Well, bother.

I thought I had the correct Torx socket to replace the Jeep’s driver door hinges…


…but it turns out I could only remove the mirror. Which ought to be replaced before Ol’ Yeller could be considered street legal, which in turn should indicate its priority level in my mind. Spoiler alert: The priority is very low.


Removing the mirror exposed the real bolts, which require the next larger driver. I have a Torx wrench that size but it’s nothing that’ll break those bolts loose. Dammit – I’m almost tempted to take the door off on Monday, load it in D&L’s truck, and drop it off at the local shop. Somebody with the right socket and an impact wrench could replace those hinges in a twinkling. But what I’ll really do is hit the auto parts store.

Good news is that I have confirmed – story of a once-in-a-lifetime miracle – I did get the correct hinges online. Now I just need the tool to actually remove the old ones.

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Uncle Joel tired now.

My plan for the morning was to get all that firewood cut and stacked no matter what, damage acceptable, if I had to spent the whole rest of the day sitting on my ass and moaning it would be worth it just to get it behind me.

Done!


Of course it wasn’t as simple as that – I was less than a half hour, maybe fifteen minutes from done when the phone rang and D&L wanted to go to town. That wasn’t on the schedule but it would sure be worth doing because my Jeep hinges ought to be in at the post office and if I knew the people there I’d have to go to the counter to get them and I can’t do that on Saturday.

Done! And if by some miracle I ordered the right ones, I can fix the Jeep’s driver door this weekend and hopefully be able to spend the winter opening the door with the inside latch and not have to open the window in the cold and fiddle with the outside latch just to get out. That door has been screwed up for years. Also had to get some new struts for the rear window, because the last replacements didn’t last two years.

And finally…


I got the last of my empty propane bottles filled. And before even going home to unload the Jeep, I went back to Landlady’s to tend the chickens early and finish cutting and stacking wood. I am officially, if not emotionally, ready for winter. And also ready to collapse into a chair for a while.

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That worked better…

Since I actually do need bread I chickened out on the 50/50 thing. I used more like 20% whole wheat.


And with that, it rose quite nicely indeed.

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Wonder Mill, and baking wheat bread. Good/bad…


So last weekend Landlady brought up this grain mill, which will allow us to do something about…


…the two sealed buckets of wheat berries that have been in the Gulch longer than I have. Since I bake all the time, this was a subject of some interest to me.


Simple enough…


You start the mill. It sounds more or less exactly like a vacuum cleaner. Once it’s up to speed you pour in a couple of cups of grain…


…and you end up with just about 2 cups of not-very-finely ground wheat flour.

I wanted to grind about nine cups of flour, because my usual recipe for two loaves of bread takes about six cups – and I had a feeling I was going to be baking twice today. I intended from the start to do the first bake with flour straight from the mill, and from the start I did not expect it to go well. I’ve tried making wheat bread before, and really always knew my usual recipe wasn’t going to work. Long-time readers know it took me a long time to find a recipe that worked for me at this altitude and humidity, and I have been very loathe to mess with it once I finally got it dialed in. But I had to try, and figured at the very worst the chickens would eat well.

So straight home to bake bread… Continue reading

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…and then I thought, “What am I doing?”

It’s really time to get back to work on woodcutting. I don’t want to cut a lot because everything currently in the woodshed – probably but not definitely a whole winter’s worth – has been in there two winters now and is one big packrat nest. I need to use it up before they just completely befoul and ruin it, if it’s not already too late.

Still, I do need to cut some wood if only for a cushion. Also I need to supply wood to Landlady’s place and I’m not at all confident there’s enough for that.

So I drove to Landlady’s barn to get my chopsaw, planning to haul it to the woodlot. And then I thought, “What am I doing?”


“I’m going to haul the saw and the generator and cord and tools to the woodlot, cut the wood, and then haul the cut wood to Landlady’s barn?” Which was the plan slowly congealing in my head, since I’m really not sure how to get her wheelbarrow up to her porch from her parking lot now that the deck and walkway are there, but I know I can get it down from the ridgetop where the barn is.

“Or…”


“…since the saw and lots of electricity are already at the barn, and the wood is supposed to end up at the barn, why don’t you haul the wood to the barn first and cut it there?”

er…because I’m a dummy?

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“ We going for a ride?”


I’m sitting here being lazy and waiting for things to warm up a bit before I put it in gear, killing time by watching a video on my phone. D&L told me on Monday that they might go to town this morning, so I wasn’t surprised to get a text. I don’t want to go to town today, so I texted back to say so and gave it no more thought.

But Torso Boy knows the sound the phone makes for an incoming text, and that the sound usually gets me off my ass and sometimes even results in a Jeep ride. So he considers incoming communication relevant to himself as well. 🙂

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Elk have come back!

And they’ve been having a party. Saw tracks in the yard – Torso Boy smelled them first, which added spice to his regular morning ‘let’s go have a shit’ walky. Then I took a nice hour’s walk through the boonie, and fresh tracks were everywhere I looked.


I’ve got to refurbish the game camera, figure out why it’s become so lackluster and insensitive, get it reset and put it back out at the waterer.

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Pickiest. Dog. Ever. Born.

Thought I’d give Torso Boy a little break from his boiled chicken & rice this morning, since I spaced on cooking more rice yesterday and what was left in the container was a little funky and we’re trying to solve intestinal problems, not install them. So I opened one of the two cans of locally-available soft food and gave him half. I expected him to dive right in. Instead he checked it out, took a few licks, and…


Are You F’ing Kidding Me. Little Bear would have ingested that with sufficient authority as to turn the bowl convex.

And I know it’s entirely my fault, that I’ve just spoiled him rotten and now I’m going to have to pay the price of convincing him that people food is for people and dog food is for dogs, and he’s a dog.

I know this, because this is what I had for supper last night…


…and you can believe he was all over me during the entire process, wanting his share. Which he didn’t get.

I’m paying for my sins. Unfortunately for him, I’m used to that sort of thing. So I’m going to win this.

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CCI Blazers contact rock. Mutual destruction ensues.

I want to see how long it takes before somebody starts warning of a global rock shortage.

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Damn right we’re going to take your…

Good luck with that…


I LOLed and stole it from somewhere on the tubes…

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Random gulchy moments, and an upcoming review…

Out on my walky this morning I saw something welcome…


Lots of very fresh mule deer tracks. Things have been very sparse around the Gulch lately; I’m not even flushing many rabbits and the coyotes are shitting juniper berries. But this morning there were lots of nice mulie tracks in the moist sand.

And something else, too, right among them…


…and at first I thought, wow, that’s way bigger than your average coyote. (I should have planted a boot print there for comparison but forgot) I got excited: Wolf? Maybe another feral dog pack? Continue reading

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Gotta get the reloading bench going again.


This is Serenity, the old trailer that’s been my reloading shack for all this decade. I used to spend a lot of time there because I used to shoot my pistol a lot more than I do now. I wrecked my right shoulder 3 years ago and it’s been a long time healing. It was the better part of a year before I could even hold a .44 out straight, and working a press for any length of time was kind of an ordeal.

Now I’ve been getting the itch again, and again I’m relearning that OMFG COMMERCIAL AMMO IS STUPID EXPENSIVE! I can’t afford to shoot that stuff for practice, which means getting back into the reloading habit.

Unfortunately… Continue reading

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I don’t really understand using wood pellets for heating fuel.

I just got back from helping D&L unload a full pallet of wood pellets into their garage…


…and as always it makes me question the value of wood pellets as heating fuel.

I get that pellets can let a stove run for hours on one load. I get that there’s less mess and labor than with cut wood. I don’t get where pellets offer any particular advantage over propane.

A pellet stove needs electricity to work – absolutely won’t function without it. When you live off-grid, there are going to be times when electricity is something of a luxury. Your basic home heating should not require electricity.

Even out here where services are often of … suspect quality, I know of three places that will trundle out to the boonies to sell you propane if you have one of those big tanks. There is no reliable supply of decent quality wood pellets. Oh, yeah: It turns out that pellet quality is variable between manufacturers, and makes a big difference in how well your stove runs. So when D&L can score a pallet-load of the good stuff, they run to nail it down.

D&L’s house is huge and has tons of thermal mass beyond number: they can’t afford to let it get cold the way I do nightly. In a really cold spell they go through sixty pounds – one and a half of those sacks – daily. So that big row of 40-pound pellet sacks might not be much more than a month’s supply. Leading to the last item in my list of “why do people use pellets:” It’s by far the most expensive option.

Lots of people use pellets around here – not so much in the actual boonies, but lots of townies do. There must be some advantage. I surely don’t know what it is.

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At the worst possible time. In the worst possible way.

Yes, Uncle Murphy visited D&L’s house this morning.

D&L have a big (YUGE) house with a big electrical system and an even bigger appetite for electricity. One gloomy day, and their batteries were done. No problem: That’s why they also have a massive, state of the art propane-fueled generator that starts up automatically…


Except when it doesn’t…


And so neighbor D, whom I may have mentioned recently had a stroke, was out trying to figure out why their faithful-for-six-years generator wouldn’t start. Wouldn’t even crank. If his brain were physically hitting on all cylinders he wouldn’t have needed any help from the likes of me, it was pretty obvious.

D is very good about maintenance. He’s positively neurotic about maintenance. No way the thing failed because it wasn’t being maintained. But the turnkey installation came with a small, sealed, maintenance-proof battery – over six years ago. It’s kept charged automatically with solar power. So the battery worked absolutely perfectly – until it didn’t. And when it didn’t, nothing worked. No warning.

As I said, normally D would have worked this out for himself without problem but he’s recovering from literal brain damage. So I came over and helped disconnect the battery. I didn’t have any way of load-testing the battery but all the fuses were good and the symptom (tickticktick) said bad battery. I admitted the battery might not be the problem, but anyway it was due so they wouldn’t lose anything by replacing it. The alternative, since I am not competent to figure out what else might be wrong with the complicated starting circuitry, was an expensive service call that at best would happen sometime next week. I left all the wires connected to the appropriate battery bolts so D shouldn’t need me to install the new one – but of course made clear they were very welcome to call me any time.

We had a lot of rain yesterday, and a YUGE storm last night. D&L took their Jeep through the mud to town for a new battery.

Just got the text: The generator works fine now.

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A really cool gadget

In an intellectual sort of way I know that Blackberry has been around since (around) the last century. I’ve always associated it with self-important middle managers in cufflinks and suspenders, strutting around the cubicle farm talking into the air so we’d all know how ever so they are. Frankly, unless we’re discussing the actual fruit, “blackberry” is one of those words to which I have an immediate unfavorable reaction for no better reason than the above.

But late winter/early spring 2019 I started looking for ways to listen to documentaries or podcasts or whatever while hiking, and nothing was working for me. The phone’s speaker was too faint, an exterior speaker was too clunky, earbuds blocked out everything but the phone plus the cord was always tangling on things. Just before going to the Big City in June I experimentally ordered this thing…


…and damned if I don’t use it every day. It was super cheap, allows me to still hear what’s going on around me, the talky bit folds up out of the way so I don’t look like I’m playing Geezer Team Six all the time, the battery life is phenomenal, and in the unlikely event that the phone rings while I’m using it I can answer the damned thing with a single button push instead of digging the phone out of a pocket and fiddling with a bunch of uncooperative wires.

As it happens, D&L are having a bit of a generator crisis this morning and have called me twice – I’m leaving for their place in half an hour – and I was walking around listening to Ian’s monthly Q&A which I always enjoy. Prior to the headset, repeated (increasingly urgent) phone calls while I’m trying to follow a lengthy video would have been a real pain in my geriatric ass – but now one button push pauses the video and answers the phone. You can have your conversation and go back to the vid without a lot of hassle.

Here’s another way the Secret Lair has entered the last half of the twentieth century, with enthusiastic adoption of a form of technology I once turned my nose up at. 🙂

ETA: I spent the first para going on about Blackberries when the word I should have used was Bluetooth. You know: Those obnoxious blue earpieces that were all the rage among middle managers around the turn of the century.

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A trip to town in the rain

D&L said Monday they were going Wednesday to the biggish town about 35 miles away. They also said it was supposed to be thunderstorms all morning.


I tagged along for the Safeway. They were right about the rain.

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So I finally ordered new Jeep hinges online yesterday, and…

Oh for god’s sake where’s the “unsubscribe” key?

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Walky Time

Sorry, there’s really nothing going on right now. Take care of chickens, tend batteries, bake bread, go for long walks. Nothing you haven’t seen a hundred times before.

As I’ve said many times before, I used to fill in the gaps with quacking about politics or news stories but I got tired of writing those several months ago – to be honest I’ve largely stopped even reading the news; has that guy in the white house been thrown out yet? I didn’t even turn the ‘pooter on yesterday.

Here are some pictures I took this morning…big files… Continue reading

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There ought to be some sort of medal for this…

Any Leghorn hen who happens to be sitting on eggs will object if I reach under her to take them. Some just run away and squawk, and some will peck as hard as they can. But they can’t peck hard enough to do damage and seldom even enough to hurt – as former dinosaurs they’re really kind of sad.

Or that was my opinion before this afternoon’s chicken chores…


This is the first time any hen ever managed to actually draw blood on me. I was impressed.

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Colorado Hermit knows me too well.


I did in fact LOL.

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