Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

s p r a y

Sprayed the other two ground bound trusses and the south overhang of mounted truss 3 today. Still more spots to touch up and the mounted ones to finish, but I'm out of paint. Benita in and out for snacks today then headed west at 6PM instead of NE as usual. Hmmmm - wonder what that means?


Monday, September 28, 2009

the reluctant guest...

Benita came in for breakfast this morning with a shadow - a beat up burro that has been by here once before back in the early spring. I call him Gordon now. The pour guy was being bothered by a pack of flies buzzing around his head and "ass". I tried my best to get close enough to give him a good dose of fly spray - only managed to get a couple of squirts in before he backed off. If only he knew how the fly torment would end if he would only let me squirt him down good. Gordon hung around till about 2PM then wandered off due south of the Field Lab.

Shot down to Archie's for an oil change. I always enjoy hanging out there and chatting with the crew at his auto repair shop. As luck would have it - I stopped in between customers so was in and out in about 20 minutes.
Came back home and decided it was time to fire up the sprayer.
It worked just like it was supposed to. Managed to spray one full truss before it started getting really hot out in the sun. Took a break for a nap after cleaning the tool with paint thinner - a MUST when using oil based paints. Shut my eyes for only an hour and woke up to 15 - 20mph winds. No more spraying for the day as it already takes about a quart of primer to do one truss in calm conditions. 81,104,59,0

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cryptantha Crassipes!

Just a putter day today (and sorry BillyBob , no golf was involved) ...puddered around looking for what might be the easiest thing to accomplish quickly today. Found it with my new window score. Only took about a hour to remove the 3 sections of prime glass from the window frame. Now I have a new piece for my solar hot water heater manifold and the main ingredient for 2 new solar ovens. Needed one more task before really taking the day off, so I removed the roll cage from the go kart. Thought it needed a sportier look. Cleaned the spark plug and took it on a little 3 mile trip - no problems. It doesn't go fast enough to roll over on the flats and I don't go off-roadin' with it so I reckon it's ok to take the top off. If I am ever wrong about this - boy, I bet it sure is gonna hurt...

Welcomed some new visitors that showed up on the doorstep of the Field Lab this morning. A couple of botanist ladies looking for a plant specific to my landscape. We took a walk and they showed me what they were looking for within minutes. I responded with, "These plants are everywhere out here!" They took some measurements and then I showed them one I knew of by the greenhouse. Funny thing was, I named it Kevin on the spot and one of the women gently stroked some leaves and said, "Hi, Kevin." I was told that they usually bloom in April so I went back to the April file of my photos and sure enough, here is Kevin when he was in-bloom on April 12, 2009. I think I need a grant to study them...a really BIG grant. 89,102,59,0

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

averted catastrophe

Must have gotten a little careless with the spacer welding and a bit too familiar with manhandling truss 6 this morning. As I pulled it off the table and started to jack it upright - about 20 of the welds on my 6" pieces popped and the truss started warping. Laid it down on the ground and REALLY welded the popped pieces back into place. That's what I get for working just a bit too fast. Got it raised and started welding the opposite side. Took a break at 1:30 for a shower! - I was suddenly overcome by the filth factor since I spent all morning out in the sun and in the dust fixing my morning mishap. Didn't want to waste being all cleaned up so I headed south to send out some mail and do a little banking. Came back to the Field Lab at 3PM and put my stinky clothes back on and got back to work. Officially done with truss building as of 6:30PM. 81,93,56,0

Thursday, September 24, 2009

ahead of schedule

Truss 6 is my last chance for a record so I worked my way a couple hours ahead of the time it took to weld up truss 5 - no Field Lab visits today. Finished welding both halves and joined them together by 7:30PM. A very satisfying one days labor. Now it's a matter of how much sun I will have left tomorrow after I stand it up and do all the opposing welds.

Since I record the information for the National Weather Service each day...I am going to try to remember to post it here too from now on. This is how it works - four sets of numbers. Observation time temp(8PM), High temp, Low Temp, Rainfall. 70,88,57,0

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumnal Equinox

Really felt like the first day of Autumn today....Low this morning of 55, high of only 77, and 61 at 9PM. Hit the GrubShack for breakfast and came right home to work. Wheeled truss 4 out the back door and started welding truss 5. Broke for lunch then came back for a Field Lab tour. Today's guest was the infamous Ben in Texas - frequent blog commentator. Hellava a nice guy and it was really great to finally meet him. He came out with some folks I met when I first got started out here. Jim and his wife ( Ben help me out here....I can't remember her name) They all took off around 3PM and I went back to work. Got through all the first half and a third of the second half of truss 5. Made a point of marking the east and west horizons where the sun rises and sets on this auspicious day.

Monday, September 21, 2009

got it down

Plowed through the welding today and finished truss 4 about 10 minutes before sunset. Now that I have the technique and procedures down, and all the parts cut - it goes rather quickly as long as I keep at it. Burned through 2 1/2 ten pound spools of welding wire so far - just plopped a new one into the rig this afternoon. The new plan is to build the

next 3 trusses then paint them on the ground before hoisting them into place....will make a spray day out of it and paint all 6 in one go.

The only problem today was Benita kept coming into the work zone and I had to lure her away 3 times with more snacks. I would hate for her to go blind watching me weld after a long life of having never been poked in the eye by another longhorn. Good thing those horns are more about pushing than poking.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Back to welding today - it went just like I dreamed the other night in Alpine. Finished up both halves of truss 4. Worked a loaf of Field Lab bread into the schedule and cooked some Spanish rice and spicy spam in the solar oven for dinner. Quit right at 8PM for some nice sky color and just a sliver of a moon. More of the same tomorrow, I reckon...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

working vacation...

It had been ages since my last stay at the Antelope Lodge and I suddenly got the urge yesterday. Had a little rain in the morning and I was not in the mood to get swamped in so I hit the road north. Puttered around town all day then settled into my room with a large veggie lovers pizza from Pizza Hut, 2 quarts of Gatorade, cable TV, and an unlimited shower. I think I used one months worth of Field Lab style water for a single shower. Hunkered in to the queen sized bed, ate pizza, and watched TV till my eyes bled. Funny thing was, I didn't sleep that well in the big/strange/comfy bed and dreamt about welding all night. Ran into my friend Brenda that still works there right after I checked out this morning - she told me she reads the blog every day (Hi Brenda!) and asked how Benita was.

Had my civilization fix quickly then ran errands around town. Noticed that the rock star ride I saw months ago in Alpine is for sale now. Don't think it's quite right for a Field Lab road show so I think I will pass. Picked up more free windows from my friends Suzy and Alec. They are my (oldest) friends in Alpine because Suzy used to work at the Antelope Lodge when I first came to the area. I stopped by their antique store on the way out of town to make a purchase - it was the least I could do after getting 9 windows from them. Found this little knick-knack from India that ought to enhance my grill servings.

When I came back out my dirt road I noticed Dick Cain's truck and horse trailer on the road. Saw him and his son rounding up more longhorns - was worried that Benita might have gotten caught in the group since I only left her one small snack before I bugged out. As I drove up my driveway, there she was in the shade right in front of my house. She got a BIG snack and 5 gallons of water for waiting for me to return.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

quarter day

Had little desire to even touch any rebar today after yesterdays push. Late breakfast at the GrubShack then headed down to Terlingua on a water run - fetched 125 gallons to top off my potable water tank since the rain has not cooperated lately. Just as I was coming home, I passed some folks that had come out for a visit. Dennis and Jan turned around and followed me out for the tour. These two are my new favorite best friends that have property out here. This couple kind of reminds me (from my NYC daze) of a perfect couple from Brooklyn Heights....they even dropped off some of my new favorite beer and some home made pumpkin bread. Finally got over my aversion to rebar and topped of the day by just getting started on truss #4.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

no more cutting

Had a morning Field Lab tour for my new friend Paul. We hung out for quite some time and he took some photos, then had lunch at you know where. Paul had a nice digital SLR...a Canon EOS Rebel, I think it was the model T1i. Something to think about if I want to upgrade my photo and video capabilities...that camera has some great features.

Didn't really get to work till 1:30...then a big storm started heading this way out of the NW. I checked the Doppler radar and it was getting close. I packed up the tools, mixed a drink, sat on the porch and watched as the big dark storm evaporated into clear sky right above me. Break over - back to cutting.

Decided that I didn't want to have to write about more cutting for the next couple of days - so I plowed through it and finished at 8:30PM. The parts (624 total) for the next 3 trusses are ready to go - now just lots of welding.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

0 % chance of rain

Guess they were least for the Field Lab. 2 storms just missed me this afternoon. Still about 2.5" shy of last years rainfall but I'm still hopeful. All I'm asking for is one more inch so I can fill up the tanks which will give me 12,000 gallons to start off with in the greenhouse...(minus 15 gallons a day to Benita). Starting to wonder if she is going to disappear again this winter.

Cutting, cutting, cutting plus a little GrubShack. Gave a loaf of FL Solar Oven Bread to Betty to dole out to the public. Popped over to see Ronald's blooming living rock cactus and check on his house project.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Moday morning

Early edition: This just in - Dick and Bonnie Cain ( Benita's owners ) are on YouTube from their episode of Texas Country Reporter.

Field Lab news at the end of the day....

End of the day came with a rainbow from a shower that scooted east of me on its way south. Just more cutting today....going to keep chopping away until all the pieces are cut for the next 3 trusses. Got a link from an old high school friend that I really liked. A tethered balloon cam video is on the list for the Field Lab. I did a project years ago during one of our neighborhood arts festivals in Dumbo, (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass)Brooklyn. Tethered a helium balloon with a color micro video camera and transmitter, 200 ft. above the roof of my studio. Down on the street I had a coin operated kiosk where folks had to pay a quarter to see one minute of the live view from up above.....I made $5 that weekend...

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Slowly worked into it today - building steam as the day went on. Sprayed the welds on truss #1. Scooted the scaffolds around and set myself up for new cutting for truss #4. Two breaks during the session for Field Lab visitors. Quit at 6:30PM - 172 cuts'n'grinds later.

No prize - but congratulations to visitor 123,456 at 9:45:06 this morning.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

not so OSHA

Not a drop of rain last night and only one tenth of an inch today...
1. Finished re-welding truss#1
2. Dick Cain doing a roundup (not Benita)
3. Looking east
4. Poop oops

Friday, September 11, 2009

good hair day

Benita had a good hair day today...her bangs looked nicely groomed and she doesn't even use a comb. Just wish I could touch up that trace of grey.

Dragged all my gear up a couple of levels and did the final welds on half of the high section of truss 1. Just about set myself up to weld the other half when the dark clouds arrived from the NW. Packed up all the tools and cancelled any further welding. Took the recently serviced water pump back out to its spot and hooked up the hoses - just as I finished priming it, the rain started. All the good juicy clouds petered out though and only ended up with a sprinkle.

Had a rum'n'coke and sat on the porch whilst the mist fell. Got a second wind and as soon as the sky cleared I decided to move my last 1550 gallon tank into place. Four more wheel barrow loads of sand and it was sitting level(ish), ready for water. We are getting very close to the end of rainy season. Slight chance of rain overnight. Just hope we get one last downpour so I can fill 'em all up.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

more rebar

Lucked out on absolutely no rain last night - my rebar delivery came without a hitch. Sorted out the new batch and set myself up for more cutting....later. Assembled the loaner scaffold then had breakfast at the GrubShack. Picked up some jerk seasoning from my buddy David then came home and popped a seasoned game hen in the solar oven. Didn't quite feel up to breaking out the chop saw so finally plopped one of my 1550 gallon tanks. Took 4 wheel barrow loads of sand to level the pad then rolled the tank up into place. Rigged up some siphon hoses to start drawing out of the 3000 gallon tank. Setting myself up for one last creek pump session into the big tank before the rains end. Topped off the day attending a cookout at David and Susan's Irie Shanty. The system I will be trying out for making potable water out of some of this creek sludge is a variation of the plan from this site.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Caught the moment in time off the atomic clock on my weather station this morning. It was a fabulous one second. Thunderstorms all over southwest Texas today but the Field Lab and my precious 2.5 mile dirt road were spared. This was a good thing because I made a supply run to Alpine. Last year on this day I got swamped in by storms. Nice and cool and clear up in Alpine but dark and gloomy down south back home. Got all sorts of good stuff to get me one step closer to being self-sustainable out here including an order for 70 more 20' sticks of half inch rebar - to be delivered Thurs of Fri. Benita came home this morning and watched the fort while I was away.

Just caught the PM version too....twice in a lifetime.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Woke up to a nice morning rainbow - the after effect of .o2" of rain early this morning. Not much to report today except than Betty is back and all is well at the GrubShack. She had quite a crowd to feed today. Too bloody hot to do much at home so I just puttered....made a filter screen for the intake hose on the water pump, repaired the battery clips on Betty's battery charger, gave two Field Lab tours, packed everything up in case of rain, and fired up the GoKart. My poor desert dune buggy has been badly neglected. Had to jump start it then added some SeaFoam to the gas tank and let it run for about an hour to clean out the carburetor. It finally purred like a (loud) kitten and drove like a dream. Will give it some good test runs before I'm willing to drive it farther than I'm willing to walk home. Benita chose some bovine bonding today and is grazing about 2 miles away from home with the herd. Stopped off twice to give her a delivery snack so she'll remember "who's yer daddy".....