Tuesday, September 30, 2008

big blade

what ho....made it to Austin no problem. Had dinner with my friend Dan and spending the night at his house. Loaded up on more parts to wire up my wind turbines from Home Depot...also got new sunglasses and a new cowboy hat. Will pack up stuff from my storage unit and hit the road home early tomarrow. Highlight of the trip between home and Austin is the huge wind farm just east of Ft. Stockton on Rt. 10. Passed several trucks bringing parts west for the next turbine. Here is a blade.

Monday, September 29, 2008

New Batteries

First chore of the day other than the normal morning ritual was to go feed Chucks dogs one more time - Chuck is due back home this afternoon. Had some quick play time with Chris and Hannah which involved asking Hannah where her toy was and scratching Chris' ears - then breakfast. On the way home I saw Benita and Oscar so I stopped and gave them a snack. Went down the road aways and did some rut fillin'. As I wasn't quite out of eyesight of the longhorns - they ended up following me all the way home. Had to gently dissuade them from coming all the way down my driveway. They ended up walking the 2 miles back to where they have been hanging out.

Painted up as high as I could reach on my first wind turbine mount. Took down tower 2 to adjust the guy wire mounts, cut off the top of the pole to square it off, and paint the whole pole. Now this one is ready for turbine #2. Headed back over to Chucks as I knew he and Kathy were going to be home soon...ended up meeting them at the mailboxes just as they were coming in. Followed them home and helped them unload and got ( and paid Chuck ) for my 6 new batteries.

Brought my new power storage home and immediately made a platform for them so sit on in the battery house. Loaded them in and sat and thought about the new possibilities they will provide. Checked in with my friend Dan in Austin - the coast is clear for my arrival tomorrow night. Started clearing off my counter tops as I plan on giving them a second coat of polyurethane in the morning before I head out. The first coat I did one morning 6 months ago and had trouble sleeping that night because of the fumes....this time it is has 48 hours to quit stinking before I come back. May not post tomorrow so this is what is going to happen....Drive to Austin - pick up a few things at Home Depot and Walmart on the way - go out to dinner with Dan, Katherine, and Dylan - go to bed.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Birds...

Today was a true day off...did a few minor chores around here then went in to feed Chuck's dogs this morning and when I got home I had some new visitors. Five white birds ( yet to be identified ) flying around my complex. I reckon they are just stopping by to rest while on their way south somewhere. Took an hour to do some diagrams of where I am in relation to neighbors and shopping at the request of my Aunt Ginger and emailed them off. I expect my Uncle Pete to identify them and post a comment on this blog within the next day or two....hint, hint...

Took a drive up to see the new owners of Estrella Vista - the former homestead of the folks that led me to this area in the first place. http://www.velacreations.com/ Dan and Paul are just settling in. Back in upstate NY ....two guys buying a house in the country would automatically mean they are gay - but out here that doesn't happen very often. These two just happen to be friends that want to get a little further away from declining civilization. I hung out there for awhile and had a chance to try out Paul's 357 revolver....first time I shot a real pistol in over 30 years. As I'm looking to buy one for myself, figured it was time to pull a trigger again. It was a very nice gun as far as guns go - looking for something along that line.

Gave dinner to Chuck's dogs and came back home with every intention of doing some clearing where I am planning on damming up the creek. My transient bird friends were hanging out right in the area where I was going to work so I called it a day. Decided to let them hang out and rest where they were. Would like to keep them around for a little while before they continue their journey.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tank tippin...

A typical post shopping run day. Nice'n'easy. Had a weird dream this morning that my place got torn up by an extraordinary electrical storm...happy to see when I woke up that it wasn't so. Went over to Chuck's to feed is canines....I'm on dog duty this weekend. Stopped my my friends Julianne's to see if she was ready to do some welding for me but we both decided to put it off for a couple of hours. I came back home and rolled my 2nd tank into place. Played on the computer to cool off afterwards.

Headed back to Julianne's at 2pm and got the welding done. I had 3 pieces to weld for my next 3 wind turbines. I tried out the welder for the last piece - I had an old Lincoln arc welder but hers was a wire feed. It was so easy compared to my old welder I think I might just have to buy one. Hung out for awhile and chatted about this'n'that including the best way to make hydrogen.

Checked up on my videos at YouTube....the first one I posted back in November '06 just passed 100,000 views! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxcMiXbxdTI Hopefully some of the epic videos I have planned will get at least that many views in one day...

By the time I headed home it was close to 5PM...ran into my longhorn cow friend, Benita. For the past two days she has had a bull hanging out with her...I think she has a boyfriend now! I named him Oscar. Gave them a snack of range feed as a present for their coupling.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Charles Dellschau

Was thinking last night (as I was waiting for sleep to take over) about a program I heard on Marfa Public radio a couple of days ago. It was about an artist named Terry Nowell that was having a reception for his work at The Yard Dog Gallery in Marfa. Was intrigued by his description of the work so I decided I just might like to take a drive. Plodded through some morning chores, including cutting brush for a path to the second water tank position and topping off my outdoor shower tank. By noon I had decided to do another supply run to Alpine and take in the reception in Marfa. Decided I should check out civilization again and take advantage of the opportunities that my new lifestyle allows. By the time I had showered and closed up shop here to hit the road - it was already 2:30.

Got my list of shopping done rather quickly - propane, electrical supplies to wire up 2 wind turbines to the battery bank, valves for my 2 new water tanks, and parts to build tail boom pieces for the next 3 wind turbines. ( I just now got a phone call from Chuck who is in Odessa for the weekend - and he picked up six 6VDC golf cart batteries for me from Sams Club ). The new charge controller I ordered won't be here for a week but at least I have more than enough to keep me busy till it arrives.

Headed over to Marfa at 5:30. Got into town just before the gallery was opened for the reception so drove around town for 5 minutes. I was a little apprehensive to attend a function in Marfa as is known for being the Soho ( NYC gallery mecca from the 1980's ) of west Texas. Since I was there early - and probably because I had built it up in my head so much - there where no crowds of pretentious f*cks dressed in black, sipping wine, talking about where they were doing for dinner and clubbing after. What can I say?....I lived through that scene back in my NYC days.

As I was first in the door - I met the artist right away. Terry Nowell was showing models he had built based on diagrams done by a German eccentric named Charles Dellschau. Dellshau lived in virtual seclusion the last years of his life and produced at least 13 known volumes of elaborate designs for flying machines, some of which just may have been built and flown by a secret society out in the California desert in the latter half of 1800 and may very well have been responsible for UFO sightings of the era. Terry was a great guy to meet out here in the wasteland as I really appreciated his work and the amazing story behind it. His models perfectly captured the tone of Dellschau's drawings. For a better description of the work and the story - check out the gallery website at http://www.yarddog.com/content/view/23/7/ and http://www.charlesdellschau.com/
This is the first time I have arrived home from Alpine after dark. Its one thing to be out here all day and settle in for the night -and quite another to drive down my creepy dark dirt road long after sunset. Kind of reminded me of an old sci-fi movie called Omega Man starring Charlton Heston. Contest! : This movie is sometimes mistakenly known for what "ground breaking scene" in American cinema? The first correct answer gets a fossil from the grounds of TheFieldLab.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tanks alot...

Slept in this morning for a change...didn't wake up till 6:45AM. Proceeded with my morning ritual then headed back down to Study Butte. Picked up an attractive female hitchhiker ( not single though ) on the way south and met a new friend. Pulled into Archie's right at 9:00AM to get my oil changed. Walked 1/4 mile back to the Motor Inn Cafe for another dose of eggs and sausage and grits. Timed my eating just right as when I got back to Archie's my bill was just getting printed out.

Step 2 of the days chores was to pick up Chuck and his trailer to haul my new water tanks home. Took it slow and easy down my dirt road and managed to get them here OK. The last time we trailered some tanks out here, we dropped one about a mile an a half from my house and had to go back and get it. Rolled 'em off and I took Chuck and his trailer home.

Cleared a path through the desert greens and rolled one of the tanks out to its final resting place. The are a bit difficult to handle alone as they are 8.5' wide and 7.5' tall. With some muscle and a bit of thinking I was able to maneuver the monster and tip it into place all by myself. With that done, I leveled the spot where the second tank will sit. These two 3,000 gallon tanks will get filled near the creeks on my property with rainwater runoff. The water will be used for the greenhouse irrigation.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tiny Flower

Met up with Chuck, Kathy, and Charley for breakfast at the Motor Inn Cafe in Study Butte this morning. Was hoping to get an oil change at Archie's today but they were booked up so I will have to come back tomorrow morning which means another real cafe breakfast.
Got sidetracked from my plans to go to Austin by my friends that I was hoping to spend the night with. Seems they are rather hectic presently, plus there is a huge music festival going on in Austin starting on Thursday - so I have bumped the trip to next Tuesday when the coast will be clear on all fronts.

Was sort of at a loss as to what to pursue for the day. Ended up on yet another long rock hunt during which I took this photograph of a lone desert flower. Put in an online order for another set of wind turbine blades, a 12 VDC hot water coil, a charge controller, shunt, trimetric meter and 125 ft. of cable. That should enable half of my wind energy system to start working for me. Needed to do something physical instead of just pointing and clicking and spending - so finally put in 2 hours of labor at the end of the day leveling the spot where one of my 3000 gal. water tanks will sit by the creek. Re-adjusting the schedule now to keep busy out here till the trip next week.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hinged Roof

Spent about an hour this morning trying to figure out the trim for the door of the battery house. After cutting a couple of pieces I decided I just didn't have the right lumber in my junk pile to finish the job to my satisfaction. Did a photo anyway to show the secret twist to the battery house construction. So I don't have to crawl in there to deal with the electronics, I hinged the roof to give me plenty of headroom when I need it.

Took a drive up to Charley's and gave him a check for two of his 3,000 gal. water tanks he was selling at last years price. Saved myself almost $500 for what they are going for currently. Kind of like having a time machine to go back in time to buy something I knew I would need at a price from the past. Now I have almost 10,000 gallons of storage capacity. Just hope I will be ready to catch it next time it rains - if ever...

As I just decided to make another run to Austin, I stopped my Chucks to check out his utility trailer that I am borrowing to help with this load. Had to check the electrical connections to make sure the lights worked properly...and they did. Worked on my shopping schedule and list for the trip till suppertime. This one will be the most ambitious as I have a lot I would like to accomplish this round. Today was mostly a thinking and planning day.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Had a slow morning as my poor rechargeable power tool batteries have taken a real beating in 9 months. Finally had enough juice to rip a 32" long 45 degree angle in the 2x10 I'm using for the threshold of the battery house doorway. Cut and hung the door also. Still have some trim to mount before the final photo. Got a early evening visit from my friend Jennifer Boomer and her buddy Neal (a life long Texan and a helluva nice guy). Have yet to meet a real Texan that I couldn't help but like. Happy Autumnal Equinox. The sun won't rise at this spot again till next March. Be on the lookout 6 months from now for another photo just like this...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Roof Done!

Being that today was Sunday and all...I contemplated taking the day off. But since I didn't do any work out here yesterday - I decided to kick ass. What day of the week it is out here rarely matters unless you are looking to get mail or a delivery. The plan just poured out of my head and came together with little effort. Worked all day framing up the top of the battery house and building the roof. Had to make a jig to trace the radius ( 9' ) for the curved rafters. Took my marked pieces over to Chucks to use his jig saw to cut them out. Kind of butchered them but they were close enough. Once I put the tin on, you couldn't tell they were sloppy cuts. It all came together like magic. Have to build and hang the door tomorrow. Wrapped things up my 6PM and took a shower - my beard really needed some TLC.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Burrito Buddies

Just as I was deciding when to get started on the next phase of the battery house this morning, I got a call from my friend Charley. He asked if I could drive him up to Alpine to pick up a prescription. He was rushed to the hospital last week with stroke symptoms. Turns out it is only a nasty inner ear infection as far as they can tell at our local quackery. I was happy to oblige him as he would pay for the gas and I wouldn't have to finalize my decision on when to get started today. And it's the weekend...a Saturday - that's no time to be getting to work, anyway. I welcomed the chance to help a friend out, even though it meant a second trip to Alpine.

That trip pretty much shot the day which was OK by me. I was welcomed home by the sight of a second burro out here. My lonely burro buddy who has been hanging with the longhorns for 6 weeks now has found a friend of his own species to hang out with finally. I wondered that since animals don't tend to look in mirrors - how do they know they aren't like other animals they see? A perfect end to an easy day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

International Space Station

Woke up at 5:45 AM - diddled on the internet for an hour and a half then went out to watch the sunrise. Beautiful cloudless morning. Around 8:30 some longhorns decided to venture down my driveway - lured them back to the road with a load of range feed.

Decided to make my shopping run today to Alpine. Stopped by Guy Welch's to get his lumber order then went by Chuck and Kathy's. Chuck wanted to head up with me to look at a Jeep he heard was for sale there so off we went. Turns out the Jeep was for sale through a friend of a friend of a friend and was actually in Odessa - so Chuck had to just tag along for my shopping chores. I got the materials I need to build the roof and door for the battery house, renewed my vehicle registration, and loaded up on groceries. Now I have another 30 day supply of eats. Will start building the roof for the battery house tomorrow now that the concrete is set.

Got back to Terlingua Ranch at 5:30PM, dropped off Chuck and took the lumber order to Guy. By the time I got home and unpacked it was close to 7PM. On the way home I saw by favorite longhorn cow grazing all alone and just happened to have some range feed for her. I stopped and mooed at her and she came over to me. I feel pretty comfortable with this one so I got out of the truck to dump the feed right to her. She walked calmly up to me and just started chowing down.

Been checking the sighting opportunities for the International Space Station lately now that we have clear skies and knew tonight would be a good viewing opportunity. Right on cue it flew over for a nice 6 minute show. To view the space station from your area, go to this link and click on your state and then the nearest city. When the shuttle is flying missions -you can see two bright lights flying overhead. Pretty amazing! http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/cities/skywatch.cgi?country=United+States

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Swamp Buggy

Nice sunny morning so got right out and took the forms off the top layer of concrete on the battery house. Carted all the refuse and forms to my secret out of sight junk pile. Took a ride in to Chucks to get my last 15 cinder blocks. No one was home so I played with his dogs for a bit then loaded up and headed back. While stacking them I heard a car horn. Chuck and Kathy came out for a visit. They drove in from Agua Fria Rd. from the north of me. Must have found a patch of road that was still really swampy.

Went for a walk around the property to photograph the flowers that are springing up everywhere. Will post these as my next set on flickr soon. Came across a snake called the red racer. Relatively harmless but long and fast. This one was over 3' and once I poked him with a stick, her look off like lightning. His high speed slithering sounded like a rusty zipper as he moved across the dry ground.

Took a ride across the highway to see if my neighbor Guy Welch was back from the Slabs. He is transitioning here from Slab City near the Salton Sea in California. As I was heading down a side road toward his place, I passed him coming the opposite direction...he just got back today and was on his way out to see me. I turned around and we came back out to my place. He had a free laptop he wanted me to check out with my internet connection I wanted him to see my first wind turbine up. We hung out at chatted for a good hour then he headed home to unpack from his trip. 45 longhorns are grazing just after sunset right at the end of my driveway.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mexican General

Woke up at 4:15AM...never really got back to sleep so got up and made coffee at 5:30AM. By the time the sun came up, I could tell it was going to be another cloudy day - although according to Weather.com, zero chance of rain. Was anxious to get the second half of the battery house top poured so was finished with it by 9:30. Spent the next couple of hours organizing my recyclables (trash pile). Drove my beer can empties to the other side of the highway to a drop off point where one of my neighbors collects them for a monthly haul to Odessa to cash in.

Decided to venture down to Study Butte to do a load of laundry but after going only 3 miles south of my turnoff I hit rain...chickened out and came back home. Just a very list misting going on here so I dismantled one of my lumber piles and moved it to my "to burn" pile. Came across 2 small brown scorpions and due to the new Buddha nature I'm trying to instill - I relocated them far away from the house.

By 4:00 PM I was feeling rather certain that I wouldn't get rained on so I finally went south to do laundry. Just before I headed out my driveway, I found this couple of Mexican General grasshoppers - one riding on the back of the other ( don't know if they were mating or just good friends ). I photographed them then urged them out of the way so I could pass without squishing them. Included in my trip was a load of recyclables to leave at the drop off near the Ghost Town. On the way back to the laundry, I noticed a woman with a tripod and what looked liked a real camera taking a photo of a little abandoned house along HWY 170. Sure enough it was my new photog buddy, Jennifer Boomer. I pulled over and busted her chops asking if she had a permit to photograph there. After I picked up my laundry - I met her for a couple of beers at the Boat House Bar. Had a nice chat and exchanged gossip about the area. I got home at 6:45. Actually got everything done on my list for the day and socialized...I'm exhausted.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Cloudy and cool all day with some nice breaks of sunshine - not a drop of rain for a change. No wind this morning so got right out and lowered my wind turbine. Spent the next couple of hours resetting the forms for the top layer of concrete on the battery house walls. While I had the chance, I drove in to Chuck and Kathy's to pick up more of my cinder blocks and give one of my volcanic nipples to Kathy. Was treated to lunch while I was there.

Picked up some beer and Junior Mints at the ranch supply store on the way home. Poured half of the concrete for the battery house, then lopped off 27" of the top of the pole the turbine was mounted to. I meant to do that before I put it up but was in a hurry to see it fly. Also found that I had to reinforce the u-bolts where the guy wires attach to the pole as they had slipped. Re-mounted the turbine and stood it back up into position. Now it should fly more solidly without any wobble at low speeds.

Made my first desert pizza in the propane grill tonight for dinner. Chef Boyardee pizza mix with extra cheddar cheese, canned corn, and steak. Came really close to cooking it too long - pretty crunchy but damn good still. Tried to save a slice but ended up eating the whole pie. Now I'm fat'n'happy.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Today in a nutshell - drizzle all morning ( .12" ), cloudy all day, cool, windy, lots of reading, a couple of naps, some popcorn, and 3 hours of rock hunting. Highlight of the day was finding a huge debris field of little bits of once molten rock. Here are a few of my favorites....
I call them volcanic nipples.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gusty Day!

Being that I was thinking all day yesterday was Sunday ( It's pretty easy to lose track of time out here ), I just finished my second Sunday of rest. Nice and sunny this morning and early afternoon but really WINDY all day. It has been awhile since we had a gusty day - I forgot how hard it is to get anything done outside under those conditions. 15 to 30mph from 9:30AM to about 5:30PM. The longhorns were grazing the fresh new grass growing at the end of my driveway this morning and about 20 of them decided to lie down right in my road for a mid morning nap.

While shuffling my tomato and zucchini plants around to keep them out of the wind, I noticed my neighbor Capt. Kirk driving down his side road. I figured that he probably set some nice ruts in the bad spot for me to follow so I heading in to the Ranch Supply Store for some ice and cheese. Still pretty squishy in a few spots but good to go now.

Was hoping to pour some concrete and set some anchor bolts in the top layer of the battery house today. My wind turbine was screaming away in the gusts all day so avoided working right underneath it as a blade malfunction at that speed could cut my friggin head off. Watching the turbine spin all day without being hooked up to anything to capture the electricity produced is kind of like watching 1000's of gallons of water wash down the rivers near by after a good rain.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Full Moon

Not a whole lot happened today...nothing really accomplished in the big scheme of things. I'm a bit over being swamped in since Tuesday. Patched my driveway where the water runs across - found a big puddle where the desert frogs must have been busy lately during the recent rains. Tadpoles galore swimming around. Cleaned up around the battery house project then took a drive in the dune buggy to check my road. Still really bad in the worst spot. Came back home and called my friend Chuck to meet me at the Ranch Supply Store with my rechargeable tool batteries I left at his place. Decided it was a good time to try one of my contingency plans - so drove the truck 2 good miles of my road then rode my bike from there to the store...picked up some ice and my batteries and charger from Chuck then headed home. I need another good dry day to firm up the road. Will probably wait till Tuesday to do my shopping run to Alpine as I got enough to do to keep me busy tomorrow ( unlike today ). Beautiful full moon rise as I cooked some more flour tortillas. Its gonna be a bright night tonight.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My tank runnith over...

Got a call late last night from my step-niece Kristen...I mention her by name because I know she reads this blog...Hi Kmom...that was at about 10:30PM - and yes I was almost asleep. As I resumed my search for slumber, the rain started to fall...I ended up getting up again around 11:45 because it was coming down hard. One last good pounding came around midnight and I just happened to take a look out at my overflow from my catchment tank just in time to see it start flowing briefly. Got .63" of rain from that outburst. runeth

Cloudy morning and slowly the sun broke through for the rest of the day. My road is drying out nicely. Removed the forms from yesterdays section of the battery house. Forgot to tarp off the bldg last night so it will take a couple of days for the wall sections to dry out completely. Pumped another 150 gallons from my catchment tank to one of my other tanks. I was full up to the 550 gallon mark. Noticed a big dead spider in the tank so I will have to check my gutter screens tomorrow.

Looks like the rain is done for awhile. Ike is heading northeast after it pounds Galveston and surrounding areas on that side of Texas. Soon I will be wishing for some rain again. Finished reading Buddhism for Dummies and listened to Science Friday on NPR. Working on the list for my shopping run to Alpine on Monday....soon to be free again.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Diggin for oil...

Was able to work layer 4 of the battery house in to today's schedule between drizzles. Had to skimp on the portland cement in each mix to finish up. The hole I have been digging my clay out of is getting deeper and deeper - hoping to find 1. water 2. oil 3. dinosaur bones. Lots of sun this afternoon so took a run in the dune buggy to check the road. All pretty good except for the worst spot that still keeps me from civilization.

Just as I was doing my dinner dishes I notice a major downfall coming from the south. Just as I finished closing everything down it started to rain at 6:15 PM. Had white out conditions with super heavy rain and wind for about 5 minutes. 15 minutes and .21" of rain later it was sunny again. So much for my almost dry road...Good news is, hurricane Ike is planning on missing us here. Bad new is, someone else is going to feel the brunt of it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Rainy yet again this morning, but just a mist. Spent some time rock hunting and came up with quite a few nice chunks'0'quartz and some good fossils. Also came across some purdy flowers doing their best to bloom while they had the chance. While surveying my driveway as to its' condition, I saw my first local tarantula. I saw lots of them back in January walking across the highway but this is the first one I've seen close by. My first memory of seeing a tarantula was in a James Bond movie as one crawled up Sean Connery's' arm.

Today's tasks included setting the forms for the next section of the battery house walls, and creating two diversions for the water flow when the next rain occurs. Both spots should lessen the flooding of my driveway next time.

Took a ride in the dune buddy to survey the road situation....not good, but should be OK by tomorrow afternoon if no more rain. Called my neighbor, Capt. Kirk but he must have gotten swamped out as there was no answer. Drove over to his driveway but no sign of tracks.

Been working on memorizing my cowboy poem...just about got it down pat. Cooked up another batch of flour tortillas and had canned macaroni and cheese with green beans and spam for dinner. YUM! Nice rainbow late today as I sat out and had my evening cocktail.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Buh-bye Driveway

Cloudy this morning then drizzle for a couple of hours. Thought that was it for me for the day. Suddenly it let up and I went for a long hike around the property rock hunting - all the purdy ones show up real good after it rains. Brought home lots of nice glass like crystals and a bunch of little molten bits that must have landed here after a volcano purged itself a long long time ago.

Suddenly sunny so took the opportunity to remove the forms from yesterdays work. This section looks really good. Cleared my tarp of the aggregate I'd accumulated for the sections. Getting it ready to cover the construction in case it rains later on. Lots of rain still in the forecast for the next day or two.

Spent and hour memorizing my cowboy poem - just about got it down pat now. With the sunny afternoon I decided to check out my road in the dune buggy...to my surprise, it was pretty good all the way to the store. As long as I was that far, I picked up a block of ice. On the way home it was starting to look ominous to the east. Within an hour of being back home it got worse. According to the Doppler radar, the showers were heading SW to NE. According to my wind turbine the wind was blowing N to S. According to the clouds the storm was moving E to W. The weather makes absolutely no sense out here. From 4:30 to 6:30 I got 1/2" of rain...so much for my road and my driveway.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Springtime in September

Super gloomy looking morning when I got up...then it started to rain. It only lasted about a half hour then it looked like that would be it for now. As soon as the rain stopped, I got right to work on the next layer of the battery house. This time it only took 2 1/2 hours - I must be getting the hang of it.

Got 30 more of my cinder blocks moved over here and stacked. Spent about an hour trimming back my tomato plants and found 2 more big horn worms. Boy they sure do a good job of being camouflaged.

Made yet another stupid trip down south to Study Butte to get gas - wasn't I just there yesterday? Was a bit worried about the forecast for the next couple of days so wanted to be prepared as my tank was getting near empty. Very light rain tonight for about an hour but it looks like it will clear up overnight.

My home page is the local weather for my area from weather.com. Lately it has been issuing a high pollen warning. Flowers seem to sprouting up all over the place since we have finally had some rain. Springtime in September.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday Traffic

Was greeting this morning by 16 longhorns and my burro buddy grazing at the end of my driveway. Thankfully they all decided to stay out there. Just as I was making my morning deposit for my future compost, I heard a vehicle pull up to my house. Did some quick paperwork and found Chuck and Kathy as I came out from behind one of my shipping containers. They brought 30 more of my cinder blocks with them in a trailer! After unloading and stacking them, we sat in the morning shade and watched the cattle for awhile. I gave them a quick tour of my wind turbine area then they left through the back way to avoid disturbing the longhorns breakfast time. After about an hour, most of them decided to lay down - I guess to digest.

About an hour later the big black bull rousted them up and they headed east down my dirt road. I drove out soon after and threw them some snacks which they appreciated of course. Went over to my friend Ronalds to drop off some scrap wood he requested then headed over to Chucks for more of my cinder blocks. Brought that load home, stacked them then removed the forms from yesterdays rammed earth project. Was a bit worried about another rain shower so drove down to Study Butte for some cheap beer and cigs to restock my supply.

Got home at 4 pm and set the forms for the next section on the battery house. Pumped 55 gallons out of my big tank into a drum to use for the next batches of rammed earth and concrete mixes. Wasn't quite ready to start dinner yet so I took a drive down the road to look for the burro so I could toss him some carrots. Found him about a mile and a half down the road - tossed him a snack and threw out some more range feed for the longhorns. This is what amounts to a traffic jam out here. Thus ends a busy Sunday here in the Terlingua desert.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Horn Worm

Had trouble getting to sleep last night but got at least 9 hours in regardless. After my usual morning ritual, I jumped right in to pouring the next level of rammed earth on my battery house. Started off my fetching another wheel barrow load of clay and another of sand. Only took 3 hours to do this next section. 102 degrees outside by the time I finished.
Took a short break then headed over to Chucks to get 30 cinder blocks. On the way back from this trip I saw my burro buddy with the longhorns and tossed him some carrots. Hope he gets the idea that I'm his buddy. Unloaded the blocks and stacked them,then decided to go ahead and get another load. Finished stacking the second trip by 4:30 PM. Been in need of a shower for the last couple of days so indulged myself. Perfect temperature water and no breeze to chill me out. Nothing like taking a shower in the great outdoors - especially when you really need one.

The last time I got some drinking water at H2O to Go, I met a long time local named George. I could tell he was a native by the requisite number of missing and bad teeth that he had. What ever happened to good oral hygiene anyway? George and I got to talking about gardens and he told me about the horn worm....starts off really small then before you know it - a giant worm with a horn is eating up you whole plant. After my shower tonight I just happened to notice that I now had 3 big horn worms of my own feeding off one of my tomato plants. Nice to know ahead of time what's going on instead of having to ask someone after the fact. The horn is actually on his ass end - the head is near my thumb and it has 10 little legs up front. A very handsome worm I must say, but from what I have read about them - I must have more little ones feeding on my plants. They start out being only about the size of the horn. Lots of eyeball patterns on the body to confuse predators. I reckon the rest of the appendages are suckers to hold on. I relocated them far away from my plant. Will be on the lookout for more as they grow.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Woke up just in time to watch the sunrise. What a great way to start the day. Had my coffee - did my morning doody - and threw some bird seed out for the sparrows and the quail. Six baby quail have recently joined their parents at my feeding station.

Headed over to my neighbors ( Chuck and Kathy ) to pick up some of my bags of cement. They graciously allowed my materials delivery to be dropped off at their house on Tuesday when my road was soaked. I loaded ten 80 lb. bags into my truck then hung out awhile to play with his dogs. Chuck was expecting a Schwans delivery today. Schwans is a company that delivers just about any kind of frozen food you can imagine right to your door. I suddenly thought STEAK - and left him some money so when the delivery came, he could get me the package that includes four 6 oz rib eye steaks. I definitely need some extra protein after yesterdays labor.

Headed home and stacked my bags of concrete. With the sun blazing down, I removed the forms from the first layer of rammed earth. The walls look good and solid. Took an hour off to get in the shade...by 2:00 PM it was 104 degrees.

Took a drive to visit another neighbor, Ronald Nelson. He has to be the nicest guy on the planet. Ronald has been living out here 4 years in a small camper and is finally getting started on larger living quarters. He just began what will be a ferro cement Quonset hut style building. Will be interesting to watch the project come to light. Swung by Chucks to pick up another 20 bags of concrete and my STEAKS. I still have 180 cinder blocks at his place to ferry home.

Spent the late afternoon organizing my concrete. Moved two 90 lb. bags of portland cement over to the battery house since I will be using most of it up to complete the project. Moved a couple of opened bags of concrete away from my shower area to the new staging zone for construction materials. Finished by just cleaning up around the yard - stuff has a way of accumulating out here.

Completed the day by watching the sun set at 7:57:10PM. Cooked up a batch of brown rice with vidalia onions, garlic....and some cherry tomatoes from my plants. Grilled up one of the steaks at twilight as Venus set on the western horizon. Just enough accomplished today to savor a very rewarding meal. Photo of the day is my first desert grown zucchini that I had for dinner a couple of nights ago.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ball Buster

Absolutely beautiful sunrise this morning...not a cloud in the sky. Since I had already prepared the forms and gathered the aggregate - I jumped in early on the task at hand. It took 4 hours to fill the first level of my battery house walls. Started warming up out there after about an hour so I donned a head dress using an old tshirt to keep the sun off and suck up the sweat. 54 shovel loads of clay, 24 shovel loads of sand, 12 shovel loads of portland cement, and 20 gallons of water later I was done with the first of 4 layers to complete my battery house. Boy I sure am glad I chose not to build my little house this way...let's just say it was a rather labor intensive morning.

When I was about half way done, my neighbor Capt. Kirk drove up...WITH A BLOCK OF ICE FOR ME! In fact - it had been suggested and purchased by my other neighbor who had come out empty handed last week when I was swamped in. Both neighbors get a gold star. Needless to say, I now knew that my road was passable so I took a quick sponge bath and headed south for some supplies while I had the chance.

Got back home around 4:30 and was beat. Took some time before making dinner to sit and admire the days labor. Hard work sure does suck while your doing it, but having gone through it and admiring the accomplishment sure makes for a satisfying day - and its great to think I get to go through this 3 more days to finish the walls because it means 3 more very satisfying days. Amen, brother!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Shovel Fun

Last night when I went out to brush my teeth and do my twilight tinkle....I came across two huge spiders working their webs. Since I had my flashlight with me, I thought I'd treat them to some take out. My light near their webs delivered quite a few moths and various other bugs. Kept both spiders busy for awhile - wrapping up their meals with rapid web weaving.

Took a walk about a mile down my road to survey the conditions....still quite a few bad spots. At about 6 PM I went out again in the dune buggy and was able to go almost to the 2 mile mark from my place. Saw my favorite longhorn cow so came home and got some range feed for her. She must me used to the white pickup but not the dune buggy so it took a bit of enticing to get her to come over for a snack which she finally did. After that episode, I drove the back route to my neighbor Capt. Kirks. There were some new tracks on the road so I reckon he came home today - and didn't bring me ICE! Looks like no rain tonight so I will work my way out tomorrow.

No rain at all today and quite a bit of sun. Built the frames and doorway for the first of four layers of rolled earth wall sections for the battery house. Fetched 3 wheel barrow loads of clay and 1 on sand for the mix. Each wheel barrow load is about 40 shovel-fulls. I am beat...having my first desert grown zucchini with my dinner tonight!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

More Rain!

DRAT! Just when my road was drying out I got hit last night with almost 3/4" of rain. By the time it ended, I checked my catchment tank and it was only about 10 gallons away from running out through the overflow. Not only am I swamped in again - but a lightning strike VERY close by blew out my primary inverter.

This morning I removed the inverter from service and opened it up. It has 6 fuses inside but they were all good - so it must be the internal circuitry that failed. Vector Maxx is the brand name and it is the second one that has failed. I did some research online and found a guy who has reverse engineered this brand and found fatal flaws in the design - the reason they are inexpensive. I ordered another brand to try out and will rely on my backup inverter till it arrives. Will report back once it is in service.

After opening up the fried inverter ( thereby voiding the warranty ) I decided to transfer some water out of my catchment tank into one of the larger tanks that will go with the greenhouse catchment system. My pump runs off the battery from my truck - I have since learned that it is imperative to keep the engine running when doing so. Pumped 125 gallons out to leave room for the next rain. The transferred water will be used for mixing concrete down the road.

Tried to fire up the dune buggy but it wouldn't start...probably because its been rained on a couple of times. Removed the link to the air filter and sprayed some gas into the carburetor and it finally fired up. One of my tires seems to have a slow leak so I pumped in some SLIME. This product seeks out and fills leaks internally. Now that I was mobile - I drove out to survey the road damage around me from last nights rainfall... lets just say it's a mess out there.

Last function of the day was to call the National Weather Service. A representative is looking for some full time residents out here to give daily reports on temperature, humidity, and rainfall. The woman I spoke to is going to call next Monday for a road report before trying to come out to visit my site. If all goes well, they will install some equipment on my property and I will have to submit a daily report via email. She informed me that the rainy season should be ending very soon....I hope she is right - I need another full day of NO RAIN so I can get out and get some ICE.

Which leads me to the thought of the day: Can't vs. Don't Need To. Interesting dilemma in that I didn't really need to go anywhere today but because I couldn't get out - I really wanted to. Guess that's part of the human condition - we seem to always want what we can't have.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day

Lots of sun today....plenty to charge all 3 of my 18volt cordless tool batteries. Thought a bit this morning about getting started on the walls for my battery house then convinced myself to hold off because: A. It's a holiday B. It's too hot outside C. I should let the slab cure for at least one day. Low and behold I had the day off.
Now that I can get out on my dirt road - I drove down to Study Butte to do a load of laundry and pick up beer, smokes, and some teriyaki beef jerky ( the 3 major food groups ). Twiddled the day away hanging my laundry out to dry and cleaning house. Happy Holiday!