Sunday, October 30, 2016

Happy as a Pig in.....

It was time. The manure pile had spread east and west, and now it was gravitating to the north. It's a massive collection from a number of years of on again (mostly) and off again horses on the property. We Dreamers inflated the tires on the manure spreader, filled the lawn mower on steroids (LMOS) with diesel, and topped off the riding lawn mower with gas. Let the fun begin!

Manure pile part way into the process. 

Filling the manure spreader:
The view from the LMOS,
with a curious Zoe looking on.

The view from afar

Dreaming looking very happy, indeed!
That is, until the wind picked up and blew composted manure
all over her!

 The pile is gone!
In addition to being spread over about 1/3rd of the pasture,
it was used to fill a few holes around the homestead.

We Dreamers found that digging into a hillside promotes the composting of manure. It helps retain the moisture needed for the manure to "cook".  When we moved to our current home, the ground was so dry and hard, Mr. Dreamy's little tractor, the LMOS, couldn't dig a pit. However, after years of manure being piled on the slope, it now had enough moisture to enable Mr. Dreamy to dig out an area to make future deposits. 

I added the first wheelbarrow full of poop this morning.
I put the stakes and fencing up to keep the horses from 
walking too close to the edge and caving the dirt in.
Malachi was certain the little flags were going to eat him!

My next challenge....
filling the pit. 
Any guesses as to how long that will take?!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

He Eats Like a Bird

An update on the feral cats:

Dodger has left the area. I think. I haven't seen any photos of him using my spy camera (wildlife camera), so evidently he lived up to his name and dodged the situation as soon as I paved the way for his exit. (I saw him in the garage three days before I let the cats free, so I do know he put in the mandated two-week sentence. Well, perhaps I should say, I had a brief glimpse of his distinctive tail as he ran behind the bales of hay.) Perhaps he will return after he scopes out the neighborhood, or when the weather takes a turn, or whenever he feels like it. He is a cat, after all!

Freddie (the Freeloader) comes and goes. I catch him on camera now and then. I guess he's the sort of cat who likes to eat out on occasion!

Bob seems to be hanging around. He made the mistake (and I compounded it) of coming up to the house the other day. The dogs were excited. I thought they saw a bunny. I didn't see Bob slinking through the yard, until I opened the door. I am thinking that Bob may not come up to visit the house anytime soon! He was not received well by the dogs. They see "little animal that runs". They don't understand that I want him around.

When I upload pictures from my spy camera they pop up on the screen like this. They all look the same.

Bob eating. 
Bob eating.
Bob eating some more. 

Each picture has a time and date stamp. 
(As well as the phase of the moon and the temperature!)

When I look at them in my picture file, the information looks something like this:

Bob seems to be a snacker! He likes to eat a little every 3 hours or so! I guess you could say, he eats like a bird!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Tale of Two Kitties

My new feral cats were incarcerated for two weeks. At least I'm sure that's how they viewed the experience! I had them locked in the garage part of the barn. I cleaned the litter box and made sure they had food and water each day. Other than the fact that food went in, and food came out in another form, I had no clue that cats were residing in the garage. I saw neither hide nor hair of them. Finally, the day arrived to let them loose. We have a small opening between the garage portion of the barn and the run-in shed of the barn.... and freedom!

I set my wildlife camera up in the run-in shed and lo and behold, I captured kitties. Well, at least images of kitties!
Here's Bob. All but one picture I captured is a picture of Bob. He loves looking through the hole, sleeping half in and half out of the hole, and sitting on the platform outside the hole.

Evidently, he also likes exploring. This silly cat went between the walls.
Do you see him peeking out?
Oh, boy. The little critters that plague me and eat the horse grain 
are in trouble with this guy around!

There were quite a number of shots of Bob sitting in this safe spot.
Here he looks like he actually took a snooze there.

Bob is black.
This is Bob.

This is Not Bob.
Therefore, this must be Dodger.

I published a post when I brought the cats home from the shelter two weeks ago with the only pictures I had of the cats. 

This is Bob

This is Dodger

This is Not Dodger.
This is Not Bob.
Who is this??!!

I have had a mysterious magical cat swap! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Case Restoration

I've written a few posts about my new addiction to Singer Featherweight sewing machines. My first was an eBay acquisition, and the second was found locally.

When I picked up the local machine I realized that the bottom of the case was split and would need to be repaired. I began working on the case bit by bit.

You can see the split on the bottom of the case on the left side of the picture. The split went all the way across the bottom.  As I have acquired more machines (I think that might be another post in the future.) I have discovered that many cases need restoration as they have suffered water damage sitting in damp basements. Mr. Dreamy even bought a machine where the bottom and the lower edges of the case were missing and eaten away by carpenter ants??? termites???)

In order to restore the case, the first task was to get the hinges and the other hardware off of the case. They are put on with split rivets. (They remind me of the old brass paper fasteners I used in elementary school.) Those on the hinges were larger and had a heavier gauge wire than those on the latches. 

Looking online I learned the you can use a small screwdriver to wedge under the ends of the rivet on the inside of the case to bend them up. Once both ends are bent up, you can hammer it out a bit, or pry the hinge or latch off. Hah! That didn't work so well. After gouging my hand a few times I pulled out the Dremel and used a burr to grind away at the "legs" of the hinge, and then used an awl and hammered the rivet out.  This was probably the toughest part of taking the case apart! (You can see the remains of a few split rivets near the Dremel head.)

The next step was to remove the vinyl covering.This was easy, as Mr. Dreamy divulged the secret. The cover is glued on with animal hide glue. (Post about hide glue is here.) This glue is water soluble and readily softens with warm water. I had a large roasting pan that I placed on the stove. I heated the watered and dipped the parts of the case, one side at a time, into the water for a few moments, then peeled a bit of the covering off. Dunk, peel, repeat.

The residual glue was easily removed with a warm, wet towel and a plastic scraper. The case is made from a soft wood and has beautiful tongue and groove construction.  I discovered I had dented the wood in trying to clamp it as glue was drying where I added adhesive at the corners. Next time I clamped it, I used small wood blocks to avoid this happening again. I used a wood filler to patch up dents, those I made as well as others, and dings.

This case was used for a 1938 vintage machine. The case had a leather handle, which was in poor shape, and in addition to prongs that go through the case to hold the handle on, it also had leather tabs that are sewn through the vinyl and then through the case. I used a razor blade to cut the threads, straightened the prongs holding the handle and hammered it out, and then used needle-nosed pliers to pull the threads out of the case. The handle was in poor shape and would not be safe to use in the restored case. I had a Bakelite handle from another case that I used. But new handles are available through the Internet. 

I purchased some 3/8" plywood and cut it to size to replace the bottom of the case. I used hide glue to secure the bottom to the case, and sanded the corners and the edges to round them similar to the original. 

The next step was to cover the box with Tolex. Tolex is a vinyl fabric that has been used since the 50's to cover books, amplifiers, and... Featherweight cases! There are a number of suppliers of Tolex 
on the Internet. 

I chose a lightweight vinyl and it went on quite easily. I stuck with the traditional black, but in hindsight wish I had picked something wild and crazy!,. I mixed up some hide glue and water in a large can, and kept it warm in a rice cooker/slow cooker. Using an old paint brush, I applied glue to the outside of the case, wetting the case first so it wouldn't suck all of the moisture out of the glue, and then applied the Tolex cover, one side at a time. I taped the seam where the Tolex lapped near a back corner, but later had to reglue the vinyl on vinyl area using a modern craft glue. I tucked the vinyl around the edges at the top, and put it top down on the table to work on the bottom. 

After 'wrapping' the case in Tolex I reattached the hardware. I could not find split rivets in the correct size, so settled for small black screws and nuts.

I found a jazzy cotton/silk blend of fabric at an upholstery fabric shop and glued that on the inside. 

It is far from perfect, but it is now serviceable and looks tidy and clean. I am sure that the I will find the next case I restore to be much easier and proceed much faster!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Lantern Fest

We were traveling home on Saturday evening after a wonderful family gathering. Suddenly, traffic on I-25 in Colorado began to slow to a crawl. Brake lights flashed on ahead of us. Then, we saw an invasion of tiny UFO's rising over the interstate. We were in awe of all of the little lights. They were coming from somewhere to the east of us, and were rising and moving in an arc above us. Hundreds of them!

What the....?

I grabbed my phone. First, I tried to take a picture. Didn't work. Then, I began searching on the Internet. (I am truly amazed at the wealth of information at my fingertips almost anywhere I go!)
It turns out that we were seeing lanterns from a local "Lantern Fest".

picture from the Internet

I was fascinated by the tiny, flickering lights, suddenly adding thousands hundreds of new stars in the night sky. It was mesmerizing.

Attendees at the sold out festival (an extra day was added, and it was also sold out) come for music, food and fun, and then as the sun sets, get ready to light their lanterns from many torches set out on the grounds. In looking at videos of other lantern fests, some people write messages to loved ones, wishes for the coming year, fondest dreams, regrets, or whatever on the rice paper lantern, and then once the fuel has warmed the envelope, they let it lift to the sky.

Another picture from the Internet
Living in dry country, with an on-going drought, you can guess my concerns. In the car we were all talking about the possible dangers of wildfires set off my any one of the lanterns. However, more reading online came up with the information that the biodegradable lanterns have a fuel cell that burns for a shorter time than it would take for the lantern to return to the ground. Additionally, numerous balloon chaser cars follow and collect 90% or more of the lanterns when they land.

Here is one last picture from the Internet that was representative of the beauty we were treated with on our trip. What fun!

Eerie Erie

While we were visiting Rochester, NY we drove over the Erie Canal a few times. That brought a flood of memories back. I studied New York history when I was in 4th grade and I distinctly remember my fascination with the canal, and stories about how mules and horses used to pull barges from the Niagara River near Buffalo to the Hudson River near Albany. There was also a system of other canals that also allowed access to Lake Ontario and some of the other larger lakes in New York.

A few interesting facts (from "The Story of the New York State Canals"):
  • The canal was begun in 1817 and completed in 1825
  • Tolls were abolished in 1882, after earning 42 million dollars over its original cost
  • The Erie Canal is 340.7 miles in length
  • At minimum the canal is 75 feet in width
  • Locks are at least 300 feet long and 44 1/2 feet wide
  • Clearance under bridge must be at least 5 1/2 feet
  • 57 locks that lift 6 to 40 1/2 feet are found along the length of the canal system
  • The system of canals, including the Erie Canal and three branches, was called the Barge Canal..
  • The system of canals, while no longer used primarily for transportation of goods, is now called the New York State Canal System
  • Over 220 miles of the original towpaths, along which the mules used to plod as they pulled barges, are now walking and biking trails.
We drove out to one of the locks while we were exploring the area. It was a beautiful day to step back into history. I could almost see back in time. I could imagine the old barges filled with cargo going east or west.

Mr. Dreamy is walking with the lock tender. He (or someone) certainly does a nice job in maintaining the lock. Everything was freshly painted and the grounds were immaculate.

.... singing, "I've got an old mule and her name is Sal....

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


We traveled to Laramie, WY with the MINI 5280 group this weekend. We all met in Boulder, CO and travelled a somewhat less travelled road up to the turn-of-the-last-century Territorial Prison.

Photo courtesy of Prison Web Site
Taken when there was water in the Laramie River
(something we didn't see!)

It was a beautiful drive and the prison has been restored wonderfully. After housing over 1000 prisoners in its working life from 1873 to 1902, the buildings were turned over to the State and became an experimental agricultural research station until 1989. The prison and the Warden's home have been returned to their original condition (or somewhat better) and are well worth a visit if you are in the area.

A line of MINI Coopers heading toward Wyoming

 A shot from the co-pilot's seat
Inside the prison yard
The wagon that was used to transport prisoners. It was pointed out, the wagon had no springs!
Some of the stronger fellows in our group were told they had to be the horses, while I encourage them along with my pretend whip!

The prison had 3 tiers of cells. A guard cage could be used to view prisoners on either end of the prison.

The kitchen had a dumbwaiter that took food up to the 2nd floor dining area.

Prisoner intake room

The stockade was enlarged when it was discovered that prisoners could jump and climb over the original wall.
Many prisoners escaped. In the first years, 25% made it to freedom!

We had a docent take us around and fill us in on some of the prison details. He described life in the prison as well. The prisoners were not allowed to talk. They had to walk in single file with a hand on the shoulder of the prisoner in front of them. The warden determined that prisoners would fare better if they had jobs. In addition to working in the kitchen or laundry, there was a work building within the prison yard. Broom making was just one of the trades, and it is still practiced today by paid workers.

What is Four?

Have you ever thought of the meaning of "four"?  Four is the number of: seasons in a year. corners and sides to a square. virtues....