Friday, April 30, 2010

trailer without a hitch...

Calm/cow morning. Ran over to Chuck's to check out the trailer from Charlie O - it's damn near perfect for toting the solar oven around (with some modifications). Turns out it's Aunt Kathy's birthday today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY. AUNT KATHY!!

Towed the new rig home with a hitch borrowed from Chuck. Needs some extra steel, new tires, a hitch of my own, and some tricky design work. Tracked down the rest of my parts for the new swamp cooler. More parts = more thinking = successful building? I'm finally starting to miss working on the greenhouse - I think that is a good sign. Besides...I can't help but notice what still needs to be done every time I go outside.

Benita was absolutely no help today....lazy cow. 71,48,87,0,W

Thursday, April 29, 2010

swamp cooler season is almost here... officially got HOT today. 102 outside and 92 inside. That is unacceptable. That being said - got to work on the new swamp cooler today. Managed to find my soldering iron and a cyclical timer kit I bought last year. Took about an hour to assemble the 30 components onto the circuit board. I reckon a really good weekend project is to get the new improved swamp cooler into service as soon as possible.

New improvements to the big solar oven are working well - up to 275 degrees without the reflectors. Gonna shoot for 10 loaves of bread tomorrow but the rest of the project is on hold. Good news is, I got a lead on a great deal for a trailer -to mount the whole rig on from my former neighbor and good buddy Charlie O.

Light'o'day project this morning....I personalized Benita's water bowl. I doubt that she was able to fathom the significance but it made me feel good as I have been meaning to do this for over a year. Besides....I needed something to update her facebook fanpage. Apparently....some big goons can't read. 88,102,55,0,W Yesterday was 72,96,45,0,B

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Girl Scout Cookies!

Cow time all morning. Ventured out my rain-damaged bumpy road to catch the mailman. Got a shipment of stuff for my birthday from my old high school pal Peter Hill and family. 9 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies and some pasta mix (the two major food groups of the Hill household). Thanks Peter, Donna, Joe and BFF Rachel. They got a load of official Field Lab tshirts for the effort.

Nice relatively calm day so I could plug away at the new solar oven. Primed and caulked
the glass lid then got the swivel shelf built and installed - has just enough play to keep the goodies level throughout the tilt cycle. Ordered 8 more 1 qt. Dutch ovens so I can max out at 18 loaves of Field Lab Solar Oven Bread per load. My IT director in the UK is sending the brains that will allow the oven to track the sun throughout the day. Next up - a trailer to mount the oven, electronics, solar panels and batteries on so I can take the show on the road.

Enough of me talking about are 2 of my good blogger friends talking about me. and

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010


One important rule I learned before coming out here from my friends Abe and Josie....If you can make it-don't buy it... and if you can find it-don't make it. The day started slowly with me asking some longhorns what they felt like doing today. They were no help at all so I began by cleaning paint specs off the glass from my old solar oven - then moved on to the new solar oven. Well today I didn't buy - but found parts and made flanges to weld to the pole running through my solar oven. Wrapped things up at 3PM and headed south for laundry, porch time, and dinner with friends at the Starlight. 78,101,45,0,C

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday's are for welding....

Welded up the parts for the new solar oven frame. Didn't have the correct size hole saw for the pole mount so had to fight to fit it in. The thing is a heavy monster, but once I get it counter-balanced and the electronics rigged for auto tracking it should work like a charm....just set it and forget it. 79,97,46,0,C

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

benito bonding....

Lots of longhorns in this morning. Spent almost 2 hours trying to bond with my future steer, Benito. Slowly followed him around till I could get close enough for him to sniff my hand - finally got close enough to give him a scratch and he was under my spell - for today. Will have to keep working on him while he is young if I ever hope to train him to ride someday.

Ran into Dizzy Dick from yesterdays comments at the GrubShack this morning. He and his wife Ruth were on their way out of the Big Bend. I insisted that they come out for the tour before they left the area. Had a great time showing them around and Ruth is now my official Texas mother to worry about me out here in the desert.

Way too windy to get any welding done so filled the day with errands and visits.... and longhorns and burrows. 67,88,50,0,G

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Nice, calm morning except for the dull roar of a generator running a mile NW of me. Luckily - the birds chirping here almost drowned it out. My biggest rescued rainbow cactus finally bloomed today. Breakfast at the GrubShack and bid a fond farewell to BillyBob and Ben. Also ran into old pal Fred Porter - finally back on the ranch after being in and out of the hospital for the last 6 weeks battling a nasty staph infection.

Moved the icebox indoors and stocked it up to keep cool for a week. Packed up my tshirts and headed down to the post office. Saw my friend Sandy at the Cottonwood Store (best store south of Alpine) and found out she is working on the latest play by Last Minute Low Budget Productions ....I hope I can find my tuxedo. Also ran into a couple of blog readers visiting the Big Bend - invited them back for a tour of TFL.

Made it home about a half hour before the tour arrived. Had a great time chatting up my new friends Dennis and Debbie - beards are always welcome. They even brought a bag of range feed for Benita! Had a quick tour then they headed out.
Jumped into some metal cutting to get the new stand underway for the solar oven - lots of miters. Ignored the high winds and just kept at it till all the pieces were cut. 83,96,62,0,W

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Big plans for a productive day were pre-empted by multiple visits (all welcome, of course). First was my buddies...BillyBob and Ben. Then my rum friends came by to check the slow progress. Most of the day - my friend (Texas artist) Justin Warren Graham was out for the full tour. I have commissioned him to paint a portrait of Benita (and she was a no-show all day). After hanging out a couple of hours - I followed him on his way out and low and behold we found Benita about 2 miles away from the Field Lab. Just the right light for Justin to take a bunch of pictures and give her a scratch. Back and forth and in between the distractions - I managed to cut and place sheet metal inside my ice box. The wooden interior tends to get a little moldy with condensation during the hot summer months. Had to leave some gaps along the edges because I was attaching the metal with contact cement. I have learned over the years that contact cement is very unforgiving if the material is not placed exactly. Caulked the seams with Lexel. Will load it up with a block of ice and some refrigerant tomorrow. 77,95,51,0,C

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

over a quarter million served...

Went into tshirt production mode today to catch up on some overdue gifts.....available for purchase soon. Freebie going to blog visitor # 300,000. Should cross that mark sometime late tonight. 78,94,52,0,C

Monday, April 19, 2010


Early morning run to Alpine for parts ( mostly for the new solar oven tracking mechanism) - home by 12:30. Unpacked, fed the cow, ran south for more parts. The Ocotillos are all bloomed and finally leafing out after the last rain. Pulled the plug on my newly placed 3,000 gallon tank. Put in a new fitting with a gotta be fast when there is 1,400 gallons of water trying to come out a 2" hole - only lost about a gallon in the brief flood. Ran errands early because I had a really good feeling about one last bit of rain tonight... and it happened - slow steady rain from 7 - 9PM. 57,72,52,.15",B

Sunday, April 18, 2010

cathartes aura...

Did some road repair and finally made it out for some supplies down south....just in case it rains again before the next Alpine run. My friends David, Susan, and Zuki came out to spend some time on their land so I went to visit them for awhile - and ended up with a gallon of rum they brought for me. Gave the hut a thorough scrub down then spent the rest of the day drying my wings.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010


Just road maintenance today....made good use of a quad that my Panther Mountain neighbor loaned me for awhile. I really should have bought one of these instead of that silly go kart. Built a couple of bridges with my neighbor JK and cleared a path to the GrubShack around the bad spot. The stuck vehicle has been removed ahead of schedule (thanks to JK). Lesson learned.....hopefully.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


So I got a new neighbor out here (and he has been warned about the weather)....he learned the hard way last night about rain in the desert - attempting to make it home after heavy rain. The dumbass not only got stuck - but now his truck is blocking the road - with no hope of getting it out for at least 2 more days ( IF it doesn't rain again). Thanks for chewing up and blocking the road!

Chopped rock and wheel barrowed 6 loads of sand this afternoon to prep a pad. Moved and set one of my new tanks into place today because I have a great deal of respect for the weather out here. Let it rain...I'm prepared. 68,93,52,.02",B

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Started cleaning out the containers again....they have become giant, messy tool boxes. Did some final prep for rain cause I had a good feeling about this storm. Rained from 4:45 till 9:15 today with a total dirt road swamping 1.14" accumulation. Topped off the last tank I had in place with 1,400 gallons in twenty minutes. I now have 12,450 gallons in the bank. 58,85,58,1.14",W

Monday, April 12, 2010


Decided to take Monday off too....just because I can. Picked up around the estate and hob nobbed with some neighbors. Watched the clouds roll in and the storms disappear...but I was ready for a downpour. Checked back in the photo archives and found this shot taken a year ago yesterday. This was the second longhorn I was able to hand feed and the first I could handle. Guillermo was a very cool little bull. I learned to recognize him by the spot next to his right eye. He got rounded up and sold off last fall and I don't know where he went. One of my favorite video uploads to YouTube is "This is Guillermo" shot last June. ...I kinda miss him. 66,87,60,0,W

Sunday, April 11, 2010

day off

Had my fill of being around lots of people yesterday. Had to make a run this morning for ice - winter refrigeration season is officially over. Took the rest of the day to clean up the mess created by building the new solar oven. Sorted out all the construction debris, my porch piles, and the inside of my little hut. Packed everything up because of of rain forecast for the next couple of days. Checked last years photos from this day and shot some new pics of the same yucca and some new flowers sprouting out here. 68,87,63,T (trace amount of rain),W

Saturday, April 10, 2010

solar oven fairy...

Perfect weather day for the 2nd annual Terlingua Green Scene - clear all day then some nice fluffy clouds. Baked 6 loaves of bread and a cornish game hen for my solar cooking demo. The bread was a big hit....I'm having the hen for supper. 85,99,50,0,C

Friday, April 9, 2010



Thursday, April 8, 2010


 stealth mode till Saturday. 68,90,43,0,C