Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to a Free America

02 May 2020

It has been a few days since I posted anything. The cause of the lack of posted material is work. At the end of 8-9 hours of toiling away, I’m just too tired to even think much less write.

The bee hives filled with bees

Sunday was bee delivery day. I had set up the support structure for the three hives and Summer placed the hives. Then, in the afternoon, she went into town and met the ‘Bee Man’ to pick up the bees. The bees are delivered in wooden boxes with a fine mesh screen on the top and bottom. Inside, in addition, to about a zillion bees is the queen in her own little container. We opened the containers, put the queen into the hive (still in her shipping container) and shook the bees into the hives. Summer was all suited up for the event in her white bee suit, screened hat and leather gloves. I had no such equipment, so I just stood there and shook the bees out of their travel container. For some reason, I can stand in a swarm of them and they don’t sting and, mostly, ignore me. I was once told that if you remain calm they remain calm. It seems that they can sense fear or panic and it makes the afraid and panicky. Summer is very allergic to bee stings which is why she is suited up like an astronaut.

Bee transport pod

Monday was another ‘stick pick’, burn the debris pile day. I spent all day feeding and stoking the fire. I had Summer’s lawn tractor wagon and walked around the property trying to find every lumber scrap and broken sticks etc that might be lying around in the way. Cleaning up the bits of limbs and trees will make it a lot easier to mow this summer. As I was tending the fire, a moose came down to the pond and got a drink of water. It was only about 75 feet away and I watched it very intently whilst wondering where I could run to if it decided that it wasn’t happy with my presence. This time of year they are a little grumpy. Their food supply is low and, I guess, the ‘Missed Meal Colic’ is making them grumpier than normal.

Tuesday I was still going around the property picking up burnable debris. However, in addition, I was picking up stuff to take to the dump. I had planned to go to town and retrieve the 2500 gallon water tank and go to the dump on the same trip. I called the Yard Manager at Spenard builder’s Supply and let him know that I was on my way in. Of course, my call went directly to voice mail. I keep asking people, “What the hell is the point of having a cell phone, if you don’t answer it?” Mr. Kerry Plant, the Yard Manager, returned my call just as I was about to pull out onto the paved road. “Sorry, Bob, but the tank you purchased has a hole in it.” The balance of the conversation was about getting substitute. None was available as the other four tanks of the same size also had holes in them. They had been purchased by Otto Kilcher as he had the plastic welding equipment to repair them. Me with no equipment just had to get my money back and curse the fates. I dropped the trailer and went on to the dump and unloaded a 8′ bed of trash. The day wasn’t a total loss as Mr.Plant told me that he’d try to get me a reduced price deal on two 1000 gallon tanks and I got some junk off the property.

The two 1000 gallon water tanks.

On Wednesday I managed with some tribulation to get the parts tractor moved. The rear wheels are locked up. This is likely caused by my not being able to get the darned thing out of gear. Summer used her 4 wheeler to move it most of the way to where I wanted it. Then I used a long rope and a come along winch to pull the recalcitrant 2000 pounds of iron about 5 more feet so as to leave a path for moving other stuff in and out of the Conex (40′ shipping container) and so that the water delivery guy could get in to fill the water tank. This foolishness took most of two hours. It was then that I was able to jack it up, put some jackstands under it and remove the left front tire and subsequently the left front axle. It was then that I realized that I did not have a replacement gasket to install the axle onto the ‘good’ tractor. One good thing happened. I got the call that I could purchase the two 1000 gallon take for the same $1700 price as the 2500 gallon defective tank. The tanks usually sell for $1200 each, so it was a pretty good deal. Not a perfect solution but a workable solution. Upon my return home I decided (after forgetting to get gasket material while I was in town Tuesday and today) to make sure that the subsequently removed axle was going to fit properly. It didn’t. Both tractors are the same make and model so the axle should have just slipped right into place. NOPE! With the need to think about this misfit, I decided to continue the cleanup of the property. I got another truckload of stuff together. It is amazing how quickly and how much stuff accumulates with you hardly noting the accumulation.

Thursday, I continued to pile junk into the truck and by lunch time I was ready to make another trip to the dump. Made the dump trip and this time I did not forget the gasket material. Back home I spent most of an hour making the axle gasket. Tried to install the axle again and it still didn’t fit. It would not go in completely. It lacked about a half inch seating properly. This was a conundrum. As previously stated same make, same model. It should have simply slipped into place and have the six bolts installed. NOPE again! Frustration to the max. I went looking for something, anything, else to do. I ended up gathering up usable lumber from various locales and moving it all into one of the tents. We have several construction projects that need to be done this summer so it would be convenient to have the available lumber all in one place. After that I tackled the pile of stuff inside the Conex door. All winter I had simply opened the door and chucked in whatever unneeded bit of equipment or useful stuff that was no longer relevant. I had a path through this stuff like you see in these Hoarder TV shows. It was time to put it in its’ proper place or toss it into the new pile destined for the dump.

In the wee hours of Friday morning while fast asleep, I figured out why the axle wouldn’t fit into the tractor. Previously, I has removed the differential, containing the ring gear and pinion assembly, for inspection. I put it back into place without checking to see if it had seated properly into the right side axle assembly. It hadn’t. Later Friday morning, after I had slurped up a quart of coffee, I went to town and picked up the two 1000 gallons water tanks. When I got the tank chore done, I returned to the tractor problem. I moved the differential around and it slid into its’ proper place. This gave me the 1/2 inch that I needed to get the left axle back into the tractor. Success, at last!!!!! What is really bad is that I’d had the damned part out two different times trying to see why the left axle wouldn’t slide all the way into it. So there were three times that I had not installed it properly. Stuff like that makes you feel really stupid. With the axle installed, I reinstalled the the hydraulics and the bucket loader. The only thing I lacked in completing the project was $300 worth of 75-140 gear lube. Another trip to town and the dump.

Axle residing in its’ new home.
Tractor ready to go except for front wheels and tires

Saturday I filled the axle and differential with the gear lube and pressure washed the tractor. Pressure washing the tractor got me side tracked into pressure washing my truck, then the log splitter and further on to pressure washing Summer’s Subaru. When I’d finished goofing off with the pressure washer I had to repair a strut that support the left axle. I had cut the strut in order to get the left axle out of the tractor last Fall. This entailed finding a piece of metal thick enough to be strong enough to do the job. Then drilling hole in it and the bitter end of the strut in order to bolt it on. I got that project done in a couple of hours. Monday or Tuesday, I will take the tractor to the welding shop and have the weld the metal patch into place. I am concerned that the bolts might not be strong enough to stand the pressure. As my Grandma Byrd always said “Better safe than sorry”. It seems she always had some saying to fit almost every occasion. There is still some tire swapping that needs to be done but the hard part of the tractor project is done.

That pretty well brings us up to date. Summer has planted the greenhouse while I was fooling around trying to clean up the property and repair the tractor. Where you don’t see green there are seeds planted for peas, beans and carrots. The green stuff is a couple of kinds of cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes Brussel sprouts and some other stuff I can’t remember.

Summer’s greenhouse garden
Another greenhouse picture

Well that’s it for me. See ya.


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