Friday, August 29, 2014

Olivia the Hunting Dog

We bought Olivia when she was just a puppy.  We were living aboard our trawler in Savannah, Georgia and Pam was working as a vet tech.  The veterinarian was selling German Shorthaired  Pointers for a friend and  Olivia was the last of the litter.  No one wanted  her because she didn't have enough freckles.  Yep.  No, I don't know why hunters want freckles.  Maybe because it camouflages them?

Pam brought Olivia to our marina to shop here around.  As I expected, Olivia found a home.  With us.  She quickly grew from a little puppy to a massive Pointer.  Female Pointers should stand 23 to 24 inches at the shoulders.  Olivia is close to 30 inches.   Why so tall?  She learned to pull oysters off the pilings at the marina at low tide and eat them, shell and all.

The pic below was taken on the beach at Jekyll Island.  Oliva found a seagull feather and was in seventh heaven.  She was running past me at full gallop.  I'm lucky I got her in the frame at all.   Notice how gently she's holding the feather.   It is all in the genes.

I was on Google Earth the other day and I looked at our property.   They've updated the satellite photo so that it shows our cleared property.   The details are amazing.  You can see the foundation just to the right of the pin, our screenhouse just left and a bit lower, our storage trailer, and even the stone walls that I built.

Ah, the stone walls.

Olivia is a hunting dog.   That's what she does.  She constantly has her nose to the ground, sniffing for whatever she can find, and little will stop her from getting to it.  In the pic below, Oliva has destroyed part of a stone wall to get at mice.

Just look at the size of some of those rocks that she's moved.  Chevy, the male pitbull, looks on with interest.

So, I guess I'll be rebuilding stone walls as long as we have Oliva.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bigfoot Tracks

HA!  Got it!  Do you remember last fall when I posted a blog with a video of some strange animal noises in the woods not far from our cabin in Bleecker?

I sent it around to various people and no one could positively identify it.  Some thought some odd coyote or fox noise.  A bigfoot expert said it sounded like a bigfoot but different than what he's familiar with in the Pacific Northwest.  The best thing would be to find a footprint.

Well, this afternoon, Pam and I loaded the dogs into the car to head over to our property when Pam noticed that the tarp was off our well.  I stopped and we checked it out.   When I worked on the well in the spring, I tied the tarp down with rope around the well.  The rope was pulled off and tossed off to the side, and next to it was the tarp.  We couldn't figure out how that happened.  Then Pam found the tracks.  Two of them. One filled with water, but luckily one was imprinted in mud.

In the first photo, Pam's finger is pointing at the heel and her other hand is by the toes.

We put the tarp back over the well and tied it down again.

Later, Judi and Bill came over to see the tracks in person.  Sadly, they had pretty much faded away and it was difficult to see them.  Since they came over about five hours after I took the photos above, that means that the tarp was pulled off early this morning by whatever made that track.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The International Space Station

Not much exciting is happening here in Bleecker, New York.   Well, at least not with me out of commission.  But I can still take photos... but of what?  There are no dolphins here, nor any friggin' pelicans.  But we do have the international space station.

One nice thing about Bleecker and the Adirondacks in upstate New York is that there is very little light pollution.  It makes it great for night photography.

This is a composite of several photos, about 20 seconds worth, taken on Wednesday.   On Thursday, it was to fly overhead again.  Here you go...

The ISS was scheduled to fly over again last night.

Yep.  Those would be clouds and thunderstorms.  Sorry, no ISS.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Making Pickles

Pam planted a little garden this year.  She's gotten a small amount of peas and green beans, the lettuce did well but she waited too long to pick it and it went to seed, the tomatoes are just turning red, and cucumbers.  Man, do we have cucumbers!  She only planted four cucumber plants, but got enough cucumbers to can more than two dozen jars.   She's still at it.

She's canned sweet and sour dill pickles, garlic-horseradish dill pickles (using my homemade horseradish), and bread and butter pickles.  They are really, really good.  I wonder why homemade food is so much better than what you buy in the store?  And I wonder why they call it "canning" instead of "jarring"?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Perseid Meteor Showers

If you're reading this before dawn on Thursday, look outside to your northeast.

We have no light pollution here in Bleecker, but we do have clouds.  It poured rain all day, but it ended in the evening.  In between passing clouds, I was able to snag a few of the Perseid meteors.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Earl's Tractor

Pam and I walked from our property over to Judi and Earl's next door to feed Jeremiah the Horse.  Earl and his brother-in-law Norm were cutting a felled tree into woodstove length pieces.  When Earl saw me, he hollered for me to get Bessie the Tractor.  It seems his German Deutz-Allis stopped running and he needed it towed out of the woods.  I fetched Bessie and, after several attempts, managed to get it out.  I towed it to the front of his garage, unhooked the chain, and then pushed it up to the garage door.

Earl is a good mechanic and I figured he'd get it running in short order, but the next day Judi came over to our property and said that Earl needed help.  I went over, and Earl asked if I knew anything about diesel engines.   Do I know anything about diesel engines?   I know much more than I ever wanted to know after several years of living aboard an old trawler with four of them, two main engines and two generators.

Earl couldn't get the engine to start and stay running.  He replaced the fuel filter, which he hadn't done in the 25 years he'd owned the tractor, and said it was full of gunk.  He drained the fuel tank and replaced the fuel.  He removed the fuel lines and blew them out with his air compressor.  He was baffled.

I  told Earl that diesel engines are pretty simple, really, and problems are always one of three things;  fuel, fuel, or fuel.  If a diesel won't run, it is most likely not getting any.  It could be a blockage, or an air leak, but it is always fuel.  So we puttered around for a bit, bleeding lines and such, and I was getting mystified myself.  Could it be a clogged fuel return line maybe?  That was the only thing we hadn't messed with, besides removing the pump and the nozzles and cleaning them.  But wisely, we decided to pause for a thinking beer.

"So when you got here in the spring, how did the tractor run?" I asked.

"It ran fine, like it always did.  Started right up and ran perfect."

"So what happened when it stopped running?"

"It ran out of fuel, so I added some, and then it wouldn't start."

Hmmmm.... running a diesel out of fuel means air in the lines, which is never good, but we bled the lines and got it to start, only it wouldn't stay running.  It might run for a minute or two, but it ran poorly and then stalled.

"How old is the diesel fuel you put in it?" I asked.

"I dunno, a couple three years old."

"Well, it might be bad fuel.  It could be contaminated with algae growth, which grows in the water from condensation."

"I didn't think diesel fuel ever went bad'" said Earl, "and that you could keep it indefinitely."

I wasn't sure, but I had some diesel for my generator in our storage trailer on our property, and seeing as how Pam came by to see why we were drinking beer instead of working on the tractor, I asked if she would fetch it.  While we were waiting, Earl and I drained all the fuel from the tank.  That required a sit-around-and-wait beer.

When Pam came back, the tank was empty and we dumped in a couple of gallons of new diesel.  After considerable cranking, the engine fired up.  It ran poorly again, and Earl looked dismayed, but I told him that there was still old diesel in the pump and lines that had to be flushed out.  Sure enough, after a couple of minutes, the old diesel simmered down and purred like a kitten.  

I didn't see any gunk in the fuel we drained out, but it could have been some water.   The fuel tank is a gravity feed and drains from the bottom, so any water in there would dilute the diesel to where it wouldn't fire.   That's my guess.  I suggested that Earl not buy too much diesel at once, maybe one jerry jug at a time, and that he put diesel fuel conditioner in when he stores the tractor for the winter.  Topping off the tank would be a  good idea too, since a full tank doesn't get as much condensation as one not full.

I don't think I've ever seen Earl smile so big.  And, of course, this required a victory beer.  That was four beers total for Earl in one day, which tied his personal best record.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Not Much New Here

I've been spending most of my time watching DVD movies, playing on the laptop, and recuperating from my neck surgery.

My recovery has been slow, but my doc says its OK.  I had a lot of work done on my neck, and things will take time to improve, if they get better at all.  My biggest concern is that my latest bout with my neck started with pain in my right arm, which required the surgery I had a month ago.   That's OK, but now my left arm is hurting as bad, if not worse, than my right did.  The doc says he thinks it will be OK, but to make sure he flicked the bone in his nose, sprinkled me with magic dust, and chanted.

My photographs are dwindling considerably, both in number and in quantity.  Especially since moving off the boat.  But here's a few, just to keep in practice.

Little Spooky, with a little bird.   I set it free.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Health Updates

I know that most of you are concerned about Chevy the Pit Bull.  He went to see his vet a few days ago, and his blood work showed that he's back to normal.  He's going to have to stay on his meds indefinitely, but his gums are pink and he's putting weight back on, back to 77 pounds.   The cause of his auto-immune disorder is still unknown, though.

As for me, I saw my neurosurgeon yesterday, and he said that I'm progressing nicely.  No more neck brace!  But he also said that I have to take things slow.  No driving Bessie the Tractor, no heavy lifting, and no washing dishes.  OK OK Pam, I made the last part up.

Sadly though, I still don't have use of my right arm, so there is no building anything this year.  Maybe next year.  But Pam and I have learned to roll with the punches, so where ever this takes us is where we will go.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Harvesting the Crops

Its a stretch to say we're "Harvesting the Crops", for sure.  

Last year, I planted three horseradish roots.  Horseradish is supposed to be the kind of plant that will grow just about anywhere, under any conditions, but two didn't survive the winter, and the one that did is barely hanging on.  The next I plant will be where there is more sunshine.

The rhubarb Pam planted this year is also hanging in there.  I suspect it will do fine by next year.

Pam planted several blueberry bushes which seem to be doing well.  Perhaps too well.  Something is eating all the ripe berries.  Birds maybe?

Our 45 watt solar array keeps the battery I snagged out of the dump truck charged nicely.  I have an inverter, so we can use power tools and such.

Pam's little garden.  This is all we had time for this year.  The little rock wall actually keeps out dogs out of there.  They recognize that they have to stay "outside".

But from this little garden, Pam is about to get a bumper crop of tomatoes.  If true to form, they will all ripen on the same day.

Her most successful vegetable so far are cucumbers.  She's already picked bagfuls,  and has canned many.

But our most abundant crop is still rocks.   Rocks, rocks, and more rocks.  As soon as I get the green light from my doctor, I will go back to gathering rocks and building walls.  If anyone is in need of any rocks, please come and  help yourselves. 

Where you see the treeline in the photo above is where we cut trees for firewood.  Again, as soon as the doctor says I can get back to physical activity, I need to get Bessie the Tractor and drag out the trees we cut last year, and make room to cut more trees for next year.

Its hard to believe that its August already.   Where has the summer gone?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Canning Pickles

I'm no expert on canning anything, but even I noticed that Pam made a fundamental mistake right off the bat.   But I will provide detailed instructions here for those of you who want to learn from our mistakes.  Pam decided to make pickles...

but she was using cucumbers instead of pickles.  It seems that Pam planted cucumber plants instead of pickle plants, but because they look a lot alike, decided to use them anyway.

I made fresh horseradish for her that morning, which she put in each Mason Jar to be used for the pickles.  She had cut the cucumbers and put them in a bowl of special pickle water.

She then poured in boiling special pickle water into which she had put special pickle water spices.

The filled jars have the lids put on and are then put in a pot of boiling water.

It was only after a re-reading of the directions that Pam noticed that she was to leave a half inch between the special boiling pickle water and the top of the jar so that a vacuum would be created as the water cooled.  As such, three out of the seven jars are shelf ready.  The others went into the refrigerator to be eaten sooner because there was no vacuum created in the pickling process.

And so there you have it.

You're welcome.