Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to you intrepid freedom fighters in America

27 May 2020 Wednesday Another beautiful day in paradise. I spent most of the day trying to get the travel trailer ready to sell. The biggest problem after the water leak is that the heaters needed to be serviced. One did run but made a terrible screeching noise and the other did not run at all. I pulled the screeching unit out. I suspected that there were bad bearings in the blower motor. Once it was out, I spun the blower wheel and it was smooth as silk. I couldn’t ascertain why it was previously making such a noise. I wired it back into the trailer and tried to turn it on. It did not run. Further checking found that there was no power to the unit. The blower motor moves the warm air. It must, also, be operating before the unit will light as it supplies the draft air for the combustion of the propane. With no power applied nothing happens. At this point I was mystified. The heater is a 12 volt unit so it should have run. There was power available as I had installed a new battery. It wasn’t running and there was no power. I decided that maybe it needed to have the main power system needed to be activated. This led to dragging out the diesel generator that would supply the 240 volts to the trailer. It took me over an hour to get it out of the Conex and drag it about 30 feet to a point where I could get to it with the tractor. The thing is a major hunk of iron. It must weigh over 150 pounds. I loaded into the tractor bucket and then realized that I could not hook it up to the trailer. The plug on the trailer power cord did not match the receptacle on the generator. The generator hadn’t been started in nearly three years. Of course, the battery was dead and it was out of fuel. I poured a couple of gallons of diesel into it and pulled a power cord to hook up the battery charger. While I waited, I moved more rocks for the planter I’d started yesterday. Mashed my thumb while rolling rocks into the tractor bucket. Another time when it hurts so good you want to do it again.

Planter in progress
Mama Moose and her two babies
Mama and babies walking into the sunset

Got through with the efforts to complete the planter. I’d had enough of the rock moving business. I decided to go back to the trailer. The propane furnaces. Neither of them run and I have no idea why. I spent about 20 minutes looking for a fuse panel or a breaker panel. I figured there must be a blown fuse or tripped breaker. It is a 12 volt system so there had to be a panel somewhere. I didn’t find it and it was after 5:30 PM and Summer came home with the receptacle I had asked her to get on her way home. I got the the generator hooked up to the trailer and still the furnaces did not run. Tomorrow I will open every panel, pull out all of the drawers and I will find this hidden panel.

Summer went to Dan’s for dinner. She had cooked the Steakums sandwich meat before she left. I sliced some onions and bell pepper and sauteed them in some avocado oil. A toasted bun w/mayonaise, some sliced tomato, meat and the sauteed onion/bell pepper made a wonderful sandwich.

Anyway I finished my dinner sandwich whilst watching Hoarders-Buried Alive. those are some scary people. Goodnight.

Dad’s Alaska

A toast to my former shipmates of the USS Ponchatoula AO-148

26 May 2020 Tuesday I started the day by climbing atop the travel trailer. I needed to install the roofing barrier to stop the leaking roof. I tried to install it but Alaska weather isn’t hot enough to activate the adhesive on the roofing sealer. This fact led to a search for my propane torch. It is in the Conex somewhere. In fact, there are two in there somewhere. After about 45 minutes of pawing through boxes I called Summer, who had gone into Homer, and had her buy another torch. Now I own three. I know the location of one of them. The others are a mystery. Maybe I’ll dial 911 and have the search and rescue guys try to find the damned things. After Summer came home with the new torch, I was able to heat the adhesive and make the roof seal stick like it was designed to do. The job wasn’t too bad except that I stuck my finger into the hot tar adhesive by accident. It hurt so good that I considered doing it again.

Dan called me. He told me that he had the repair panel for the interior ceiling damage ready. That was good news. The problem is that I needed another person to help me install it and Summer had not been feeling well all day. She went to town because she had to do so. But now she was feeling so bad that I sent her to bed. Of course, that ended the travel trailer project for the day. There were three jobs that required two people and I was one short. I figured that I might as well break for lunch. Had the potato soup leftover from the previous evening. I used the last half sleeve of crackers.

The travel trailer on all of its’ glory

After lunch I decided to make a flower bed around a lone spruce tree by the road. It is only about 20 yards from our house and Summer’s new greenhouse and plant business would likely benefit from a pretty flower garden. Of course, it will be next year before the business gets fully operational but putting some perennials in now will make it beautiful next Spring.

Flower bed in progress
greenhouse update

I put down the weed block cloth and then started outlining the area with rocks. Like I have said previously, “If rocks were dollars we’d be Bill Gates”. This endeavor took up most of my afternoon. Late in the day Summer came outside and found the newly hatched goslings wandering the yard. They should have been in the pen with their mother but she was still sitting on unhatched eggs and not attentive to them. Their escape led Summer to round them up and bring them inside the house. She put them in a plastic bin box with a heat lamp keeping them warm. In the box they had food, water and protection from hungry predators outside. Summer said, that if nothing happens to them by Friday, she’ll sell them. Eight bucks apiece and almost no overhead costs is a wonderful thing.

Midnight last night
Summer’s 4 wheeler

Tomorrow I’m going tear into the propane heaters on the travel trailer. I need to get them working before the unit can be sold. Shouldn’t be much of a problem as I have worked on gas appliances for years. I was once a licensed Master Gas Fitter in the State of Alabama. I know that one needs a new blower motor but know absolutely nothing about the other. I’ll, also, take a look at the bedroom slide out. There may be a simple fix for the popping noise as it goes out or comes in.

Two day old goslings

That’s it for me. I’m going to toddle off to bed. Miss Suzy has already called it a day and is sleeping in my lap. Good night.

Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to all of the brave men and women of our military past and present

25 May 2020 Monday I cleaned house, did the dishes and did laundry. I decided to take a shower and change the sheets on my bed. These activities took up my morning.

Today I began the travel trailer inspection. I know all of the obvious problems but I’m looking for the hidden problems that might stop the sale. I found no other problems so I began to work on the roof water leak problem. I figured out that there was a roofing product that I could permanently stop the leak. As it happened Dan, Summer’s significant other, had just finished roofing the addition of his house and had the roofing sealer I needed. He, also, had the wood panel I needed two repair the ceiling inside the trailer. I got the material for the roof. The material couldn’t be installed as there was a lot of old caulk that needed to be removed before the roof sealer could be put installed. I spent about two hours cleaning up the messy, dried caulk. There were a some screws pulled out so I replaced those and this tightened up the joint. Then it started to look like it might rain so I caulked the joint with some water proof caulk and delayed the weather proofing until tomorrow. I decided to break for some lunch at about 2:00 PM.

After a bit of lunch, I took a vacuum cleaner and a broom to the trailer. The interior cleaning was pretty easy. Pick up the bits of trash and vacuum. Swept the tiled areas in the bathroom and kitchen and that completed all I could do today. BTW It didn’t rain. About the time I finished this little project Summer came home from her work.

It was time to quit and start supper.

Dad’s Alaska

Here’s a toast to all the scared silly Millennials.

24 May 2020 Sunday A take it easy day. Summer and I got the travel trailer hooked up to The Beast.

The Beast

When we tried to pull it out one set of wheels had to go over a hump. It wouldn’t go over the hump. The Beast dug some pretty deep holes trying to pull the trailer. I spent ten minutes or so digging the truck out. Several ‘running starts’ were done by backing the trailer up as far as possible and the flooring it in The Beast. No luck. I retrieved the Land Rover and chained that up to The Beast. Together we were able, after a couple of attempts, to drag the trailer over the hump and out onto the gravel next to the road. When I got out of the Rover, I saw trenches that the trailer tires had made coming forward. It was at this time that we realized that we weren’t smart because we had dragged the trailer with the brakes locked. We had forgotten to put the plastic pin into the emergency break away switch on the trailer. If the plastic pin isn’t in place the trailer brakes are automatically locked. It is, apparently, true that you can’t fix stupid. In our defense, it is approaching three years ago when we parked the trailer. Neither of us has been back into it more than, maybe, twice. We haven’t hooked it up or moved it since we arrived in September 2017. Maybe we aren’t that stupid, we simply forgot. Anyway, the travel trailer has been moved to a place where its’ new owner will be able to hitch it up and go. We have some repairs to make. The roof and the back shell had separated when we purchase it three years ago. I patched it up as best I could at the time but over time the caulk had failed. Water has leaked in at the two rear corners and damaged the ceiling. This will have to be repaired before we can sell the unit. There are several other repairs that need to be made. One of the propane gas heaters doesn’t run at all and the other has bad bearings in the blower motor. The sliding privacy door between the lower and upper section has come off the rollers. All of the blades on the ceiling fan are broken. And lastly the slide out for the bedroom is making a funny popping noise and really doesn’t want to slide out. Summer told our neighbor that we were considering selling it AS IS for $5000 and he about had a heart attack he was so excited. He told Summer that we would be foolish to sell it so cheap. We could easily get $10,000, if everything was working properly and that he would help. So-o-o-o-o tomorrow, I’ll be working on the travel trailer instead of the house.

That’s it for me. Vodka:30 came early. What I really need is an early Christmas.

Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to an opening America

23 May 2020 Saturday Got up late becauseffm I stayed up late watching Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. I really like all of those English mystery and police shows. I am a real fan of the English TV shows. Plus the light fools me. It stays daylight up to near 11:00 PM and dusky dark to near midnight. After I got up, I made coffee, toasted an English muffin, stuffed it with a sausage patty with a bit of mustard. After the breakfast of champions, I loaded Miss Suzy and the tractor axle into the Range Rover for the perilous trip into town. First stop NAPA. no luck in getting the bearing pressed on. Carquest, same answer. Alyeska Tire, nope. Tire Town, closed. Otto Machine shop, closed. The fact is that everyone was either closed or did not do that kind of work. This left me with a broken tractor. I’m not one to take ‘No’ for an answer. When I got home I wandered around trying to figure out how to press the bearing onto the axle. I figured out that, if I lowered the drill platform on the drill press and put a half concrete block with some steel bars atop it and put a small hydraulic jack pushing up against the drill press platform. This made a crude bearing press that sort of worked.

Concrete block with metal bars
Axle sitting on the block.
The little tractor restored

I forgot to take the picture the hydraulic jack in place. Anyway, I was able to press the bearing partially onto the axle. Once it started to go onto the axle, I was able to take it off the cobbled together press and very carefully, using a piece of stainless steel bar, tapped the bearing on down to its’ proper place. Getting the snap ring on was a lot more trouble than the bearing. It took some fifteen aggravating minutes but I got the damned snap ring in place. The axle had to be driven into place. It wasn’t hard to drive in because it was only a tight fit for the bearing shell. With the axle back in, I started moving things out of the way of the way so we could move the travel trailer. We have decided that we no longer need the travel trailer and it is in the way of progress. After I moved everything Summer called me in for supper. She had cooked a dry rubber rack of ribs. They were delicious.

The idiots down the hill were having a ‘magic mushroom’ party. The owner of the property grows the mushrooms for food and, apparently, recreation. They were playing some kind of weird music loud enough that you could likely could have heard 10 miles away in Homer. I could hear them even with my TV loud enough for my half deaf ears could hear. There seem to be more pot heads and drug addicts in Alaska per capita than anywhere in the USA.

Well, that’s it for me today.

Dad’s Alaska

Cheers!

22 May 2020 Friday Not a bad day. The sun was in and out all day long. Yesterday Summer picked up an account for most all of the vegetables that she can grow this season. Which means that we will recoup most, if not all, of her expenses for the seeds, dirt and plant starts that she purchased. Maybe she will make some money next year after getting past all of the startup expenses this year. I spent the day moving dirt and rocks. The tractor is leaking gear oil like running it through a sieve. I quit about 3 PM and used the bucket to lift front end of the tractor. I needed to take the axle oil seal out and attempt to find a replacement in town. Not much chance of that but I had to try. I couldn’t keep putting $40 a gallon oil in it just to see it drip out on the ground. I was so frustrated with the damned thing that I just parked it, put the jack stands under it and went inside.

Young moose next to our road

About an hour later, I felt ready to tackle the removal of the wheel, the axle extender and, finally, the six bolts that retain the axle. Again I had to use my homemade slid hammer to get it out. When it came out, I realized that the bearing had stayed in the axle housing. It had done the same thing when I pulled the axle earlier in the week. This led me to inspecting the axle and I found that there was supposed to be a retainer snap ring on the tractor side of the axle bearing. That snap ring was was supposed to hold the bearing in place but it was missing. The missing snap ring allowed the bearing to move just enough that it was not in contact with the seal ring. Net result oil pouring out onto the ground. Apparently, the previous owner of the parts tractor had disassembled the axle and had failed to reassemble it properly. This discovery meant that I had to pull the bearing all the way out of the axle housing. This led to a further discovery that I had nothing with which to pull the bearing. I fumbled around through the tools I have for awhile. After some thought I decided that a smaller piece of metal put on the end of the slid hammer might get the bearing out. I cut a piece of metal just small enough to go through the bearing, drilled a hole in the center and bolted it to the slid hammer. I was able to put it through the bearing. Then by leaning it right or left I was able to use the slid hammer. The leaning made it contact the bearing properly without doing any damage. It only took 4 whacks to pull the bearing. Once the bearing was out I was able to see how the whole thing was supposed to be assembled. The job was simple: find the missing snap ring in all of the extra parts I got with the parts tractor; put the bearing on the axle and install the snap ring put the entire thing back into the tractor. Wrong!!! It turns out that the bearing is a pressed fit. It doesn’t just slip onto the axle. It was about 7 PM when I gave up. Saturday I will get the bearing pressed onto the axle and finish this oily project. Yep. I was splashed with oil again just like the last time. By the time cleaned my hands it was 7PM and quitting time at Tara. I had plenty of daylight left but with no ambition to continue.

Well it’s Vodka:30. Sayonara.

Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to all of us who survived the Great Media Pandemic of 2020.

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.

Why exactly are they not opening schools?

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.

Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to the Grand Opening of America

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?

A Mother Clucker

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.

With fence and planted
Without fence

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.

Gravel spread and raked

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.

Ceiling fan done

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.

Daffy and Dufus Duck

Well that’s it for today. Tomorrow will be another exciting day on the homestead.

Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to no being a knucklehead

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.

The greenhouse is getting greener
11:00 Monday evening

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!