Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I love thunder storms. I love to hear the thunder and lighting and rain hitting my metal roof. I don't like tornadoes or hurricanes. Hurricane Ike hit the upper Texas coast on Sept 13th. I took off Thursday night, 9-11, to prepare and not get caught in the traffic jams like so many Texans did during Hurricane Rita 3 years ago. Since I work 62 miles south of here, I didn't want to get stuck in Houston on the interstate. By Friday afternoon, I was ready for Ike. So was everybody else as the grocery stores were out of any kind of "fast" food. Chips and any bottled beverage, paper towels, plates and cups, along with toilet paper, tape, and anything else one might need in the next few weeks. I admit one thing I forgot was to buy more dog food. But Booger's food supply never suffered! In between buying everything I could think of, I ran the Big RED Beast around the yard and barn to pick up anything that wasn't nailed down and secure it in the barn or work shop. This went double for the large sawmill blades I have bordering the driveway.

Since Luke and I were going to ride out the storm at Christina's house, I loaded up my chain saw, gas and oil, along with extension cords and extra diesel for the generator. The biggest thing to move was Rascal's old ferret cage. It is large enough for two ferrets, but small enough to carry by one person. I think I had everything packed and on the road around 4 on Friday afternoon. Luke came over about 7. Just after 9, we lost power and the winds were hardly over 10 miles an hour! We powered up the loud diesel generator and powered the refrigerator, microwave oven, one fan and the all important big screen TV and satellite box. Oh yeah, we had one lamp in the windowless bathroom.

We went to bed around midnight. I slept until 4:30. At that time I started hearing freight trains and really got scared. So we got up and ate a very early breakfast. We didn't have much wind at all. But at one point, I didn't dare open the front door. By daylight it was all over except for the rain. It rained all day. But the damage was done.

We had to wait until the afternoon to drive home to check my place out. Too many trees blocking the road and I didn't feel like cutting wet trees that could have "hot" power wires among it. By the time the rain slowed to a drizzle, the road was clear, thinks to all the country boys in their tall 4WD trucks and 4 wheelers. I couldn't wait to get home and get the Big RED Beast out. I had one large Pine tree blocking my driveway. We parked in the street. I had one elm tree on my roof over my bedroom. I cut the pine and pushed the top out of the way to clear the driveway. Then I drove the 6520 across the front yard to use the Mahindra's loader bucket as a work platform while attacking the elm tree on the roof. But I changed my mind when all 4 tires started sinking. I got out of the yard real quick and cut the elm up the old fashion way, with a ladder. The elm was dispatched without me falling off the roof. I was concerned about falling as the roof was slick and I was wearing rubber boots and yellow rain suit.

Sunday brought clear skies as we drove home. It took a while to get the generator on the ground and chained. I tried to power my central air conditioner with the 240 volt plug, but that was a no go. We ran 6 extension cords to the house I borrowed the window air conditioner from my work shop to cool my bedroom. We powered two window A/Cs and two fans to push the air. We had to kill one A/C to power the TV. But a few days later I tweaked the rpm up on the generator and had enough power for short use of my computer. We had lost power at home around 3 A.M. Sat. morning. That also meant no water. But I had a 55 gallon drum strapped to the deck for non drinking water and around 15 gallons of drinking water. We were out of water for 6 days and electricity was restored after 8 days.

The Monday after the storm I drove over to Sara's house near Dayton and spent the day cutting trees up. I came home from her house with 15 gallons of bio diesel, sorely needed for the generator. The European diesel never missed a beat on the bio diesel. I was off work almost all week as Southwest had the hangar shut down for 6 nights. I worked one night that week. Then the fun began. I dragged the pine top to the burn pile, but it was almost too heavy (and big), so I extended the backhoe, lifted the trunk of the pine top with the Mahindra's loader and drug it backwards. I could not turn, but could lower the pine top and then turn.

Saturday afternoon, Sara came over with her new Stihl 360 chain saw. Funny thing, the dealer didn't show her how to start it. Finally, we got it fired up and now she knows how to start it. She was cutting and I was dragging or hauling logs and limbs with the 6520's loader and backhoe thumb. I gotta say, after two days of seat time, I was tired!

Saturday morning, the 27th, we were planning on taking the Big RED Beast to Sara's house to help with the stumps and logs, which were large. I thought maybe 4 or 5 hours work at her house. Friday evening I noticed the left rear tire on the 6520 was flat. It was a slow leak, as it had sat all week. I had the front left tire patched the week before from two nail holes two inches apart. I limped the Mahindra out of the barn and positioned her to remove the tire and lift the tire with the backhoe onto the trailer. We rushed to town after dark to inflate the tire. $1.50 later we had 22 psi in it. Saturday morning it was down to 14 psi, so I rushed it to the tire repair shop. They couldn't find the leak and I told them to inflate it to 35 psi, which is the bead setting pressure. It was easy to load and unload the tire on the trailer with the Mahindra's 511 backhoe . Then I used the backhoe and stabilizers to position the axle the right height to mount the tire. Think hydraulic jack and you get the picture. No Popeye muscles needed with a backhoe.

The large Oak stump in Sara's back yard had water around it, which meant mud and suction. The stump beat us on day one.

But we finally won and on day two, we got the rootball out and over to the burn pile.

We stayed at Sara's house Saturday night and left at 5 P.M. on Sunday. Saturday after dark, I used the canopy loader and backhoe lights, I added, to move firewood up for cutting. I did this past 9 P. M. Picking up firewood and logs is a breeze with the Mahindra backhoe's thumb. I didn't have more lights on as the mosquitoes were mean, numerous, and large and looking for anything warm. We finished dragging all the straight logs up for firewood and all the bent or crooked logs were piled on the burn pile. I have added a lot of photos of the last two weekends trials and tribulations here.

Next weekend we are off to Baytown and my other close friend's devastated yard. So the Big RED Beast gets a ride through Houston. Stop in later to hear more Ike recovery stories!

hugs, Brandi

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Poison Ivy

Labor day weekend had me out in the yard weed-eating my weeds. It is only the 2nd time I had done it all summer. So the weeds were thick. It took most of Friday to weed-eat and trim the larger vines around all the trees. On Saturday I took my backhoe off of the Big RED Beast and mounted the 3 point hitch arms. Then the brush hog gets hooked up and adjusted. Finally the gearbox is serviced. I mowed all the edges of the gully and a lot more brushy areas. I also mowed over at Von and Lori's down their high line easement. While mowing my gully, I kept watching for Christina. She was mowing the yard on my Hustler Fastrac and it was her first time. By the end of the day, I was covered in dirt and Christina with a smile on her face. The smile really stood out, as she had dirt all over her face also. The smile was from having so much fun on the zero turn mower. The dirt just another indication we needed rain. Which came a week later. Anyway, we had the place looking park like. The day after we celebrated Mom and Dad's birthday, I noticed I was itching. Yep, it was poison ivy. I didn't wait around for the poison ivy to leave on it's on. I got a cortisone shot as a big storm was coming into the Gulf of Mexico. Yep, Hurricane Ike is on track for the upper Texas coast.

I know this is a short post, but the approaching storm has all us running around like chickens with their heads cut off getting ready. So stop back later to hear how we faired.

hugs, Brandi