Monday, February 25, 2008

Hot February?

We were unloading some of those 1,000 lb round bales from a borrowed trailer today (during lunch) and it took me probably an hour or so afterward to cool off! I was actually sweating. It looks like spring is definitely here. We also got in some plowing, and to finish off the day, Sterling and I went out to look for crawdads in the creek below the dam. It was surprising to see just how few there were compared to the other day. Dad had said the crawdads were probably spawning and wouldn't be out like that for long and he was right. We found only 3 tonight and none of them were the gigantic monsters like we found the other day. Sterling felt pretty cool being able to stay out late to go look for crawdads though - that was fun.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bonfire w/ Family

Dad was out tonight helping to assemble a shed to shelter the animals so we called to invite Mom & Grandma out for a bonfire dinner (hotdogs, pork'n'beans & marshmallows.) They agreed, but apparently Bill & Barbara called her shortly thereafter since they wanted to take Grandma out to dinner. They were invited too and between them and our neighbor/friends the Greesons, we had a real bonfire party. (Where are you Clyde? How did we miss you again? Same time, same place, next Fri night?) It was good times and though it was definitely "brisk" this evening, the wind wasn't too bad and the fire kept us warm. Grandma snuggled the kids (and puppies) so long that she could barely get up when it was time to call it quits.
There is nothing like degreasing a tired 2-year old after a night around ashes, soot, dirt, marshmallow and puppies. Of course, if all goes well, we're hoping to be featured on Benac.com for the second time in only a week or so! What an honor!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

First Crawdad Cookout

Dad was out here last night, and between the crawdads we had caught the day before and the one he and I caught, we have quite a mess of them. Dad and I also caught a GIGANTIC one that we brought in tonight for a photo shoot. So, since we were doing that, Sterling really latched on to the idea of eating one, so I brought in a few more and we cooked them up. Winter bailed, but Sterling, Ginger and I feasted on them. Apparently though, it is going to take a LOT of them to make a meal. There just isn't a lot of meat on them - even on the really big ones.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Crawdads

Here's the pics as promised:

A Call for Assistance

Listen folks, there are tires all over the USA. Literally, there are old, used, damaged, tires in your landfills, in storage, buried in my yard, etc. We have GOT to figure out a better solution and I'd like to call upon you (as readers) to do some brainstorming. How are we going to take this problem and turn it to our advantage (as americans.) Here's the summary of the situation:

  • Hundreds of tires all over the place
  • More coming in each and every day
  • Some small companies have found limited ways to use small quantities of recycled tire
  • Tires are still in so low a demand that consumers have to pay to get rid of tires

Here's why I am into this (warning - long story):

When we bought the farm, there were tires "planted" all over the yard. Apparently, the previous owner felt they would be great erosion control devices. There are several gullies that have 10-15 tires planted in each. As is so often the case, reality is not so kind to these sort of baseless assumptions and between the fact that they actually serve quite handily as mosquito nurseries and the fact that it is apparently a violation of EPA rules to have them buried, we really needed to get them out of here.

The city of Leonard will take in 6 tires per week at no charge (nice!) I have taken in two loads so far (no - not even a dent in our supply.) This last time, I asked the operator what they do with them and was flabbergasted to learn that they just shred them and throw them in the dumpster! I mean, WHAT!?!???? The flippin' dumpster???? You gots to be kidding me!

So, readers, what are going to do about this? Is there really nothing productive that can be done with this resource? Are we really going to fill our landfills with material that so obviously should be being recycled? I'd like to challenge you to mull over the subject for the next week or so and post comments with your thoughts. We need a large scale project that create a demand for all the used tires we can generate and more. Post whatcha got!

Monday, February 18, 2008

NYC to Longhorns





I obviously haven't been posting here regularly, but gimme a break - it has been busy! We just got back from a fun trip to NYC (Manhattan to be precise) and had a blast. We owe a big thanks to the parents (who babysat/nursed sick kids,) our neighbor (who babysat the farm and helped with Winter,) Mary & Ram, & Annie & Kah Leong. NYC was a trip and was every bit as foreign as a foreign country. We walked forever, visited Montel Williams, ate at the craziest Dim Sung restaurant in the world, listened to crazy methed-out hookers scream profanity at each other on the subway, and enjoyed getting to know our cousin-in-laws. Overall, a very fun trip.
We got back home WAY late last night (does anything ever leave O'Hare on time?) and just crashed at ma/pas. I woke up early this morningn to get home, take care of the animals, and hook up the trailer to go get some longhorns. The trailer hookup went OK (though there was a moment or two when I thought I would get stuck in the mud (again,) and the real shocker came when I went to check the tires for air pressure prior to leaving. The passenger rear tire had NO tread. No exaggeration - it was ALL gone. Apparently, there is a road-gator somewhere out on the highway cause that tire was gone. Miraculously, it held 30 psi long enough to get me into Leonard where I payed the service shop $10 to install a tire that I had just gone out and found out in my field (more on that later.)
Anyway, I was late for my appt. with the longhorns, but got there and after (again) getting stuck a few times, we got two yearling bull longhorns (approx 1,000 lbs each) and two 4-6 month old? heifers (females - approx 400 lbs each.) They made the journey home OK and wasted no time in jumping out of the trailer and proceeding to scout out every corner of the pasture (destroying just about every electric fence they could in the process.) I tried to get our portable fence charger going, but it wasn't working, so now, instead of learning a healthy respect for fences from the get go, it is going to be a long process of getting them re-trained about fences once I can get the electric working again.
The two bulls are pictured above. These may be older images, but the horns are longer than they look (the angle of the pics make them look shorter) and they may have grown some since then. Also, one of them (the bigger one) has now got about 4" broke off the tip of one of his horns from fighting with the big bull at their old pasture. I'll try to get some shots of all the cattle in their new home soon.
We're not sure how many of those longhorns we are going to keep. The bulls are much more feisty and honestly, it might be best to just get rid of them. The deal is that I have to take some of these animals to the sale barn for the guy I am buying the other ones from. That is part of the deal. So, I have to decide who to keep and who to sell for him. The heifer calves are prolly the best, but one of them is a bit inbred, so that may or may not work well. I guess there is a fine line between inbreeding and line breeding and I am not sure I know enough about genetics and judging cattle for improvement to make the distinction.

So tonight, after dark and under the full moon, I was traipsing around checking in on the cattle when I noticed a mother-sized crawdad crawling in the runoff from the lake (it's been raining lots here lately.) I grabbed it and was very surprised to find that there were lots of them crawling around. I gathered 5 or 8 or so to bring into the house and under the light, discovered that they were carrying babies. Fun huh? Check out my finger for a reference on the size. I'll try to get some pics of the mammas tomorrow with the kids. They are spending the night in the fishtank.
Oh yeah, one more thing...it looks like two of the chickens went AWOL today, so we may be back down to just a single chicken. Hopefully they will be back tomorrow. There was a monster cat prowling around today, and we fear he may have done one or both of them in (Jessica had turned them out for the day.) The good news is that it doesn't look like that cat will be coming around anymore.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Quick Statistical Update

Well, since Jessica sold the horse and killed her cat, it seems like a good time to update the stats:


Total cats = 1
Total dogs = 2
Total sheep = 4
Total cattle =1
Total horses = 0
Total goats = 4
Total foul = 3
Beehives = 2
Wasp stings = 3
Trucks = 1


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Love Affair w/ O'Hare

Oh....Hair

Snow
Sleet
Wind

.....Delay

Mechanical Problem
Pilot shortage
No airplane

.....Delay

O'Hare


The love affair with O'Hare continues and it looks like I'll not be returning to Dallas today. No biggy. We fly to Laguardia through O'Hare tomorrow morning anyway. I'll just meet with Jessica when she gets here at O'Hare and then, barring additional delays, we should be on our way to NYC for St. Valentines (how romantic?)

Here's the funny part. Since it was a mechanical failure that caused my flight to DFW from O'hare to be cancelled, and since the soonest they could get me into DFW would have been around 5:00pm or so (with me leaving back to ORD at 7:00am,) wouldn't you think it would be reasonable for them to save themselves the jetfuel and just encourage me to stay here by offering me a free hotel? Well, they didn't think that, but here's the kicker...since they wouldn't get me a hotel room, I asked them to issue a refund on the ORD to DFW leg of my trip ($120.00) and went and got a hotel suite at the Country Inn for like $102. Now, where is the logic in that United? If they would have gotten me a room, I would not have asked for the refund. It is interesting that some companies have so many procedures and processes in place that they can't see the forest because there are all them dad-bern trees in the way.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Why did we move to TX?

Sometimes we ask ourselves that same thing, but take a wook at this:
video

an reckonize, fu

Friday, February 8, 2008

More Cute

Why is she not wearing a shirt? We have no idea...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wrenchin' on the Ford

The other day, after hours of heavy labor to get the front-end-loader (FEL) installed on my Ford, I fired it up and was very dissapointed to find that the bucket would not even move. Tonight, after discovering the material I intended to weld up for a goat shelter was actually aluminum (instead of steel, which I am equipped to weld) I gave up in exasperation and resorted to tinkering with the tractor and the FEL. I had determined that the hydraulic cylinders were going to need to be rebuilt, so after what seemed like several hours removing the big ol' pins that hold the cylinder on the tractor, I got the cylinders removed. I don't know what I was expecting, but those things are HEAVY.


After we got the hydraulic fluid drained (mostly) we mounted the cylinders in the bench vise and proceeded to wish we had a very large monkey wrench to unscrew the sleeve on the end of the cylinder. Well, we don't have one, and even if we did, it is doubtful that it would be of sufficient magnitude for a job like this. We considered calling our bishop (who had previously offered his assistance in any matters of the tool nature) but decided against it after noting the hour (approximately 11:00pm. What to do?

Improvise! Take a look at this carefully constructed "wrench" consisting of a piece of strap (scavenged from a consturction site where it had previsouly held trusses or something to a pallet) and a large pry bar. This is an old trick I learned while working on a construction site where we were constantly popping the tires on a huge all-terrain forklift and we had to use a length of 2X4 lumber to provide enought leverage to remove the lugnuts to take the wheels in to the tire shop for repair.

Multiple wraps around the cylinder create enough friction that the strap doesn't slip, and a similar program around the pry bar affixes it with sufficient strength that it can be used to lever the thing off. Here's the result:
So, that is the stopping point for the night. Next step is to remove the seals, measure them and start the search for their replacements.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Dad's B-day

We celebrated dad's B-day in Plano last night. It was a good time (although I was a good bit under the weather) and we even got to see Bill, Barb & Caroline for a few moments. This video is the moment of splendor.


video

On the way home, we went to pick up a free puppy who is destined to become our livestock gaurdian dog (if he survives through the day in the goat pen with some wary/protective goats.) He is a dog bred to survive out guarding sheep in the mountains, so he has plenty of fur and looks like a little rolly-polly fur-ball. It was a good day for free Craigslist scores. We had also picked up a free rabbit cage while we were in Plano earlier that day. By the way, this brings us up to two puppies since Jessica brought one home from the Canton trade days on Saturday. She also brought home three chickens, which leads to an updating of the "stats" below.

video

Total cats = 2
Total dogs = 2
Total sheep = 4
Total cattle =1
Total horses = 1
Total goats = 4
Total foul = 3
Beehives = 3
Wasp stings = 3
Trucks = 1

Friday, February 1, 2008

While Winter is Away

Not the season, the little girl.

While she is away, and now that Sterling is out of "school," he and Ginger get to spend a lot of time together. When they aren't playing nicely in the house, it seems that running around and falling down is good times for them too. Luckily it is just warm enough to be comfortable outside here. The good news, it looks like the weather is warming up for the weekend!

video