No one could be more surprised than me…

…to report that that went well!


This is easily the nicest day we’ve seen since Christmas. Full sun, temperature tickling the low fifties, light breeze. I thought I was going to regret not diving into this project yesterday, but that would have been an ordeal. Except for some hard-to-get-at bolts, this was actually kind of pleasant.

The radiator had shaken loose from both its side brackets, held on with tiny little bolts not at all suitable for holding heavy important things solid on a rock-climbing vehicle. Once it was loose it was probably a matter of days or at most weeks before it beat its solder joints open and started squirting coolant. The leak problem was definitely in the core.

I was never a very fast mechanic, and I gave up wrenching for a living more than 30 years ago so the whole thing took just shy of two hours but there are no drips and no parts left over. So I’m pleased with myself.

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I may be jinxing this by saying so…

… but it’s almost one in the afternoon and the sun is still shining. The road mud is drying. My driveway is still a quagmire but that’s going to go on for some time since the gully behind the Lair still has snow and drains into the driveway. No matter. I needed some sun.

Just got home from town with everything I should need to repair the Jeep’s cooling system. It cost every bit of cash I had squirreled away for emergencies, plus 44 cents. How’s that for planning? That includes a line wrench for the transmission cooler fittings, and thanks to the commenter who reminded me of them – that would have been infuriating.

It’s baking day and I’m already late for starting it, so I’ll go into auto repair mode as soon as it warms up tomorrow unless the weather plays me another dirty trick.

A couple of regular readers hit the tip jar recently which helps a lot. Thank you very much, this latest Jeep nonsense tapped me out.

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In the event that you’re an AK operator, operating operationally, …

…you will want to just skip past this. But for the rest of us, this is what the inside of a loaded 75-round drum looks like…


As expected, there are approximately 1,789,652 Youtube videos eager to explain how to load and wind the thing. Turns out to be very simple, which given the intended user base isn’t surprising. And it’s nice to know that you can store it loaded with no spring tension, which sounds useful.

Unfortunately, on 2 different rifles I get 100% failure to feed with deep gouges in the cartridge cases when I force the bolt closed. Haven’t worked that out yet. Not yet ready to take it into battle with mutant killer chickens.

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Here’s something kind of amusing…

The Leghorns aren’t babies anymore…


…and they’re starting to produce eggs. Small eggs and their production is still sporadic, but I believe I can officially stop buying eggs at the store now…


But like all new hens they haven’t gotten the hang of what the nesting boxes are for. They lurch between finding the most sheltered and sneaky places possible to keep the Bad Man from taking them, or just pooping them out wherever they happen to be standing when the urge strikes.

Yesterday I had to move one of the grain barrels closer to its corner to stop hens from laying eggs behind it. In doing that I got the barrel too close to the wall and didn’t properly fasten the cover. Came in this morning to find the cover on the ground and a little gift inside…

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Good news about the Jeep

Looks like I’ll be able to fix it without waiting for mail order. I can get a radiator for about $135 from the local auto parts store, and that and a couple of hoses should set me right. There’s even the (almost certainly lying) promise of better weather on the weekend. But even when that proves a lie I can pack up my sockets and stick the Jeep’s nose in the breezeway of Landlady’s barn while I crawl around trying to figure out why the damned radiator won’t come out.

I have about that much money tucked away, so it looks like this won’t be a big drawn-out hassle.

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My song to the sun

The sky finally lightened enough for me to see what I already knew: No sun today either.


And it’s about that time that I realized the sun has left me forever, it has dumped me for another hermit. And I crumpled in the corner and fashioned a hat from tin foil with my trembling palsied fingers as a little ditty started going through my head…

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You know how I’m always harping about the importance of neighbors?

Well…


The poor neglected Jeep has had a very small coolant leak since, basically, forever. Ironically, only a few weeks after I actually gave the cooling system a little care and feeding it got a lot less small. The engine ran totally dry and pegged the meter this morning while I was ferrying Landlady to the county road. Fortunately we got close enough that an athletic person could walk the rest of the way, and that part of the road is tame enough that she could come back to the Jeep in a townie car to get her stuff.

Meanwhile I determined that the leak, which appears to be coming from the radiator core, is minor enough that a refill would at least get me home. The second neighbor I called picked up, then more or less dropped what he was doing and came to rescue me. The first neighbor I called called back a few minutes later to see what he was missing.

So I’m home safe instead of fuming beside the road, and that’s why neighbors are important.

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Busy, muddy day.

Landlady and I made a trip out to the county dump today since every garbage can in three households was jammed full. I had left the trailer at Ian’s since he’s got this big wheeled thing I knew had to go first – but the dump run has been delayed multiple times over the course of a couple of months now, the trailer had filled with snow, and all the random stuff I’d dumped in it was now frozen fast to the floor. I had to chip all that away before I could load Ian’s bin. Then I slipped/slid down the steep Lair driveway to load my three cans and some more random garbage. BTW…Still early, still cold, and glare ice required more traction while moving heavy things than I had available. So I got an immediate opportunity to try these things out…


…and they are a huge help! Easy to get on and off, provide a genuine improvement in traction, very useful. Time will tell how durable they are, but I was very happy to have them this morning.

Unfortunately as the morning wore on, the mud thawed and everything got more and more gooey. By the time I got home…


…it was really out of control. Goo was everywhere. This is the ammo can I bolted to the side of the trailer for tie-downs…


I guess you’ll have to take my word for it. I managed to get a big dripping glop of it all over the side of my good winter coat, and scrubbing that out will be a chore for this afternoon.

We got home without mishap, though. Quick lunch, then we met at Ian’s to do some interior stuff. Among other things, Ian’s Cave is now officially wood heated – after being enclosed for nine years. You can tell what an urgent issue that was.

Then I went home to see if I could sort out the bedroom heater. I repeated everything I did last night and got nowhere. Tried cracking the line to see if I could bleed out any air bubbles: Didn’t help. So I heaved a sigh and rummaged around in the powershed for the old regulator…


…and – sigh – that fixed it. The pilot lit in seconds, and the heater appears to be back in service. I’m going to leave it the way it is for now and fiddle a bit later before spending more money on replacements. I distrust easy answers like the one I found – though I was aware of what a couple of commenters said, that you can accidentally trigger a high-flow shut-off valve inside the regulator, and I did try resetting it last night. Didn’t make any difference.

So it looks as though I’ve found the problem with the heater, but I’m going to leave the jury out on that for a while to make sure.

Now I have a lot of clean-up to do, I still have food that needs transferring to the pantry, and then I’m going to sit down and read my book.

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(grumble) Stupid Murphy…

So naturally, instead of socking in and snowing as promised, the sky cleared in the evening. Which meant it got kind of cold overnight. This actually would have been good news in a way, since both Landlady and I need a dump run. But early in the evening I’m sitting in the bedroom chair and thinking, “It’s getting kind of cold in here.” Went over to the space heater to find it was cold for the first time in nearly 3 months.

Grumble. Went out to check the propane. One bottle was dead empty, which was no surprise; I’d expected that. But the other bottle was heavy enough to be completely full, the valve was open, and apparently the bypass regulator just chose not to do its “keep Joel warm anyway” thing.

Swapped out the empty bottle, opened the valve, went inside to relight the pilot. Lighting the pilot is my only complaint about the new heater because getting it to bleed air out of the line can be a real ordeal. But it’s never taken quite this long – 40 dreary minutes later I finally gave up. The pilot wouldn’t light, I never got any whiffs of propane at all, the thing might as well have been hooked to nitrogen.

I went out in the mud to fiddle with the regulator a few times, thinking something must have gotten cranked the wrong way, but I see nothing obvious wrong. Finally just lived with it, which gave me a few rueful moments this morning: It got down to 21 degrees which is just not really that cold for mid-January. In any pre-heater winter the indoor temperature would have been perfectly acceptable but I was whining and grousing like I had a real problem. And I should definitely have put on a second sock before going to bed. I’m getting soft and forgetting useful cold-sleeping habits.

So…


Today after I get the dump run settled I need to sort this out. I’ll start by just cracking the propane line below the heater to see if I can purge out a persistent bubble or something but I fear my brand new regulator took a dump on me. Which is irritating as hell but not the end of the world – I do have a spare.

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You never know what’s going to happen on Care Package Day.

Landlady came up this afternoon, and since the road is just miles of mud I met her at the gate. Rather to my surprise, since I wasn’t expecting anything but Big Brother’s monthly care package, there was a whole bunch of stuff. Some of it was…fun. Continue reading

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…and the mud is epic.

Another dreary overcast day. On top of the mud we already had, add a couple hours of hard overnight rain. The main “road” is barely passable in 4wd. I know this because I just this minute got home from town, because D&L needed to go today and so everything got moved forward. Just as well, I’d have been out to check the road condition anyway since Landlady is coming in early this afternoon. So now I have certified that the road condition sucks, and I’ll be driving out to the county road in a couple of hours to get her and Dharma.

And while I was in town, look what I got!


I asked the local hardware to order two 30# propane bottles. The hardware ordered, and charged me for, two 40# bottles. I went ahead and took them and had them filled even though I’m not completely convinced I can use them the way the regulator station is currently set up. The snow shelf might be too low, the hoses might be too short. But I reasoned, I already think that the shelf and hoses are inconveniently low and short respectively. So if these bottles don’t fit, it’s just incentive to fix it in the fullness of time. And next time I’m sitting out a prolonged cold snap I’ll be happy for that extra four gallons.

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Back to morning walkie

I feel as though all I’ve done for months is sit. I’m bored and stiff and getting crankier by the day. But when you’re a broken-down one-legged old reprobate who has already taken some damaging falls in the past couple of years, traction is an important issue. The snow isn’t gone yet by any means but it’s no longer the biggest factor in venturing outside – that would be the mud. And first thing in the morning the mud is frozen, so also not a factor. I can at least go back to doing my morning chores on foot.


It was a pleasure to get outdoors for an hour or so. It was heavily overcast all day yesterday and is so far today, so it wasn’t nearly as cold as it looked. I dressed too heavily and now I need to change out of all my sweat-soaked upper clothing but it was worth it.

Since that may be the whole of my activity for the day, this may be all I have to post about. Looking forward to Saturday when Landlady has said she definitely plans to visit regardless of weather, if only for a break in what is becoming a really monotonous winter.

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Snow load on a desert cabin’s roof, revisited

A year and a half ago when the bedroom addition’s roof went on there was some discussion about the pitch, which is barely noticeable, and how it was going to behave with heavy rain and snow. We’ve really just finished testing that second thing, and I suppose it should come as no surprise that a slightly steeper pitch would have been better.


Initially, before the snow became ice, there was a little encouraging sliding but it soon stopped, causing a little more trouble than it solved because it managed to neatly overhang and bypass the gutter. It wasn’t stressing the gutter, didn’t touch it at all in fact, but it also didn’t let the gutter do its job. So I ended up knocking that part of the ice off with a big pole. Other than that the only problem is that the roof sheds ice very poorly, really just leaving it there till it melts. In a wetter, colder climate this could easily become unacceptable. In my case, fortunately Neighbor D insisted on overbuilding the roof on 16” centers, which I initially wasn’t very happy with because it required me to scrounge more timber and delayed the roof. I’ve gotten more happy with it in the past week or so. There’s no evidence of strain at all, and it’s unlikely that the roof will see a great deal more snow than it did around New Year’s for the whole of its life.

So it’s an overall success, but on the other hand it still hasn’t entirely cleared and that couldn’t be called optimal. Guess that means everybody on both sides of the discussion gets to say I told you so. 🙂

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“You like corruption and incompetence? I’ll show you corruption and incompetence.”


Ah, California. How I don’t miss thee. I’m starting to warm up to the idea of a border wall – just not between here and Mexico. I truly can’t imagine ever being desperate enough to want to escape to California.

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Haven’t visited the game camera since before Christmas…

…because I figured there’d be nothing to see.


Animals always seem to go somewhere else when the weather gets funky.

But yesterday morning I saw mulies in the wash, which reminded me that I ought to at least go check the batteries.

Swapped out the memory card while I was doing that, and this was almost literally the closest thing to an action shot in over two weeks…


No animals, no animal tracks, nothing. The ice is thick but it has separated from the tire. I’ll need to chip it carefully away from the float, though, if I really take it into my head to clear the waterer. Probably I’ll come back in a couple of days and see how nature is doing without my help.

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It begins…


There’s nothing to do but smile and pretend to love mud for a couple of days. So raise a Milk and yell,


But avoid ash deposits unless you enjoy sinking to your thighs.

Yesterday morning things went from slick ice to sucking quagmire with appalling speed. Neighbor D, a very conservative driver, was sideways in his big pickup for much of the trip home from town when driving on the frozen slush for the trip out wasn’t any big deal. My best hope is that the sun will stay out and we can get this over with in time for Landlady to come visit.

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The frost begins to melt…

I have to go to town this morning to do the thing I failed to accomplish Saturday, buy some propane. The Jeep is covered in thick hard frost in the shadow of the Lair, so I went out to let it warm up. Then I climbed a little way up the hillside behind the Lair to see how much progress the bedroom roof had made in shedding its snow load, and saw the frost just starting to melt from the solar panels and south-facing cement board.


Today’s supposed to be a repeat of yesterday, frigid in the morning and ankle-deep in slush in the afternoon. To my surprise the ground is still most snow covered and I hope a lot of it is sublimating rather than melting because that might have an effect on the inevitable mud which will still undoubtedly be epic, though delayed.

Really time to get on with it now. Hear me whine.

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You’re not a real pistol operator…

…Until you can perform the Jet Li Maneuver.

Of course when you’re Gun Jesus, you don’t do it with a measly Beretta 92. Any highly skilled Chinese actor can do that. Quick: Name an obscure antique Czech pistol on which it can be done quicker, easier and without cheating.

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Wow, the forecast nailed it.

In fact if anything it lowballed its prediction. Woke up this morning and the space heater was just running on pilot. Let Laddie out to pee and there was liquid water on the porch floor from the snow dripping off the viga floorboards. Liquid water, at 5 ayem! Is that even possible?

Outside temp is an indicated 38o! Oh, the mud is going to be epic.

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Did I say proper stove ash management can prevent brush fires?

House fires, too, I guess. Though burning your own house down takes extra levels of dumb.

A total of 16 fire personnel were called to put out the fire, which caused $150,000 in losses to the structure and $50,000 worth of contents, Russell said.

The occupant said he’d put some wood stove ashes in a metal bucket on the back deck two or three days earlier. On Thursday, Russell said, he moved the ashes to the plastic garbage can on the deck, thinking they were cold and dead out.

h/t to JP

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