Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sunshine and Sneezing

Wow! The sunshine came out for a few days and I started sneezing. The strong winds around here haven't helped either. The wind has been blowing a lot of pollen and that has me sneezing multiple times in a row. Now I am under the weather with sinus allergy crud. Each year I get hit with this crud. Blame it on Texas' weather continually changing. One day it is cold and the next day it is hot, then the following day it is cold again. The strong winds really got me this year. It took 3 days after I got a steroid shot before I started feeling better. I am still dragging and coughing, but with the cough syrup I got today, I am feeling a little better. With seeing the doctor twice this week, I should be feeling better.

Two weeks ago, we went to the Austin Rodeo with Rebecca. Randy Travis was in concert after the Rodeo. It was my first time to make the rodeo in Austin. It is a little smaller than Rodeo Houston. We had a fun time and really laughed hard when the four and six year old kids rode the sheep. It is called Mutton Busting and it is a hoot to watch those little kids hold onto the sheep's wool and try to hang on. One little boy hung on so long, one of the clowns had to grab his belt to pull him off. The kid was still holding on with his hands as the clown was pulling him off!
We did have fun climbing on the road grader that was displayed there. This grader was so big, it pivots in the middle. We didn't find much in exhibits but we did find the monster truck.
We took a few photos of it and moved along. Since this was a Sunday evening after the rodeo, most of the folks had left. We found a tepee erected on the site, along with some Longhorn cattle. Not much of anything else. Nobody was at the Dodge truck display and all the vehicles were locked. Oh well, I didn't want a new truck anyway!

The next day I testified on behalf of HB1301 in the Texas Legislature. Alice Tripp with the Texas State Rifle Association invited me to come and share my testimony with the Texas House Public Safety Committee. Representative Stephen Frost authored the bill. It is my second time to testify for this legislation. Two years ago, I testified before the Senate Committee for its version of the same bill. This year it seemed we had more folks testifying for the bill then against the bill. The Senate bill has already past in the Senate and has moved on to the House of Representatives. The surprise of the day was that Rebecca showed up and waited with Christina and I for me to testify. I had my own cheering section! I always enjoy being in the State Capital and I always get turned around. Rebecca helped me find our way out. We had a long day there as the Committee hearings didn't start until 3:30. We had been there since before 1. I finally got to testify around 8:30 that night.

The following weekend we found ourselves again at Reliant Stadium to see Rodeo Houston again and hear Taylor Swift. We had a little time before the rodeo and we found the Ag Mechanics contestant's projects. There were so many project entries to see, we missed the Grand Entry to the rodeo. After the rodeo we came back and finished out look see at the projects. There were a lot of neat ideas turned into projects for front gates and entrances to ranches. But what really got my attention was the vintage green machines, the old John Deere tractors. There was an old JD crawler there. I think it was a 1948 model. But what took my breath away was one like my Grandpa had, a D Model John Deere. First I heard it, then I saw it. It was just going..."pop, pop, pop,pop". A real Poppin' Johnny.

Grandpa's didn't have spoke wheels. So I think his was a few years younger than the '48 model we saw.  Even as I love the Big RED Beast and Mahindras, the old D models like this one gets me warm inside when I see them. Seeing them gives me a chance to remember my Grandparents and the simple life they lived.

In between all these rodeos and testifying, I had time to install the pond's overflow pipe. I cut a 2 foot wide trench with the Big RED Beast from the stake I had at pond elevation and across the driveway. I tried to keep the trench on an even downward slope, but the final installation with dirt and driveway fill over it gives a slight roller coaster like wave. It goes up and down somewhat, but still keeps the downward slope needed to drain. You can just see the black overflow pipe behind and a little under the pier framework in the photo.
Last weekend we loaded the lawn mower and the 6520 on my goose neck trailer. We had to go clean up Dad's house and yards after finally having my brother evicted. I dug a large hole in the front yard on Saturday and another one on Sunday to bury all the trash that we couldn't burn. I was lucky in that Dad's front yard is loamy sand. The 511 backhoe dug the holes in record time. I was burning a lot of different stuff on Saturday and I guess I got out of hand as I threw an old water hose and a love seat on the fire. A little later we had a visit from a 4WD red truck. Yep, a fire truck pumper came out to put the fire out. I was told not to burn couches and stuff like that as it is illegal unless you live on 5 acres or more. I told the fireman I didn't know that and would take the rest of the big burnable stuff to my place to burn. He didn't call the fire marshall, so I didn't get a ticket. After they watered down my fire, I used the Mahinrda's front loader bucket to scoop up the remains and dumped it in the hole I had dug. The house needs a through cleaning, but at least it has curb appeal now. I have a cash offer on the house already, so I pray it will come through and I can sale it.

Stop back in later to see what else I get into. Check out the few photos I uploaded here.
hugs, Brandi

Monday, March 2, 2009

Rodeo and Livestock Show Time

Wow, March is going to be a busy month. We installed the water pipe through the dam. I have had my reservations about poking a hole in the dam. I have heard horror stories of water leaking along side the pipe and busting the dam wide open and washing it away. I finally decided to dig the ditch for the water pipe. It will run under the driveway out into the pasture. There it will fill a water trough. I plan on adding a float type valve when I get a trough in place. I decided to add an elbow and run the pipe down about 2 feet from where it ran through the dam. This will allow me to get water to the trough when the pond is way low. If that happens I can add a solar powered water pump to the float valve and get water to the trough. I dug the ditch down 5 feet from the crown of the dam. This put it two feet below my driveway. I was teaching myself how to dig a level ditch as I went. I used a 12 foot 2x8 board on its side with a 6 foot level on top to check to see if my eyeballs were right. I kept it fairly level with a slight downhill drop in the water pipe. Just what the doctor ordered!

It took way longer than planned to get the pipe in and the dirt tamped good and tight around the pipe for the length of the dam. We used pointed 1x2s to tamp dirt around the pipe. I added a plastic collar with the pipe going through it. I sealed around the pipe with waterproof silicone. Finally I got enough clay back in the ditch and packed with the front tires of my 6520. For the water side slope of the dam, all I could do was to tamp the dirt down with the 1x2, then I used the backhoe bucket curled up to pack the soil more. I lifted the rear of the tractor up a little with the backhoe and wiggled the swing cylinders a little for more packing action. I must have got carried away with the wiggling, as I popped a relief valve. Or at least I thought that, as fluid was leaking from not one but two relief valves on the backhoe. We spent the next two hours bleeding lines on the stabilizers and the backhoe's boom to get them jacked up and strapped up. We had to use a come-along from the ROPS to crank the boom up and lock it. I felt we needed to do this that night so I could finish filling the rest of the ditch running through the dam and driveway. As we were locking the boom up and wiring the locking lever in place, it started drizzling. This is what I was afraid of. Rain coming and the dam half way filled! I got it filled and put the Big RED Beast to bed. As I lay in bed I thought I might try swapping backhoe's lines to the remote. First thing the next morning I tightened all the lines I bleed and swapped lines to my second remote and low and behold the backhoe worked! I quickly unlocked the ratchet straps and cleaned up the mess of hydraulic fluid everywhere. Then back to filling and packing. I hoed away all the dirt I dumped near the water the night before. Christina went to town to get three bags of concrete. I cut some 2x6s 2 foot long and pounded in 3 small stakes. I made a crude terrace and poured three bags of concrete and added water. This was right at the water line. It was suppose to storm all day, but the good Lord keep the rains away. This gave me time two days later to add more layers of clay. Then I added three 2x4s for terraces and filled them with topsoil and packed them good. This would have to work until more grass sprang up. Until then, the terraces would have to stay. I took numerous photos and my first thought upon seeing them on my computer was...what a Mickey Mouse installation!
The day after we covered the water pipe, we headed to Petco in Humble. I had tracked down a white female ferret there by visiting 3 other Petco stores and getting one store to call Humble's store. We lucked out, as they had 5 ferrets. All of them small like my Phoebe and Sneaky. I picked up the white female and held her. She didn't bite. I said I wanted her. I then had second thoughts about buying a new playmate for Buttons. He had been not playing well alone since Phoebe was put to sleep. I then decided my new little female needed her brother to join her. I held my breath and said I would take the silver and white male also. I held him again and he didn't bite any fingers. Good to know, as one of their brothers did bite and bit hard. At first I name the female, Shadow. As in Phoebe's shadow. As it turned out she was my shadow. I named the male, Dusty. As I learned more about my two new fuzzies over the next two days, I realized these names didn't fit them. So I decided to call my female, Baby Girl. I named the male, Bear, as he acted like a little bear. As it turns out, Bear likes to play in the water dish like a bear does when he is trying to catch Salmon. He really splashes the water out of the bowl!

Christina had won two tickets to the Houston Rodeo. Josh Turner was in concert after the rodeo. I told her if we went early, we could see the Sheep Dog Trials at the Livestock Show arena. It was truly a wonder of God to watch the the dogs work the sheep. They only had whistle cues from their owners during the timed trials. The dog had to herd three sheep into a loading chute and then into a little pen where the owner would open and close the gate. What a sight to see the canines circle the sheep in a run, then stop and crouch to see if the sheep responded right. Overall we spent a wet rainy day at the livestock show. I finally found the sticker I wanted for my truck. It shows a cowgirl kneeling beside her horse in front of a cross. Christina talked me into getting my picture taken in a barrel with a rodeo scene in the back ground. You can see it and other photos I unloaded here.

The rodeo tickets we had put us at the end of the arena over the roping events. These were awesome seats with frozen margaritas. What a deal! We go back on the 20th to see Taylor Swift in concert. Rebecca and I saw Taylor open for George Strait in Las Vegas back in 2007. She was just 17 at the time. So I am really looking forward to seeing her in concert again.

Stop back later to hear about me testifying before the Texas legislature and going to the Austin Rodeo.

hugs, Brandi