November 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'



Wednesday, November 29, 2006

7 AM - Temperatures in the 20's can cause problems on our property.  Many of the hose faucets that were placed around the ranch were installed above ground with PVC pipe.  Not a good idea when temperatures get down to freezing as they tend to explode.  At 10 last night the temp was at 32 and by this morning it was 28.  The other day I took precautions and shut off the water mains that supply most of the trouble spots but today I'll be walking the areas to make sure I didn't miss something.

And even though we just had 1/4" of rain, the Santa Ana that is blowing through today will dry everything out.  With 15% humidity, the weather service has declared a red flag warning which means there is a serious fire danger.  Ya just can't relax in this place.

5 PM - 50 MPH winds this afternoon. The storm shutters are down and we're holed up for the duration. This is one of those times that we're glad we don't have a high profile house like some of our neighbors. It looks calm but in the photo the winds are blowing directly into the camera. They say this may continue till Sunday.

Monday, November 27, 2006

12 PM - Except for a short excursion, I've been inside today watching the DVD version of Dawn of the Dead. An excellent movie by the way.

The drizzle storm has started and so far we've had 6 hundredths of and inch.  In a fit of optimism, I took a walk around the property and coiled up the water hoses and turned off the water mains that feed outlying areas.  No doubt I'll be turning them all back on when we get the Santa Ana that is predicted for later this week.

This morning I counted about 25 wild turkeys at the back of the house helping themselves to sunflower seeds and cracked corn. It's gotten to the point where they listen for me and when I take the lid off the seed can, they come running.  It's probably not a good idea to get them too accustomed to relying on me for food.  These turkeys have no natural predators in the area and if I'm not careful, we'll be over-run.  We'll, of course we have coyotes and bob-cats but they hunt at night when the turkeys are roosting high in the oak trees.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

2 PM - Bob Woolcock of has sent a neat photo of a Red-tailed Hawk. He took the photo in Ranchita this weekend.

I had a great Thanksgiving with my sister in Coronado and yesterday the whole family was here including my brother and cousin Peggy.

And tonight we're keeping out fingers crossed that we'll get a little rain.  I can tell that the water table is low because we're getting some silt and a slight taste of iron in the drinking water. Even if we don't get enough rain to add to the water level, at least I can turn off the irrigation and give the pumps a rest.

I've got the mountain Camera and weather station running again though I've had to cut down on the frequency that they update.  The satellite connection has been doing well over the holiday but I'll be interested to see how it does tomorrow.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

8 AM - I've been going through a crisis of enthusiasm regarding updating this website and keeping the camera and weather station working. It's quite a juggling act and sometimes it just doesn't seem worth it.  The satellite internet connection problem was the last straw and it has really taken the wind out of my sails.  Sometimes you have to step back and give it a rest.

The photo of the day is of one of the coyotes who wander through our valley. We've been getting more recently and with everything so dry, they're attracted to the water we put out.

Monday, November 20, 2006

7 AM - Mountain Camera and Weather Station Update. For now, I'm defeated.  I'm dealing with problems with the Hughes Satellite Company, poorly programmed  camera software and poorly programmed weather station software. I've been fighting these obstacles for years.

None of the companies are honest about revealing weaknesses in their product though, Hughes is probably the worst. I've done some research and Hughes has been over selling subscriptions even though their equipment can't handle the load.  Their tech support in India has been instructed to keep that information under wraps and instead will lie and waste your time by having you pursue false leads. According to information I've obtained from the satellite forums, Hughes is overwhelmed with too many subscribers and equipment upgrades that have gone bad.

I'm suspending the weather station and web camera updates till these issues get sorted out.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

6 PM - I've been having problems with the Satellite internet connection for the past week.  Diagnosing my setup is a real chore because I have three computers competing for the internet connection. Actually four when Catherine is on line.  So, I'm doing what most technicians do though they hate to admit it.  That is, I'm using trial & error and the process of elimination.

For now I've shut down the webcam and weather station and I'm only running my master computer. This may take a week.  There's been very little interest in the weather page though the web cam does get a lot of hits.  I'll probably try to get that up and running in the next day or two.

My outside project for the past two days has been moving gravel from the back of the house to the side where we park.  The gravel was left over from the construction and it's about time I put it to use.  Exciting times on the hme front. Dang, the o on this keyboard is still giving me trouble.

Wednesday, November 16, 2006

5 AM - I got up at 3 AM and started eating graham crackers and drinking coffee. Watched episodes of South Park, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and now I'm at a loss for things to do.  Cath is in L.A. for a few days visiting her mother and I'm looking for a project to keep me entertained.

Well... the "o" on my keyboard has started to fail. For some reason it doesn't register every time I push it so I guess I could spend the day fooling with that. Exciting.

Too dark to go outside and I'm too coffee'd up to go back to bed. Hmm, the "o" seems to be working now. Ya know, loosing the o on the keyboard wouldn't a big disaster. Instead of typing o, all you have to do is type 0 instead. Like, zer0. Ok, maybe not.

12 PM - Summer has returned to the country. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

9 AM - It's overcast and drizzly which for us is a welcome break from the dry Santa Ana winds.  I even saw a few drips coming from our rain scuppers. It's pretty pathetic when that's all I have to report as a notable weather event.

And I expect it to be an un-notable day. I've done my 30 minute walk and later I'll be making a trip to the dumpster.  Don't expect me to send out a e-mail notification for this entry.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

11 AM - Today is the Town Hall pancake breakfast so Catherine got out her bike and did the hilly 8 mile ride into Descanso.  She bumped into Phil & James on the way out of the valley and drafted them into to going along with her. It's actually a pretty hard ride so my job was to drive to the breakfast and give them a ride home.


And it's hunting season in California though considering the scarcity of wildlife in the area, I'm always surprised to see hunters in our backcountry. I haven't been hearing gunshots but I do see trucks parked along Boulder Creek Road where they head out into the bush.  I don't have any real data but we rarely see deer around here anymore.  I suspect these "hunts" would be better described as hikes.

As long as they don't start fires it's not a big problem.  For the most part, they're ecologically minded and they tend to vote on the side of wildlife preservation. Hippy tree huggers, Sierra Clubers, hunters and off road vehicle enthusiasts really have things in common and I think they do a disservice when they try to vilify each other. We all love the outdoors and we should take that common interest and use it to protect the environment. Unfortunately, many of the people who are making the laws only get outside when they walk from the parking garage to the office.

End of high minded discourse.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

10 AM - For no particular reason, we slept outside last night. Well, I lowered the ramp on the travel trailer and we slept on that. With the sleeping cushions, it was perfectly comfortable and the night was cool and uneventful.

Today I'll be fine tuning the sight on one of my rifles. That involves putting it in a stand that holds it securely while I fire at a target that is 25 yards away.  This takes the human factor out of the equation and allows the adjustable sight to be set where it should be. Any missed shots after this means it's my fault and not the rifle's.

The rest of the day will be taken up with me enjoying a headache. I've never found any medication that relieves the pain so the best I can do is take antihistamines which put me to sleep.  Al least with being retired, I don't feel like I'm getting gypped out of an entire day of my weekend.


Tuesday,  November 7, 2006

6 AM - Up early after a warm night with Santa Ana winds and fitful dreams. In those dreams I haunt old workplaces and deal with issues that will never be put to rest. I think it's a positive sign that I never dream about my present day life. Things have been good recently and I haven't been besieged with everyday conflicts that feed the dream machine. I'm having a good run and retirement has given me the power to work at keeping it that way.


They don't assign you a polling place when you live in the sticks. That means I use the absentee form and I just have to make sure they get my ballot before 8 PM.  Later today I'll take a drive into Descanso and drop it off at the polls there.

9 AM - On December 10, 1994 Iris Kenna was killed by a cougar while she was hiking up Mount Cuyamaca. Mount Cuyamaca is the subject of my webcam and the spot where she was attacked is 3.5 miles from our house. I have to admit that in the morning when I take my 30 minute hike, that event sometimes crosses my mind.  Of course when a cougar attacks, you never see it coming.  It's not like in the movies where they pose on a rock and snarl for a few minutes while you have time to draw your gun. Anyway, cougar attacks are extremely rare so I shouldn't be concerned. For a list of Mountain Lion attacks in California since 1910 look here.

On the other hand, Becky Winn who lives just down the road sent me this photo of the cougar tracks she found at the foot of her driveway. Just something to keep in mind I guess.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

10 AM - People in our valley moved up here to get away from city life and all its noise and confusion.  Because of that, I try to be sensitive about making noise whether it be running my weed trimmer or plinking with my .22.

Give or take, there are 42 properties in Sherilton Valley but only about half of those home sites are actually inhabited. Of those 20 or so families, I have yet to meet a household that doesn't own at least one gun.  I'm not talking about a bunch of survivalists or conspiracy freaks; these are just country folks who don't think it's unusual to have a shotgun in the house.

Still, when you live in a valley and fire off a gun, the sound echoes off the valley walls and can be heard two miles away. And the sound of gunfire can be unsettling especially if you don't know the source.  One single shot fired in the dead of night is particularly disconcerting and when you hear it, you sit up in bed and start thinking.

For those reasons, I try to limit my shooting to around 30 minutes at a time and I only shoot between 11AM and 4PM. These days, most of my neighbors know that I'm into target practice and many can even identify what gun I'm shooting from the sound of the bang.

12 PM - My dog Joshua was a constant companion for 15 years and the trail I re-opened the other day on the south side of the ranch goes just under his grave.  My father-in-law used granite to manufacture surface plates and Catherine was able to salvage one and use a sandblaster to etch Josh's name on the stone.

The headstone is out of the way and not easily found so eventually it will be overgrown and lost.  If some future owner does find it, and if they ever loved a pet, I'm sure they'll understand the sentiment.

3 PM - The wind is back and the humidity down and Cath just returned from a meeting to discuss the fire danger we have in the valley.  At this point, just about everything that can be said about fire has already been said and I didn't see any need to attend.  Our valley has already lived through the worst possible outcome of a brush fire and if the residents don't have it figured out by now, they never will.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

11 AM - Yesterday I took the weed trimmer into the dealer to get suggestions on how to re-connect the spark plug wire. I was ready to buy parts or leave it with them but the lady at the counter showed me the trick.  You have to take the wire that wraps around the end of the plug and jab it through the insulation of the wire that comes from the coil.  Words can't do justice to the rinkydinkyness of this method.  In the 30 years I've been dealing with all sorts of gas powered equipment, I never would have guessed that they did it that way. Live & learn and Stihl is respected for excellent equipment so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on this.

I spent this morning with the trimmer trying to re-claim a hiking trail that hasn't been used for over a year.  A downed tree and lots of poison oak blocked the way and this project is going to take some time.  Repeated use is the best way to build a path so everyday I'll be doing a little to pound down the dirt.

This is the striped skunk came to visit the watering hole last week.