Thursday, June 30, 2011

Alpine dash...

Tried to head north nice and early.  As soon I was ready to hop in the truck, I caught a glimpse of visitors heading in from the SW.  In fear of more wire chewing, I waited for them to arrive and lured half the herd 1/4 mile away with some range feed.  Came home and chased the other half to the end of my driveway and headed to Alpine.  

Stocked up on swamped in supplies and picked up some hardware for the Mt. McKennites.  Unfortunately, the forecast shows ever dwindling chances of rain this weekend - but at least I'm ready now.  While in town, I ran into my buddy Tom Curry (Alpine's Master of Papercrete) working on a Don Quixote sculpture behind his studio on Murphy St.

Got a delivery today from my new friend Sikes McCord from Georgia.  He is a long time blog follower (and soon to be off-gridder) and sent me 24 silk screened Field Lab tshirts. (nicely done I must say)  In return, I am sending him some Field Lab fossils for a grotto he is building.

Set up post #2 and found I need to chip the hole a bit to work it into the correct position.  94,103,70,0,B

My friend JD sent me a link to a video today featuring our hero farmer/rancher Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms.  I just became a member of the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

hole in one (day)

Field Lab Cattle Guard

No distractions today - tricked myself into finishing hole #2.   Worked the 2 shade shifts.  93,108,72,0,W

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

post poured...

Six and a half bags of concrete and post #1 is set in stone.  Finished in just over an hour so I cleaned up the area then drilled the first set of pilot holes for post #2 while I still had shade.

Ran over to Just Me's to help unload a UHaul trailer...that only took about a half hour.

Spent the afternoon running the AC in the AS while I gutted the bathroom. 


Looks like we will have some real rain events out here next week so working up a list for a "swamped in" supply run to Alpine.  95,105,70,0,W

Monday, June 27, 2011

post set

Had a visit this morning from my new friends JT Moore and his girlfriend Johnnie Lee (JT is the father of Steve Moore - the millionth page visitor to the blog).  They brought all sorts of goodies to the Field Lab so they got the grand tour, including a visit with Benita, Beatrice, and Penelope.

Got post #1 cut, placed, plumbed, and braced for a pour.  By the time I got all the rebar into position, it was too hot to even think about mixing up concrete. 102,107,77,0,B

Sunday, June 26, 2011

found the bottom...

Made it down to 30" this morning and decided hole #1 is done since it's too hard to reach much deeper to pull out the debris.  Just in time for more grunt work, I picked up from Just Me today - 10 pairs of leather work gloves from Harbor Freight in Odessa.

Received an email 3 days ago from my newest best friend Karen Lafferty from Med-Trans Corporation (the medivac helicopter service) that it was time to renew my subscription.  They sent me a notice in the mail over a month ago and I forgot all about it.  If you live out here it is an important thing to consider - otherwise that emergency flight to the hospital will cost a fortune.  To sign up, go to, click on Join Today and select CareStar’s logo from the enrollment page.  (Note in the photo - the other important membeship all Americans should have.)  102.111,72,0,B

Saturday, June 25, 2011

saturday splice...

So the gist is...a cow chewed cables from 9 solar panels and the above ground portion of my phone line behind the house last night.  She also did a number on an unplugged extension cord nearby.  Did a quick patch on the phone line but the modem was dead - borrowed one from a neighbor until I get a replacement.  Cut and patched the damaged solar panel cables and barricaded the area until I can get them better protected.

Chuck hooked me up with some new phone cable and I replaced the entire run.  Snaked it through underground piping that goes from the box to the house but a portion is still cow-vulnerable until I run it directly into the house off the NW corner.  105,113,68,0,B

Friday Night SNAFU

1.  Generator wouldn't start...Penelope and a friend helped me get it going.

2.  Down to 2 feet in the hole now...1 foot to go.

3.  Came home from dinner on Mt. McKenna and found a problem with my electrical and phone systems due to a very bad cow....more info tonight.  99,108,69,0,C

Thursday, June 23, 2011

bigger holes...

Morning shift helping my buddy Chuck with a carpentry project.  Wrapped things up by 2PM. 

Tended to Benita then finally got around to trying out the new drill bit...cuts like butter - wider and deeper.  I might just find the bottom of this hole soon.  Speaking of wider and deeper, that's just what the POATRI grader has been doing to the dirt roads out my way this week - they only seem to come out here when the realtors have property to show.  96,102,68,0,B

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

the nursery...

Got a tour this morning of the Sul Ross greenhouse from Maria the botanist.  My first look at all the Cat's Eye plants she has started from seeds collected last year at The Field Lab.  They are definitely living the easy life under controlled conditions.  Kinda feel like I should be handing out cigars.

Ran a slew of errands including parts for the west greenhouse door, a 16lb. five foot long pry bar (called a San Angelo bar - but I call it a Terlingua tooth pic), and a foot long 1" masonry bit to speed up the hole excavation even more.   BTW....we got a light sprinkle last night for about 10 minutes that was only enough to connect the dots on the ground.  95,101,72,0,B

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

bad cows...

Found a group of longhorns here when I woke up....chewed through 2 extension cords (no injuries) and my camera cable - and one of them found some alfalfa in the courtyard.  Chased them all away but they hung near the perimeter almost all day.  Benita and crew stood guard by my entrance for half the day.

Chopped out another 4 inches in hole #1 this morning.  Went south for supplies and while I was gone, Capt. Kirk dropped off a nice big drill bit for me....foot long - 3/4" diameter masonry bit.  That should speed things up.  Spent the afternoon extracting the front wall partition and more extraneous bits out of the Airstream.  96,106,69,0,B

Monday, June 20, 2011


Checked in with Dale at the TSB Mine this morning to get the bentonite numbers.  Took a ride out to the mine to drop off a check.  Passed a couple of longhorns I hadn't seen for months.  All the bentonite for the dam came in at only 4.5 cents per pound including delivery and dozing onto the dam.  I got 58,080 pounds.

Started working on a hole for the future awning on the west side of the greenhouse.  Figured it was time to at least get started since holes don't happen by themselves.  Gotta chop four 3' deep holes through the rock to set my posts into place.  Best way to do this by hand is to drill pilot holes and pry the rock loose.

The GrubShack still lives if only in spirit today...Jerry and Eva dropped by to deliver lunch to me!  They wanted to let my readers know how thankful they are for the support of so many - the Friends of The GrubShack.  
Due to this blog - they have received encouragement and financial support from as far away as South Africa. 

They are still plugging away with all the red tape involved in getting the operation up and running again, and hope to post some progress soon.  The State of Texas does not make it easy to install a septic system for a commercial establishment.  

IMHO - Jerry and Eva seem to be getting the run around from the local authorities and I can't help but think there are other ranch forces involved in their hardship, or surely the GrubShack would never be allowed to open in the first place.  99,110,75,0,B

Sunday, June 19, 2011

If you are thinking of moving to Terlingua...

For those who think a move here might be right for them - today it got up to 116 in the shade and it hasn't rained in almost 9 months.  A brilliant quote from my friend Ian Midgley - there are no posers in Terlingua - only survivors.

Decided on a perfect work combo for a HOT Sunday.  First thing - I detached the shredded roll out awning feature on the trailer.   Fired up the AC on the Airstream next to test it out and extracted the offensive cabinetry installed 2 owners ago.  Sure it was functional - but oh so wrong for this creature.  Spent 3 hours in air conditioned comfort (thanks to generator power) taking apart the mess and chucking it out the door.  Already have a taker for the counter tops and cabinets.  106,116,76,0,C

Saturday, June 18, 2011

just bein' neighborly...

Day off at TFL.  Helped Chuck with some construction at his place in the morning...till it got HOT.  Made a water run down to Study Butte and ended up driving my north neighbors Fred and Mario back to their ranch - one of their trucks broke down. buddy Czar was in Vegas researching fountains for my greenhouse.  99,112,68,0,C

Friday, June 17, 2011

the eagle has landed...

Did the deed today...the Airstream followed me home.  White knuckled it for the first 20 miles then I felt confident nothing bad would happen.  The trailer pulled like a dream.  The last 2.5 miles was the worst - my washboard dirt road was magnified quite a bit pulling all that weight.  Got it parked and leveled in a spot for me to ponder the future interior...perhaps like this?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

record heat day...

Boy it was a hot one today...

Spent the swelter gathering parts for the tow job coming up.  Weight distributing hitch from JustMe and a couple of spare hitches and a mongo tool set from my buddy Chuck...he must have big nuts.  106,113,67,0,B 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

last load

Screwed the rack down

Mounted the panels

Bentonite done...waiting for the final tonnage tally.  102,112,65,0,B

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

new rack...

Decided it was time to build a steel rack for the house solar panels.  This time of year they get partially shaded.  While we have another 2 months of high sun - reckon it's time to rake it all in.  Cleared a spot just to the right of these photos for the Airstream.  BTW...these are all Harbor Freight panels which were the best deal when on sale 3.5 years ago.  Now the price of solar has dropped to the point where I would no longer suggest buying these - but since I got 'em...will keep them in service.

Just 2 more loads of bentonite coming in the morning.  Took a ride out to the TSB Mine today to check out the source.  Ran into my buddy "dusty dave" working the piles.  104,111,73,0,C

Monday, June 13, 2011

magic dust...

Pulled the forms off the threshold pour.  A bit of funky flaking on top as well as some bunny claw marks, but all was well.

Porter Construction started hauling out sodium bentonite for the dam today.