AuthorTopic: Meanwhile back at the 'stead  (Read 194271 times)

Offline Eddie

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Meanwhile back at the 'stead
« on: August 17, 2013, 07:00:30 PM »
Yesterday after work I finally managed to connect with the horse farm guy near my work, whom  I've been talking to, who has manure for free as well as a huge pile of blackland prairie soil he is willing to have hauled off. He loaded my trailer for free, too, with his big ass tractor, and I made my way north and west to the 'stead, a distance of about 30 miles. I explored some new backroads, trying to find a way to get from point A to point B without having to drive on the Interstate or 183N. I wanted to go slow to keep from having the load all blow away. I've found that if I drive 50mph the poop stays put without a tarp.

It was an interesting drive from a geographic perspective. The horse farm, just to the north and east of my office, is just on the very southern edge of what was once the Great Plains, and you can still get the feel for that, even though the native grasses are long gone, and the buffalo that roamed here are ancient history. Actually, just to the west of my office, across the freeway, is a street called Chisolm Trail, and the funny thing is that it actually is the original Chisolm Trail that herders once used to drive cattle from South Texas to the Kansas railheads.

I drove north and then west, into rocky outcroppings where limestone has been quarried for 150 years, and is still being strip-mined. Mostly you don't see the quarries, which are not visible from the road. This is the northern edge of what is called the Texas Hill Country, which is the part of Texas that's generally considered the most beautiful part of the state, although it's always been on what we call the "dry line" between East and West. Drought cycles have always been a part of life here, at least for a long time.

 John Graves wrote about that in his ecologically precocious book, Goodbye to a River. He wrote that back in 1959, long before anyone ever talked about climate change. I have a copy of that book I got him to sign around here somewhere. He died a week or so ago, John did. He was one of our best Texas writers, about the age of my own parents or just a few years  younger. I'm sorry he's gone, but he was getting really old. I think I've read everything he ever wrote. He lived just to the north and west, up in Glen Rose Texas.

 He and Fred Gipson are about my favorite Texas authors. Gipson has been gone a for a long time, but he also wrote some books, not as well known as the ones they made into blockbuster movies, like Savage Sam and Old Yeller, that also touched on themes of what we'd now call permaculture. He wrote a great little book called The Home Place, about a guy who moves back to the ranch he grew up on and works on improving the soil and bringing back the native grasses. That was in 1950. Wherever you find yourself, if you look, you can always find someone who trod a similar path before you came along.

I drove through the countryside, which is filled with small and some larger ranching operations, mostly part of the fossil fuels based Big Ag paradigm, but also lots of places occupied by folks who just love the country, and raising horses and cows and goats. There are literally thousands of small freeholders in the rural country around Austin, each with a family trying to carve out their own little piece of the American Dream. It isn't as easy as it used to be, but  most of them look like they're prospering. But the money generally doesn't come from the land, but rather the land is a place to spend the money from some job working in corporate America.

On my place it looked like maybe I'd gotten a half inch or so of rain, the big holes in the creek with standing water in them, but still far from full or running.

I dumped the little trailer and grabbed a beer from the fridge in the cabin, which is still hanging in there but not cooling like it once did. It will be replaced with a smaller unit with an Energy Star rating, something better to run off the panels when that eventually becomes a reality. Afterward, I didn't hang around, but headed back down the 183 corridor, which put me at my door in West Austin in a short 45 minutes. Much of the way is a toll road now, with a 75 mph speed limit. I hauled ass and was home long before dinner time.

I played around with the PMA welder head I ordered, which came in yesterday too. I am trying to use a standard bracket from theepicenter.com to mount it and a 10hp diesel. I don't understand everything about this one yet. It looks like it might have to have a battery to work, which is a disappointment for a device that is supposed to generate electricity. It's part of the welding control module, whatever that is.

I also picked up two 1 hp 48V PMA DC motors which can be used to generate engine driven DC too. It now becomes all about fabricating mounts and sourcing pulleys. It is simple to rig a v belt drive, but not necessarily easy to find the right components to make the drive parts of these things do what you want it to do, which is to deliver a specific rpm.





« Last Edit: August 17, 2013, 09:30:38 PM by Eddie »
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Online RE

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Re: Meanwhile back at the 'stead
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2013, 07:17:34 PM »
DING DING DING! We have a WINNER.

This one goes up on the Diner Blog Eddie.

What do you want for your Byline?  Real Name or an Anon?

I need some Pics to Dinerize it.

RE
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Offline Karpatok

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Re: Meanwhile back at the 'stead
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2013, 07:41:11 PM »
I really enjoyed this Eddie. It made me nostalgic for the mythical west of my country that I really never knew. It also made me nostalgic for my 6speed Ram and trailer which I knew well. It's sickening to see our country go down and fade to rot without hope. I used to believe in people like Franz Fannon {"The Wretched of The Earth"} but I know now that those ideas' at least for the wretched in this country, did more harm than good. I am not Fannon by a long shot, and simply have no answers or even beliefs about the state of injustice in the world. What I liked about driving on a beautiful day in the country was that I could forget the wretched and the violence and the suffering and just work. I hired and worked with good working men, many of whom I came to love, who had left their homes in search of work to feed themselves and their families, just as our ancestors did before us when coming to this rough land so full of promise. Are there seeds of destruction planted in all creation? I think so, because as the wheel turns all comes to fruition and passes away. So this vicarious journey into the "old Texas" becomes elegiac with mourning. Karpatok

Offline Petty Tyrant

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Re: Meanwhile back at the 'stead
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2013, 09:23:35 PM »
Eddies trek to the toothstead trail!!! I hear you loud and clear eddie and k. Ive moved from the biggest state with most rapidly growing city with the lowest unemployment and highest wages etc where they replace buildings built in the 70' and 80's for the hell of it, to the smallest state with the highest unemployment with tiny towns that have not even grown in 100 years and buildings all built in the 1800's.

Then to get even more lost by time I took the track to my new place (this week coming, cant wait) where I had only been once before with the estate agent. Being so remote you listen to any signal you can get on the radio and as I got to the gate looking at the mist among the trees 500m high up, or about 1500 ft, what played was classical music from the 1800's. I just felt like it could easily have been 150 years ago, so peaceful and beautiful. Its called 'picnic hill' and I could imagine in the old days before there were roads or cars it would have been worth the trek to take the object of your affection up, even if you carried her, to get the romantic atmosphere, and maybe get some lurv.
After a little wander I headed back down the private road and was met by a guy who was the lost identical twin of Brian Denehy, big ol fella in Stihl suspenders, holding a pickaxe and parked his pickup in the middle of the road. Friendly enough once he knew who was poking around. Told me how they 'live off the end of the rifle' and grow most of their own food, and how another fella is a proper butcher who can slaughter and butcher beasts for ya and his grandson goes to the school with my son and so on. And its like that with everyone, its rude not to stop and talk be it the sandwich shop, the post office, petrol pump, museum, anyone anywhere.

Kk driving a 6 speed Rammm, damn.


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Offline Eddie

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Re: Meanwhile back at the 'stead
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2013, 10:52:54 AM »
DING DING DING! We have a WINNER.

This one goes up on the Diner Blog Eddie.

What do you want for your Byline?  Real Name or an Anon?

I need some Pics to Dinerize it.

RE

Real first name is fine. My latest attempts to post pics here in my comments were a failure. I need to find that resizing site I used before. I'll see if I can get some loaded. Not sure the post is worthy of the blog page, though. Whatever you think.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Online RE

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Re: Meanwhile back at the 'stead
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2013, 11:12:38 AM »
Real first name is fine. My latest attempts to post pics here in my comments were a failure. I need to find that resizing site I used before. I'll see if I can get some loaded. Not sure the post is worthy of the blog page, though. Whatever you think.

You can resize the pics with the "paint" accessory program in Windows.  Make sure you save with a new name so you don't lose the original full size pic.

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Offline Eddie

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Re: Meanwhile back at the 'stead
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2013, 09:35:57 AM »


Some days internal combustion devices just don't act right.

Those of you who have messed about in boats might appreciate this. The only thing worse than a boat that doesn't run is a boat that runs just well enough to leave you stranded. I'm zero for two on my last two attempts to take the kids out in our old Mastercraft. After the last bad Sunday afternoon, I spent a Monday changing spark plugs and trying to dilute and fortify a dodgy tank of gas...yesterday the boat ran extremely well...until I pulled up to our dock...then it quit and refused to start... Eventually I figured out I have a stuck float in one of the carburetor primaries, causing the engine to flood out at idle.

The kids paddled the boat back to the boat ramp and put it on the trailer. Then, my son managed to get my truck to hang up in four wheel drive low range. I didn't notice this until much later, when I got ready to drive home, and by then it was dark and all the other revelers had left in their cars. I had to drive home for 50 miles in low range...which I believe more or less destroyed my FWD. I made it home but just barely.

Cars are so easy to take for granted, until yours starts failing and you're wondering if you're going to make it back. And driving that truck, winding it out in low range, just listening to the gears in the transfer case chewing themselves up while the engine was working double just to push us down the road...it made me feel like shit. This morning I still feel like shit.

So, my truck is broke down...boat broke down...two tractors broke down. And I'm supposed to leave for a short vacation Saturday morning...no time to take care of any of it until I get back.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Petty Tyrant

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Re: Meanwhile back at the 'stead
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2013, 05:01:34 PM »
Yeeouch! You should have waited for rain or ice on the road to take the strain off your drivetrain. For Shame.

No seriously, that sucks enough to make a grown man cry. :BangHead:
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Offline jdwheeler42

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Re: Meanwhile back at the 'stead
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2013, 11:02:07 PM »
Some days internal INFERNAL combustion devices just don't act right.
Fixed that for ya  8)
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Offline Eddie

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Re: Meanwhile back at the 'stead
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2013, 09:26:52 AM »
Too many projects, too little time.

It's time to take stock and prioritize.

Current projects:

1. The Horse Shit Project, aka the Manure Compost Pile
2. The Big Generator Project (building a generator using the 30HP Changfa diesel)
3. The Solar Installation
4. The Wind Generator Project
5. The Zena Welder/Generator Project
6. The Solar Hot Tub Project

In addition, I have fence building and gardening to do. More beds to build for the back yard in town. Fall garden to plant. I'm getting behind on that, but I have lots of veggies I nursed through the summer. I should plant more though.

All current projects require a working truck. As of yesterday, the truck is In The Shop. As soon as it's working, I'll get back to project number one, which is collecting "number two"  from the donor horse farms. I am getting calls wondering if/when I'm going to get around to it.

Now that I at least have the 24V genny, the Big Generator Project is not a huge priority, but.. that one and both Wind and Solar all require some welding and fabrication using metal. So I need to finish numero five (the Zena welder)...which involves sourcing one more small air-cooled engine, maybe a gas engine...cheaper (and I already have a diesel genny online and one in the works).

I do have a big old crackerbox welder and a small gas shielded MIG unit, but to use the crackerbox I need to install a new 240V plug out at the 'stead. I haven't used the MIG since I quit fooling with car restoration...but it's a small wire feed job and not the best for welding tubing and plate steel. The Zena will have the advantage of being portable...a real plus, and probably a necessity for some of the wind and solar install.

So...I need to fabricate a square tubing frame for The Big Chink Generator...I need to fabricate a wind generator pole using pipe...and some plate steel and channel for a hinged base. I can fab the solar panel mounts using pipe and quarter inch angle iron.

Also on the wind and solar projects I still have to source some charge controllers and inverters and lots of wire and connecting bits....I've just about figured out which ones I want, but I have to spend some FRN's on getting them.  Likewise, I have to get  batteries...but that needs to wait...batteries should always be the LAST item for an off-grid project, because as soon as you get them, you have to start feeding them...unless you can get them dry, which you used to be able to do, but not so much anymore.

Presently, with two tractors broken, I only have the backhoe for digging and shit moving. It's too big to trailer on my trailers...so getting both tractors fixed is a priority. I need to check on the one I dropped off (being fixed by a local retired military type...good but slow)..and I probably should go ahead and take the hydraulic pump off the big IHC tractor that I use to dig post holes. That or trailer it to the shop too...except I need a TRUCK for that, dammit.

This just in....The Tranny Shop says $2000 worst case scenario to fix the truck 4WD. I said go ahead.

I sure do understand why farmers usually go in debt for new tractors and pick-ups...it just costs so much time and energy and money to fix old shit...but at this point, I WILL NOT bite, not even for the 5YR no interest come-on (available right here and now for both tractors and trucks, btw). No more debt if I can help it.

Believe it or not, I can also get no interest financing on the wooden soaking tub of my dreams...I might just have to bend a little on that one, since I could pay that one off in a month or two if I had to...LOL. Even though the hot tub is just a luxury, I think it's important to have some progress going on the Retreat aspect of the 'stead. And a hot soak would be damn nice after a hot day of hauling shit. (Don't worry, I'll take a shower before getting in the tub). It will be solar and/or wood heat only, and no jacuzzi jets...just a big cedar tub. Solar powered pumping for the tub too. I have most of the stuff sourced for that project too, but hesitating to spend the FRN's what with truck and tractor issues.

I just re-read this post, and I think it sounds as manic as Dirdy Birdy at his finest. Just as well. I probably won't get much done on this list for at least a week or two. Maybe by then I'll be mellowed out a little.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 09:31:54 AM by Eddie »
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Surly1

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Re: Meanwhile back at the 'stead
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2013, 09:35:17 AM »
Doesn't sound manic at all. You said at the top, "too many projects, too little time."

All makes sense.

Fully agree about the hot tub. A good soak after a long of physical work is not only restorative but highly reinforcing. It will keep you going and give you something to look forward to...
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline jdwheeler42

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Re: Meanwhile back at the 'stead
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2013, 01:45:29 PM »
1. Get truck working
 2. Manure Compost Pile
   a. Get truck working
   b. Collect manure from horse farms
 3. The Zena Welder/Generator Project
    a. Source small air-cooled engine / install 240V plug at 'stead
  4. The Big Generator Project (building a generator using the 30HP Changfa diesel)
     a. Get welder working
     b. Fabricate a square tubing frame
  5. The Solar Installation
     a. Source some charge controllers, inverters, lots of wire and connecting bits
     b. Get welder working
     c. Fabricate solar panel mounts using pipe and quarter inch angle iron
  6. The Wind Generator Project
     a. Get welder working
     b. Fabricate a wind generator pole using pipe
     c. Fabricate hinged base using some plate steel and channel
     x. Get batteries
 7. The Solar Hot Tub Project
 8. Fence Building
 9. Gardening
   a. Plant fall garden
   b. Build beds for back yard
 10. Fix tractors
    a. Check on one that is dropped off
    b. Move hydraulic pump / trailer to shop
That look more manageable?  ;D
Making pigs fly is easy... that is, of course, after you have built the catapult....

Offline Eddie

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Re: Meanwhile back at the 'stead
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2013, 02:01:58 PM »
Looks much more do-able. Hopefully the truck is handled, or will be before I leave town.

Welder next. I'm going with the Harbor Freight Predator (Honda clone). Now if I can just find one of their 20% off coupons...I think the only other stuff I'll need is a drive pulley or two, and a belt. I'm going to try to use one of these for a mount.

Oops, looks like I posted a link to a copyrighted image. My bad. Anyway, here's a similar pic of a mount from Mike's windmill shop. I don't think Mike will mind.

« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 03:29:59 PM by Eddie »
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Eddie

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Re: Meanwhile back at the 'stead
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2013, 02:13:30 PM »
The Zena looks like a car alternator, except it has a little "mystery box" attached. Not sure what's in there.

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline jdwheeler42

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Re: Meanwhile back at the 'stead
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2013, 04:33:58 PM »
Welder next. I'm going with the Harbor Freight Predator (Honda clone). Now if I can just find one of their 20% off coupons...I think the only other stuff I'll need is a drive pulley or two, and a belt. I'm going to try to use one of these for a mount.
http://www.harborfreight.com/20off-coupon912-aff-17560.html?utm_source=cj&utm_medium=aff&utm_campaign=wts-coupons&hftref=cj
Making pigs fly is easy... that is, of course, after you have built the catapult....

 

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