April 2006

Ranch Weather Station
Ranch Webcams
Ranch Operations
Ranch Wildlife
The Indians
Stealth Cam
Ranch Photography
Cedar Fire 2003


RV Trips

Idaho to Home

Salton Sea

Arizona 08'


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 the warped 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.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

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.

Still fighting 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 Gracie.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

8 PM - 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 guns)

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 impressed.

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.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

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.

I've 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.

6 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.

2 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 Stealth page.

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.

Wednesday, 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 community).

Lazuli Bunting 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 bars.

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.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

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.

Friday, 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 while.

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 cancellation.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

6:15 AM - 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 latest treatments.

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.

Wednesday, 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 hungry. 

Monday, April 10, 2006

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.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

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.

Actually, if 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 that.

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!

Thursday, April 6, 2006

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.  Hmmm...naw!

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 moving furniture.

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.

And the 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!

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

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, 2006

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 days.

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.