Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from Circle-H

Well another year almost gone. Where does the time go? Torie came down for a week and I really enjoyed having her home. She had to leave before Christmas but we had a small celebration with her here.
I drove her out to the Vamtek Circle H Ranch and she picked out a homesite for herself. I think it's in a good spot and not too far from ours.
I took a picture of the Cabana all blown over and crumpled. When the weather clears up AND when I have the time...I'll try to drag Eric out there and rebuild the thing. Hopefully, a little more stable against the wind that picks up around here.
I really do need to build some windmills when we have a permanent structure out here. I might as well take advantage of the wind.
Here are the pictures that I took, not too many but it was fun to see Torie out here. I hope it gave her a chance to see a dream to live here. I would love for us all to be out here together at some point in time.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

October-rainy season-mostly uneventful

We didn't do much during the month of October. It's been wetter than usual so the prospect of doing anything serious has been hampered. We discovered a few very important things though that will help in the future when we extend the road out to the back. During wet seasons, we have a few creeks that flow across the place...and a bonus...the place that we thought must have been a stock tank 20 years ago...filled up with water and appears to be holding it quite well. Another project...dredge it out and make it useful again. There is a spot that looks like it was struck by lightening and all of the trees are dried to a crisp. I gathered up a bag of Texas Elm seeds and went out this weekend to spread them. Hopefully, they'll take. Here are some pictures taken the last couple of trips out there.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Labor Day weekend - another work / fun party

I managed to take some extra days off over the Labor Day weekend and decided this would be a good time to go out and clear some more of the driveway. After all, we only have 1200 feet to clear. :) Todd and his family went out along with me and Ann. They stayed in a tent...we stayed in the RV. It's a little cooler now that we are getting a little rain so the AC in the RV got things nice and chilly inside. We actually turned off the generator, switched the fridge over to propane and opened up the windows. I slept pretty well once "Shadow", our black lab, settled down. He was on alert the whole time. If we were outside, his nose was to the ground 'popping'. I had to keep him on a leash because he would get a scent and take off. We cleared out a lot of dead trees and only a few living mesquite trees that were small or almost dead. It's been so dry that many of the trees might actually be pulling everything down to their roots because there just isn't any ground water. Things were so nice in the RV and the kids and women all went inside and put on a DVD for the kids to watch. It was a good time. We cooked hot dogs over the fire, cooked pork roast in a dutch oven and one evening, we roasted marshmallows and made s'mores. Zoe didn't want one, she just wanted a marshmallow. We all looked at her a little funny. I think she had never had one. Once she tried it, she ate it up. For just camping out a couple of days, we had enough food for several more. I'm continually surprised how well the fridge in the RV works. The freezer...freezes and the fridge keeps things cold...even on propane! I love it. I guess that proves I'm simply getting old. Todd and I got a lot of work done. We cleared about 300 more feet of trees. Now we need to work on getting the cactus out and bring in more road base. It's hard work, but really therapeutic. Ever heard of "jumping cactus"? I don't know what it's really called but this stuff is bad. I remember always getting into it when I was a boy scout. It's the cactus that just keeps on giving. It doesn't take much. You barely brush against it and then you have cactus needles in you the size of a tiny hair for days to come. Duct tape comes in handy here. Also a good sharp knife blade scraped across your skin can get some of them out. Neat huh? NOT! We also took the time to put up a mailbox. It's official, we have an address. Yeah! I took an old 4x4 fence post and used it for the mailbox post. I think it turned out ok. Doesn't look new. That's what I was aiming for. The women decided that they would go back into town and take the pets and kids with them and stay the night in our house and let Todd and I have some alone time with each other. I really appreciated the time. It's not that often that we get the chance to just hang out and visit. So, we loaded up Todd's van, kissed our wives goodbye and saw them off. We saw a small rattlesnake but didn't have a chance to kill it. I hesitate to just kill for the sake of killing. Now I'll have to be on the look out. I won't hesitate if I have to defend myself. This one wasn't interested, he looked at me and went down a hole. We saw more cotton tail rabbits and we also saw a really odd looking beetle. I have no idea what kind it was but It looked rather scary so I killed it. I know...I know...but it could have been poisonous, right? Josh took time to pose for a picture with 'Papa'. A section of trees were all bent over, up-rooted and scorched white. Not a leaf on any of them. Some of them broken off 20 feet up. I have no idea what did it but it was a little weird to walk up on a section of trees like that. What could have done it? How could something turn the trees white like that? Heat? The ground wasn't touched. It looked like something big came crashing through the woods, but only a small section was affected. I guess this will remain a mystery.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Another HOT day at the Ranch clearing trees

So...we have a moment last Saturday where we find ourselves with nothing much to do. I had already watered the straw outside that tries to pass as grass, replaced the kitchen faucet and taken my wife out to Lunch with Molly and Larissa. Our afternoon was suddenly open. Molly volunteered to watch the pets until 5pm so we decided to head out to the Circle-H and give it a quick inspection. Just before leaving, Ann called Todd, (They had camped out overnight, or so we thought.), Todd said they had just gotten there around 2pm and was getting ready to work on clearing more trees from the proposed roadway...would I bring my chainsaw? I'd be lying if I said I was over joyed but it was a chance to spend some time with Todd and his family. Well...I had not planned on actually working, but... Next thing I know, I'm throwing the saw and gas can in the back of the truck and we're off. We noticed that the whole family was there and even though they were under the gazebo, it was obvious that the 103 degree temp was cooking them. Of course, the grand-sons were no worse for wear... Todd and I surveyed the scene and I saw what he had been working on, so I fired up the saw and was about to start cutting when Todd gave me the 'cutthroat' sign by slicing his hand past his throat. I turned off the saw to see what was the matter and he pointed out to me that I had forgotten to close the bar oil reservoir and was leaking oil all over the place....Ooooops. Not a good start. Regroup. Ok...Todd and I surveyed the scene...and I started cutting and Todd started hauling. We were going along at a pretty good pace, when my right hand really started hurting. I turned off the saw pulled off Todd's gloves that I had borrowed and realized that my right ring finger was starting to become de-gloved by my gold ring. I guess, between the heat, the swelling and the vibration of the saw, my ring was digging into my finger, had broken the skin and was slowing sliding up the bottom pad of my finger. The skin was kind of accordion shaped. I pulled it back into place and pocketed the ring. Ouch! I stopped cutting shortly after that when I started seeing black and was light headed. Too hot. Geesh, I'm getting old. I had brought 2 liters of water with me but the heat still got to me. I was least I was still sweating. So...after that, we took a stroll around the perimeter, talked about the future of the ranch and headed back to the family at the gazebo. All in all, it was still successful. We still got a lot done. This section doesn't even look like it used to have trees. I try to cut them off as close to the ground as I can. This spot is pretty much clear. The yellow flags mark where the road will go.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Setup a Storage Shed and wandered around a bit

The gate still looks good and seems to be holding up, in spite of a proper "H" brace. The road is still in good shape.
The gazebo was still standing this time. Last time we were out, it was blown over lying in a clump of twisted metal. I drove some stakes into the ground to help but it still needs proper placement.
We brought a few extra chairs...
NO! That is NOT an outhouse! That is the new storage shed that we put together. Ann thought it would be funny to take this picture because is looked just like I was going to the outhouse.
Here is a picture that shows how dry it is out there.
Me walking around.
Here's a small grassy clearing...where the road is going to go through...someday...only about 10 more dump truck loads to get back this far from the county road.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Family Outing: 4th of July 2009

Ok, nothing new at the ranch. No new work done(period). It's been way too hot! Besides, we went to Utah for a couple of weeks. Ann gave Travis one of her kidneys. My wife is an Angel sent to earth and she loves me (of all people), I don't know what I did to deserve it, but I'll take it. All of the events from the hospital were posted on Facebook. Everything went fine. any rate, nothing got done out here while we were gone.
So...we get back...Ann convalesces for a few days and bang...back in the saddle. Let's have the whole bunch together for the 4th. Of course, Ann takes on the whole task of putting it all together. She does put on a good spread, but in Ann's present state that means I'm loading up everything by myself. Oh well, activity keeps you young, right?
So, we load everything up and get on the road. This time, with the Travel trailer in tow. We just bought a new camera so this is a good chance to document the experience. Several of our friends have requested pictures of the drive out to Circle H so I'll attach a bunch of 'em.
Over all, it was lots of fun. Although, I think, I'm still experiencing some of the "fun" in the form of various aches and pains in my shoulders, back, etc. I swear, I'm going to put wheels on my 3500watt generator. That sucker is just too plain heavy to be lifting and carrying by myself.
By the way, on a little more than half a tank of gas, the generator ran the RV and the AC for almost 5 hours. The temp outside 105F. I think it did just fine.
Where was I? Oh yeah. We (I) loaded up everything in the truck and RV, hitched it up and we pulled out around 9:30am on the 4th. We stopped and got gas at the intersection of 183 and continued on our way. Ann took pictures while I drove.
When we got out there, the gazebo had been blown over by the wind from the latest storm. There was a little debris in the driveway but not too bad. I pulled up, assessed the situation and backed her in with Ann giving signals and direction from the rear. I did have to get out and check a few times but I managed to get it passed the turn and keep going. I guess we only backed it in about 200 feet from the road.
I unloaded everything and set up the picnic table under the gazebo and while I unhitched the trailer, Ann started the Grill. What's for dinner? Grilled corn on the cob, fresh sausage, pistachio salad, potato salad, macaroni salad, fresh veggie platter, hot dogs, chips, and cold soda, with home made banana pudding for dessert. Sound good? It was. Good ol' fashion southern home cooking. Yum.
After lunch, we took a walk around the perimeter to check things out, then tossed a nerf football around and tried to relax a bit. Did I mention that it was 105 degrees felt closer to around 200 degrees. Man it was hot. The energy was being zapped right out of me. After a while we realized that all the women and kids were in the RV in the AC watching "Horton hears a who".
Well, we're not too proud to stay out in the heat. We joined them inside for frozen fruit pops and cold sodas. The AC was better than the heat but we were already over heated so it was hard to tell that it was any different than outside even though it was MUCH better inside. Well, on the other hand, when 12 people crowd around inside a small 20' RV, it is interesting. It's a good thing that we are a close family. We really are. We all had a good time in spite of the heat.
I love my family, I really do. We had lots of fun. Happy 4th of July. Oh, one more fireworks on this trip...things are way too dry out here and I don't have running water yet so no way would I risk it.