Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It has been an age old passion of people to complain about the US Postal Service. I worked for the USPS for nine and a half years back in the 80s and I’m proud to say I got the hell out of that dysfunctional organization before I took it seriously enough to bring a gun to work. If you’ve ever read Bukowski’s book “Post Office” all I can say it is not a work of fiction.

I did all sorts of jobs during my years there. I was a carrier, a clerk, a window clerk, a time keeper, a nixie clerk, a registry clerk and a 204B. Window clerking was fun. I was able to move lines along quickly because I could anticipate what people really wanted. When they brought a parcel to be mailed my first question was “Fast or Cheap?” That generally cut the wheat from the chaff.

I’ve been mailing some packages lately and though I bring my parcels nicely wrapped and clearly addressed with the proper priority stickers I still have to wait in a long line to be met usually by only one window clerk who feels obligated to give me and everyone in the long line before me a sales pitch. I understand being asked if what I am shipping contains liquid, perishable or hazardous material, but I don’t need to know about the other services like certification, return receipts or overnight delivery with prices quoted for each. I don’t need to know about insurance. I feel they will next start quoting me the names of their children and pets just to slow the line down further.

Yesterday I went in to mail Dalia her birthday present. Happy continued 35, Darlin! My package was neatly addressed and I had the customs form all filled out. I knew how I wanted this parcel to be handled, yet I still got the entire sales pitch and prices. The clerk read the customs forms and made me aware that the postage will cost more than the content. I under stood that when I walked in and I know a stamp costs more than an envelope and a sheet of paper a letter is written on. I had my money out ready to spend. I wanted to get the hell out of there and leave all the questions to the other people in line.

I specifically wanted to use the customs form I used because I wanted to mail the box Priority to Canada. I have experience with the Canadian Postal Service and I’m sure there will be delays up there, so I wanted to get it up there as soon as possible…on a flight not in the back of a right hand drive Jeep. I hope it makes it to Dalia before her 36th birthday. I really need to start using Fedex or UPS.

I’m sure the postal clerks are under the gun from their managers to do all this. Postal Managers are basically jerks with slogans. Back when I was there I heard some doozies, like when we were forbidden to ever use the phrase “Junk Mail.” We were to call it, “Business Bulk Mail” and we were required to smile when we said it. Rat bastards!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I find myself becoming less tolerant of talk. There is an awful lot of talking going on with little being said. The reason little is said is because people don’t want to paint themselves into a corner and they don’t want a law suit. Instead of making a statement and moving on, situations are expressed over and over until the meaning is totally washed out or lost completely.

I find it odd that just walking down any sidewalk will reveal most other walkers talking on their phones as they walk. I wonder if these people would be jamming the pay phones if they didn’t have cell phones. Maybe it’s my age and lack of attention span, but I cannot drive or even walk and talk on a cell phone. I have to stop whatever I’m doing to talk on one. Fortunately the occasion is rare. My last incoming call was September 20.

It just seems to me that all the talking that is going on in person or on the phone devalues words and real conversations. I have to hand it to the Indians (NA). If you listen to them speak their words and phrases come out like they are rationed. There are pauses and spaces between words and ideas. Some tribes even employed talking sticks, where the one with the stick did the talking and no one interrupted. When they finished saying what they had to say they passed the stick to someone else who had something to say.

Listening is the big point I suppose. If some people never shut up I question their ability to listen.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Questions For Mac Users

I’m still surprised by the wars and the loyalties between PC people and Mac people. I’ve used both machines and think it just depends on what you are used to using. I personally prefer the PC platform though one can spend more money and get a Windows operating system on their Mac.

My problem with Mac is when comparing (pardon the half pun) apples to apples there is something that doesn’t make sense. If you were to build a computer from scratch you will find they both share most of the same components and RAM, hard drives, motherboards and ports all cost about the same so why do Macs cost on average a thousand dollars more than PCs?

It is totally untrue that Macs do not crash and freeze up. It is usually a software conflict that is at fault. It is untrue that Macs don’t get virus attacks, they do get them. On the other hand I’ve never had a virus attack on any of my PCs. I do employ software to keep me safe.

With technology changing so quickly how can one justify paying double for equipment that will be obsolete as quickly as its PC competitor? Right now I’m using an under $700 HP laptop. It is the fastest most reliable computer I’ve ever had. It’s never crashed and the only problems I ever had with it was with one brand of virus protection that didn’t get along well with Vista and my version of Vista has one quirk that I can’t get around where I can’t name a folder. There is a patch for this problem, but I’m sure the problem will go away when I load Windows 7 on it later this year.

So to all the readers out there with Macs, am I off base asking these questions? How is double the price justified in your eyes? Is it just a "Cool Factor", or
"I have lots of money to throw around factor", or is it "I'm afraid of learning something new factor", or "I hate Microsoft factor?"

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Other Bloggers Write

I occasionally do posts of what other bloggers I read have written. When I come across a good line or topic, I copy and paste it in a tickler file for a future post.

This time I have only an excerpt from one blog post. Its author is someone I’m totally fascinated with. I read every post she publishes several times because to me they are that good.

I’m sorry I’m not going to share the name of the blogger with any of you. I shared it with some readers a while back. They told me her blog was disgusting and their opinions of me have been diminished. I haven’t heard from them since.

Anyway, the blogger was writing about wanting to eat a bowl of Lucky Charms. Her quote:
FIRST of means some asshole put their little dick grabbers in the damn box and went through the cereal, looking for marshmallows...

SECONDLY...the cereal tastes like little balls of rolled up newspaper without the fucking marshmallows!

I just loved the imagery...Don't hate me.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Amy’s Nuts

I find that a lot of the blogs I read are written by people that are foodies. Sure they write about other things most of the time, but once in a while their fingers hit the culinary keys. Let’s face it, we all eat and we can really enjoy when ones passion surfaces in writing about creativity in the art of food.

Our Amy recently hid this recipe in one of her posts. I tried it and I love it. Thanks Amy!

Mix one cup of sugar (or Splenda) with 3 tsp. of cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp of salt in a small bowl.

In another (larger) bowl, beat two egg whites until frothy. Pour in 1 lb. of nuts (whatever kind you like) and mix until the nuts are coated with the egg whites. Mix the sugar mixture into the nuts. When they're fully covered, turn them out onto a well greased cookie sheet, and pat it down so it makes a single layer. Put the nuts in the oven for 30 minutes at 300.....take 'em out and let them cool for a minute or two until you can handle them.....break 'em up, and store them in a ziploc bag or candy dish or whatever....

Friday, September 25, 2009

I Washed My Truck, Another Year Gone

This was the weekend we’ve all been waiting for. My truck got its annual bath. I did make a half-assed attempt to wash some of it earlier this year with a window squeegee, but it only looked worse.

The first portion of the cleaning process was to hose out the truck bed. I kid you not, there were things growing back there in the left over hay, straw, lumber yard popcorn and hunks bark. There was a lot of grass growing, one fern and a sunflower start. There were ear wigs and termites mixed in with the organics. I got down to the bottom of it all and returned the contents to the earth.

I washed and dried the body displacing many spiders and I actually vacuumed the interior. I filled my one gallon shop-vac, and plugged the hose several times with wads of hay. Carpeting in cars aren’t easy to clean. It seems they are designed to attract and hold on to dirt. It makes me miss my old Jeep. It had drain holes in the floor. Just hose it out and it was clean.

I now have a quasi clean truck. It even smells good. Let the new year begin in the dirty truck project.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Computer Antiques

I’ve recently come across some computer equipment that is obsolete. I wonder if anyone is saving this stuff for its future antique potential. I remember when several of these items were must have items for which we paid dearly when they were first introduced. Think back to when you first got some of these items:

A one button mouse (Mac users are still living in that stone age)
A Zip Drive
A floppy disk both sizes
A printer cable
A printer switch
A hand scanner
A tape back-up
A cassette player to load programs and as storage media
A cradle modem where you actually placed a phone receiver
A PS2 connector
A black and white or a VGA monitor

Having been around computers since the Apple I and the Sinclair, when 8k ram was hot and before anyone had a hard drive; I am amazed by the changes. A new version of DOS was a reason for celebration. Those who actually read the manual ruled the world.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


A short while ago I wrote about the sounds that horses make. My favorite and the saddest is the sigh. I have empathy for my horse because I know why he sighs. Though he has a large stall and he can walk outside into a large corral whenever he wants. A corral where his feet don’t get muddy and there is always 35 gallons of cold fresh water. In his stall there is always flakes of good hay to eat. He can go in there when he pleases to get away the heat, rain or insects. In there, he can stay safe, warm, or cool, or dry and well fed and nourished. In the winter he gets to wear a blanket. In the summer he gets to wear a fly mask to keep the flies off his face. His feet are trimmed regularly, and teeth are floated every other year. He gets his shots and visits the vet at least once a year. He gets to spend several hours every day in one of the five pastures we rotate him through.

All of his needs for comfort are met, yet he stands in his corral and sighs. It’s not boredom. It is a small patch of very green lawn just out of his reach that he desires. I’m sure he can imagine how good it would feel to be ten feet west of where he stands. He can probably imagine how good it tastes.

I can relate to him because like all people I have desires, too. I often think about how different my life would be had I done or not done this or that. How much better my life would be if I had this or that. Sometimes I sigh.

I grew up with two parents who lived through the Great Depression. They understood what it was like to have unfulfilled desires and how to make sacrifices. My mother was particularly practical and could come up with a reason not to do something or have something in a second. Her retorts always made sense to me. I remember once when I was about 4 years old I asked her if I could ride the mechanical horse outside of Woolworths. She told me no because other children younger than me have ridden that horse and they more than likely had leaky diapers and I’d be riding on a seat that was soiled with the pee and poop of other children. I was shocked by her answer, but I could envision it and I never wanted to ride a mechanical horse again.

Even today when a desire strikes me I can easily turn to my mother’s voice in my head and find a reason why that which I desire is a bad idea. I still sigh from time to time, but I recover quickly.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Reflecting upon yesterdays post, I’ve been thinking about how well the old gas stations, banks and grocery stores are holding up with their new purposes.

I mentioned that the two old Safeway markets have been torn down, but the former Thriftway/Albertsons in Warrenton is now Ross. The former Youngs Bay Sentry is now a shop for Astoria Ford. I think the Astoria Senior Center was a grocery store. Locals, please correct me if I am wrong.

In Astoria a former bank is now a spa. In Seaside the old First Interstate bank is now a bagel shop.

Service stations are doing well in their new lives. Guy’s muffler shop in Seaside was an old service station. I think the coffee shop at Smith Point was a station as well. Again, locals can correct me if I’m wrong. There is an old gas station on Marine drive in Astoria that still does mechanical work though it has no gas pumps. The old station in Hammond is a convenience store without pumps. There is an abandoned station across from the Post Office in Hammond. There is another abandoned station next to the Bay View Motel and a recently disused station in Svensen. There are several stations in Jeffer’s Gardens, one now sells tile. Another sells wood and pellet stoves. Before that it was a quilt shop. Another is now a body shop.

It seems that old service stations are just the right size for most small businesses, be it mechanical or retail. Having a quilting shop or a coffee shop in one just strikes me as being really cool. Put any kind of a shop in an old service station and I’ll be going in to check it out. Though the smell of gas, oil, grease, antifreeze and new tires is long gone the spirit still lingers. My imagination can still see a wiry man in a jump suit with his name patch sewn above a pocket holding a tire gauge. He wears a hat and has an oily rag hanging from his right pants pocket.

There is a spirit of history in these old building. This is where someone made a living and supported their family and funded their dreams or more probably the dreams of their children.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Ever Changing Look

I find it interesting how architecture has changed during my lifetime. When I was a lad supermarkets looked like square boxes. Locally you can see the old architecture if you go to the 12 Street Grocery in Seaside, Select in Warrenton or Hunt’s Market in Svensen. Then in the 60s they took on a larger Quonset Hut look with rounded roofs like massive culverts. Most example of these are gone like the old Safeway in Seaside, but one still can be seen at Astoria Ford. The building to the North of the dealership was a Sentry Market. Now supermarkets are designed to look like Big Box stores with boat building shop look on the exterior.

When I was a lad banks were solid buildings that were built with massive concrete blocks with stone carved pillars. They looked secure like a prison for money. Then in the 60s banks took on a Mod look like they were right out of the Jetson’s. There was a lot of glass with lots of open space inside. Now banks are designed to look like country club homes.

When I was a lad gas stations were called service stations. Early stations looked like converted livery stables. Then they were small rounded corner buildings that had had one or two garage bays, two rest rooms and a windowed office with a desk. They had mechanical soda machines where a kid could buy a cold bottle of orange soda for a dime. They offered free air for your tires and free road maps. In the 60 they got larger and boxier with four or more bays and they started charging for air and maps. Now they are convenience stores and look like the grocery stores in the 50.

It’s interesting how I can be taken back to my childhood when I drive by an old gas station or enter an old bank, or grocery store. All the smells and the feelings of when I was five years old come back to mind in a vivid way. They were good old days.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Loyalty at What Price

I ran into someone I recognized that worked at a bank when I first moved here. She looked pretty much the same. I don’t look the same so she didn’t recognize me. I realized she worked at a bank I did business with three banks ago. It makes me wonder why I’ve switched my banks.

When I lived back East, banks always gave incentives for starting a new account. For the most part it wasn’t bad stuff. I still have a set of steak knives I got from a Savings and Loan Association. Anyone here old enough to remember Saving and Loan Associations?

I remember having sets of dishes, cutlery, glasses, coffee makers (back then percolators). It brings to mind that gas stations would also have promotions where they would give away drinking glasses with every fill-up. Supermarkets also had give-aways. The best anyone could expect these days is some destined for the land fill, plastic crap with a company logo on it. Have you noticed how hard it is to find a company that gives away a free calendar these days?

I have no idea why I switched from First Interstate to Bank of Astoria to TLC, but it certainly wasn’t for the SWAG.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Piranhas

We like to train our chickens to come when called. It is more essential now that we have 26 of them. When they start to free range we need to collect them when we need to. Food is involved in the training and my wife started training during their first week with us.

Now that they get to roam in their pen in the Super Max we walk by them whenever we work outside and they look at us and regard us, but when they hear us call, “Chick Chick Chick” they come running in our direction. We buy inexpensive heads of iceberg lettuce for them and once a day we take them some and hand feed them.

My wife has been in Canada for the last two weeks leaving me in charge of this ritual, but the chickens have grown so much since she’s been gone and I’m wondering if it is a good idea to enter their pen with Kevlar. As soon as I sound the call they come running and flying into the screen. I enter carefully so as not to step on any of them, but they now try to fly to peck the treats out of my hand before I get to the spot where I feed them.

Once I bend down to feed them there is a massive cloud of chickens. They peck at the lettuce, they peck at my hand and they peck according to the pecking order. Each one will snag a piece and run off to eat it quickly and then return for more. No one goes without. I can only describe it as feeding piranhas. Fortunately my wife returns today and I’ll be happy to return that chore to her.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I Know, T.M.I.

I was exchanging emails with someone this week who said in one statement that something was voyeuristic, like going through someone’s underwear drawer. This got me thinking about my underwear drawer and what an eclectic menagerie I’ve got going on there.

First, let me state that my favorite underwear is usually the newest in the rotation, but there are some in there I have no intention of ever wearing, yet there they sit in the event I don’t get to doing my laundry in a timely manner.

In case you are wondering, I like briefs. I have one pair of boxers that I purchased on a whim a few years ago thinking that I may have been missing out on unknown comfort. I didn’t miss anything. Boxers bunch up in the wrong places and what’s with the button in the front? They also require constant adjustment and if you are wearing pants that are tighter than the boxers, they tend to slide off when you change your pants. My lack of an ass facilitates that to an even greater extent. Wearing boxers makes me realize I never want to convert to Mormonism and have to suffer through wearing “The Garments.”

Once I dig deeper into the drawer I find some bikini briefs that I use to wear twenty years ago and earlier when I was seen by more people while wearing them, if you know what I mean.

There are probably three pairs that should never be worn because of holes of the lack of elasticity. I’d don’t why guys are like this, but somehow we have a hard time throwing away old underwear. We don’t want to use it as a shop rag; that would be kind of gross. Besides they take up so little room in the drawer, what’s the difference?

Finally, when you get to the last pair in the bottom-back of the drawer you will find a tie-dyed pair which I really like, but they are just too small for me. They were a gift, but even with much less behind than I used to have, they still don’t fit.

So when I look into my own underwear drawer and I see the tie-dyed pair peeking through the other disused articles I know it’s time to do the laundry or go shopping.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


OK, I’m becoming a Face Book snob. I’ve been turning down offers of friendship left and right. Recently I’ve turned down two local businesses that wanted to friend me. I mean, what would I get out of friending with them? A free subscription to their newspaper which I can pick up for free all over town already? Maybe I really want to know when smoked fish goes on sale? I think not.

One person figured out who I was because she is a friend of a friend… anyway she doesn’t read this blog so I wouldn’t friend her. Another person got turned down because I didn’t like who was on her friends list. There is another friend that I now refuse to write anything on her wall or comment because she picked up some friends I can’t stand. Yeah, I’m douchy that way. Then there are the unending quizzes. This shit is internet litter, knock it off. I’m getting pissed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Doing it Right

Finally after all these years I think I’ve learned to do things right the first time. I once had a relative that always said, “Either job big or small, do it right or not at all.” I admit some things are still done by trial and error, but these days I sincerely try to work out all the bugs in my head before beginning any project.

Over the years I’ve had to re-do many projects. I had to rebuild a rabbit hutch three times before it met my wife’s approval. The manure shed I just built replaced the one I built that blew apart in the 2007 storm. This one was built with the wind in mind with buried pier blocks and all wood is attached with screws and Simpson hurricane ties.

The lesson that took the longest to learn was the horse corral. When we first got horses I built each of them a 12’ X 12’ stall and outside their stall each has a 16’ X 16’ corral so they can stand outside when they want and go into their stalls when they want. The first year was upsetting because the dirt in the corral turned to mud and the horses were standing in mud a lot of the time. That’s really bad, so I ordered a lode of hog fuel, which is chipped up used lumber. This worked fine for a time, but picking up the manure was difficult and eventually the hog fuel mixed with the mud and it too became a disaster. Next I put in ten-yards of sand and that too sunk into the mud, but I finally got it right.

I dug trenches 16 inches deep every four feet apart and I buried drainage tile in the trenches and covered with 2” drainage stone and I put a six inch layer of stone over the rest of the yard. Then I covered it with geo-cloth and on top of that I put ¾ inch stall mats anchored with foundation bolts so they won’t slide around.

It’s been three years now with this system and the horses no longer get muddy. It is easy to pick up their droppings and the mats get washed every time it rains or can be hosed down. It feels good to get something right.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Only Love Can Break Your Heart

I recently had a post about people you love and it reminded me the difference in loving someone and being in love with someone. Neil Young sang “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” and that is the real definition. If your heart was broken; you were in love.

This brought to mind a woman I suppose I was once in love with. I guess you fall in love and have to climb back out and my heart was broken.

She had soft dark red hair, which I thought was a unique color to her and her alone, but after our break-up I’d see people with her hair color and style everywhere. I thought she sitting in front of me in a theater one night; it was someone else. She was the woman in the elevator, the woman sitting in front of me on a plane. Everywhere I went there seemed to be someone that looked like her.

I finally got over it and her one night when I was invited to dinner at the home of two friends. After dinner their Irish Setter came into the room. The Setter had the same color hair as she had. I thought to myself, “So this is what it’s come to? I’m seeing her in a dog.”

Monday, September 14, 2009

Adirondack Chairs

One great thing about having a good roof over my shop for the first time in years is that I no longer have to have tarps all over my equipment. I also have sky lights in there now so there is more natural light.

On the next rainy day I plan to spend the day in the shop cleaning out the accumulation of stuff and scrap wood and I want to get back down to business of making furniture. I make tables for indoor use and Adirondack chairs for outdoor use.

I love Adirondack chairs. They seem to have the best design for back and butt comfort and the wide arms can not only cradle your arms, but also have enough room to hold a drink and a plate.

I want to build saddle racks with wheels. I want to do some lathe work. I want to make new kitchen cabinets. I want to try to make a new dining room table.

A few years ago I took an alder I cut down to the mill in Olney. I have a big stack of alder boards that I’ve been wanting to put to use. I have a twelve foot figured maple plank that I‘ve been dreaming about for years. This winter I’ll be back in business.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Last week I had a post on that horse that made awful noises when the other horses left camp. Horses are normally quiet do make a range of noises.

When you take a horse out to the pasture the first thing they normally do is lie down and roll. When they get up they shake like a wet dog trying to shake of being wet and they make a noise like when a human shakes their head back and forth.

When they are in their stall or paddock and you suddenly appear to take them out or to feed them they often make a humming noise which sounds like “Humbumbumbumbumbum.

Sometimes when they poop they will make a straining-grunting sound.

There is a squeal that horses do when they are checking one another out or when one horse stops grooming another horse. This sound is usually emitted by the less dominant horse or by both when they are of opposite sexes.

Thoroughbreds make a short happy rhythmic breathing sound when they canter, like a panting.

My favorite sound, though it is sad is the sigh. When a horse is bored or anticipating it will often sigh. You’ll hear it when a horse is saddled, but tied up and not going anywhere. You’ll hear it when the horse is out of hay and knows feeding time isn’t for a while.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


It seems that autumn is the favorite season for most people. Who doesn’t get a warm feeling from the changing of the leaves, the final harvest from the garden, the kids returning to school, the first fire in the fireplace, or the smell of a hearty meal cooking in the oven.

There is also a sadness that autumn ushers in. I often tell people that I moved here for the gloom, but somehow the change of season makes me happy and sad at the same time. I’ve been noticing the changes already. I need to turn the lights on when I go out to feed the horses in the morning. It gets dark out long before I finish my outside projects. On the plus side I get to eat my dinner earlier. When the rains return I get to take days off. Another thing is I usually put on ten pounds every winter that I lost during the summer.

The sure signs summer is over is that the grocery store is now out of artichokes (I ate my last artichoke Wednesday night), Costco has the socks I like back in stock and Costco is already selling artificial Christmas trees. Bring it on Autumn.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Round Pen

We have a sixty-foot round pen for our horses. This is a circular pen where the horses are trained and get exercise running in circles. I’ve seen all sorts of configurations for round pens with different types of footing . Some folks just put up fence panels on a flat piece of land and after a couple of sessions there is just bare dirt.

This being Oregon where rain is a constant thing most times of the year; I’ve seen many people with round pens that are useless for days after a rain. Some can’t be used from November until July. When I put our round pen in I got some bids to have it professionally done where a contractor would lay down a layer of geo-cloth, pit-run rock, 10 inches of crushed stone and top it off with sand. The problem is that the least expensive bid was over $5,000. Instead I opted for a load of dirt to raise the elevation about two feet off the grade. Then I put down geo-cloth and topped that off with about six inches of sand.

This system worked well with the rain fall. Some of the sand washed out once, but I since put up retaining boards at the base. The problem is that horses are heavy and when they run, though there is six inches of sand beneath them they can still make the geo-cloth move and eventually the edges come to the surface and eventually you have all these tripping zones for the horse.

A neighbor with a bucket loader offered to help me out. We figure it would be a simple job to scrape away some of the sand and yank out the geo-cloth. It wasn’t as simple as we thought. It took us six hours to pull all the cloth. The higher spots needed to be tilled and scrapped and the dirt redistributed. We continued on and leveled and banked the outer part like a race track and redistributed the sand. In total my neighbor donated close to 24 hours of his time and his tractor.
I still need to do a final smoothing of the sand and reset the posts and rails, but I need to wait until the sand dries from the weekend rains.

The photo above isn't my round pen, but this is what it will look like when it is finished. My wife is in Canada with our camera.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Names of Home

I find it funny how we name things around our place. As you’ve read here recently our chicken coop and pen is called Super Max.

We have a guest bedroom that is the quietest room in the house. It has a small window with dark drapes. It is the perfect place for a nap so we call it the Snooze Hole.

We have three outside doors to our house, but one door is called the Forbidden Door that no one is allowed to enter or exit.

When I built the horse stalls we called them the horses’ offices.

Back when my wife moved in we condensed two homes into one so we rented a storage locker and it didn’t take me long to figure out that I could build a storage shed for the price of four-months rent. My wife said in India a prince built the Taj Mahal for his love. We have since given away all the extra stuff and that shed is now my work shop, but my shop is still known as the Taj Mahal.

Any ideas for the new manure shed?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Work Relatd Injuries

When I think of all the injuries I suffered from the projects I worked on this summer I surprised I haven’t developed Cellulitis. My hands have been sliced with sheet metal. I’ve been poked and shredded from cutting, handling and hanging hardware cloth. I’ve been ripped apart from berry picking. I’ve had blisters from digging and shoveling rock. Add to that I still have stains on my hands from roofing cement. Oddly I do wear work gloves when I can.

I have one more building project that I will finish before the rains come. It includes more digging, framing and metal roofing. All my shots are current.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Monsters in the Woods

Horses are herd animals. They don’t like being alone. Even if they are the low horse in the pecking order they prefer being picked on rather than being alone. I recently had to take my horse somewhere alone. My wife’s horse called for him while he was gone. When we got to where we were going there were horses in a nearby pasture and he bonded with them even though he couldn’t get to them. When they walked out of sight he called for them. This condition is called being “Herd Bound.”

While horse camping recently there were 14 horses, each in their own pen. Some people bring extra horses to camp; sometimes for riders that don’t have a horse to ride and other times because they don’t want to leave their other horse at home.

One afternoon I decided not to ride with everyone. I wanted to stay in camp and read and someone was there to ride my horse. I was the only one left in camp and three other horses were left behind. One owner told me that I would be hearing some horrific sounds from one horse she was leaving behind. I’ve heard horses call before and I thought I knew what I could expect from him, but when the last of the riders left camp I got to hear sounds that I didn’t think possible from a horse. It was worse than an Ornette Coleman solo. It went on for hours.

When the riders returned some of the riders said they could hear him calling from miles away. While on the trail they came across two hikers that said they were getting out of the woods because they heard a beast. They thought it was a sasquatch. The owner laughed calmed their fears and told them that the sound they heard was her horse left in camp that was calling for the other horses.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Super Max

If you’ve been following along you probably remember back in July when a weasel got into my chicken coop and killed all my chickens. I was ready to give up, but somehow I couldn’t . I realized that my fence around the chicken yard was no challenge for animals with climbing abilities. I ordered new chicks and began working on Super Max.

The first thing I did was to cover all vent holes in ½ inch hardware cloth and close the gap under the door. Then I removed all the chicken wire in their run and the deer netting that covered the run. The deer netting was there to prevent them from flying out or hawks from flying in.

Next I dug a two foot deep trench around the parameter and I buried sheets of corrugated metal roofing and back filled with rocks and bricks and broken flower pots. Above ground I framed a fence that is seven feet high and I also framed a roof. I ran ½ inch hardware cloth over every vertical surface and corrugated metal roofing over the top. The good thing about the roof is now the chicken yard won’t be a muddy stinky mess all winter. Now all I have to do is paint the coop.

I now feel confident our chickens will never have a night of horror like my last flock. They only have to watch out for local dogs when the free range during the day.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Chicks

Heather wanted to see the baby chicks and how they grown. They are a month old today and here is what they look like now. Rhode Island Red on the left and a Buff Orpington on the right.

If you remember we ordered 25 and when you order 25 they throw in an "Exotic" chicken. Anyone with a guess as to what this chick is? Big hint are the blue legs.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Back Home

My cat, Abby finally returned home. She had been missing for two days. I asked her where she had been. She didn't answer, which is all for the best. Had she answered I'm sure it would have been a lie.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Faulty Weed Free Science

How often have you heard that some well known scientific fact was totally wrong? It seems that many of the scientific facts that we have been fed are accepted only because the outcome of a study is beneficial to someone or some group. It may be something like what foods are good or bad for. Remember when butter was bad and margarine was good? Remember when we needed to drink at least six glasses of water a day?

These days I am very skeptical in regards to global warming, especially since I’ve seen how it is related to solar irradiance which we are presently in a downward cycle. I have to question the objectivity of the researchers and those that are writing these papers.

Though I never ride my horses on US Forrest or BLM lands, I feel bad for those that do because the two aforementioned agencies have adopted laws against weed free hay based upon junk science. This means that anyone planning to ride their horses on their land must feed their horses certified weed free hay at least three days before venturing onto their trails and continually as long as the horses will be ridden there.

The claim was weed seeds were making it through the horse’s digestion process and when the horses pooped on the trail these weeds were growing out of their feces. What has actually been found is that there are few weed seeds in most hay and they are usually digested and that when a horse poops on a trail their manure fertilized weed seeds that are already there and usually brought in by birds. Pasture weeds are not being found in the forests. Invasive weeds from bird feeders and imported garden plants are what are being found.

The US Forrest Service and the BLM need to revisit the science used to make these costly decisions even though the certifiers, growers and sellers are having their hay day in profits.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


A few years ago I thinned about five acres of the forest at the back end of my property. All the other property around my property had been clear cut leaving my trees without any protection from the wind. I was losing several big trees with each wind storm, so I decided it was time to harvest and put the wood to a better use other than rotting or firewood. We make a tidy sum of money from the operation.

After logging I replanted close to two thousand trees; cedar, spruce, hemlock, fir and alder. I lost a lot of hemlock seedlings the first year and I was concerned that I would need to replant, but somehow nature filled the gaps.

While poking around picking black berries recently, I came across my seedlings that are all now around four feet tall. Some trees are already over six feet tall. I hope and suspect I will live long enough to see that acreage as a shaded forest again.

That is one thing about planting trees. It is usually an investment for the next generation. I can only hope that the next owners of this tract find the land here like I found it and care for it like I have. Though I do realize that the next owner could be greedy and develop it into spec houses. Future rat bastards!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Zucchini Bread, Again

One funny thing about blogging is that often the same topics come up every year. I have enough old readers drop off and new ones come onboard every year that I should just set my blog up to post an endless loop, but for now I will try to breathe some new life into what I’m doing rather than rerun past posts.

We had a touch of rain one day last Friday. I love it when it rains because I am afforded the opportunity to do a little more reading and even do a little indoor work. At this time of year indoor work means to me making zucchini bread. We always grow it and I make several loaves that we freeze them to have them for occasions throughout the year. So far this year I’ve made 16 loaves. The hard part is not sampling a loaf before you put them away. It’s not unusual to lose one to predation before the others are cooled and wrapped.

It seems that everyone that tries this bread wants the recipe because it is absolutely the best. Zucchini Bread Recipe

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

They Are Ripe, Finally

I know it’s late, but I think I have the latest developing blackberries on the planet. I remember always making my first batch of blackberry jam on the first day of summer, June 21st when I lived on the east coast.

I think it was two weeks ago when Auntie told me she was already sick of picking berries. Auntie lives only seven miles away from me and her berries were finished in mid August. My berries just became ripe enough to pick on the 25th. Every morning I go up on my hill and pick a gallon of them. I only pick the ones at eye level and I’m getting a gallon in about a half hour. If I were willing to spend the time and pick lower berries and plow into the bushes I could probably pick 30 gallons a day or more, but I only have so much freezer space. We go through only about four gallons of black berries a year, so I’ll be picking only two more gallons and call it good for the year.

I love picking blackberries. I don’t recall ever missing a harvest. I’m already considering where I should create new paths for more picking next year. I guess I should be grateful that my berries ripen this late. It's at this time of August all my projects are winding down and I need to concentrate on harvesting and putting up food for the winter. The end of the summer is in sight.