Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to losing our freedoms at a prodigious pace.

I’m really sick of the current “We’re all gonna die.” rant kept up by the MSM fake news outlets, would be dictators and overzealous bureaucrats. WE ARE NOT ALL GONNA DIE from C-19. Some people will die. 10/02/2010 CDC mortality rates showed about 6500 people dying every day. In 2017 there were 2,813,503 deaths. So far C-19 deaths are listed as just over 80,000. 80k divided by the 4.5 months that we’ve been counting and the death rate is 17,778 per month. The previous 6500 per day times 30 equals 195,000 people dying from all causes every month. The C-19 numbers, shouted from the rooftops, seem to be a scary number until you realize that it is less than 3 days of the normal death rate in America from all causes. Then, suddenly, you discover the recent revelation that put the C-19 death toll in New York as mostly a hoax. Over 90% of the deaths in New York were of people that already had very serious or terminal health problems. What made it worse in New York was that the idiot Governor forced nursing homes to take C-19 patients when they had no ability to treat or properly isolate these cases. Governor Cuomo, apparently, murdered hundreds of older people. Plus as it is being discovered that all over the U.S. they have been attributing almost all deaths to C-19. Here in Alaska you likely could get trampled by a moose and die but if you tested positive for C-19 that would be the cause of death. Again the majority of those deaths were to people with serious pre-existing health problems. We had a recent death here in the Homer area. The poor man was eaten up by cancer and on his death bed. His long fight with cancer was over but his death was attributed to C-19. If you are still in the “We’re all gonna die” mode due to C-19 then there is no logic that would convince you that this is not a “pandemic”. It is a serious problem but it is not so serious that we should be sacrificing all of our First Amendment rights and destroying the entire American economy. I want to whisper something to you just so you can, perhaps, get into the proper frame of mind. Just like influenza there is no cure and likely will never be a cure. In case some of you haven’t been made aware of it, “We’re all gonna die”. It is simply a matter of time. So chuck your fear onto the bonfire, relax and go do whatever makes you happy. There is no ‘Safe Space’ from death. You need enjoy whatever life you have left instead of cowering in bed with the covers pulled over your head like a scared child. Like Forest said, “And that’s all I’m going to say about that.”

Miss Suzy wearing a really bad haircut,

14 May 2020 Thursday. It was another beautiful sunny day and properly primed with coffee, I went to the hardware store for the parts needed to complete the slide hammer. Of course, I bought two 1/2″ nuts that were tossed in by a careless customer or had been mis-binned by an employee of the store. Then I was careless by not checking to make sure that they were the needed 5/8″ nuts. This mistake led to an additional wasted 45 precious minutes returning to the hardware store to get the correct parts. At long last, I was able to bolt the slide hammer onto the axle. It was much harder coming out than I expected. When it did come out, the source of the oil leak was obvious. The paper gasket was in three different pieces. Having previously purchased gasket material for the entire axle assembly it was pretty easy, but time consuming, to make the gasket for this little project. When I took the axle out I caught the $60 a gallon gear oil in a clean container. Probably $120 worth of it drained into the pan. More about that later. With the new gasket in place I attempted to re-install the axle. It simply would not go back into place without the application of 8 pounds of persuasion. I had to drive it back into the inner splines with my sledge hammer. This didn’t seem to bode well for the proper operation for the tractor but I could not see any other way of getting the axle back into the housing. With the axle seated back where it should be I bolted everything up and put the wheel back on. That was when I remembered the pan of gear oil that I had set aside. I had to make a rubber hose extension for the funnel. It would have been a lot easier had I done it before putting the wheel back on. About the gear lube. This stuff is so thick that it makes molasses look runny. Since I had drained in into a plastic pan with no pour spout, I had to dip it with a plastic food container to put it into the funnel. Getting this very viscous liquid back into the tractor took every bit of an hour and most of my patience. At the end, I had gear oil on my shoes, my pants and even some on the pudgy stomach portion of my shirt. It was an oily nightmare.

Taken after 10:00PM

After the tractor was completed, I took my oily self inside, took a shower and got clean clothes. It was still early, about 4:00 PM, when I decided that I’d had enough aggravation for the day. Summer arrived home from work just as I was about to declare Vodka:30. She had some greenhouse and gardening chores that needed to be done. I decided to help her instead of declaring the Vodka Alert.

Betsy Boo helping me dig out a tiller stopper

15 May 2020 Friday. Got an early start, 9:00 AM. Got the tractor off the jack stands and put it to work moving dirt. We had completed one of the several raised beds that Summer wanted. I filled it with the dirt I had hauled in earlier in the week. By this time most of the frozen dirt chunks had thawed and it poured out from the bucket of the tractor very easily. It was still pretty wet but easily managed. After filling the raised bed we built another and filled it. Summer had to take her car to the shop and we had some errands to to run. That ended our gardening endeavors for the day. After we got back home, I spent most of the balance of the day moving dirt to fill holes in the yard. When the ground freezes it causes what people refer to as ‘frost heaves’. When it thaws it leaves uneven ground that is hard to walk on. I used the tractor to knock the tops off these heaves and then bring dirt to fill the voids and restore level ground. If you want a nice manicured lawn you need to make it smooth enough to use a lawn mower. After a couple of hours of lawn maintenance, I was tired of it. That is when I decided that the Conex needed more straightening. Still don’t have nearly enough shelving to get everything up off the floor and organized. There is stuff on the floor that hasn’t bee unpacked since we moved here in September of 2017. It would seem that we probably didn’t need to bring it with us if we haven’t used it by now. On the other hand, as I unpack the ‘junk’, I find tools and stuff that I could have used had I known where they were hiding. After a couple of hours, this effort to locate and shelve these valuables, it still appeared as if I had done nothing. Maybe by this coming September, our third anniversary of arriving in Fritz Creek, I will have managed to organize it all.

Fabio with some of his ladies

16 May 2020 Saturday The usual coffee time cut short by the need to get the work done outside. Leisurely sipping coffee will have to wait until the snow comes again. At the end of the day yesterday I discovered that the axle on the tractor was leaking oil again. I don’t know how much was lost during the day but there was a bit over a gallon in the coffee can I used to catch the drip during the night. I checked both newly manufactured and installed gaskets and found neither of them leaking. The only thing left to leak is a rubber seal on the outside of the axle bearing. I am inclined to think that the hammering in of the axle damaged the seal but it could be that the seal and the gasket were both leaking. I repaired one but not the other. All day today I have used the tractor as necessary and then parked it with the coffee can placed under it to catch the oil. As the coffee can caught 2-3 inches of oil, I’d get out the funnel and pour it back in. I repeated this bit of aggravation a couple of times before I figured out a way to slow the leak. I set two concrete blocks next to a depression in the ground. The I placed two short boards atop the blocks and angled to the ground. After that I drove the left wheel of the tractor onto the boards and atop the concrete blocks. Since the Pasquale Tractor is articulated it raised the axle up at an angle and lessened the oil drip. After that brilliant idea I did not have to put oil back into the tractor for the rest of the day.

The tractor taking a break
Summer’s tomato palace finished with a raised planter attached all recycled material.

Summer worked until about 6PM. She and I were building raised bed from scrap materials. The Tomato Palace and the attached raised planter were both built with scrap material except for the plastic sheeting and the screws to hold it all together. “Waste not. Want not.” to quote my maternal grandmother. She and my Grandfather Byrd raised three daughters in Arkansas during the “Great Depression”. Therefore, pinching pennies and using whatever was available was a way of life for them. My Grandfather Byrd told me stories of cleaning fence rows for 25 cents an hour a working 10-12 hours a day. It was a hard life for them. I’ve got it infinitely easier but using what you have still seems the smart thing to do. I have a bunch of stuff that I call my “Possibles”pile.

My “Possibles” pile. Old bed rails, scrap iron and aluminum, pipe of various materials, old screen doors, windows, wire and just about everything you can think of including a 4KW generator out of a travel trailer.

17 May 2020 Sunday Another tiring day. Most of the day was spent building the last of the raised beds and filling them with dirt. We are still fighting the tractor ‘war’. It is still leaking and I just don’t want to quit using it until I can find a good stopping point. We need the thing operational. As long as I can catch most of the leaking gear oil and put it back into the tractor, that is what I’ll likely be doing. It’s a nuisance but it is taking less time to keep putting the fluid back into the tractor than to disassemble the tractor. One reason for continuing the gear oil transfusions is that I don’t know if I can get a replacement oil seal for the axle bearing. Old Italian tractor with parts sized in metrics. That might be a bit of a challenge.

A closer look at the mesh fence
Recycled materials used to build raised beds w/ mesh fence

After we got all. of the raised beds built and filled we installed a temporary fence. This fence is only good enough to keep the chicken, ducks and geese out of the garden. If a moose wants in there is no stopping it with this plastic mesh fence. The moose would simply walk right through as if no fence existed. Did not put up permanent fencing as yet because Summer isn’t quite certain how much more area she may want for her raised beds. We could easily install 6-8 more raise beds adjacent to the ones we just built.

The disaster inside the Conex

Well that’s about it for this week. Monday is supposed to be a rain day. Rainy days are housework days. Ciao!

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