Monday, November 28, 2011

Have a bad feeling.

  Does anybody else out there feel like the wheels are about to come off and we're ready to plummet off the cliff as a country?  I don't know if it's all the happy Black Friday videos showing society's descent into madness, or the festive news of the Euro's impending collapse, or our own shameless political hacks pointing fingers at everybody but themselves, or maybe it's all of the above.  I'm waaaay further down the "pessimism superhighway" than my DW but even she was feeling it this morning.  She was even reading about some of Fernando Aguirre's experiences in dealing with the collapse of Argentina's economy in 2001; pretty scary stuff.  I'm feeling very exposed here in Cinci as we ride out the rest of this school year, trying to make it to the time when we can scoot for the homestead.  I think my trigger for an early bugout is going to be if the government declares a "bank holiday" like it did during the Great Depression.  There're quite a few miles between Cinci and Nodak and three very troubling places in between, namely Indianapolis, Chicago and Madison.  I don't want to wait too long should our very own collapse start unfolding before our very eyes (again read Fernando Aguirre).

  On a happier note, I finished one of the horse cart leaf springs today.  I also got off my hind-end and ordered a Big Berkey water filter system.

I got two spare filters and the sight glass spigot.  It's really pricey up front but when you figure out how much it costs versus the amount it will filter over its lifetime, it's a great value over buying bottled water.  We got the house water system hooked up to our well this summer but we still need to get the water tested.  I found two university studies that showed that this filter was effective at removing pesticides.  Even if our water tests good, I'll feel more secure since we live in a heavily agricultural area where the farmers just love to spray.

  As a last little ray of sunshine, I was overjoyed to hear that congressman Barney Frank wasn't going to seek re-election.  I try to live my life not hating anybody but this guy is about as close as they come.  My skin crawls when I hear the "man" speak!  I think his leaving is "too little to late" but it's still a nice gesture on his part.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A nice spring day

  I worked on our 100+ year old horse cart today.  The main leaves in the springs needed to be changed due to the previous owner welding in two inch extensions.  I had them made this summer at E & H Spring Shop in eastern Ohio.  They did an outstanding job and charged me about half of what I was expecting to pay.  I'm just getting around to installing them; such a procrastinator!

The two top springs are the new ones.  The workmanship was top-notch but there was one small issue.  The width of the 100 year old spring is not a standard size for the stock produce today.  I either had to go larger or smaller.  I told the guys at E&H to go larger and I would file the extra 1/8" off of the eyes and mounting pad.  I went out to the storage bin and got a piece off the cart to use as a size gauge to see how far I had to file.

The cart is looking all sad and droopy without the leaf springs on one side.  The spring work on the leaves and on the seat is absolutely beautiful.  I'll have to get a picture when I have them done.  I filed my little heart out and ended up finishing both eyes on one spring and got a good start on the mounting area.

Depending on how much I work with Bonnie tomorrow, I'm thinking that I should be able to get one side finished and repainted.  I only have to get a horse collar and a set of lines and I'll be ready to start ground driving Bonnie.  I think we're probably a long way off from hitching her to this heirloom though.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Horse fly

  Still recovering here from Thanksgiving.  DW and I split the cooking again and, as always, we had waaaay too much food.  We each made a pie from scratch; hers was pecan and mine was sweet potato.  It was hard to pick a favorite since they both came out great!  She is finally over her plague so we had extra to be thankful for, especially since nobody else caught it.

  I spent today out riding our draft-cross Bonnie.  It's been raining so much here lately that I haven't got to work with her that much.  Bonnie is for all intents and purposes still green due to her young age and lack of work for the last couple of years.  If I don't get her out for a ride or at least get her into the round pen she turns into a real handful.  Today was the second day in a row that we were able to go trail riding.  She was very well behaved and I guess I got lulled into a false sense of complacency with her.  Toward the end of the ride we were trotting along the back fence of an adjoining horse farm.  There were two horses standing ahead of us and as we approached them, they spooked.  Bonnie spooked in the opposite direction so fast that I didn't even really know what happened.  All I remember was looking down at all the pretty green grass going by underneath me and then I was on the ground.  Thankfully, I think my parachute training kicked in from Naval aircrew school and I made a nice rolling landing and got up without a scratch.  Bonnie trotted off and I found her eating grass next to the fence by the stable.  She looked up at me with that innocent draft horse look like she was asking "where you been?".  I rounded her up and rode her back over to the spot so she could see that there was nothing scary over there.  No harm no really was my fault anyway.  This is the first time I've ever been thrown from a horse so lesson learned.

Here's a picture of *E* meeting Bonnie for the first time.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why are we in the trouble we're in?

  DW is still plague-ridden although it seems like she has a bit more energy today.  Everybody else has dodged the bullet so far.  She's been spending a lot of time on her E-bay selling as this doesn't take too much out of her.  Her whole operation consists of buying items from estate sales, thrift stores or craigslist and selling them on E-bay.  We've tailored back our debt to just the mortgage on the Cinci house and our day to day spending has been reduced to $100 per week for a family of five.  The nice part is that she didn't have to return to her "rat-race" of a job and we're both getting to enjoy watching *E* grow up.  We kind of look at it as our own little Galt's Gulch!

So here's my amazingly sad E-bay story for the day...
  DW listed a little fortune telling pendulum kit that was do to end in the next day or two with no bids as of yet.  She received a message from a potential buyer this morning indicating that this individual was interested in buying the item but would not be able to pay within the three day limit that was indicated on the listing.  Payday was coming up and she wouldn't have the money until then.  My DW, being the humanitarian that she is, replied that she would make an exception and extend the deadline for payment to one week.  Problem solved!!!  The person bid on the item.  Here's where it gets really sad...the item was $3 with another $3 for shipping.  You can't make this stuff up!  The woman didn't have $6 to her name so that she could buy a FORTUNE TELLING PENDULUM and was trying to leverage this monstrous financial investment on her next pay check!  I would give her a dollar to just be able to look into her food cupboards.  I was shaving with my straight razor when DW was telling me this story.  I'm lucky I didn't slit my throat when my jaw dropped.  I was a command financial counselor in the Navy for each of the squadrons to which I was assigned.  I would see this kind of stuff every day from the young sailors that just had way too much credit available to them and got themselves into trouble but this one is amazing to me because of the amount of money involved and the frivolity of the item.  People just don't understand what's coming!

  Whew this post was pretty sad.  Here's a couple of pics of *E* out at the farm this summer, swinging in a hammock and rolling in the grass.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Flashback: Arriving at the Homestead

  It's been a hectic week around here.  DW caught the plague or some such related disease when she went to North Carolina to visit our Grandbaby.  It's hit her pretty hard and she's downright miserable.  We've all but quarantined her from *E* and to some extent myself in order to keep the house from turning into a total trainwreck.  Both parents sick or a sick baby is bad juju!

  I thought I'd write down a little bit more of our trip out to the homestead in North Dakota this summer.  This picks up on our arrival following a nightmare last day of travel (see earlier post for all the gory details).
  We pulled into the yard with both of us totally exhausted from being awake for the last 24 hours or so.  The first disaster was evident right away as all the wood shakes were missing from the top three feet of the roof.  It had been a particularly nasty winter and the old shakes just had no more to give.  Who knows how old that roof was?!!  To add to the fun, there was a hole chewed though the roof planking on the west side just big enough for a racoon.

If you look really hard, you can just see it up near the top. 
  The next fun was of the creepy crawly variety.  We managed to arrive at the height of tick season and as you can see by the above picture, the grass was a good two feet high.  We stepped out of the truck and were instantly covered.  Our poor dog Sparky was an instant walking tick feast and I think DW got more on her in the first ten minutes than she has had in her whole life!  We quickly ran into the house and initiated de-ticking procedures.
  With nerves stretched pretty thin, we took a walk through the house.  Our racoon friend had been busier than we thought and had also chewed a hole in the living room addition's roof.  It made for a nice sun roof but played havoc with the wood floors underneath the carpet.

  To top everything off, we also found that every drain in the house was plugged.  We knew from the previous summer that they weren't quite right but now nothing moved.  We discovered really quickly that not having running water is nothing compared to not having drains!
  It was all too much.  I couldn't stand having  DW and *E* spend the night in that carnage so I disconnected the trailer, packed them back up into the truck and sent them off to the nearest motel, which was over twenty miles away.  Sitting empty for 20 or so years had not been kind to our old house.  As I watched the truck pull out of the yard and drive away down the dirt road I asked myself "What have you gotten us all into?".  I spent almost the entire night and next morning cleaning and knocking down the jungle of grass in front of the house.  It was still a nightmare when they came back the next morning but it was bearable.

  OK, OK, that was pretty depressing!  Here's some gratuitously cute pictures of *E* dressed up as a scarecrow for Halloween to cheer you back up.  Enjoy!