this will be a quantum improvement.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Have you seen the little figgies growing in the dirt?

Pleasantly surprised, I must say.  I figured last winter killed them good and dead.  The woody part sure looked dead.  But then, about a month ago, I noticed  cracks in the clay and the emergence of Figs 2.0.   Two of the three survived.  Also lost one of the pecans so I'll have to replace that one this fall.  The problem is, I didn't mark which variety was which so I'll have to get a new one of each variety because only having one variety would be bad for nut production, I am told.
Fig 1.

Fig 2.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fence tensioner.

Yeah, I'm still working on that big pasture fence.  At $230 a roll for the sheep wire, we can only afford one a month.  At that rate, I might be able to finish the pasture by July.  Then, on to cross fencing.  I figure I'll be working on fences until I drop.  One problem I had encountered with my old tensioner, a couple of 2x4s bolted together and some heavy rope, was that it was hard to adjust the tension on the upper and lower wires which sometimes need adjusting owing to uneven terrain.   I was looking at one of my homesteading books the other day (the one whose author accidently buried himself in one of his projects*)  and he showed a setup with separate winches for the upper and lower wires.    I went up to the shop, fished around in the scrap pile and came up with this.   The smaller come-along allows for differential tension for the upper and lower wires.  I tried it out yesterday and it worked really well.  I'm pleased. 

That small come-along was only $25 at Tractor Supply. Yeah, it's cheap Chinese crap, but, it turns out to be very well made cheap Chinese crap.  At the bottom is 1/4 inch steel cable.

This part is angle iron and a 2x4 bolted together with four 1/2 inch bolts.  I welded the bolt heads to the angle iron so I wouldn't have to fuss with two wrenches.  It really puts the squeeze on the fence wire,  no slippage so far.

This is just a piece of square tubing.  The loops are from left over spikes I had lying around.   I might reinforce the tube with a triangle, but it didn't bend with a lot of tension on it yesterday. Might just leave well enough alone.

*I love the internet:
The Ken Kern death was a result of a 100 yr storm, falling on an newly
made incomplete cement arched experimental dome he was building at the
time, with cob walls  as the dome. Ken went out there to sleep, which he
did not normally do. The not fully cured rib of the cement arch cracked
due to the weight of tons of extra pressure on the absorbant clay walls
in the middle of the night.  It was a freak accident, and a disaster, as
ken was the earliest proponent in the  1980's of cob being used in the

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The school of the molten pool.

I'm taking a welding class through Southside Community College at the high school just a couple of miles from here.  It's the basic introductory class and is the first step towards achieving certifications. 

Here's the second lab.  I passed, I'm proud to say.

The purpose of this lab was to fill the trench with welding rod and to avoid voids.  It took me about seven hours to complete.  You gotta burn rods to get the technique down. Lay down a bead, chip slag, wire brush, repeat.  That's where taking a class beats self-teaching.  There was no way I was going to spend seven hours laying down about five pounds of welding rod into a v-shaped trough without the threat of failure.

 One thing I learned is that with stick welding the surface can be scaly or rusty and you still end up with clean welds because the flux does such a fine job cleaning out the impurities.  With MIG welding you have to do the surface prep before welding.

So that's the "filling the trough on the table in front of you" lab.  I noticed  one of my classmates in a more advanced class doing the same thing, only his trough is up on a stand so that even though he is laying horizontal beads the trough is tilted 90 degrees so he has to work against gravity.

I sure can't do that yet.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

2 below zero this morning.

Two below zero this morning and we had another two below in the last week of January.  This is getting old.   It was 60 on Sunday and I was happily working on the pasture fence, and the frogs were starting to sing in the wet area and I'm thinking.  Yeah, I'm not just being a wimp, it is simply harder to do anything in the cold.  I haven't wanted to do much of anything other than feed the fire and the livestock and sit in a warm, comfortable chair since December.  (It could be age kicking in as well).