Sunday, April 30, 2006
6 PM - Life on the
ranch is one long Boy Scout Jamboree and today was archery day. I bought a
bow for Catherine several years ago though neither one of us has had time to
practice with it. This morning I dusted it off and spent a couple of
hours shooting at some bales of hay that I placed about 80 ft. away. I didn't do
too badly which is to say I didn't lose any arrows. These arrows aren't
feathered sticks you had at summer camp. They're machined aluminum and
they cost over $3 a piece. (You know, like the ones the Indians used)
I placed this target on
the bale of hay and after two hours managed to hit it in the right leg and the
rear little toe. Rhinos are quite common in our neighborhood and I want to
be prepared the next time one comes through the valley.
Geena Davis is well known for her
archery endeavors and a few years ago people were making a big deal about her
competing for the Olympic team. Of course she didn't make the team but hey let's
face it, archery is really a man's sport. Right up there with golf and bowling.
I expect to go far.
I spent a little time today
working on the website and threw a few paragraphs together about the guns we use
on the ranch. You can read that Here.
7:30 PM - It was a
beautiful, warm, Southern California day and considering my headache, I'm
surprised I got anything done. Spent some time studying for a handgun
safety test that our state requires you to pass before you can own a handgun.
I owned a handgun long before any test was required but I thought I might as
well get the certificate. I don't have strong views about guns though I
think requiring a license is long over due. I'm also a fan of Michael Moore and
really liked his documentary Bowling for Columbine which criticizes the
gun industry and gun owners. Anyway, the test is just common sense stuff
and I'll take it on Monday.
this headache and there is no way I'm going to write anything coherent about my
day let alone the gun issue. Headed for bed.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
6:30 AM - This morning I'm
off to Kaiser for my annual health appraisal. We used to call it a
Physical but I guess that wasn't "forward thinking" enough for the people who
like to put a new spin on things. You know, the people who like to
re-label things because it shows they're moving forward instead of standing
still. TQM or Total Quality Management was the buzz word that we had to
endure at work for a year until that fad blew over. Style over substance is the
real American slogan and ..... Whoa, my cynicism meter is off the
charts this morning. Wonder if that will show up in my blood work-up.
Before I leave, Doug Franklin is
working on the Autumn Leaves directory and has updated the links. I recommend it
and you can visit it by clicking on the icon on the right.
And now, lets see if that morning
rush hour traffic is as fun as I remember.
8 PM - I think I'm turning
into a housebound recluse. I really didn't want to go anywhere this
morning and these days I'm finding it harder to leave the property. One of
my favorite movies is The Village, about a group of utopians who fence
off a thousand acres and live like it's 1880. Yeah, I think I'll do that,
as long as I can keep my internet connection and TIVO. And electricity, and hot
water, and my once a week trip to Von's and Wal-mart. Say goodnight
- Way too many things going on today. Started the day dealing with a
clogged sink in the kitchen. Then a quick trip to Home Depot to get a
plunger and large trash cans for recycling our garbage. Spent some time on
the phone talking a woman through the process of using the internet and ended
the day hunting a rogue squirrel. (Which led to a couple of hours cleaning my
Could spend a lot
of time discussing any of those events but I guess I'll just stick with the gun
thing. Yep, like most people who live in the country, I have a couple of
rifles. A .22 and a twelve gage. I took the .22 down to the barn for
some target practice and was also hoping for a shot at the squirrel who has
defied all traps and still raids the chicken coop. This guy gets right in with
the chickens and empties their feeding dispenser by making non-stop trips
throughout the day. With his cheeks filled to bursting, he runs off with
chicken food and stores it in his nest underneath the barn.
I got one shot at
him but it was at considerable distance and I just stirred up dust at his feet
causing him to duck into a drain pipe that comes out from under the barn.
I'll continue trying to catch him in the live trap but he seems wise to that,
probably from seeing his relatives get caught. Last summer we were over run by
squirrels and I want to stop them early this year. We can't afford to have
50 lbs of chicken food hauled off every week.
Monday, April 24, 2006
6 AM - The weekend was much
wetter than predicted. We ended up with about a quarter inch of rain which
isn't much but better than nothing.
Had breakfast yesterday at the
Descanso Junction with Joi and Joe who we met through this website.
They're long distance runners who run every weekend in the mountain areas.
When I say long distance runners, I really mean it. They run 50 miles at a
time and have taken part in races in Death Valley and up Mount Whitney. I was
Cath is taking care of a Dove that
flew into the window and suffered a concussion. It improved over night and
we'll probably let it go tomorrow. I'm going to stop dropping seed so
close to the house as this isn't the first time that panicked birds have flown
the wrong way when startled
I'll be spending time today doing
minor housekeeping chores around the place. I'm getting tired of clutter.
7:15 AM -
Quite busy yesterday and the day was over before I knew it. Went to Home
Depot for some parts to replace a leaking gas valve at the dryer and bought a
chest freezer as well. When we shop for groceries we try to buy enough to
last but lately some of the milk and leftovers have been going bad before we get
a chance to eat them.
also been spending a lot of time on the website updating links on other websites
that have links to me. Most of the other websites on those pages have
elaborate banners so I've been trying to keep up with the Jones's by creating
some for my site. Keeping it simple, here's the one for my weather station
page. The other weather station owners have banners with live weather updates on
the graphic itself. Not sure how they do that but I don't have time to
figure it out.
PM - Good grief it's raining. Not a lot but enough for the runoff from the
scuppers to splatter against the windows and the side of the house. The
Rhino cart is outside getting wet but I suppose it's tough enough to withstand
some heavy drippings.
Been thinking a
lot about the lack of wildlife in our area. I was up the trail on my park
bench watching one of the neighbors spraying herbicide and it started me
thinking. I don't think we have a chance of restoring the area to a
natural habitat. It's an uphill battle at best and people living in the
backcountry are uninterested and indifferent. Actually it's worse than that. I'm
baffled by people who move to the country and then do everything they can to
make it look like the suburbs. They scrape every square inch of their property
to bare dirt and over trim every bush till they look like lollipops.
They're paranoid about wildfire and anal about tidiness. Some have horses
under the pretense that they ride though the animals are barn sour from never
leaving their pen. I guess it's hard for people to care about nature when the
only time they get outside is when they walk from their car to the front door.
Of course the
purist tree hugger wouldn't let me off the hook. I bought property in the
country that has been bulldozed and developed and that makes me part of the
problem. I have no right to point fingers. Back in the hippy sixties
I had a friend who wouldn't cut his lawn because that would be un-natural and
anti-environment. Where do you draw the line between ardor and inane?
I was watching
Ralph Nader being interviewed the other day and he made so much sense that I
couldn't understand why he's considered "the fringe". Just more proof that I'm
an out-of-step eccentric. Now let me say a few words about hemp....
Thursday, April 20, 2006
12 PM - This morning
Norton's said I had a Trojan virus and started jumping through hoops to contain
it. A message popped up telling me to reboot so the virus could be
removed. Of course the computer wouldn't shut down but the hard disk was
working in overdrive so I had to manually turn the thing off. Re-booted,
rescanned, it found 8 Trojans but could only quarantine them, not delete them.
Blah blah, on an on, you'd think Norton's could tell you what it's doing but I
don't think it knows.
If I really did pick up a virus
it's probably cause I've been surfing a lot trying to find decent web cam sites.
(No, I didn't go to any porno sites) More likely is that Norton's just had
a false positive and then pretended that it did something. When I was
taking an electronics course I ran into many technicians who blamed viruses when
they couldn't fix something. That's easier than admitting that they're
just bad technicians.
This morning I did poison oak
patrol while on my trail walk. Poison oak patrol is when you walk along
with a shovel and dig up the new poison oak sprouts. That method is much
more effective than using herbicides.
PM - This photo is for those of you following my attempts to photograph
exotic animals with my stealth cam. I had about 80 shots similar to this
when I checked today. With the warmer weather I'll soon be putting out
bait to see what I attract. That's how I got most of the photos posted on the
Thanks to Doug Franklin for taking
over the Autumn Leaves directory. Now you can visit other old folks like
myself who are keeping journals. Just click on the icon on the right.
April 19, 2006
8:30 AM - I
had yesterdays entry listed as Monday, oops. Spent the morning working on
my new web page that lists outdoor webcams. I was really getting sick of
the other directories that are years old and haven't been updating.
Decided the only solution was to make my own and you can visit it by clicking on
the Views icon on the right of this page.
Heading out now to
do some chores.
11:30 AM -
I've been screwing with the webcam settings for a week trying to cure a blue
streak that appears over the mountain every morning when the sun comes up.
Turns out there's nothing I can do about it. According to the park service that
uses the same camera, "The technicians call
this a "tear" and it is a recognized characteristic of the Sony block camera
that is used in the NetCam Megapixel camera. It occurs when a large, extremely
bright portion of the image is next to a considerably darker portion. This
occurs every morning since the sun rises in front of the camera and off to the
right." At least I can stop fooling with the settings.
The valley is
alive with sound of a jack hammer digging a hole for the new power pole that
will replace the old rotting one down by our well. And these photos were taken on my trail walk this morning. King Creek
on the left is up a little from
recent rains and the new orchard being planted by the Wynn's is just south of us.
7:30 PM -
The following is a WCN entry (World Class Nerd). Today I spotted about 6 Lazuli
Buntings eating millet seed I had thrown around the north yard. They're
supposed to be fairly common but they're rare to us. Cath saw one about
ten years ago and she got so excited that we've been joking about it ever since.
Anyway, today I made the sighting and win the prize (Status in the WCN
description: 5-5 1/2" (13-14 cm). Sparrow-sized. Male bright blue with pale
cinnamon breast, white belly and wing bars. Female dull brown, lighter below,
with 2 pale wing bars. Female Indigo Bunting similar, but lacks conspicuous wing
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
10 AM - Santa
Ana winds this morning to 35 mph. Clear and dry especially with the wind
sucking up all the moisture we got over the last couple of weeks. The
winds make me nervous and not just because I'm afraid my satellite dish will
blow away. The new, delicate growth on my Alder tree gets beaten and tattered
before it has a chance to harden to the elements. The tree is supposed to do
well in wind but I don't think they were envisioning the focused razor like
gusts put out by the southern California Santa Ana.
I took the photo from my park
bench at the top of the trail. The house, truck, water tanks and dead trees
don't exactly add up to a postcard view and it points out another reason I'm
obsessing on planting new trees.
7:30 PM - An uneventful day
spent reading Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation, working on the
computer and doing some half hearted mouse patrol. Tomorrow it's back to
summer weather and watering schedules.
11:30 AM -
I've been asked a lot about my garden and what vegetables I'll be growing this
year. None! I've given up. The gophers, squirrels, rabbits, crows
and bugs have won. On my last attempt, after I caged in the garden, set
gopher traps, used gopher poison, spread blood meal, netted the area to keep out
the birds and drained the well fighting the drought, I ended up with a few
mottled looking tomatoes and some kale. The gophers still got in, the
squirrels climbed the fence, the bugs got the corn, the birds got under the net
and plants by the dozen died from lack of water. My attempts cost a s**t
load of money and wasted precious time. That half dozen bunch of sun bleached
tomatoes probably cost a hundred dollars. I'm going to write a book called
Prefried Tomatoes and try to recoup some of the money I wasted. (And who in
their right mind eats kale anyway! It's the last resort of a poor gardener
except for maybe radishes).
It can be done but
I'm not going to dedicate my summer to accomplishing it. My priority this
season will be to keep the new trees alive and to try to rid this property of
some of the withering sun that scorches every plant and turns the pasture into a
1930's Oklahoma dust bowl.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
1 PM - I made it to Home
Depot, Wal-Mart & Von's without incident and was back home by 9:30. I'm
not sure but apparently it's politically incorrect to shop at Wal-Mart these
days. I don't know the issues and I haven't kept up with current events
and I suppose that makes me a bad American but dang it, Wal-Mart is close and
less expensive than other stores. Last week I bought 50lbs of sunflower
seed at the local feed store and spent $25. At Wal-Mart I spent a little
over $14 for the same amount. I could go on but I'll spare you the rant.
Years ago, Web Cams were all the
rage. A young woman named Jenny put up a camera that was live 24 hrs a day
and the fad took off. Everyone in America put up cameras in their office,
backyard and bedroom. Bill Maher jokes about how colossally egotistical
Americans are with everyone having blogs and webcams. Thankfully I haven't
fallen into that trap but I have been searching the web for webcams that show
live pictures of scenic views and nature. (OK OK, I fell into that trap)
Unfortunately, most of the links to outdoor webcams date back to the old days
and are dead. The people who put up the cameras lost interest and are long
gone. Some tried to be sneaky and removed the time stamp from their photo
so you don't know that the picture you're looking at was taken in 2002. Eh, I
guess I'm the last one at the party.
April 14, 2006
6 AM - The
Red Winged Blackbirds have moved on and boy is it quiet around here.
They're essentially a marsh bird and being nesting season, I guess they've gone
to a wetter area to raise their young. For the first time this winter I
had seed left in the feeders at the end of the day.
Yesterday the temp
got up to 80 degrees and I even ended up turning on the air condition for a
And the Article by
Lori Bledsoe got printed in the Alpine Sun yesterday. Boy, front page and
everything. I sure thank her for that.
On to fuss with
the Web Cam settings.
1:45 PM -
It was sunny and warm this morning and I was out watering my trees. Went
in and took a short nap at 11 AM till I heard heavy rain on the roof. Man
that storm moved in fast and I had to hustle to get windows closed and tools put
away. I expected the rain late this afternoon but was fooled again.
Air-conditioning yesterday, today the heaters on.
6 PM - I've
had the new camera only two days and the photo of the hummingbird made the
gallery of samples at the StarDot web page
Here. I think it's probably the best photo they've got, if I do say so
myself. (Gloat, Gloat)
And tomorrow will
be my first chance to get away and do some shopping. Gad, I'm actually thinking
of going to Home Depot on a Saturday morning. If I can get in at the crack of
dawn I may survive. Had planned on going up the back of Mount Cuyamaca with Walt
Hansen to see the endangered Cuyamaca Cypress trees but we have a rain
Thursday, April 13, 2006
- Looks like today is going to be a
migraine day. It's been two weeks since my last headache so I've been expecting
it. I did make an appointment for a physical so I'll be looking into the
Cath is home today so she can be
here when the contractor come to put the texture on the ceiling. I may sneak out
to do some shopping since I've been kind of trapped here while the work went on.
Still fine tuning the new Webcam.
Lots of settings on that thing and I don't want to break it. So far I'm
really pleased with the photo quality.
9:45 AM - Spent the entire
morning trying to adjust the webcam. Probably shouldn't be doing it when I
have a headache plus, having taken photography in college makes me sort of a
perfectionist about the displayed photo. The iris on the camera has to be
set to a pin hole size or you can burn out the cameras filament and you also
have software settings that must be fine tuned. Unfortunately, you never get the
same results twice even when you use identical settings. Maddening!
If you look at the picture you'll notice a number to the right of the time
stamp. That number should be between 200 & 500 but it changes depending on the
position of the sun. Another moving target I have to consider when making
adjustments. I suppose I should make all my adjustments at noon and use that as
my baseline however then the display looks terrible in the morning when the sun
is coming up. Bottom line is I'm asking the camera to do more than its
capabilities allow. Of course, no one cares about any of this but hey,
it's my journal and I can't always be writing about the high drama topics like
what sort of birdseed I'm putting out for the turkeys.
11:15 AM - The DR Mower
people liked my glowing review of their brush mower so much they made me an
affiliate. That means I get to display their add on my Tools page and if
someone clicks on the link, then buys something at their website, I make a small
stipend. Of course that never happens but it's a great deal for their company.
Anyone making big purchases like that rarely do it on the first visit and their
subsequent visits aren't linked to me. Amazon does the same thing with
their affiliate program. Guess that's why I like the Google ads and why
that company is doing so well. Even though I only make 2 Cents when
someone clicks on a Google mousetrap ad, at least I don't feel like I'm being
totally ripped off. The affiliate ads screw the web owner which is why you
don't see those ads as much as you used to when they were the only game in town.
Everyone is going with Google ads and the affiliate programs are starting to
re-evaluate how they do business. Good for Google.
Speaking of clicking on links, I
guess the Autumn Leaves group is no longer alive. That's the link on the
top right corner of this page that took you to a group of journalists who are
over 50. I kind of suspected that something might be up. Most journalists
(bloggers?) burn out after a year or two and I think they were losing their base
of people. I sent them a e-mail offering to host the listing if they need it but
the e-mail was bounced back. Being told there is no such address is a bad sign.
I think the journaling, blogging bubble might have burst. From what I can
see, even diary.net hasn't been updated for a year or two.
April 12, 2006
5:45 AM -
I'm expecting another busy day. The contractor will be back to plaster the
dry wall and I promised to give him a hand with that project. All his
helpers are busy on other jobs.
This website has
been getting a steady rise in hits from people in other parts of the world.
I'm not sure how everyone is finding the site but it's nice to see a variety of
people dropping by. Someone dropped by from Beijing China on Monday and I
believe they have the record for being my farthest visitor. Silvia from
Korea is also a regular visitor and it's fun to know that someone is reading on
the other side of the world. Interesting that I rarely get visits from people in
my own neighborhood. It could be that everyone out here is on dial-up and
it's just too much trouble to surf the net.
Guess I'd better
get the bird seed put out. I hate to disappoint the turkeys.
Web Cam Picture of the Day
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
6 AM - Cath has a problem
with the two cottonwoods I bought. They're hybrids and she prefers pure
native plants. I look at all our native plants and see vegetation that's
struggling to survive. The pines are being attacked by beetle and even before
the fire, huge swaths of trees throughout the county were dieing. California
Live Oaks are now being hit by a mysterious blight and research is going on to
find the cause.
Catherine brought home a research study being done about the hybridization of
poplars (Cottonwood et al) but in typical academic fashion, it goes on for
twelve pages without reaching any conclusions, then recommends more study. I just want
some shade on the property!!
7 PM - The new camera came
and I've spent the last half of the day trying to configure the thing. You
can see the new photo on the ranch cam page. A lot
of things to consider when uploading photos to a website and keeping the size
down is probably the most important. One problem is a herring bone texture
that appeared on the photo when we started losing light. It kind of looks
like you're looking through a chain link fence. Other problems involve
dealing with the new camera being hooked up to my router hub. My
networking setup started acting flaky along with a loss of signal strength from
the satellite dish. Unrelated problems that complicate diagnosing the camera.
I've had a few inquiries about
whether I'll be able to keep the cottonwood trees. No problem with that,
Cath just wants to be sure we're not introducing some sort of noxious weed. They
should be ok on that end.
I'd better have something to eat.
I've been crawling under the house stringing Ethernet cable and I'm tired and
4:30 PM - The day
started out bright and went downhill. Now it's cloudy and drizzling.
I went up by the water tank to plant my tree in the hole I dug yesterday and a
gopher had filled up the hole during the night. LOL
Planted my two
trees and did some re-staking of our young oak trees that are struggling to
grow. We got them from SDG&E on a energy conservation program and they
were nice and healthy when we got them in the ground. We did everything
right but they aren't exactly springing out of the ground with new growth.
They've only been planted for a year so I guess I need to be more patient.
I put my order in
with Stardot for the new webcam and boy does that company have some front end
problems. Their staff who man the phones and take orders are deplorable.
They're inarticulate and they mumble and when you ask for details, they just
read from the brochure. Not a hint of enthusiasm from anyone. I'm not sure how
the company runs but if they sell stock, stay away. If I had a choice I'd
go elsewhere and that might be the problem.
Sunday, April 9, 2006
3 PM - Cath rode
her bike the 8 miles into Descanso and we met for the pancake breakfast at the
Town Hall. I noticed that the nursery was open so while I was in town I
purchased 2 five gallon Cotton Wood trees. Populus balsamifera to be specific
and they have the traits we're desperate for. They grow fast and they can
handle the heat. I'm looking for shade and any green we can get to obscure the
sea of dead black tree trunks that are left over from the fire.
On the left
you can see Catherine making one of the chicken wire baskets that are
required when planting anything in gopher country. When we moved up here
the gophers wiped out an entire apple orchard that was planted by the previous
owner. They were young seedlings and the gophers ate the roots right up the
trunk to 6 inches above ground.
The theory about chicken wire
baskets is that they give the tree time to establish itself before the gophers
can get to it. Eventually the basket rusts away but by then the roots are
deep enough to be out of harms way. This theory does have some flaws
however. We have baskets that were put in the ground ten years ago and
they haven't started to rust at all. I worry that the roots of the trees
will be strangled by the chicken wire they're trying to grow through.
Another problem is when the tree you're planting happens to be on the gopher
favorite list. They love fruit tree roots and they'll circle the wire basket
under ground, eating any new root growth that tries to exit the basket. You end
up with a tree that struggles to survive and usually falls over in the wind.
On other pages of this website I
describe some of the new-age methods that soft hearted people use to try to
scare away gophers. Wind driven whirligigs, battery operated sonic gopher
eradicators and even highway flares jammed down the gopher hole. They
don't work! If you have a small lawn in the suburbs and you're consistent
to the point of anal retentiveness, you can be successful using gopher
traps. If you live in gopher country and have plants strewn over a few acres, ya
gotta plant your trees in chicken wire baskets. Then put out the whirligigs.
6 PM - A
quiet day on the ranch, a little too quiet. I tried to shop for some new
trees but our closest nursery wasn't open. Back country businesses pretty
much go to work when they feel like it and today they didn't feel like it.
I spent most
of the day working on this website though you can't really tell from looking at
it. It used to be that most of my visitors came in through the Ranch Cam
page till I put up a page about our gopher problems. That page and the
Stealth Cam page now get more visitors than any of the others.
For me though, the
Ranch Cam is my favorite so I've been making plans to update the camera.
Making WebPages that view properly on all the different browsers can be tricky
so I've been doing a lot of trial and error to try to get it right. One of
the biggest fans of my Ranch Cam is a guy named Walt who is 85 and used to do a
lot of bio-research in the area that it photographed by the camera. That
is the spot where the endangered Cuyamaca Cypress grow and he has studied their
growth (and decline) for years. Walt uses WebTV to view this website
and it's really difficult to get a page to display correctly for the modern
computer resolutions and a TV. Anyhow, he's been giving me feedback and
I've been working on a new page that I hope will work for him.
A new web Camera
is coming though it will probably be weeks till I get it set up. For now,
I have a test page that reproduces the format and quality of picture that I
expect to get. And for the readers of this journal only , you can get a
sneak peak at that page here:
http://creekbed.org/bandh/camtest.htm . Shhh don't
tell anybody, it's a secret. Obviously this is a
bigger deal to me than anyone else could possibly care about but hey, we all
need a hobby.
anybody notices problems with the display, formatting or download time, I'd
really appreciate some feed back, if you have a moment.
Friday, April 7, 2006
6:45 AM - Today will be
busy and I already started it out by breaking the hummingbird feeder. I was
trying to un snap it from the hook and my cold hands just couldn't get a grip.
Normally I'd run off and get a new one but today we have too much going on.
Bill Raver will have his guys here
to do the dry-wall and later a women from the Alpine Sun newspaper will be here
to talk about the weather station and website. Guess I'd better get
started with my chores.
5 PM - I found time to
run down to the hardware store in Guatay and pick up a new hummingbird feeder.
Good grief that sucker was $22 so I'd better be more careful with this one. I
also stopped by the Hay & Feed and picked up 50 lbs of sunflower seed. $24 for
The ceiling repair went pretty
well though they have to come back on Monday to finish up. The spot in the
closet where I fell through was still really wet and we're trying to dry it out
over the weekend.
Lori Bledsoe of the Alpine sun
dropped by and we discussed the weather station and the numerous other issues
that come with living in fire country. Her family was also effected
greatly by the fire of 2003.
And I'm still fooling around with
trying to improve the webcam picture for this site. Mostly I'm screwing
around with details that most people will never notice. Of course today
was really hazy up on the mountain so I had trouble telling if my work has
actually done anything.
The picture today is of the old
Primestar satellite dish that I turned straight up so we can use it as a bird
bath. It's one of the birds favorite spots on the property.
And finally, I've been really busy
for the day so I'm going to take a nap. Happy Friday everyone!
5:30 AM - I'm
having second thoughts about getting the designer seed for the wild birds.
Frankly, I can't afford it. I've got 5 feeders plus I leave food in several
spots on the ground for the birds that prefer ground feeding (ok, the turkeys).
They empty the feeders by noon and I've been known to refill them for the second
half of the day. Man, I'm handing out a lot of seed! Yeah, we have
hundreds of birds visiting the house all day long; I can't say my feeding
program isn't working. Maybe that extinct Ivory Billed Woodpecker will
show up and I'll get interviewed by Katie Couric. I'll charge for the interview
so I can afford more seed.
Today, if we have
a clear day, I'll be experimenting with the webcam to see if I can post a larger
image. It's one of those deals where I'm afraid I'm going to break
something instead of improving it. I've been visiting the
Yosemite Cam and boy do they have a nice image of the valley. The same
company makes their camera as mine though theirs is the latest model.
7:30 AM - I
increased the webcam photo size from 400 X 300 to 512 x 384 and increased the
image quality 10 points. All these changes also increase the load time of
the photo so my friends on dial up may have to wait a little longer for the
picture to load. I have one more step up I can take but I'll hold off on that
for a while. If I improve the detail too much we'll be able to read the
license plates on the junked cars one property up.
5 PM -
Today was mouse patrol day. Mouse patrol is the never ending ... ah never mind.
I did take the old
truck out for a spin just to give it some exercise and charge the battery.
People who live in the country always have trucks and other battery started
devises laying around that need to be charged up. I bought several trickle
chargers that I rotate between motorcycles, trucks and brush chippers. Tomorrow
Bill comes by to replace the dry wall that got wet. Guess I'd better get started
Wednesday, April 5, 2006
5:45 AM - Finally the rain
came. .95" over night with some periods of heavy downfall. No leaks
so I guess I can stop sniveling, for now. Today is dumpster day at one of
our neighbors and they let us drop off our trash. With all of Catherine's
recycling endeavors we have very little but every two weeks I can usually
scrounge up enough to make a dumpster run.
12 PM - We're having an
excellent day. A steady rain is falling and we've gotten 1.28" so far with this
current storm. The type of rain that soaks deep just where we need it.
I'm futzing around with our slow
cooker and watching the Black Birds and Turkeys have feeding frenzies out the
back door. Been thinking about the seed I throw out for them and realizing
how much goes to waste. Birds have their favorites and the seed they don't
like is pushed out of the feeder onto the ground. Of course the seed I get at
Wal-Mart is inexpensive with a high proportion of filler so I'm considering
going with a mail order supplier.
E-birdseed sells the good stuff but I wonder how the UPS guy will feel about
delivering 45 pound parcels of seed.
6 PM - I finally finished
the movie King Kong this afternoon. Boy that things long, don't know how anyone
could sit through that thing without a break.
new bird at the feeder today is the Black-headed Grosbeak. It's a beautiful bird
and I wonder why we haven't seen it before now. Well, Cath had to point it out
to me but I'm sure I would have figured it out eventually. It's a fairly common
bird in the west and hangs out in mountain forests or along desert streams and
it's one of the few bird that can eat Monarch Butterflies. Bad Bird!
5:30 AM -
Big storm coming! Run for your life! Wait a minute, how come I see
stars out this morning?
9:45 AM -
For some reason when I'm discussing country life with friends and relatives, the
subject of disease comes up a lot. The reason might go back to 1993 when
the Hantavirus infection made the news and caused hysteria. (OK, the reporters
were the only ones hysterical and for them, spreading hysteria is part of their
job description. I digress.)
Anyhow, Hantavirus is the
disease that concerned me the most because we have millions of deer mice on the
property and they can carry the disease. Been doing some reading and I
guess I can relax a little. The disease is really rare and I couldn't find any
recent reports of outbreaks in the US. E-mail me if you know of any.
The other good
news, to me anyway, is that the disease is only viable in the environment for 2
to 3 days. Air and sunlight kill it. Yay. That fact tells me an important step
in the sequence of my anti-Hantavirus program on the ranch. Get rid of the
deer mice first, then do the clean up. After the mice are gone, if you air out
the infested area for a couple of days, your infection risk is way down.
4:30 PM -
Good grief, I had to water the plants today! Dang, I was holding off for that
"over predicted" storm and it just didn't come. I've got seed planted that
can't be allowed to dry out.
You can probably
tell from my earlier entry that I'm working on a page about rural diseases. A
charming subject and one more page on this site with a bunch of Google mouse
trap ads. I'm still working on it and just started getting information on the
Bubonic Plague. Yeha, welcome back to the dark ages. I'm going to have to start
wearing one of those bio-hazard suits when I go out to the barn.
Monday, April 3, 2006
8 AM - Special Weather
Statements, Hazardous Weather Outlook, and a Flash Flood Watch are all posted on
the NOAA weather website for the San Diego area. Apparently a storm is
coming tomorrow through Wednesday so I suppose I should be taking precautions.
Another test for the patch we put on the hole in the roof but other than that I
guess we're as prepared as we can get. I'm usually skeptical about special
weather statements; probably because we're so desperate for rain and I'm usually
disappointed when it doesn't happen.
Heading out to check my traps and
walk the trail. Our Nature Trail
2 PM - The
bird sighting for the day is a female Cowbird. Of course I'm a bad birdwatcher
but I'm pretty sure I got this right. You've probably heard of the Cowbird
for its habit of laying eggs in an other birds nest and letting that bird raise
the chicks. Kind of funny and cute till you read further and find that when the
eggs hatch, the Cowbird chick usually out competes the other nestlings for food
and they starve. They are so successful with this egg laying "sleight-of-hand"
that the numbers of some birds like the Tri-colored Blackbird are declining. The
Cowbirds on our property are hanging out with the hundreds of Red-winged
Blackbirds we have visiting. And finally, to make a long story short (too
late), the Cowbird is considered a "brood parasite". End of lecture.
unday, April 2,
12 PM - Neighbors came to visit and get peacock feathers. Future farmers and
they were checking to see if we have any new chicks. Maybe in a few weeks.
9 PM - For some reason
it only feels like 8. It was a quiet day and I never did get very
enthusiastic about any of my projects. Did the usual morning walk on the
trail and went out again in the afternoon to do some trail maintenance. If
I let my guard down the undergrowth will take over and the trail disappears in
short order. At one point I noticed I had a hold of some freshly sprouted
poison oak so I headed in to wash up. Time will tell. Usually about 10
Another day, another squirrel
in the trap and I had to hustle to get him dropped off while we still had light.
I wanted to give him time to find some shelter before dark.
Just finished watching 60
Minutes about people who work 60 hr weeks and insist that they love their work.
They seemed very pleased with themselves though the way they grinned at the
camera kind of gave me the creeps. For some reason I got the feeling that they
thought we should envy them.
Saturday, April 1, 2006
9 AM - The day is
starting out cold and cloudy. I've done my rounds of checking my live traps to
make sure I don't have some poor critter freezing in a cage and now I'm doing
housework. Doesn't leave much to write about though the Webcam did take
this neat picture. With the cloudy overcast days, I'm not getting many
picturesque shots of Mount Cuyamaca so this one is a welcome change. It's
a Blue Jay.
3:30 PM - The
Stealth Cam has been taking a lot of empty shots
recently. Yesterday I had 80 photos that it took over two days and nothing
to show for it. Most of them didn't even have the squirrel sitting on the
rock. Not sure why its doing it though I'm told that the bright afternoon
light at a sharp angle can trip the shutter. No big deal in that the 512
mb compact flash can store something like 700 shots. This is another good
reason for going with a 'game camera' that doesn't use film.