Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Traveling with a non-traveler - OK here we come!

For the next five days Oldest Daughter's daughter (#3 Granddaughter) and I will be heading to Oklahoma and Texas.  #3's brother is going through Army graduation.  Since his parents don't want to fly, #3 is coming to witness her brother's graduation.  Makes no sense to me that mom and dad say it's too dangerous to fly yet they will send their 10 year old on a flight! 

She and I will have a great time.  We are going to visit our friend that moved onto the 80+ acres in Oklahoma as well as going to Post for the graduation.  After that we will head to Dallas to take in the Presidential Library before heading home. 

#3 has been out of state once, when they drove to Arizona and Nevada.  That's not very far out of state.  It also took hours and hours to get there because they stopped every hour for a stretch and eat break.  That's not the way I travel and she'd better prepare herself for my way.

First is packing her bag.  I gave her some suggestions on how to pack and what to pack.  No guns, no knives. I've been having nightmares about getting to the airport, oldest daughter dropping us off, and me forgetting my weapon was in my bag.  The weapon is in the safe, which isn't really making me feel safe by not having it on me, but I believe I'd bring it by accident.  I'm just so used to having it on me.

#3 is to bring a backpack filled with clothes and food.  She's also to bring some things to keep her entertained - and no electronics.  The horrors of traveling with a grandparent.  The kid will have to look out the window.  I got her a window seat on each leg of the flight.  Me, my carry-on bag will be just one step short of drawing attention to myself.  I will wear a good pair of jeans, a t shirt with a long sleeved shirt over, and heavy boots.  Sure they are a pain to get on and off through security, but it will be worth it if I need to do any walking.  We will be checking one bag.  It will include her frilly stuff plus important things, like my pocket knife and one for her, two bedrolls, food, flashlight, etc.  You know the stuff.  If it's allowed on the plane it will be in the bag.  One fun item I'm bringing is paracord.  She's going to make a bracelet and belt during the flight when we fly over boring parts or if it's cloudy.     

Since Boy and Girl are going to be staying at Oldest Daughter's house, I've got the house and garden all set up in case nobody thinks about watering while I'm gone.  The chickens and chukars have enough water to last the five days...I hope.  It's supposed to be 100 this weekend!  That's quite a change from the 70s and 80s of last weekend. 

The garden is well watered and should survive just fine.  I will lose all my peaches off one tree that will be ripe before I return.  I told some coworkers to come over and pick peaches.  I also told the next door neighbor and Oldest Daughter.  Hopefully someone will pick peaches and turn on the water.  I left a big note: Turn on the water at the barn and in the front of the house.  Maybe, just maybe...

Probably won't write again until I return.  #3 is going to get some good travel tips and some good survival tips. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Embedded electronics in clothes

Sounds like a perfectly great idea! In Brazil school officials are putting electronic chips into the kids school uniforms.  Why?  So parents and school know their kids aren't late for school.  These only detect when the kids come through the school gates.  The parents get sent a text message with the time their child gets to school.  They get sent another message if the child is late.

Several Georgia and Texas school districts use the same type of detection system.  The school kids are required to carry their school ID and the kids are fully locatable when on school campus.  Of course that's to know where they are in case of emergency.  These devices are being put into school buses as well.  It's all to keep "kids safe". 

Or is it to brainwash the next generation into thinking it is normal to be tracked wherever you are?  Are we as parents so paranoid about the whereabouts of our kids that we think the schools doing this is a good idea?  It is not normal in a free society. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

First they dismiss my comments... and corn shortages

I attended a public meeting at a local Forest Service office today.  There were about 25 people in attendance including some of the federal higher ups.  At the beginning of the meeting they had a package of material for each attendee.  There were a couple of people speaking about different things the Forest Service has been doing.  

When the floor was open to comments I had a few things to say since I had knowledge of how some processes take place throughout the state.  The main speaker was polite with the "we appreciate your comments" b.s. but I could tell I wasn't taken too seriously.  No problem, I won't speak up anymore.   I really do know what works in other parts of the state and you could implement them here.  But do it your own stupid way.

After that go round, the speaker took a report that he had photocopied and started passing copies around.  He explained that this report was worth reading because of the expertise of the writer on this subject matter. Now I get it.  He already had made up his mind so he didn't really want to hear any comments from the audience. 

He said he didn't have enough for everyone so if more than one person was from the same group perhaps they didn't need to take one for each of them.  He offered one to me.  No thank you... I don't need one since I wrote it!  Yep, he was passing out a document that I wrote several years ago.  You should have seen his jaw drop.

I've been paying attention to the crop reports lately.  Less than 1/3 of the corn that should be planted by now has been planted.  Pretty soon the deadline will be upon farmers that if the crop doesn't get put into the ground they won't qualify for crop insurance.  If that happens the land will be planted with soybeans rather than corn. 

What does this mean to the consumer?  Anything with corn in the product is going to go up in price.  Corn meal, corn syrup, corn flour, corn flakes, corn bread, corn, corn starch, animal feed, and fuel. 

How will this affect me?  Everything on the list above we purchase.  Animal feed hasn't gone down in price since the superspike from a couple years ago.  Hen scratch that was $8 a bag is now $14. What will it be after this next shortage?  Fortunately I have the space to grow as much food as I want.  My drawback is the time to water and weed.  With the new work schedule I have been doing a good job keeping up with the watering and weeding so this weekend I'm going to plant corn.  Lots of corn to keep my chickens happy for the next year.  I'll plant enough to keep up happy too! 

I'm hoping to do more pressure canning this year and that will mean canning corn.  Last year I dried corn and that turned out well so if I don't can it I can dry it once again.  To dry the corn for us to eat I took it off the cob, cooked it for about 1/2 the time of normal, then put it into the dehydrator.  For the chickens I just left it to dry on the cob and put the cobs into a trash can with a tight fitting lid. 

If you are looking for something to buy this week for your home food storage, you should think about adding more corn.   

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My rights or my job

An interesting memo came out yesterday at work.  It was the safety message about no weapons at work.  The memo included no weapons in your car if the car is in the parking lot.  No weapons if you are traveling for work, not in the car, not in the hotel.  If you are representing the company you will not be armed.  Even if you have a concealed weapons permit you are not allowed to carry a weapon. 

None of that bothered me.  I just break the rules.  To me, concealed means concealed.  Nobody is to know it's on me.  If there was ever a time I'd have to pull it out, I wouldn't really care that I wasn't supposed to have it on my person.  In fact, my coworkers would probably be happy I had it on me as well.

I keep concealed concealed.  So what am I worried about with the job?  That's not the entire memo.  It continued.  All items can be searched: backpacks, purses, lunch boxes, ice chests, cars, you name it, if it's on company property or parking lot it can be searched. All in the name of safety.  They forgot about body searches.  I guess they thought that might be taking it a bit too far. 

How about if they said that everyone should be armed?  That would have prevented the four deaths from the disgruntled employee a year or two ago.  No keeping everyone disarmed.  That didn't work last time, I don't know why they'd think it would work this time.

Normally I have one weapon on me and one in my bag or car.  Both are on my ccw permit.  If the "safety officer" at work choose to search my bag, guess what?  I won't have a job anymore.  What if I refuse to let them search?  I lose my job.  So every day I take my chances.

You know what?  I'd rather be armed and safe than unarmed and employed.     

Monday, May 20, 2013

Oklahoma twisters

That's where I'm going next week!  You know me and disasters.  I was in Hawaii during the tsunami warning (and Japan earthquake), in major wildfires, California earthquakes, and next week I'm heading to Oklahoma.  It won't be because of work, it's for oldest grandson's boot camp graduation.  It's almost time!

My friend, who moved to Oklahoma several years ago, was talking to me on the phone after the big twister hit.  Yesterday's twister that killed the two men traveled seven miles away from her house.  That's not really too close.  A year or so ago the barn roof was blown off during a tornado.  Today we talked until she had to gather the family and head into the storm cellar.  No school for her brood today.  With weather like that I don't think I would have sent my grand kids to school.  On the other hand, do they just get complacent and not think it will happen there?  I don't know.  I don't live in a tornado area.

I'm wondering if oldest daughter is going to allow the 10 year old to come with me.  The ticket has been purchased.  Will the fright of the weather hold her back?  I don't know.  Me, I'll go.  But you can be sure I will be completely alert to dips in the road and other tactics to take if a twister hits.  They didn't have much warning; 15 minutes that it was probably coming and from the time a small twister touched down to a mile wide monster in less than a minute.  You must stay alert and aware. 

One of the women at work has a son, daughter-in-law, and five grand kids who live in the town of Moore.  The roof of their home blew off but they were all safe and sound in the basement.  The kids were all kept home from school today.  Wise decision.

So far 51 dead.  Hopefully the death toll won't rise too much more.  Our prayers will be with them. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Questions about the Death of a Friend

A coworker of mine from my previous job died today.  It was sudden and unexpected.  She wasn't too much older than I and she was in excellent health.  What happened?  We won't know what killed her until the tests are complete.  Her husband is in shock.  Who knows, he may be next?

There are many dangers out in the woods.  She was out in the woods hiking.  She had a great time.  She got home and all was well.  Then two days later she became ill.  She went to the doctor, which was unlike her.  The doctor said it was some sort of virus.  Three days later...she's dead.

Was it really a virus? She was a clean person and I'm sure she washed her hands and didn't drink what she wasn't supposed to.  Did she get bit?  What creature in the woods would kill her like that?  The doctor didn't say she got bit, just she caught a virus.  What is lurking out in the woods?  Was she contagious?  Is her husband afraid that he's next?  Are they going to have to destroy everything that she came in contact with?  Is this some new government or terrorist experiment?

So many questions.  No answers.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Bow and Arrow

I remember when I was in Jr. High we had archery as part of our PE class.  I loved it.  I got good enough to shoot a bulls eye more often than not.  That was way before the compound bow was invented.  It was during a time that nobody thought about it being a weapon...in fact there was a shooting team in many of the schools back then.  Even now the kids don't throw a javelin, but a "turbo-javelin".  What that?  It's like a big Nerf football.  Definitely not a spear.  Anyway, back to archery. 

Today I bought a bow and some arrows for the grand kids.  Yes, I'm going to be hearing about it from everyone...You bought those kids what?  Another way to harm people.  Yes, they have their own knives, BB guns, pellet guns, sling shots, and now a bow.  Our fun will just never end! 

I didn't buy one of the new compound bows.  I bought just the plain old ordinary bow.  Why?  Because after they use this and get good at it, I'm going to take them to the proper kind of tree, such as a cedar, birch, maple, or willow. The best would be from a tree near a good source of water.   Cut a sapling or sucker if possible, although a branch will work.  You just want to make sure that you don't have any knots in the wood.  That means nothing with branches because branches are knots.  The middle of your piece should be somewhere around an inch or 1 1/2 inches thick.  If it's too thick it won't work right. 

How big do you make it?  Measure the distance between your armpit and the ground.  That's ideal, although smaller is OK.  Don't make it longer than that.  Don't break the sapling, cut it.  Otherwise you are going to split the wood. 

After you cut your piece of wood you will want to take the bark off and let the wood dry.  Peel it off, don't cut it off unless you are really good with your knife.  You don't want to splinter your wood.  Let it sit for at least a day or two.  Then make notches on each end to hold the string.  Don't notch the outside (the part that will face the target).  If you do then the notch will break off when you pull on the string and you will smack yourself in the face (yes, I speak from experience!). 

Before you string the bow you need to make the arrow rest/hand hold on the bow.  Figure out where the center of the bow is and that is going to be where the arrow needs to go.  The wide end of your piece of wood is the bottom of the bow!  Make sure you don't accidentally put it on top.  Wrap the hand hold with a strip of leather (old boot shoelace if you don't have a strip of leather) or maybe paracord.  Make sure you wrap it several times and the top of the hold so the arrow has something to rest on. 

To string the bow measure your paracord or other string (or sinew) about the same length as the bow.  I wouldn't use the entire piece of paracord.  I'd open it up and pull out the interior cord then braid them together.  Otherwise your cord is a little too thick.  Tie it onto the bottom then make a slip knot at the top and bend the bow and slip it on.  Your finished string should be about six inches shorter than the bow, so if you want to start with the string a little longer than the bow just to give yourself some wiggle room then do that.  When you pull if it doesn't spring enough then shorten your string.  Then have fun.  When you are done make sure to unstring the slip knot at the top.  You don't want to keep the pressure on your bow. 

What if you don't have sinew or paracord?  No way, but what if anyway... You can use plants.  I've heard that nettles will work.  I never tried that though. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New Chicken Nest Boxes

I have three nest boxes for the hens.  All my hens have always laid their eggs in these boxes.  I haven't had to worry about not having enough.  It always seemed to work.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, three of my hens have decided they want to set on eggs.  So they have been.  The problem then is that all the hens still want to lay their eggs in those same three boxes.  I don't know what eggs are old and what are new.  So we haven't been able to get the eggs. 
Sure I could mark the ones that they are setting but the hens get really pissed off when you reach under them and pick them up.  I needed to come up with a different solution. 
Since I'm still moving things around and trying to figure out what the final, final configuration is going to be I don't want to spend much money putting together nest boxes. 
Today while I was at the post office it hit me.  Boxes from the post office will work perfectly.  I folded up a medium sized box.  Then I cut the top off on three sides.  It's still attached on one of the long sides.  Then I put together one of the square boxes.  I closed up the bottom of that one and kept the top open.  Then I placed the square box on its side inside the medium box.  The medium box is about two inches longer but the width is exact.  The top of the medium box didn't get cut off.  It is used as a divider between two of the nest boxes. 
I'm going to take them out to the coop as soon as I get off the computer.  I'll but shavings in the bottom of each box.  Then I'll move the three hens into the second coop.  After they are moved, and totally ticked off, I'll place the eggs into each of the boxes.  I'll bring the nest boxes into the second coop.  Hopefully the moms will want to still set on those nests. 
If they do set then all will be good.  If they don't then I'll gather up all the eggs and candle them tonight.  Then I'll put the good ones into the incubator.  If they do reject them then I'll put a few other hens into that coop with them as well as the rooster.  Hopefully they will set on their new eggs. 
The nest boxes were free to make, and I'm sure we should all use used boxes rather than brand new boxes. As long as they don't get rained on, and they are under cover, they should last for quite a while.  For free, I could make more if needed. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Great ad with scary technology

This ad is making its way around the Internet.  It's got an absolutely brilliant premise.  Only children can see the ad aimed at them.  Adults are too tall to see the message.  You have to watch it to see what I mean.

Have you watched it?  I do not like the ad.  I want you to know that I despise child abusers and do not want anyone to think that I'd try to protect one.  My first four were abused as little kids.  I adopted them and took them out of that life.  Now I have two grand kids who were abused by their father.  He got to go to prison but not for long enough of a time.  Maybe the person stays in prison until the scars they inflict on the child are truly healed?  That will be never...

OK I've digressed.  While the premise for this is brilliant, it scares me to think that this type of advertising is being used on children.  Not teaching them to report child abuse - sure teach them to report real abuse.  What if this was an anti-2nd amendment ad?  Perhaps the picture shown for adults is an adult with a gun looking like they are at the range and the picture the kid sees is the adult pointing the gun at them.  How about a liquor ad that shows two adults enjoying a glass of wine and for kids, I don't know, maybe the lady passed out and date raped?  I could come up will all kinds of scenarios that aren't good but can be used to influence kids.   

I get the ad.  It gives kids guidance on how to report if they are being abused even if the abuser is walking down the street with them.  I want to know what my grand kids are being shown.  I don't even let them watch PG movies if I don't know why they are rated PG and I'm supposed to let them see an ad with a beat up kid?  Nothing like pushing Girl or Boy over the edge to let them relive their nightmare when they thought their father was going to kill them.  And I'd have no idea what caused them to react the way they'd react. 

Advertisers want to put up a child abuse poster or a date rape poster?  I'll never be OK with it if it's done behind my back.  Not that the government or any special interest groups would ever try to influence children without the knowledge of their parents. 

Building chicken and chukar pens

Since we have lots of chickens and chukars that are all different ages and sizes, with more being born each day (6 chicks today alone!) we ran out of cages.  The laying chickens and two roosters are in the big coop.  I was going to put the chukars and young chicks into the second coop by closing the interconnecting door.  The problem was the chukars and chicks tried to kill each other.  Not a good idea putting them together!  Not only did I have them in two separate cages on the patio I also had two boxes of birds in the house.  The 2 day old chicks and the four baby chukars.  Plus I knew all the eggs in the incubator are going to be hatching.

What to do?  Boy got all his chores done so he went to play with a friend.  Wow, someone actually lives two miles away that is his age.  That's within walking distance!  Girl didn't finish her chores on time.  Once she did finish she decided to hang out with me.  OK, let's get her on some task that will show great results.  I know.  Let's build housing for the new birds.  After all, we have all those new 16 foot panels. 

I chose two places for our new pens. One in the back garden at a raised bed filled with weeds that I hadn't planted yet this season.  The other spot was in the middle orchard, again in an area filled with weeds.  I took four 8 foot panels and dropped two off at each place.  The I had girl help carry the 16 footers.  Sure I can carry them myself and she can drag them herself but teamwork was what it was all about yesterday. 

I explained what I had in mind for each pen.  They would be 8 x 16 feet with a t-post pounded in at two opposite corners.  The fencing would be wired together in the corners and also wired to the t-posts.  Then the whole thing would be wrapped in 1" chicken wire that was 4' high.  Then she needed to wire the chicken wire to the fencing every couple of feet.  Not too much wiring because we are going to take these apart and move them. 

If I had given it a little more thought we would have wired each panel so the individual panels could be moved.  When it is time to move the panels we will probably wire down each end at the corner and then I'll cut the chicken wire down the middle at the corner.  Then each of the four panels for the pen will be chicken wired.  It will be one less step to do after we move the pens to some other place that will need weeding.

Then it was time to put the chukars and chickens into their new homes.  Each pen had a hiding place (an old plastic dog house that was in two pieces, with one piece in each pen) so the birds could hunker down at night.  By the time the birds are big enough to fly out of their pens they will be old enough to go into the main coops.  Even then there will be hiding places because it will take a little while to acclimate. 

It was a productive weekend for Girl.  She got to drive.  She got to build some pens.  And she finally got her laundry done! 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Building fences and more chicken coops and cleaning up

I was able to borrow a friends trailer and buy 45 cattle panels.  I also picked up more t-posts just for good measure.  I got the front fruit trees all paneled in and the sheep got moved to the front pasture.  They are happy because there's lots of food growing.  Due to the lack of rain the back 3 acres have anywhere between none and 6 inches of forage.  That's all.  Normally at this time of year the pasture is almost waist high.  The next door neighbors have about 10 acres that's in beautiful grasses and they can't get anyone to mow and bale it.  Instead they asked if I want to figure out how to put up an electric fence and move the sheep into their yard.  Free.  I have to research those types of fences because I've never had one. 

After returning the trailer I drove right by GI Jim's store so I stopped in for an excellent use of 3/4 of an hour.  I picked up a 55 gallon drum with a good lid.  I'm not sure what's going in it yet.  Probably a combination of supplies. 

Another customer came in and the subject of fires came up.  (Is everyone who walks into GI Jim's former firefighters?  Sometimes it seems that way!)  It was enjoyable hearing everyone reminisce about their old fire stories.  The large fire going on in Southern California is my old childhood stomping grounds.  I know that area really well. We talked about fire clearances around our properties.  No problem here.  The bug-out place is getting there.  Son is trying to get it all whacked down. 

The incubator is filled with eggs.  So far two chickens have hatched.  There are about 15 more chicken eggs and about 25 chuckar eggs.  The chukars won't be hatching for at least another week but the chicks should all hatch in the next few days.  This brings me to a dilemma.  I have my coop filled with chickens.  I have five more that are ready to go out into a coop.  I have chuckars ready to go out to a coop.  I only have two coops.  One is filled with the chickens the other is empty.  I was going to see if I could put the chuckars and chicks together into the same coop.  That didn't work.  They tried to kill each other!  So I put them all back into their cages.  What am I going to do with all these different ages?  I know.  Build some more coops.  Since my raised garden beds are 16' long and the new panels are 16' long I'm going to turn some of the garden beds into runs for the chickens.  That's a project for tomorrow. 

Son and family are came over for the night and they brought their two dogs.  The dogs aren't well trained and our new dog does not like these two.  I don't like them much either.  But son did a lot of heavy work around here so I won't complain about the dogs.  The fencing between the back yard and the garden was old and falling apart.  I continuously had to repair it and 16 foot boards are expensive.  I decided that the fence was coming down.  This included the 1 foot thick posts every 15 feet.  Some were so rotted they fell over with a good kick.  Others need to be pulled out with the tractor.  I'm going to put t-posts in and panels up to surround the garden.  This way I can keep the dogs out if I want whereas before they just went through the wood fence rails. 

We decided it was too hot to walk the brush and debris the 1/4 mile to the back of the property.  We loaded it all in the pickup and drove it to the back.  OK, Girl drove it to the back.  Never mind that she is eleven.  She sat on my lap, sort of.  All I had access to was the brake pedal if I needed to brake.  She did the steering, gas, and only threw everyone out of their seats once when she braked hard.  The road to the back is about 20 feet wide with fencing on both sides.  She kept the truck pretty centered.  She stepped on the gas hard once and it scared her a little.  Otherwise she did well.  It's important to teach the kids how to drive even though they are young.   I'm not worried about the kids "borrowing" the car before they have their license.  Living in the country you never know what type of emergency may come up where she might have to drive.