Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Been into the world of Ebay the last couple of days.  Last time I used it is when I bought the travel trailer I had back in upstate NY.  Picked up just over 7 ounces of odd sterling flatware at just under the melt price including shipping.  Thanks to Dale who commented a couple of days ago and renewed my interest in Canvasman34 and his YouTube videos. http://www.youtube.com/user/canvasman34?feature=watch  Paul Roccaforte is his name and he commented on yesterday's post after I contacted him with some questions about an offering he had on Ebay - (I sent him a link to the blog).  Rule #1 in life : If you have a question about how to do something - ask someone who has done it.  He has been developing some molds that pour themselves when heated....just what I've been searching for.  I bought one from him today to test at TFL.  85,98,49,0,C,.2

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Ben'n'Bud Fund

In case you've been wondering what is up with the recent casting experiments...it is all about my bovines.  Sustainability is also about balancing the budget.  Working on a merch idea to keep my boys fed.  I came up with this plan after I posted about my savings bonds that I found.  Was planning on cashing them in and buying some silver coins.  Got to digging around on the web and found loads of silver casting videos.  Figured providing something really solid that is a tangible asset might be the trick.  A Field Lab tshirt will ultimately wear out - but a nice chunk of Field Lab sterling never will....and will always hold value as opposed to our fictitious paper money.  Gave my first successful test ingot to my friend Suze from The Cheshire Cat Antique Store in Alpine since she donated a couple of ounces to the experiment.  I have known her since my first days in the area when she worked at the Antelope Lodge.  I reckon she is officially my first local friend...and a very good one.

So the ultimate plan is to do a limited edition first run of 100 ingots. Final price,weight, shape, and stamping yet to be determined.  I have already promised #001 to my friend Bill Trinkle who has the very first Field Lab tshirt.  Stay tuned....

Carl was a bad rooster yesterday.  He came into the house and jumped up on my bed, knocking my camera bag on the floor.  Lucky for him, the only casualty was the UV filter on my telephoto lens.

Jumbo zucchini to enhance dinner tonight... 1.14 lbs.  82,94,54,0,B, 1.5   (by the way...kale omelettes are really good)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

the savage beast

Over the past year I have seen quite a few postings on Facebook of a photo by Angela Fisher & Carol Beckwith of a Dinka boy with some cattle in the Sudan.
(Ben has a bit of Ankole-Watusi genetic code in him.)  Sucked it up and bought my first coffee table book...and I don't even have a coffee table.  The publisher is Rizzoli.  I used to stroll through their fancy store in Manhattan every now and then back in my city daze.  What I find intriguing about the Dinka is their devotion to their cattle ( they have over 400 words in their vocabulary just to describe their herd).  Since Benita led me to Christ - it got me thinking about how this  "savage" tribe views religion when not exposed to the teachings of the Bible and if there are factions within the tribe who  (without outside influence) do not accept the teachings of their elders...as in America where the church is simply ignored by so many.  Our culture and society is so diverse and chaotic that the Word has been put aside as an option but not a truth.  Our tribe doesn't know what is true anymore unless they can buy it. (market an iGod, and they will come)  Found a good condition second hand book I just ordered that might help me find an answer.  66,90,50,0,T,0

Saturday, April 27, 2013

cast a coin

Had a successful coin cast in another wood mold this morning. Polished up nice and weighed in at 32.05 grams.  

Chef Boy Howdy pizza tonight...the mix with added Mexico Midget tomatoes and Kale.  74,88,48,0,B,.5

Friday, April 26, 2013

wood mold

Finally had a successful ingot pour.  I have tried a couple of shallow graphite molds, but no luck.  Seems the graphite sucks the heat out of the molten sterling really fast which kept giving me a partially formed ingot with a blob on top.  Went back to the first video I saw on YouTube that inspired this project and decided to try a simple one time wood mold.
Poured almost perfect on the first try.  Cleaned it up with a wire brush on the drill, then various grits of fine sandpaper, some 000 synthetic steel wool, and a light polish with the drill again and a buffing wheel.  Two old junk sterling fork prong ends plus some other bits turned into a nice chunk at 46.15 grams - worth $33.29 as of tonight (not including TFL added value).  76,91,46,0,B,.21

Thursday, April 25, 2013

casting practice

Noticed recently that my very first pair of 6V golf cart batteries were laboring.  Figured it was time to clean them up.  After almost 5 1/2 years they are starting to show their age.  Noticed some small cracks in the cases near the positive terminals....they might be nearing the end of their lifespan.

Rigged up a makeshift furnace with some fire brick to super heat some sterling.  Pouring a good ounce ingot is not as easy as I thought it would be.  Topped off the day with the return of my camera from Canon....just 8 days after I sent if off for a warranty repair.  Service Details:  product was examined and it was found that the internal component did not operate properly - the memory card could not be recognized.  The sd board and upper cover ass'y was replaced.  No charge.  67,79,51,0,B,.15

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Last week when I was rummaging through stuff in one of my shipping containers, I came across a collection I had just about forgotten.  When I lived in NYC, I started grabbing some street art (usually just taped to the side of a building) that I would find in my neighborhood in Little Italy and other parts of Soho and the lower east side.  Once I had 4 or 5 pieces, I actually met the artist on the street one day and introduced myself as a collector.  Over the course of 3 or 4 years in the early 90's we would run into each other at some of the grittier art scenes downtown.

I can't say that we were really friends - more just casual acquaintances that would see each other from time to time.  My recollection of him is that he was very unassuming and friendly to everyone and he had the most perfect Russian accent.  Did some digging online today and found this image of him by Teun Voeten from that time.  Nice surprise to find that someone has just done a documentary about Bokov. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOc1YuT-U3M  Pulling some strings to figure out how to get a screening of the film in the art mecca of Marfa.  62,70,48,0,B, .3

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Got an email about a month ago that Michael Pollan's new book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation was about to be released.   The first 2000 pre-orders to receive an autographed bookplate to paste inside.  I got both.  The autograph arrived about a week ago and the book showed up today.  Cooked chicken, cheese, mushroom, kalesadillas for dinner tonight.

Got word from Canon this morning that my sick camera is well again and on the way home.  64,82,53,0,W,.4

Monday, April 22, 2013

big food day....

TFL breakfast with Swiss chard omelette with 2 TFL eggs and home made mozzarella,  Carl learned to ride Mr. Floppy today (proves he aint no chicken).  Nice big first squash to go with dinner tonight.  87,96,44,0,B,1.75

Sunday, April 21, 2013


My earliest memory of religion in my family was a nightly prayer my parents taught me:
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take....which would follow with blessings for various family members.

When I was older, my family would join hands and say this prayer before our dinner meal.  (We always had dinner together as a family every night, and the rule was that out of respect, no one took a bite until mom did since she worked to prepared the meal )
We thank the Lord for this our food, in Jesus name...Amen.

I seem to remember that my Aunt and Uncle in Colorado said a different evening meal prayer...and I always wondered why theirs was different...
God is Great, God is Good; Let us thank Him for our food.
By His hands we all are fed, Give us Lord our Daily Bread.

Growing up, we would pray together but my parents really never explained to me about their beliefs...it was just part of the routine. When I started attending my church out here, Bonnie emphasized the importance of the congregation praying for one another.  A good friend sent me this poem that is a constant reminder of the importance of giving God my undivided attention when I pray.

I knelt to pray but not for long,
I had too much to do.
I had to hurry and get to work
For bills would soon be due.
So I knelt and said a hurried prayer,
And jumped up off my knees..
My Christian duty was now done
My soul could rest at ease......
All day long I had no time
To spread a word of cheer
No time to speak of Christ to friends,
They'd laugh at me I'd fear..
No time, no time, too much to do,
That was my constant cry,
No time to give to souls in need
But at last the time, the time to die.
I went before the Lord,
I came, I stood, full of strife.
For in his hands God held a book;
It was the book of life.
God looked into his book and said
Your name I cannot find
I once was going to write it down...
but never found the time.
82,90,43,0,C, .68

James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way , and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was . 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

first spinach

Managed to eek out 3.7 grams of melted sterling with the big lens today.  Nice clear skies but it was tough going because it was windy.  Gotta keep it molten because once the mass hardens, it is nearly impossible to get it liquid again with just the lens.  Ended up having to use my torch to get it out of the now well seasoned crucible.  Dinner tonight is a roasted (in the propane grill) happy chicken from Blue Water Natural Foods, some TFL mozzarella, and fresh spinach grazin's from the greenhouse.
77,85,40,0,B, .20  If I add in the egg per day from my girls that I've been eating this year - total food output from TFL thus far has been (each egg averages 48 g without the shell x 110 days = 5280 g or 11.84 lbs...including today's greens harvest)

Friday, April 19, 2013

KRTS Marfa Public Radio

It's that time of year again.  Headed to the big city of Marfa for the annual spring pledge drive for KRTS.  You can tell by the expressions on the faces which way the money went.  Honestly though, I love the programming and all the folks at our local NPR station and was happy to contribute my 5th year in a row.  Baby Ben and Carl even made it into their yearbook for last year.

Picked up a few supplies and got home in time to put together a gaudy gift from my friend Bobbie House.  I have to admit - it kinda adds some class to the ol' Airstream.

Since not much exciting is going on with my webcam these days, you might like to check out my friend Melanie Wilfong's live feed from a horned owl nest in her barn.  She is the owl whisperer....
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/lone-star-great-horned-owls-web-cam  63,73,44,0,B,0

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Danny to the rescue II

Well....I spoke too soon about my internet service repair.  Nothing had been done yet - I just happened to get lucky when I last posted.  Things were fine last night but the speed died out on me this afternoon.  Just as I was trying to do another speed test, our trusty Danny from Big Bend Telephone drove up.  After installing a new modem and extracting their Tripp Lite surge protector I am blazing away again (fingers crossed).  Been just over 2 years since his last modem replacement visit.  http://thefieldlab.blogspot.com/2011/03/danny-to-rescue.html

On a side note...Ben is about to become a star in the UK.  Our episode shot by the British film crew last year will air soon.  Ben was only 3 weeks old at the time and was named after the host.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/9991905/Ben-Fogle-meets-people-who-left-the-modern-world-behind.html?fb   64,79,49,0,B,0

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

technical difficulties...

Rather difficult to be self sufficient while relying on some bits technology that are out of my control.  For the past week my internet download speed has dropped to below 1Mbps in the evening.  Finally called to inquire and magically - someone tweaked a knob somewhere and the problem seems to be solved....for now.  Next issue: my 4 month old Canon T3i decided today that it had no SDHC card in it when in fact it did.  Blew out the slot with some air and tried a brand new card and got the same message.  Tomorrow the camera body leaves for a little trip to Virginia for a warranty repair.  Good news is that everything else built by me and under my direct control is still running smoothly.  83,93,52,0,W,0

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

hitch in the plan...

Caught a new calf down in Study Butte getting some run time in.  Pretty easy to catch Carl enjoying dirt.  Nice clear sky today but couldn't coax more than 1200° out of the fresnel lens.  I need at least 1700° to melt and get a good pour out of some sterling silver.  Went ahead and did a second nugget (31 g) with the propane.  A bit tricky to fill a one ounce graphite mold without a lot of heat...still working on my stamping skills.  The search continues for a reliable method and materials sources.  90,102,46,0,B,0

Monday, April 15, 2013

lump sum...

Broke out the ol' fresnel lens today.  Attempted to melt about an ounce of sterling silver with it.  Just a little too much haze in the sky...only reached 1100°.  Had to resort to a propane torch to get it liquid.  Finally formed my first .925 nugget.  Topped off the day with a great visit from new animal loving land owners - Kenneth and Chris.  They just closed on some property north of me.  72,94,51,0,B,0

Sunday, April 14, 2013

no noise

The older I get, the more I think about my ultimate destiny.  It isn't about what I have done - but how I have done it.  The best thing my parents taught me was to acknowledge personal responsibility.  When I moved to NYC at 22 - I thought I had the world on my plate, but was always aware of the fact that all my actions had consequences.  I'm not proud of some of the things I have done, but thankful that I have found my way through it all and feel  blessed to be where I am today.  Where the noise goes away - like when television wasn't a 24 hour onslaught on the senses.

Colossians 3: 1. If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3. For ye are dead , and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear , then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 5. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6. For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7. In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9. Lie not one to another , seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10. And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Had a pleasant burro visit late yesterday afternoon.  They were very well behaved, even when I put out feed for them.

Headed south to the flea market at H2OtoGO this morning.  Bought a set of flatware for 25 bucks.  Was hoping it was sterling but found out otherwise when I got home with the non-booty.  It is all marked 1847 Rogers Bros. I S  Flair.  A quick search online when I got home told me it is just silver plated. ( The Flair pattern is made of silver plate. As such, its value is not great. The pattern was introduced in 1956 by International Silver ("IS") which now owns the Rogers brand. The "1847" refers to the founding date of Rogers Bros.)   The good news is, small groupings and sets are listed on Ebay for much more than I paid - and I have something substantial (in a nice wooden box) to replace the plastic flatware I've been using and throwing away.  Not the mother load I was hoping for but still a pretty good deal.

A large storm rolled through this afternoon but only got a trickle out of it at TFL including 20 seconds of pea sized hail.  At least it rendered a decent sunset.  65,87,55, .08:,B,0

Friday, April 12, 2013


Supply run to Alpine today and mined some junk sterling silver.  Got 224 grams (7.9 oz)  for free.  74,90,39,0,B,0

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Had to catch up with visitors I had a couple of days ago that brought me a blueberry and raspberry bush.  Forgot to get a picture when they were here.  I hope that Roger, Nina, Rose and Greg will came back again next time they are in the area.  New friends Shera and David were out today from Manhattan, Montana (of all places)  for a couple of hours to shoot a blurb on TFL for
Transplanted 4 more corn starts...the first ones are growing fast.  Topped off the day seasoning my small crucible with borax.  Two tablespoons of powder and heat from a propane torch and it has a glass finish now to keep precious metals from sticking to it.  67,75,39,0,B,0

Wednesday, April 10, 2013