21 May 2020 Thursday It is a pretty day. Sun in and out of the clouds and not too hot and not too cold.. Got up into the lower 60s. I spent part of the day on the tractor. Moving dirt to fill in holes and level parts of the area where Summer wants more raised beds. Also, picking up rocks and moving them to one pile or another. If rocks were dollar bills we would be millionaires several times over. We made a dump run, stopped at the grocery store and Summer wanted to visit a local greenhouse to get more marigolds to deter the aphids. We’re not exactly living ‘la vida loca’ or la vida es bella’.
The Republican Governor announced that Alaska would be open for business at 8:00 AM Friday. That is the good news. The bad news is that the Lib/Prog/Socialist/Democrat Mayor of Anchorage and the mayors of some of the other smaller towns are still delaying the opening of all businesses. What surprises me about this is that incorporated cities and towns are authorized by the state government. You can’t just plop down somewhere and declare yourself to be a town. You must be authorized and chartered by the state. This should mean that these incorporated entities must obey state law and directives as they exist at the behest of the state. Were I the governor I’d issue a demand to reopen Anchorage and if the various mayors did not comply I’d send in the the local Sheriff, the state troopers and the National Guard, if necessary. Screw the lawsuit route. We wouldn’t want the courts mussing about in that for which they have no interest or jurisdiction. Incorporated entities of this ilk are clearly a sub-entities of the state government and they are failing to comply with a lawful order. Oh! About lawful orders when did the US Constitution start allowing states and cities to abrogated the First Amendment? I was just wondering.
The tractor’s left axle oil leak is getting worse. I keep having to add gear oil every couple of hours just to make sure that I don’t break an axle or screw up the bearings or gears in the front drive assembly. This is a problem that absolutely must be addressed very soon. I still have 15-20 yards of dirt that I still need to move. We can’t really afford to spend 12-15 thousand dollars for another tractor. On the other hand, you do what you have to do. I guess I’ll just muddle along until I can find a stopping point.
I had every intention of crawling under the house and working on the house leveling. Now that the frost has thawed, the back of the house has settled back to its’ normal height. That left the center of the house higher than the back or the front. I need to lower the center and then make final adjustments and call it done. This will allow for the insulation and skirting back on the house. Insulation and skirting will likely eliminate the need to have the heat tapes on the pipes constantly turned on in the winter. This costs a lot of money for electricity in the winter. This will, also, allow for the kitchen to be completed and a bunch of other interior remodeling. BUT with all of the running around in town the day was shot before I got to go under. The house will, eventually, be finished. I hope to be alive to see it.
Well that’s it for me today. It’s already 5 o’clock over most of America which means it is VODKA:30. Buh Bye.
20 May 2020 Wednesday Today is a one of the kind for the month. At 10:20 PM tonight and in 24 hour time it will be 20:20 20 May 2020. Of course, the same thing happens every month of this year. This is, apparently, a special year. Various state governments have stumbled and bumbled through the C-19 overreaction “Flattening the pandemic curve”for over two months now. Republican governors were relatively quick in their reopening their states whilst Democrat governors are holding back the reopening of theirs. Either way both were and are destroying the American economy and impoverishing their citizens in a Main Stream Media driven panic. Pandemic is a scary word used for full effect by the MSM. A pandemic is a spread of a disease across a continent or continents. That means that people all over the world are contracting the same disease. Every flu season is a ‘pandemic’. Are you panicked every flu season?
19 May 2020 Tuesday Did not write an official blog post. It rained off and on all day. Summer worked through the day planting all of starts in the new raised beds. My only official actions were to string a line to hang her flower baskets and cut some posts for the raised bed attached to the Tomato Palace.
Today I hauled gravel. We needed to fill the drainage ditch that leads the French drain, across the back of the house, down hill and away from the house. This attempt to dry up the ground under the house is likely to fail but I’m gonna give it a shot. Worst case is that It will stop some of the water, if not all of it. I can live with that outcome.
The other problem, nay opportunity, is the ceiling fan that has been sitting on the floor in my bedroom for so long that I’ve don’t know how long. The box presented a flat surface. The entire Steele family for generations have been afflicted with FSD (Flat Surface Disease). If there is a flat surface we will pile stuff up on it until things start to fall off. The ceiling fan box was no exception. That may be why it languished for months on the floor of my bedroom. It was buried under a pile of other stuff. However, today was the day. I hung the darned thing. It took me almost two hours to do a forty-five minute job. The fun started when I had to stand on the bed to reach the light fixture. Taking that down was fairly easy as it was just hanging there by the two power wires. My bed when I lie down on it feels like a slab of concrete covered by an inch of foam. BUT when I was standing on it, it is unlikely that nothing could have been squishier outside of a Louisiana swamp. The process just went power sliding down hill from the moment I stepped onto the bed. I’m trying desperately to balance myself and put screws in little holes. I kept dropping the damned screws which immediately disappeared into the quilt folds. I found a couple of them by accidentally stepping on them with my bare feet. At long last, I got the hanger, the motor and the motor shroud installed. Then came the installing of the blades. The motor swivel is so loose that when I put the first blade on it tilted the motor so that it was next to impossible to put another blade on the motor. I ended up bringing in a long board to prop up the installed blade and level the motor. Of course, I did this after spending 10 minutes trying to get the next blade on. All told, it took over 30 minutes to get the five blades installed. Oh! About those demon blades. Every one of them had to have three rubber grommets installed before they could be screwed to the metal blade holder thing that attaches to the motor. Then there as the light fixture with 6 itty bitty screws all of which I dropped, at least once. At the blessed end of the installation, the wall switch was thrown and it all worked. In fact, the fan ran so quietly on the low speed that you had to look up at it to be sure that is was running.
I made a pitcher of sweet tea had a bite of lunch. After lunch I took Sheila, the dump truck, and got 4 yards of gravel. This I dumped in the yard and spread it out with the tractor. You can only get the material to a certain level of smoothness with a tractor. Therefore, I spent about and hour shoveling and raking so that the gravel would be all pretty and smooth or was that pretty smooth. Whatever.
Today was a beautiful sunny day. The temp outside was in the 60s. I took the Summer’s garden tour and then helped her where to plant some additional items. We still have potatoes, corn and three kinds of beans to be planted. They need to be planted very soon, if we are to be able to harvest them before the cold comes again.
Well that’s it for today. Tomorrow will be another exciting day on the homestead.
18 May 2020 Monday As predicted this is a rain day. Cannot believe that the weather prediction was correct. I guess it’s like a stopped clock; Correct twice a day. Rainy days are house cleaning days so that is what I did. Also stripped my bed and ran all of that through Bob’s Launderette. I spent much of the day catching up on last weeks’ blog post. I was so busy last week that I got days behind. Today was a day of doing very little. I took a few pictures.
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 CDCmortality 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Well that’s about it for this week. Monday is supposed to be a rain day. Rainy days are housework days. Ciao!
13 May 2020 Wednesday. A beautiful sunny day. Absorbed my usual too much coffee for one human being. I was having one of those day. I just wasn’t feeling it. My ‘get up and go’ had got up and went. Everything was a like slogging thru knee deep swamp mud. I had the project of finishing the door side of the hoop house. There seemed to be a constant, unseen effort to keep me from finishing. It should have taken 30-40 minutes. In the end it was about two hours. Time, also, flies when you aren’t having fun.
The hoop house completion wasn’t my first activity of the day. I took the dump truck to East End Services and purchased another four yards of top soil. Since Aftershock rebuilt the carburetor the dump truck runs infinitely better. I am climbing hills without having to downshift and when I do have to down shift it is only one gear down. A good example is the Greer Road hill. I don’t know what percentage of grade it is but it is very steep. Before the carb repair I’d have to shift into the low gear axle and be in 2nd gear to climb the hill and the truck was really straining to do it. I came up the hill today with 4 yards of very wet top soil. I climbed the Greer Road hill in the low gear axle but in 4th gear. I, actually, had to slow down to turn on to our street. I am ecstatic about the improvement in the performance. I said “She’s a keepah” like the old Foster’s Australian beer commercials. I always like to give the equipment a name just because it is a verbal shortcut. When I had the HVAC business years ago I could tell an employee to “Take Bertha and go pick up the old unit at the the Tinkerson’s house, Bill”. That way Bill instantly knew which truck to use for the job. Since I used the phrase above I decided that the dump truck should be named Sheila. In Australian vernacular a woman or a girl is often referred to as a Sheila. So Sheila it is. She’s a big orange girl with a whole lot of personality.
After finishing the hoop house, I decide to rotor till an area that gets sun all day. Summer wants to plant some corn and I thought that this area would do. Tilling up here in the dirt that has about 10 rocks per foot, is a project. I hit several rocks large enough to stall the tiller completely. I, also, tilled up sticks and a part of an old bed frame. How part of a bed frame got into the ground is a mystery without a single clue. How ever it managed to get there it brought the tiller to a dead stop. While I was about to restart the tiller I looked over to where the tractor was parked. I saw a large oil leak under the tractor. The source of the leak was a faulty gasket. Apparently, the guy i bought the parts tractor from had removed the outer axle assembly and destroyed the gasket. I did not know his or I would have repaired it at the same time I put the new gasket on the inner axle assembly. This discovery led to moving the tractor back up to the Conex area and jacking it up. I took off the tire and pulled all of the bolts out of the axle assembly only to discover that the axle wouldn’t come out. This led to manufacturing a tool to pull the axle. I needed a slide hammer and, of course, I didn’t have one big enough for the job. I went to my ‘possibles pile’ and found a short piece of angle iron. This I took to the drill press and put the holes in it to match the lug bolts on the axle and one in the center for the slide rod. After that I scrounged around and found only two of the four nuts I needed on the threaded rod I was using to hold the slide hammer weight. This meant that I needed to go to the hardware store to complete the assembly. BUT it was 5:00 PM and I was just too tired. This was a project to be continued on Thursday. As I stated earlier my ‘get up and go’ was gone.
Summer went to Dan’s house for dinner and I ate a couple of TV dinners washed down with sweet tea. I seemed like a very long day even though I didn’t get started until about 10:00 AM.
11 May 2020 Monday. I, at last, got to sleep around 3:00 AM this morning. I stayed up until about 1:00 AM finishing up my blog for last week. After that I took a shower and toddled off to bed to toss and turn for an eternity. It was raining when I went to sleep and I woke up to continuing rain. Rain was a good thing today. The house work has been neglected because of all the work to be done outside. I know it isn’t my place to do so but I am worried about the American Economy. It is truly keeping me awake nights. I am afraid that this Corroded Virus shut down is destroying tens of thousands of small businesses permanently. These are businesses with very little operating capital and that will not come back ever. We are ripping the guts out of our country for no good reason. Yeah, people are dying. The problem is that in the U.S. over 500 people die everyday from all sorts of ailments or accidents. If you subtract that 500 from the current reported death rate and the C-Virus death rate goes down substantially. It is an absolute fact that many of those deaths are being attributed to the Corroded Virus rather than the true cause. At this point, we do not know how many people are, actually, dying from the virus. The truth is that most, if not all, of the viral related deaths can be attributed to serious underlying problems exacerbated by the virus. Many of these people that were already in the queue for assuming room temperature. That may seem insensitive, but at 75 years of age with high blood pressure, I am in that queue. You can argue that people without underlying health issues are dying and you could possibly be correct. Or it might be that these, apparently, healthy people had some undiagnosed ailment that was exacerbated by the virus. Hospitals are being paid substantially more for a virus death than a ‘natural causes’ death. This could be an incentive to label every death as C-Virus deaths. This would push the death rate far above the actual death rate. We may have “flattened the curve” by flat lining the economy. If we wait much longer the ability to resuscitate the economy is likely to have passed. Okay, I climbing down from my ‘soap box’.
Back to the house work being neglected. I am a clean freak and this current situation is driving me crazy. The house is and has been under construction. We are congregants at the Church of Our Lady of Constant Construction. Therefore, cleaning floors means cleaning the sub-floor. We’ve been waiting over a month for the hardwood flooring that we’ve ordered. Add to that when we do get the flooring, it will still have to be held in the house for several weeks to acclimate it to the environment. The walls cannot be cleaned as there is no covering on the walls. Only wall covering is the insulation stapled between the studs. The wall can’t be covered as the house is not yet level. Therefore, the cleaning consists of sweeping and vacuuming the floors, cleaning the temporary kitchen counters and loading the dishwasher. Of course, bathrooms have to be cleaned. Commodes, sinks and tubs are a dirty job but somebody has to do it. The entire process of cleaning the parts of the house that can be cleaned takes only a couple of hours. I didn’t have anything to do after completing these chores so I dragged them out a bit. The only other project for the day is taking out of the house stuff that we have brought in for temporary use and never removed when the need was over.
12 May 2020 Tuesday Today we almost finished the little half hoop house at the end of the big tent. We had driven in the metal rods into the ground on Sunday then Summer had to work on Monday and then it rained all day. This put us a day behind on the project. To further delay the project, today Summer had some town chores to do and I got the call that the dump truck was repaired and ready to go. Summer dropped me off and I got the dump truck and went next door to the materials yard and purchased 4 yards of top soil for Summer’s garden projects. Summer and I arrived home at about the same time. I backed the truck down as near as possible to the greenhouse and dumped the dirt. When we saw what landed on the ground we were a bit upset. There were huge hard clumps of dirt and very little usable loose dirt. A quick call to the materials yard got an explanation. These chunks were simply frozen chunks of the top soil. The little bit of moisture had caused it to freeze solid. We had a good laugh as it simply didn’t occur to us that these offending chunks were just frozen dirt. After that I started up the tractor (newly repaired) and dumped a bunch of the new dirt into the hoop house. We started our work day at about 10:00 AM and I quit at just after 8:00 PM. Summer had quit a little earlier to move her plants back inside and to prepare supper. As for the hoop house it is like my old friend, Bobby Cecil, used to say “All we lack is finishing.” What I lack is framing in the door and close up the door side of he hoop house. It’ll probably take me about and hour to finish it up.
I have to tell you that I’m scared silly. Not but the prospect of contracting the Corroded Virus but by the willful destruction of the American economy. I am appalled by the lack of backbone of the American citizens. We are cowering in our homes whilst the government, mostly Leftist Blue States, are crashing the economy. When I say we, I don’t mean me or Summer, I me all of you out there. The simple truths about the C-19 virus is that there is no cure, not likely to ever be a cure and it will only go away after just about everyone has had a bout of it. If you know these simple truths, why are you cowering in your home and accepting Dr Fauci’s gloom and doom predictions. Who runs this country? Do we run this country or do a bunch of unelected bureaucrats run it? I just read today that Los Angeles County has closed down until August. There will be no businesses to reopen by August. Even in Georgia, Florida and here in Alaska the government has been ignoring the three simple facts. The net result they have all but destroyed their economies even though they are ‘reopening”. If there is no cure, likely never going to be a cure and everyone is going to get it eventually, WHY ARE WE DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY? While I will vote for President Trump in November, I am truly pissed off at him. He is allowing this Dr. Fauci character, a Lib/Prog/Democrat, to dictate the destruction of the American economy and the lives of millions of Americans. If we completely opened up the country it is likely that thousands of old farts like myself with some underlying health problem, for me high blood pressure, will be dying like flies. OR MAYBE NOT. There is no other option except to open the country. Even if some percentage of the elderly population is going to become very ill (including myself) and some of them will die there is simply no way we can continue on this crazy shutdown. Okay, I’m crawling down off my soap box yet again.
While were we working on the hoop house, a cow moose walked across the yard barely 50 feet from where we stood. The cow seemed to be disinterested and not bothered by the racket we were making in the construction process. She was big and bloated which is to say that she was very pregnant and likely due at any time. She wandered on down the hill and out of sight. After she was gone, Summer let the dogs out. Taco, the Chihuahua with a big dog attitude, climbed upon a dirt pile and was looking down the hill. I guess he could see where the cow bedded down. He made no effort to go down the hill to chase the moose. About two years ago, he learned a valuable lesson. A cow with two calves walked through the yard and he took up the chase. The cow and the calves ran for maybe fifty feet and then the cow turned around and began chasing Taco. In a full speed, all out retreat he was barely able to stay ahead of the cow. That day he learned a valuable lesson without paying any significant price. I wish that I had been so lucky to learn valuable lessons without having to suffer the price. Almost every lesson I’ve learned has had some price to be paid. Some of them had prices far steeper than I ever expected.
Tomorrow Summer has to go to work tomorrow and I’ll go get another load dirt. I’m looking forward to another day of progress on the homestead. See Ya.
O3 May 2020 Sunday Was a lazy day. Didn’t get started on my projects until after 1:00. Got the right front axle extension and the right front tire on the tractor and on the parts tractor. The parts tractor rim that was on the left side had the stud holes wallowed out so I swapped it for the right wheel. This will give me a better rim for the left side of the ‘good’ tractor. The rim will still need to be sandblasted and painted orange to match the other rims. Will be taking the rims down for the tire swapping on Monday.
I am, usually, immune to bees. Yet, on Saturday, as I was trying to place the new queen in the hive I was attacked by dozens of bees. I was holding the new queen in my left hand and they just swarmed my hand and I got 15-20 stings. My left hand and wrist were attacked with a vengeance. In addition, I got stung in several places on my forehead.I can normally stand amongst the bees and do whatever needs to be done with no protection. Not on Saturday. My hand and wrist are swollen up big time. I guess I’ll have to be more careful in the future.
04 May 2020 Monday I still have a swollen hand and wrist. Been taking a lot of Benadryl. I am lethargic from the Benadryl and getting nothing done. Sat on my butt all day. The only thing I accomplished was to make 12 hornet traps. Up here Yellow Jackets are called hornets. Since Yellow Jackets are in the hornet family, it makes sense. Yellow jackets are the murderer of honey bees and it hurts like hell when they ting you. I found that out las week when one, inadvertently, flew up the sleeve of my coat. The little bugger stung me 4 times before I smashed him/her against my arm. Therefore, I have two reasons to trap and kill as many as possible. The traps are constructed from repurposed plastic water bottles. The trap has the top cut off and inverted into the bottle. Bugs get in but can’t find their way out. Will be baiting the traps and putting them all around the property. It rained off and on all day. This precluded much outdoor work so I spent much of the day doing piddily little projects inside. One thing was to make the above mentioned hornet traps. Much of the downstairs house cleaning is partially on hold due to the two large windows where Summer’s seeded out plants that are not yet planted in the garden. The tomatoes were moved out a couple of days ago and that cleared up some floor space. I am looking forward to getting all of the plants moved and planted in the garden. However, the moving of the plants hinges upon getting the dump truck back from the repair shop. With the truck back in service, I can haul dirt to fill all of the planting boxes that we have and some that Summer is building this week. In addition, I need to haul 4-5 truck loads of gravel to make a better parking place for our 34’ travel trailer. The point of moving the travel trailer is too be able to AIR B&B it. This will bring in some extra cash. We expect that most of the renters will be people from Anchorage that come to the Homer area to fish. Saltwater fishing is a big deal in the area. Many people bring their boats and stay for the entire weekend. We have plenty of room for them to park their boat so that will be attractive to the fishing crowd.
05 May 2020 Tuesday First project of the day was to get the tractor tires to the tire shop. Because of the rain, I did not get to sandblast the rim that I’m going to put on the good tractor. I skipped that this morning in order to get the tires changed to be able to get the tractor to the welding shop for a minor repair. My hand and wrist were still swollen so I made a doctor appointment, since I had to go to town with the tires anyway. Later. Couldn’t get a same day doctor appointment. Summer decided that she had to go to town so I sent her to the tire shop with the tractor tires. I stayed home and built shelving inside of the Conex. While installing the shelving the plywood into the metal shelving unit, I managed to cut a U-shaped hole in my first finger knuckle. I bled like a stuck hog for a few minutes. I went on and finished cutting and installing three more pieces of plywood into the shelving unit. The bleeding stopped after about ten minutes but the shelving told the tale. Now I’m walking around with both hands injured. I finished the shelving and went inside to wash off the dried blood and poured some peroxide onto the injury. A large bandaid and a small vodka later, I went back to picking up stuff off the floor of the Conex. My hoarder’s aisle rapidly disappeared. This moving of material led to my tossing much of it into the trash bin.
06 May 2020 Wednesday. Spent the day doing small chores. I changed the oil and filter on the tractor. I need it to be ready to go when we get the tires back from the shop. Speaking of tires, I called the shop and was told that they hadn’t gotten to them yet. This is tire changeover time in Alaska. People are having their winter tires removed and summer tires installed. This rush to change tires has put our tractor tires on the back burner. With the tire holdup continuing, I continued my shelf building project. As quickly as I completed a shelving unit it seemed to magically fill up with stuff off the floor. My poor bee attacked left hand is still swollen and what is the injury to my 1st finger knuckle is still feeling just a wee bit painful. I picked up a couple of 50 pound sacks of chicken feed and broke the skin open again. More bleeding that required a changing of the bandage. Checked on the dump truck and was told that it still isn’t ready. Between the holdup of the tractor tires and the holdup on the dump truck we are getting very damned little done. Summer needs 3-4 loads of dirt for her garden projects and I need 4-5 loads of gravel to finish some of the projects around the property. Without the dump truck and the tractor we are at a very frustrating standstill.
07 May 2020 Thursday. Crawled out of bed and guzzled my usual 32 ounces of coffee. My previously made doctor appointment was at 10:30. The main reason for the appointment was to be rid of the cough caused by taking the blood pressure med, Lisinopril. I needed to be off that med because it has become almost constant problem. It is causing people to look askance at me when I go into the stores in town. Between the cough and constant clearing of my throat are driving me crazy. I didn’t cough this much when I was smoking 4-5 packs of cigarettes every day. Back then, I would often have one cigarette already lit while lighting another, I had fewer respiratory irritation problems. Currently, my lungs are, as usual, clear but this constant clearing of the throat and coughing has to stop. 10:15 I arrive at the health clinic only to be met in the parking lot by a nurse wearing goggles, mask, gloves and what appeared to be operating room garb. She had a clip board with a list of near 20 questions that she was tasked to ask every newly arriving patient. I answered “No” to all of them and she told me to wait in my truck. A few minutes later she appeared with another clipboard with a form for me to look at and make sure all of the information was correct. I stayed in my truck and continued to listen to Rush while I waited. About 20 minutes later a male nurse wearing only a mask as a Corroded Virus deterrent. After that the visit continued as usual except that I was required to wear a proven useless mask. The upshot of all this rigamarole is that I’m off the Lisinopril. The doctor said it might be as much as two weeks before the cough goes away. I can hardly wait. I left the clinic and proceeded to the dump to drop off yesterday’s collection of trash. After that I went to the grocery store to get some “Make your own Dinner” food. After that I stopped at the tire shop and found that the tractor tires were ready. They loaded them up for me and separated me from some cash. On the way home, I checked in with the garage and found that the dump truck carburetor was still not repaired. I’m not really sure what the holdup is at this point. Whatever it is, it is creating problems for me and Summer. The welding shop where I wanted to have some minor repair to the tractor done was closed. The owner, Charlie, is in his late 60s. I guess he is trying to avoid the Corroded Virus. Decided that I would just do a ‘work around’ for the welding project. Time for lunch. After lunch I got the tires out of the truck and installed the tire onto the ‘parts’ tractor. About the time I got this done, it began to rain. The welding ‘work around’ will have to wait until tomorrow. The ground has dried so we were out of mud. I guess it was time for more mud. A few hours later, after the rain stopped, the wind arrived. During the balance of the night there was much noise outside as things not secured were blown around. There were numerous gusts so strong that they shook the house. I went to bed at midnight and slept through the continued mayhem outside.
08 May 2020 Friday I started the tractor today. Put in the battery, turned the key and it jumped to life. It had not been started since last Fall, maybe September. I love diesel engines. They can be left for months and will start right up when you turn the key. Sun is out and white puffy clouds abound. No rain is predicted so I can get on with the sandblasting of the rim for the ‘good’ tractor. Life is good. Much Later. Got out the sand blaster an assembled it, sort of. The water separator could not be installed as the handle of the built in cart was in the way. Made a trip to the hardware store and bought a longer pipe so as to clear the handle. With this problem solved, I finished the assembly process. Once the Separator was installed and I turned on the air, I found that the Separator was cracked and leaking. Off to the hardware store for a second time to purchase a new Separator. Back at the ranch, I tried to install the new Separator and found that I had failed to note that the pipe size for this new one was different from the old one. Third trip to hardware store to get the proper pipe fittings. Plumbingof any kind is a guaranteed three trip to the hardware store day for me. Again home and, finally, assembled the sandblaster. Started the air compressor and filled the sandblaster with air. Had just over 100 PSI of air pressure but the damned thing wasn’t taking any paint off the rim. I wasted over three hours screwing with this Harbor Freight piece of junk. While fuming over the expense (just over $35) in an attempt to make this borrowed POS work, I remembered that I had found a gallon of paint stripper while I was attempting to organize the Conex. Figuring that the outcome couldn’t be any worse, I sprayed that on both sides of the rim. We’ll see tomorrow, if the stripper removes 20+ year old paint. Getting the remnants of the paint off is a necessity in order to properly treat and stop the rust. The only other impediment to getting the tractor running is the strut I had to cut to get the axle assembly off. I couldn’t get the patch welded so I decided to reenforce it with an additional piece of metal 1/2 inch metal strap. Got the first one off to use as a pattern and drilled the necessary holes. When I went to install the strips of metal, I found that the original bolts that I had used were too short. I dug around through a couple of buckets of bolts and couldn’t find anything even close to long enough. The hardware store had already closed so I resigned myself to picking up the tools and making a vodka refreshment. Dan and Summer had gone into town and come back with burgers and fries from Alice’s Champagne Palace. It was about 7:30 when they very generously provided a burger and fries for my dinner. Several adult beverages and a half a bag of Fritos later, Miss Suzie and I went to bed and, perhaps, to have nightmares about useless sandblasters and too short bolts.
09 May 2020 Saturday Rolled out of bed at a moderately early 8:00 AM. Drank myself fully awake with several cups of coffee. Got fully energized by about 11:00 and went outside to look at the tractor rim. The paint stripper had dried overnight ( the directions said to wash it off after 15-20 minutes) so I had to reapply stripper in order to remove the dried stripper. I had used a wire brush on my grinder to remove the loose paint before applying the stripper. After I hosed it off, it was obvious that not all of the paint was going to come off. 20+ year old paint is, apparently, impervious to the actions of two applications of stripper. Like most things in life ‘You get what you get’. I rolled the tire/rim out into the sun to dry as I had planned to use a product called ‘naval jelly’ to cut the rust off the rim. While that project was on hold, I made yet another trip to the hardware store. This time to get longer bolts for the strut repair. Two hours later and four bolts inserted in their proper places, I had made the temporary repair to the strut. Welding the strut will just have to wait until the welding shop reopens someday. This put me ready to paint the naval jelly rust remover onto the rim. This was supposed to be another wait 15 minutes and hose it off except I got wrapped up in helping Summer and forgot about it. A couple of hours later and the naval jelly had dried. Had to spray another coat of it to get the first coat off. I was very surprised to see areas of clean bare metal when I got the crud removed. I rolled it out to a sunny spot to dry. I wanted to paint the rim as soon as I could. I have been attempting to repair the tent that collapsed from too much snow on the roof in the past winter. A lot of the poles and fittings were damaged in the collapse so I’m having to try to straighten some of them and figure out how to repair the tent with parts missing. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time to do everything that needs to be done. My last official act of today was putting a first coat of paint on both sides of the tractor rim. Tomorrow I’ll finish the painting and get the tire onto the tractor. At last, I will have completed a job. Everything else seems to be beset with one seemingly intractable problem or another. Gave up on accomplishing anything today and quit at about 7: 45. The time for vodka had arrived. Tacos for dinner with some Louisiana Hot Sauce and sweet iced tea. Whoopee!!!!
10 May 2020 Sunday I got up this morning before breakfast. Which is to say about 9:00 AM. Made the coffee, had some toast and between the first and second cup of coffee I put a second coat of paint on the rim. Second cup of coffee always leads to the news. I scanned The London Daily Mail, Drudge, Breitbart and some other lesser news outlets for about and hour sipping the third cup of coffee. Gotta get them 32 ounces of caffeine every morning regardless of what else needs to happen. Later, I put a third coat of paint on the rim. Summer was cleaning up the pile of debris and stuff that we had carelessly piled in front of the greenhouse. You must cross the front of the greenhouse and access the spring box to turn on the water. This meant that you had to pick your way through large rocks, a roll of TYPAR, a couple of old pallets, a number of broken and discarded pots, etc. It was a mess that we’d become blind to. Suddenly yesterday I saw it. I’d only been walking around and through it for 7-8 months. I amongst this junk pile was some heavy plastic pipe that I salvaged from the dump last summer. Someone had dismantled a hoop house and toss the plastic ribs into the dump. While we were cleaning up the mess Summer and I decided that she needed a place to put her tomatoes that she had planted in Homer buckets. Right now she had them set in the greenhouse between the rows of other veggies. It is inconvenient to move around in the greenhouse as they seem to be constantly in the way. This led to the construction of a Lean-To half a hoop house. I built a frame that I attached to the exposed big tent floor joist. We needed some piping to drive into the ground to hold the lower end of the plastic pipe ribs. We went shopping in my pile of ‘possibles’ and found 30 feet of old steel gas line. This I cut into 2 foot lengths after spending 30 minutes, maybe more, trying to find the correct tools to take the saw apart and install the metal cutting blade. My Conex workshop is still not well organized. Therefore, I can remember seeing the needed tool but exactly where is the mystery.
The hoop house project was put on hold as Summer had to go into town for something. I didn’t ask and she didn’t volunteer. Anyway, I really don’t want or need to know everything she does. I have quite enough trouble just keeping myself going in a straight line. While she was gone I got the tire onto the tractor. The operating tractor made it mandatory that I go move some dirt. I moved dirt, flattened humps and satisfied myself that we would get a few more days or maybe weeks use out of it before something else broke. Upon Summer’s return the hoop house project began in earnest. While she was out galavanting around in the big city of Homer, I gather up the tools and things we would need to build the hoop house. At 6:30 Summer had done all of the work she wanted to do for the day and went in to make dinner. At 7:30, I had installed the last tack board to which the plastic sheeting would be attached. I put in 8 hours today and am trying to do that everyday as the Spring-Summer-Fall seems to only last about 15 minutes
I went inside just in time to get a plate full of pancakes and a couple of sausage patties. Breakfast for supper. It was good. We’d been given a bottle of real Maple syrup. I put it on my pancakes and I have to say I was a little disappointed. I have never had the real Maple syrup and had heard people rave about how good it was. I was a little disappointed. I added some Mrs Butterworths to it. The sausage came from a neighbor who had slaughtered a hog a couple of weeks back. It was pretty good sausage. My Dad made better but their sausage was pretty good and had the added bonus of being free.
Well, it’s 12:30 AM on Monday. Guess I’ll take a shower and go to bed.
I have been extremely busy these past few weeks. I thought I could summarize it and bring you to speed. Although, most of you read my Dad’s postings you know what’s been going on on the homestead from his point of view.
I’ve been trying to get the greenhouse ready for planting, setting up for new bees, and getting ready for hatching eggs as well. So, here’s what’s been going on.
I was given 6 hens for Fabio. He has been very lonely since his girl DB was murdered by a dog. So, I posted an ad on Homer Communications on Facebook and it was answered with 6 hens! They are very very nice too. They come up to me and dad and I can pet them. They follow us everywhere on the stead. I really really like having them.
We built the new bee bench on a Thursday to prepare for the coming of the bees on that Saturday. And the bees are in place.
We have new babies! I thought I would try to hatch out some geese! I did and I ended up with 4 cutie pies! They started hatching on Saturday, the same day I was picking up my bees. All four are healthy.
UPDATE: I sold them to my two best friends and they are doing well.
During this time, I was also trying to get the greenhouse ready for planting. We had the geese and ducks over winter in it and they destroyed the bails of hay I was storing in there. Which means dad and I had to scrape hay and poop off the floor of the greenhouse. It was about 6-8 inches of hay and crap! It took us all day to clear it out. Then, the next day I raked the rest out and then dad and I shoveled more dirt into the house. After this exhausting part of the process dad ran the tiller through the dirt to mix it all together. It smells! Smells like composted goose poop, hay, and dirt. The smell of hopefully a successful garden.
After tilling the dirt, I had to furrow it. This was exhausting! It was me and a hoe. Once I finished it was drink thirty and I was done for the day! Since, we had all that hay in the greenhouse (which was a big mistake) I am going to have to use ground cloth to grow in to keep the weeds down.
Here I have started the ground cloth but I ran out of ground staples so I had to post pone finishing. I did get my netting up for my beans, pea and cucumbers!
Weather is getting warmer. We are going up into the low 50’s and with the sun out its short sleeve shirt weather! I’m hoping in the next 2 weeks we get to the high 50’s low 60’s! Tank top weather! It’s already tank top weather in the greenhouse. We no longer have snow and mud in it’s place. The mud has dried up a bit on the property so that’s freaking awesome.
There is still so much to do! I need to build some raised beds for the rest of the winter crops that I have started. As you can see with the pictures above, I still have lots to go into the ground.
I will be making the raised beds out of old wood slabs from a saw mill. It’s gonna look really cool! They will kinda look like log cabin frames. I’m gonna make 4 of them or maybe 5. I would like to dedicate one to really nice cutting flowers. I am so happy when I’m working in the garden. It’s my happy place.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.