Weird things you might see…

…in the drugstore of a small rural town…

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I used to have a rule…

…which I would have implemented the moment I became Lord Master of the Universe: Winter is only welcome as long as it’s entertaining. As soon as dressing up in snugglies to go out and shovel the walk stops being fun, winter has to hand the baton to spring. It can hang around at the ski slopes if it wants, but that’s it.

I thought about that this morning while out letting Torso Boy update his peemail and perform periodic colon maintenance…

It’s nice to wake up to a little nip in the air. Nice that there’s a few morning hours when the mud is frozen and traction is good…

…as long as the temperature climbs when the sun comes up, so I don’t have to suit up like an astronaut just to walk a mile and feed some chickens.

I don’t mind lighting a fire for an hour to take the chill off the cabin, then letting it burn down so the sun can do the rest.

Ah, but it never ends there, does it? No, no. This is November. In a month I’ll be ready for this to be over, then whining like a tweener when some gasbag on the radio chirps, “Welcome to the first day of winter!”

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Home grain milling revisited

In our last exciting episode I mentioned that the flour on the new mill’s “bread” setting came out quite gritty. Somebody asked if it might not be possible to run the flour through the mill again.

Possible but not optimal. The already-ground flour really didn’t want to leave the hopper, which is designed for grain and to prevent anybody from accidentally/on purpose grinding a finger. If you stand there and shake the mill while it’s grinding you can help the process proceed – but it goes really slow. And the moment you stop, so does the grinding.

(This didn’t come out well due to the sunshine) And while you’re shaking, the lid is likely to come loose on the receiver bowl. You won’t like it when the lid comes loose on the receiver bowl.

I ground this one finer than last time, and I’m going to take some counsel and let the doughball sit refrigerated overnight to see if it rises any better tomorrow. But I’m still not going 100% whole wheat, because baking twice in a day feels too much like baking all day.

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Here’s a funny thing I see every winter…

The soil here is mostly mixed sand and clay, liberally sprinkled with pebbles and larger rocks. And at the start of every winter, as soon as there’s a rain or snow immediately followed by a ground freeze, the pebbles all look like they’re trying to burrow underground and hibernate.

And it stays that way all winter, renewing itself every daily thaw and every nightly freeze, until spring when the ground stops heaving, dries out and slumps back to normal.

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This is just lazy.

I’ve been getting a lot of these lately…

…and on those occasions when I looked to see what sort of content they’re selling trying to get me to advertise for free, it’s always just a bunch of clickbait I’d resent being tricked into reading and that I’m certainly not going to foist on anyone at my own frickin’ blog.

But it’s especially lazy when the content they’re pushing doesn’t even have a damned thing to do with the blog, because they (or some robot) are/is just going down a list of addresses. And I have to sort it out of my emails – I’ll bet that for a person who actually gets a lot of emails it can become a problem.

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Aaand it’s snowing.

Right at the moment it’s snowing like hell but I think the ground is still too warm for any accumulation. I’ve been wrong before – quite recently in fact, when I believed the forecast of dry weather for today.

The mud is heading for “best of” classification.

Visibility was down to a mile or two before it started to snow.

I know I’m a weirdo – I truly love it here and a normal person wouldn’t. But I make exception for when the weather’s wet. When the mud starts really taking hold, you remember the glories of paved surfaces and this place starts to suck.

I have to say, though: A roofed porch was what this cabin needed, and I didn’t even know it. Sit outside on summer evenings while the cabin takes its time cooling off? Sure, obviously, but the sun isn’t the only thing a roof keeps at bay and I can go the better part of a year without thinking about that. A transition zone between indoors and wet, yucky outdoors is a really nice luxury I didn’t know I was missing.

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The rain lasted all morning but the clouds started breaking up right around noon, and if the forecast remains correct we’ll have a few dry breezy days to sort out the mud. The mud right at this moment is impressive. Even in 4WD I had a hard time just getting up Landlady’s driveway through this one big ash patch.

Coldest day of the season by far to date, topping out at mid-forties. The bedroom heater has been on and off all morning, set at sixty…

…and when I came back from chicken chores and checked the propane regulator, I got a nasty … not really a surprise…

Technically that’s not the first bottle swap on the bedroom heater, but the first one was a near-empty that was really just there all summer to keep spiders from building nests in the fittings and shouldn’t count. So that’s one full bottle used up and it’s not even December. If I’d done something so profligate back in the living-on-shit-shoveling days I’d have had to flagellate myself or something. As it is, I just chalk it up to “old men get cold easier.”

But it’s only a hair after one and the sun’s coming out now, so I expect the inside to warm up. Cabin gets nice solar gain in the afternoon since I put that big window in the bathroom in ’15.

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Been doing this since night before last.

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Kinda makes me wonder if I’m missing something…

Almost two years ago I bought a bunch of stumpsocks from a site called I expect the unsolicited spam emails to outlast the socks.

But I haven’t done anything to make them stop because sometimes they’re just plain entertaining.

For example, I absolutely did not know this was a thing…

No, that’s not a rifle case. It’s a bag for your prosthetic leg.

Consider my cognitive dissonance – Since sometime in 1973 I’ve never been without a prosthetic leg – but at no time have I ever possessed more than one. It doesn’t need a travel bag. Ergo, if there is such a thing as a travel bag for a prosthetic leg, there exists a whole subset of amputees who not only possess multiple prostheses, but who carry their extra along with them.

I guess runners, maybe?

It shouldn’t surprise me that this demographic group exists unknown to me. Truth is, these spam advertisements have alerted me to a huge variety of products I also didn’t know existed. Maybe I should have ‘identified’ as an amputee long before now? Or maybe, since I’ve gotten along without most of these products* quite happily all this time, most of them are just fluff?

*gelsocks are awesome and I didn’t know they existed until this decade, so it could also be I’m just missing out…

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A profoundly misplaced potato…

It has taken him quite a while but Torso Boy has finally gotten to a point where I can trust him to stay close and listen when I talk to him, even when we’re out away from the yard. He’s not seeing much of the leash these days.

Rule #1 and most important: Don’t venture out of my sight. Everything here that’s higher on the food chain than a rabbit wants to eat you.

Sometimes he’ll see something that needs closer investigation and that’s fine; I’ll keep an eye on him but keep walking. But if he gets to feeling left too far behind…

Those tiny legs blur until he has regained his station at the front of the parade. Which is right where I want him, because appearances aside he’s still a dog and still capable of being led astray by an enticing rabbit when my back is turned.

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Jeep doors fixed!

All I needed was the right socket.

But first, you folks with some Jeep experience: Does anybody know what this bracket is for?

Because as far as I can tell its only function is to give the upper hinges something to wrap themselves around when the wind catches the door. Those brackets are the principal reason both upper hinges were bent.

Problem solved…

That compacted mud will clean off in the fullness of time. And the whole process was so quick and painless, I went ahead and fixed the passenger door as well, though it rarely bugs me.

And now both doors completely latch without slamming, and the driver door inner handle works. I’ll just have to retrain myself to use it. 🙂

I thought of scuffing them up and coming home with a can of yellow spraypaint, I really did. But the Jeep turns 19 soon and at that age, mismatched body parts are a sign of experience and honorable battle wounds not to be hidden.

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From the “People throw away the damndest things” files…

Check this out…

I got a text from some neighbors yesterday around ten, asking if I ever eat cold cereal. I don’t particularly, but I’m adaptable. They said they had some they were never going to get around to consuming.

And they did, too…

Seven boxes, each containing two sealed bags, plus two still-sealed bags. I don’t eat that much cold cereal.

I’ll be leaving for the Monday morning water run in less than an hour and I know Neighbor D eats cold cereal. I’ll see if he wants to share the bounty.

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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.


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.


“…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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