Sunday, November 24, 2019

The beauty of a miserable day

It was windy as hell today, therefore it was a blowy day. Except it wasn't blowy at all. If that makes sense. And I'd be surprised if it did. Starting a day like this is a delight...

There's a bar up thar...

The wind was kind of miserable. From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. it was roughly 30 mph sustained gusting 40-50 mph. That kind of wind makes working outside harder than usual. On the one hand that's a pain in the ass. On the other -- and you know me -- harder is better. Especially when nature greets me first thing in the morning with this.

Didn't hurt at all that the air temperature ramped up to 60 early and stayed there most of the day. The wind can be a lot more miserable when the air temps are cold!

I started as usual watering the chickens and gathering eggs.

After that chore was complete, my plan was to do a quick cow check, get the water turned on, and then get stuck into adding scrap metal to the 40 yard ROF. However...

So what happened is simply this. Some of the cows discovered tasty green grass on the west side of the fence. The tasty green stuff is present there in the form of downy brome, or cheat grass. It's a winter annual grass which germinates every fall from seed produced during the summer. It grows rapidly into lush and delightful green stuff, and it tolerates freezing remarkably well. Eventually, later in the year, it goes dormant. In the spring it perks back up and does the same rapid growth thing before going to seed in late spring, drying out and dying and leaving seed to germinate in a couple of months. So that's a winter annual grass for you. Right now for the cows it's very tasty stuff and they want to eat it. It's on the other side of the fence because that's the disturbed ground of a trail road. On our side of the fence there's nothing but dormant native prairie grass, all dried up and not nearly as tasty as the green cheat grass. So the cows push their heads through the wire, and if they find a weak place, they can pop wires loose and bend steel posts.

So that kind of sucks, because it has to be fixed, and fixed correctly and immediately. So my scrap metal plans have to wait their proper turn.  Which kind of sucks.

But not completely. For one thing, fixing fence is always a challenge, always a chore, always interesting, and always satisfying. Add gale force winds and the job gets hard, and hard is good. It's added challenge, added effort, and leads to added satisfaction and enjoyment. I guess I'm just wired that way. And for another thing, when the cows tear up the fence it's all part of the symbiotic relationship we share. The cattle and I are part of a dynamic ecosystem, and we are each in an ongoing struggle to wrest a living from nature. One aspect of our dynamic symbiosis is that the cows show me where the fence is weak, and then I fix it. In a way it's like having a free and ongoing fence testing service. Which I think is pretty cool.

So I fixed the fence, then had to run recyclables to town for Mom. Not much of a chore. When I got back I decided to check the water and turn it off if the tanks were full. They were, so I did. But I also found a cow out, and more torn up fence, just spitting distance from where I'd done my earlier repair. So I got the cow back in and got back to work. Again, simple and satisfying. But this time the wind had gone down, so it was satisfying in a slightly different way. It wasn't a battle, it was just an enjoyable job on a smashingly beautiful pre-Thanksgiving evening.

Between the two fence jobs, before I took the recycling to town, I got busy with the scrap project. I gave the Bobcat quite a good workout and it ran like a champ. I also did some experimenting with technique, and I managed to figure out what seems to be the best approach to efficiently and completely filling the ROF, given the scrap I have to work with.

And while I was in town with the recycling, I took time to download pictures and videos from my phone. Ran into a problem though. My phone is of the locked variety, so I've never been able to directly download pics and vids to my PC via a cable. Rather than figure out how to do that, I've been downloading them wirelessly to my el goog drive, then from the drive to the PC. It's an extra step, but I haven't bothered to figure out how to do it the simple way with a cable. It's been fine, but today el goog decided my drive was full. Turns out that despite telling el goog in settings not to save my files, it saves them anyway. I can only get rid of them by deleting and then emptying trash. Which is a pain, but I can do it that way. however, now my phone tells me that I can't download because my drive is full, despite the fact that when I check storage, either on the phone or on the PC, it clearly shows an empty(ish) drive. The phone just won't let me download to drive. Or rather, an el goog feature is trying very hard to make me buy 100 gigs of storage, and isn't gonna let me download until I comply. So that's quite vexing. My immediate solution is to use my camera rather than the phone. Next I need to get the cabled download enabled on the phone. So I'll work on that.

And goodness gracious that's a lot of very rapid post writing. I hope it holds together for you kind readers. I just need to embed a couple of videos and add a few more pics and I'll post her up. Hope I didn't do too much of the sailor talk on the vids, I barely previewed them and didn't edit them at all. As usual.

I did a lot of push-ups today, a total of 465. My arms feel like rubber this evening, but in a good way. I did all of those feats of manliness out in the country with only disinterested cows in attendance. Kinda sad, really.

Be well and enjoy the blessings of liberty.


  1. Glamorous cowboy life, stacking hay and fixing fence.

    Combat Engineer school had a solid week of working with barbed wire. About two hour in on the first day the training NCO calls me aside.

    "Troop, you've done this before. I'm making you an assistant instructor".

    "Right, Sargent, so when these clown stretch wire too tight and it breaks, it will whip around my ankles instead of yours?"

    "I KNEW you were experienced".

    Later didn't need much training on stacking sandbags.

    1. The real glamour is when you're pulling a wire (walking backwards of course), trip over a frozen cow pie, and land smack in the middle of a fresh, warm one. It just don't get no better than that.

      Did you use the good o'l Goldenrod fence stretcher in the Combat Engineers?

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    2. Don't know the brand but they were the same and color as we used on the place and every other place I was on in NW Colorado. We also had block and tackle for the big concertina (razor wire) rolls.

      In my youth I had experience with cow pies.

    3. We use block and tackle when building fence too. Of late though I've done the long major stretches with the pickup, carefully. One of the advantages to working alone. I've also learned over time to do more corner or anchor posts and shorter spans.

  2. Best get that scrap moving before it starts snowing on ya'll.
    Looks like you can pound the steel posts in with that double handled thingy on the far side of the fence. No need for digging, but got to dig for the wooden posts, right? I assume you are replacing all the wooden ones as they fail and then the steel ones should require less maintenance (from rot- even though cows will still push wires)?
    Good education for the city folks, whose idea of hardship is if Starbucks doesn't get the foam on their latte just right.
    This week we will be thankful for those who feed us, even if sometimes turkey is what's for dinner.
    John Blackshoe.

    1. The weather guessers are predicting 8-11 inches beginning this afternoon and extending through the night. More snow with blowing tomorrow, with a storm total of 15-20 inches. It could be a good one but we'll see. Might be a chance to fire up the big burn pile, but snow cover will limit somewhat the scrap picking.

      That's pretty much correct on the fencing. You really need solidly anchored wooden posts in the mix as they stand up to the wind without bending. Believe it or not a four-wire fence has a hell of a lot of sail area and heavy winds will blow it right over if it's only steel posts. The same will happen if wooden posts are set in loose soil like blow dirt. Ask me how I know! Cows will always push wire, but will usually give up if the wire is tight. Some cows become fence crawlers and only solid corrals will hold them. They usually get the opportunity to be owned by someone else.

      It's nice to be able to share what I do with those who don't get to have the experience.

      This week I'm thankful for countless things, and among them people who enjoy the caloric expression of the things I do for a living. Turkey or tofu, I don't care a bit. It's all concentrated sunshine.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting John!

  3. I actually accomplished something today! I got a 20 some year old Streamlight Litebox back from the grave. It is a very powerful rechargable spotlight/lantern, most often found on fire trucks. It was given to me, as it was declared dead, dead, dead, and I could do with it as I would. I opened it up, cleaned termnals, and put in a new rechargeable battery, and threw it on the charger. It Works! YAY ME!

    I have a dead Litebox in my cabin, I think I will buy it a new battery, even rechargeables wear out. So for the price of two $15.00 batteries, I will have brought back two $100.00 flashlights!

    We Badgers are such clever critters!

    1. There's a lot of joy and satisfaction in challenges and frugality. Few things better in a throw-away world then saying "hold my beer and watch this" and then demonstrating magic.

      Badgers are clever and despite the holes they leave which sometimes vex me I like them very much. Even when they beat my home team like a rented goat. Which it deserves.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Scott!

  4. We had some tasty cow meat for dinner tonight which made me think of you. Thank you for your hard work to help provide the food we eat. I have a small amount of experience with barbed wire fence, but nothing like yours. Also a small amount of experience in cow pies, the avoidance of. My wife's family have a ranch in central Washington State on which they have cattle. I have done a little helping from time to time, just enough to understand how little I know about the whole thing. Been around ranches, horses, and cattle in other times and places. Happy to have a slower paced life now as I approach my 3/4 century mark.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

    1. That's very kind Paul, thanks. There are some spectacular ranches up your way. When I travel through that country I physically pang to own and operate a ranch in such beautiful country. A bit of exposure to agriculture is a very good thing in my opinion. Not to see how hard agriculturalists work, which is less hard than it looks usually, but for the sense of scale, context, and perspective it brings.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      And I thank you for supporting my cow habit with your eating habit!

  5. I forgot to write about how beautiful the sky is in your videos. One of the blessings of your part of the world is the long distance horizons that you enjoy. To be able to look in all directions and have your view unobstructed by human made things is a great thing, I think. Have a great day.


  6. Gives one a full understanding of the expression:
    "It's always something."

    1. That's a fact! Story of my life on most days, which is fine. Keeps me out of the bars.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  7. After a day of doing stuff (whether at work or around Chez Sarge), it's always good to swing by here and see what you, the dogs, and the cows are up to. Never a disappointment.

    I almost want to be there for the snow, I've experienced a storm (or twelve) in my lifetime like that. I know they can be very dangerous, but damme, they can be awfully beautiful as well. (Awful as in "full of awe," not the bad meaning of that word.)

    Keep on keeping on brother!

    1. Seems like there's usually something interesting going on. Some days more than others. Fortunate to live in a time where this kind of farm to fone sharing is possible.

      At 1830 as I keywritetype this the snow is moderately heavy without a lot of wind and with temps in the 27-28 degree range. According to the guys and gals who wouldn't make a pimple on Stormy Rottman's arse, the heavy stuff is supposed to begin around 2300 local, with 12 inches expected in the subsequent 12 hours. Looking outside it's shaping up to be rather majestic. Glad I got the damme tank float fixed when I did (see today's post).

      Thanks for stopping by to check and comment Sarge!