Archive for October, 2010

Cedar Pickup Load

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

treads1.jpgAfter my trip to town this morning, I spent the hours necessary to finish sawing and bundling the treads for the Estivant Pines. Next I need to take them up there and stash them so they’ll be ready for the “Make a Difference Day” volunteers on the 23rd. That is the day after I return from the Grand Canyon hike. I’ll either be awesomely buff, or a complete wreck by then.

Franco is almost back to normal. Alice found one more quill on his leg. It had worked its way through his skin such that only the point was showing. I pulled it out with my leatherman, while Frank watched with mild interest. On the other hand, Alice and I were scooping up the quills we had already pulled from Franko’s legs, and one got stuck in Alice’s finger. She observed that event with something other than mild interest.

I managed to talk my doctor’s office into giving me this year’s flu shot early this year. Since I’ll be travelling during their clinic on the 15th, they squeezed me in today. While I was there I stepped on the scales, and found I weigh 199#. I had hoped to be somewhat less than that, and I can’t imagine that I could have worked any harder on the conditioning, so I guess that is what I’m stuck with. I’m expecting to drop a few more pounds during the hike.

Tough Day For Franco

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Franco stole the show today. It was to be a big day for him anyway, since he was scheduled to spend the day at the vet’s office getting his hips x-rayed. To prepare him for his big day, I took him for a walk during the dark hours of this morning so he could do his duty. Everything went fine until just about the end, when his nose went into the air and he disappeared into the grass on the north side of the road. I called him immediately, but he hesitated coming, intent as he was to catch up with whatever smelled so good.

quills.jpgNext thing I knew, he yelped and came running back to me. He looked like he had been on the wrong side of an archery match. The right side of both legs had lots of porcupine quills in them. I told him to come with me, and this time he seemed a bit more inclined to listen to me. I got him inside and called Alice to help, unholstered the trusty Leatherman and pulled them one by one. Franco took it like a man, even though I sometimes pulled out some hairs that were next to the quills. He had two buried pretty deeply in his feet too. I complimented him on his timing. The best time to get quilled is on your way to the vet’s office.

When Alice brought him home this evening, he was one tired looking puppy. He was still under the influence of the anesthetic and was given some Valium to boot. We’re supposed to take it easy on him for the rest of today, and the expectation is that he’ll be back to normal by tomorrow. It sure was quiet around here today without him being around.

While he was gone, I finished cutting the 6/4 lumber to length and bundling it. Then I started the sawmill and sawed a bunch more 6/4. I’m still short I think, but I believe this batch will be about it for now. If we can get this much carried, we’ll be doing pretty well.


Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

We save all our kitchen garbage for the compost drum, and eventually the two 5 gallon pails that hold the stuff fill up. This morning both were full, as well as the compost jug we keep in the kitchen. It was time to act. Even though the compost-making is pretty much done for this year, I emptied the garbage into the compost drum and gave it a couple of good spins. As soon as we get a killing frost in the greenhouse, I’ll empty this batch of half cooked compost on that side to be tilled in next spring. We usually dump our winter garbage out there too, and the ravens and deer seem to like finding tender morsels therein.

tying.jpgThen it was time to haul the tipi cover up into the garage attic. It is too heavy for me to safely carry up the ladder, so I have rigged up a pulley in the peak of the attic, and run a long rope through it and back down to the garage floor. I use an Air Force surplus cargo net to cover the canvas, tie it to one end of the rope, and tie the other end of the rope to the bumper of the pickup. At the peak of the attic, I tie a special loop of rope onto the rope, and clip on a 5 gallon pail of hydraulic fluid. This full pail is the counterweight for this operation.

lifting.jpgWhen all is rigged, I give the rope a yank, and if I planned properly, the cover floats off the floor as sweetly as eider down. Once I get it up as high as it will go, I tie it off and climb the ladder to haul it up the rest of the way, untie the rope, and finish putting it away. I used a similar method to get the whole shebang out of the attic in the first place. All the experience I’ve had with the theater has been useful to me.

After that I fired up the sawmill and made a bunch more 6/4 lumber for treads for the Estivant pines project. I loaded up all the boards in the pickup and backed it into the garage. The treads are the boards the hikers actually walk on, and as such only need to be 3′ long. I have to make treads for over 100′ of boardwalk, so decided to tie them with binder twine into bundles enough to run 5′ of treads. That way I can grab just as much as I need for each project as I need them.

treads.jpgI grabbed the boards off the truck and loaded them one at a time onto my miter saw table, where I had a jig arranged to easily measure and cut 3′ lengths out. I set out two 5′ boards on sawhorses, and laid the 3′ treads along these boards until I had 5′. Then I bundled that batch together and started on another batch. I hope to finish what I have cut tomorrow, and then I’ll know how much more 6/4 lumber I’ll need to saw.

On October 23rd, a group of MTU students will be spending a few hours at the pines for “Make a Difference Day.” The plan is to have them carry this lumber back to the sites for these boardwalks. It if all works out, it will be spectacular.

Franco spends tomorrow at the vet’s office getting his hips x-rayed for his OFA rating. We hope he has good tight hips so we can breed him if that opportunity arises. It will seem pretty quiet around here tomorrow when he is gone,

Dry Hydrant

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

After our usual Saturday morning pancake breakfast (yum) I bagged up the dehydrated chili for the trip and worked on odds and ends until around 3:30, when I took off to work on a project for the fire department.

hole.jpgA property owner on the northern end of our district gave us permission to install a dry hydrant in his pond. This will be helpful if we have a fire out that way. We won’t have to run all the way back to the firehall for water, but should be able to draw water from this pond summer and winter. We’ve never done one of these before, so we were anxious to see how it all worked. The first job was to get the hole dug. One of our firefighters volunteered his backhoe and his time to do that job.

backfill.jpgNext we carried the pipe out and floated it into position and sunk it. That part of the project happened just in time, because the side walls of the hole caved in just as we got it down there, which buried it nicely. Then the backhoe brought loads of sand and gravel over and backfilled the pipe. The big elbow was glued on, which included the fitting we’ll use to attach to the truck. The area around the dry hydrant was then smoothed out and the backhoe hauled the rest of the gravel onto the driveway area we’ll use when we back the pumper up.

done.jpgFinally, the backhoe operator smoothed everything out and we called it a day. On the way home I celebrated by stopping at the corner store and buying some ice cream. I’m finding more and more reasons for celebration lately 🙂

After a very nice supper, Franco and I did our backpack walk. I was more than 3/4 done when the pager went off and I had to ditch the backpack and run home. I grabbed my radios and jump bag, and headed over to the residence. It took all the rest of the evening. I’d normally be asleep by now, but this one has me kind of wound up, so I’m up for a while tonight.

Traction Splint

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Yesterday was a long day. I left home around 6:30 and headed for Marquette. I had signed up for an all-day Wilderness EMS class. I arrived at the University Center at Northern Michigan University in plenty of time to get registered and find my room. The instructor was a very cool and knowledgeable guy. We spent the morning in the classroom and the afternoon in the woods doing the practical part of the class.

We learned techniques for cleanliness, improvisation, as well as the stuff we should already have known about like splinting, hypothermia, and rescue breathing.

warm.jpgOur instructor convinced an EMS student from the University to be our guinea pig for many of the demonstrations. Emily in this scenario has gotten soaking wet on a cold day is well into the stages of hypothermia. The instructor is showing us how to help Emily get her wet clothes off while maintaining her body heat and modesty. The steps to accomplish this are important, because if the sleeping bag she is going inside of to keep warm gets wet, the whole procedure was for nothing.

traction.jpgWe then learned how to fabricate a traction splint from camping gear and things we could find in the woods. A forked stick of sufficient length was used in this exercise. When I practiced with Emily, I used my hiking staff and was able to come up with a reasonable traction splint too.

Our local television station came out to the site with us and interviewed our instructor Chris for their evening news. I managed to get in several of the shots, and was even interviewed for the piece.

tv6.jpgI don’t think the news anchor interviewed me because of my brilliant views on the subject. I heard her ask several people, and I was the first one that said yes. You can watch the interview HERE

Today I made a batch of chili for the backpacking trip. I started with the tomatoes, garlic, and onions from our garden and then used some vegetarian chili mix. Once made, I measured out 8 cups which will be enough for 2 servings for each of us, and poured that into 4 trays of the dehydrator. It has been drying for about 5 hours so far, and the house is smelling good. Once it is completely dry, I’ll remove it from the racks, crush it up and put it in some ziplock vacuum bags so they’ll be ready for the trip. Out on the trail, we just dump two servings in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 5 minutes. It is much cheaper than freeze dried, is just as fast to prepare, and tastes better too (IMHO.)

Franco and I also walked out to the sugar shack where we stacked some firewood for next year’s syrup, and threw some sticks. The maple trees are spectacular right now.