Friday, September 30, 2011

got chard?


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Texas Penal Code...why I moved from NY to Texas

Been following the Wall St. protests for about a week now.   If this kind of police brutality ever happens in Texas, here is something to keep in mind - but good luck proving it in court (make sure to capture it on video):

Texas Penal Code 9.31 - Self Defense. Subsection C: The use of force to resist an arrest or search is justified: (1) if, before the actor offers any resistance, the peace officer (or person acting at his direction) uses or attempts to use greater force than necessary to make the arrest or search; and (2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the peace officer's (or other person's) use or attempted use of greater force than necessary. Subsection D: The use of deadly force is not justified under this subchapter except as provided in section 9.32.

Texas Penal Code 9.32 - Deadly Force In Defense Of Person. (a) A person is justified in using deadly force against another: (1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.31; (2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary; (A) to protect himself against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force...

In other news...the mother of all hornworms, a tiny polinator, and Brian and Claudia - some really nice visitors at TFL this afternoon.  74,100,62,0,B

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

hot day...

tried out the new tungsten mandrel with bead release - found some lettuce sprouts two days after planting - welded more parts on the greenhouse east end -  - and a rainbow to top off the day.  76,99,69,T,0

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Got the final detail today for my from   I sent the digital images last Thursday and got the printed output today in the mail.  Sending off my package to DPS tomorrow.

Another round of rain in the forecast so I stocked up down south just in case.

Did a bit a of prep for the next phase of greenhouse welding then Maria the plant lady showed up to check on my Terlingua Creek Cat's Eye plants.  Inspired me to find more blooms to shoot.  Found some more sources for wildlife habitat dam funding so I fired off emails to the US Fish and Wildlife Service  and the Environmental Defense Fund.  Have an appointment next week in Alpine with Texas Parks and Wildlife. Playing two angles...wildlife habitat and protecting an endangered species.   82,103,63,0,B

Monday, September 26, 2011

one step at a time...

Haley and Jared from the Alpine office of the NRCS came out this morning to take a look around.  They have a lot to offer as far as conservation efforts go.  Next step is to schedule a visit from an engineer to see if rebuilding my dam with some federal dollars is feasible.  Perhaps in the meantime I should get back to work on the greenhouse - my 4 year anniversary is coming up in December. 

Speaking of greenhouses...Village Farms is building another Texas mega hydroponics situation in Monahans.  Their stats are impressive but I wonder where they get their chemical fertilizer to pump through the lines.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

dish network...

My buddy Jesse Hall is back on the ranch this weekend.  Swung by his place this afternoon and swiftly extracted his 10' satellite dish slated for future solar concentrator water heating to keep the greenhouse toasty perhaps next winter.  A warm winter night greenhouse will be known as the Hall effect thanks to his donation to The Field Lab.  79,94,58,0,B

Friday, September 23, 2011

La Yarda

Did another road survey this morning.....the ranch patched my road - now a little wider for some reason but still an inch deeper.  Good news (?) is, we probably won't get any more rain this year to wash it out again.  That last gusher was just enough to feed the seeds.  Plants are popping up all over the place out here.

Unfortunately, my business in Odessa did not coincide with new business that needed to be attended to.  Had to make an Alpine run today.  The one hour ride seems like a breeze compared to 3 1/2 to the big O.  Did my thing(s) then swung by my new favorite spot - La Yarda behind the Murphy Street Raspa Co.  My friends Cristina and Victor have created a beautiful kid friendly restaurant/hangout behind their precious Raspaland establishment.  Like a McDonald's with a playground - without the poison.  Check out La Yarda on facebook.  Better yet - check it out in person one block south of the train station.  80,92,58,0,B

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

two days worth...

1. solar bacon
2. chance meeting with Blair and Jean Pittman in Ft. Stockton
3. fingerprinted in Odessa for the CHL
4. lunch at Hooters with Guy Hodges (this is our waitress - not Guy)
5. rainbow on the way home
6. and almost forgot - rode an elevator for the first time in 5 years

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

road trip...

Business in Odessa tomorrow....Motel in Ft. Stockton tonight.

Monday, September 19, 2011

bread and hornworms...

Noticed yesterday that some leaves were gone on a couple of tomato plants.  This morning I saw lots of little black "grenades" under the plants.  I knew right away what that meant - hornworms!  I pulled about 20 off the plants today and I am sure there are more that aren't big enough to see.  
Baked a couple loaves of experimental no knead bread this morning in the gas grill.  Was OK but not that good because I tried self rising flour with a little wheat flour mixed in with some yeast and spices.  All purpose or bread flour really works best.  Just to be clear - no hornworms were used in the bread dough.

A Field Lab friend sent me an email right after the dam fail about some programs available through the USDA.  I contacted a local branch in Alpine called the NRCS (National Resources Conservation Service) and they are coming out next week to do a site survey for my dam project.  I might be able to get technical assistance and funding to restore the dam project though WHIP (Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program).  It's a longshot, but if I can grab some Obama dollars before they all run out - no harm in trying.  80,92,66,0,B

Sunday, September 18, 2011

thank you poatri...

Did a road inspection today...will have to take a detour until the real estate interests need to show smooth roads to their perspective buyers.  Ultimately this will all be smoothed out but a few inches deeper.  The main reason I refuse to pay the HOA fees is because of inferior road maintenance.  This section of my road is 3' below grade - where do you think the water is going to go?  The erosion side leads right into my canyon. Spent way too much time of a precious Sunday assisting two different vehicles get through the mud when they shouldn't have been out here in the first place.  87,90,65,0,C

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I thought this might happen....

Big storm overnight....  1.38" of rain fell in one hour starting about 2:30AM.  The storm tracked north right through one of the watersheds that feeds my pond.  Went out at daylight and saw the high water mark but no water way north of the dam.  Oops.  Looks like it slowly blew out each side of the dam and drained out.  Still have 8' of water in the pond but most of the dam is gone now.  Water was still running into the pond NW of the dam 12 hours after it stopped raining.  My contractor is coming out when the roads dry to assess the damage and to talk about a scaled down repair.  Think I will just have to settle on small pond instead of a lake.  Just wish there was light to get a photo of the full fill before the failure.  GoogleEarth image shows just how much water was backed up before the blowout based on what I saw this morning.  Since this was an experiment, I was mentally prepared for this eventuality so I'm not entirely surprised, only mildly disappointed and rather amazed at the power of nature.  Nothing ventured - nothing gained.  78,94,63, 1.38",B 

Friday, September 16, 2011


Had a rain event overnight.  Checked the rain gauge and found .32" in it.  Took a stroll down to the swamp and was hopeful when I saw several puddles along the way.  Alas....not enough to cause a run into the  reservoir.  No new water but at least there were 2 ducks swimming around in what is left there.  My friend JD named them Jim and Tammy Faye. 

Found the 10till2 sweat spot for the fresnel today.  A bit tricky lining it all up for the super hot spot and realistic over or under (with a mirror) cooking.  Did some more black sandglass bead tests while being extra careful not to burn or blind myself.  Shut down the R&D just when a couple of repeat visitors showed up.  Jon and Skylar came by last year on memorial day for their first visit.  That time they brought me a 12pack of Natural Light.  This year I got a 6pack (three different flavors - all very good) of Jon's home brewed beer. Can't wait to see what they come up with next year!  80,92,64, .32",B

Thursday, September 15, 2011

no rain...yet

Drat!  As usual, it didn't rain much today - only .04",  Coulda made it in and out of Odessa but just had to stick around "just in case".  I don't mind being fully prepared for a storm when it doesn't happen (but it would be nice for one to really dump on TFL for a change).  Decided a good waiting for rain project would be to weld up a stand for the big fresnel lens.  Working on a plan for a variable position cooking base where I can adjust the focus level for temperature while allowing for the changing sun position.  73,91,67, .04",B

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

jumbo fresnel...

Aborted a plan to head to Odessa tomorrow in light of the rain forecast for the next couple of days.  Decided on the move this morning when the weather report changed from 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms to 50% chance of scattered thunderstorms. I would hate to miss a good rain event.  Gotta grab it if and when it falls.

Got my new jumbo fresnel today via FedEx and gave it a quick tryout.  The focus point is about 2000 degrees and it started melting sand almost immediately.  I'm thinking TFL solar sandglass castings of some sort might be for sale soon.  Check out all the videos from Greenpowerscience at  

Highlight of the day was having one of my old college buddies track me down via Facebook today.  Willie Smith was a very good friend back in our Hinshaw Dorm days at UNCG.  We got caught up on the last 30+ years this afternoon.  He had a very unique laugh that I used to be able to imitate way back when.  I think I can still do it.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

donkey day...

hmmmm....seemed to have taken the day off, sort of.  Hauled 125 gallons of water and a 30 pack of beer home and that was about it.  A facebook friend posted a video this morning that gave me an idea for safely chasing off unwanted longhorns.  89,99,58.0.C

Monday, September 12, 2011

the WAY outback...

Did some errands down in Study Butte this morning and ran into my friends Dan and Jess.  They were about to head back to their place and I decided to follow them out since I hadn't visited there homestead yet.  These two have done a very nice job with all salvaged materials.  Not easy visiting much less trucking stuff out when you have to drive 20 miles off the highway.  Made it back to "civilization" with just enough time to work on the Ural for awhile and get it started after a long rest.  Good news is it fits through the big doors.  Taking it over to my buddy Chuck's soon to do some service on it.  Checked the pond tonight and it's down to about 3' deep.  Lots of longhorn, burro, and coyote tracks down by the water.  Some nice looking chances of rain coming up at the end of the week - might be the last hurrah for this year. 90,101,62,0,B

Sunday, September 11, 2011


The good thing about moving stuff around is that you find things that no longer have any useful purpose.  If I keep doing that - the courtyard will be cleared altogether...eventually.  The trick is to find out of the way places to store the things that still have life in them.  Stacked some spare roofing outside the greenhouse and built a quick pallet bin for saved up cardboard to be used for compost.  Now I have some working room to finish closing up the east side.  87,98,60,0,B