Let’s review the aeromods the truck gained over the winter:

Remember this shnizzle winter project? My aero-upgrades: enclosing the wheel wells and center plate.
Adding vortex generators making entangled-air-current providing “clean air” under the truck, and filling all air gaps with black tight-cell foam held in place with rare-earth magnets.
Vortex generators to stabilize airflow at the front wheels.
Magnetic/removeable vortex generators that I created at the line of the windshield (I also placed them forward of the rear-view mirrors), and Air-Tab vortex generators along the rear line of the shell, and a stubby radio antenna.

The drive to Montana has “varying terrain and conditions”. 5 mountain passes of varying thousands of feet elevation gain and drop, portions of 80mph interstate, and 65 & 70mph blue highway. Conditions include wind/gale lasting hundreds of miles from singular or varied direction- so a tailwind has given the unmodified supercharged truck it’s maximum expected mileage of 17mpg on the 65-70mph sections, while it usually runs at around 15mpg in still air. A supercharged engine gives maximum performance at all times, running at a matching RPM to Speed; the only variance is how much gas it takes to maintain that speed. At 80mph mileage plummets; with a tailwind getting around 13mpg, and with a headwind 11 mpg. I was expecting an at-best improvement of around 5%, which is what adding a super-sloped aero-shell can do; essentially the shape of the Tesla Truck.

The best mileage by manufacturer is 17mpg, boosted to a best now of 20mpg: 17% gain. This means 1/3 less stops for gas, or down to two 15 gallon stops for a 19 gallon tank instead of 3 stops (vs an improbable best mileage two- fill-up trip with 16/18 gallon fill-ups with the fuel light on, sometimes for tooooo long). One less stop for gas shaves about 1/2 hour off the trip, our best time ever in the past for this route was 9 hours. This past trip, with a bit of holiday weekend traffic 100 miles in and out of Yellowstone’s west gate, was 9.5 hours, and would have been 10 hours. Along with shorter time and less fuel, is the amazing stability at speed. There is no sense of sidewind/headwind push, no semi-trailer blow-by, with exceptional in-line tracking and much lower cab noise. This is due in part to stabilizing the nose of the truck by reducing lift from the high/open Shrockworks bumber, but also due to Fluid Entrainment provided by the vortex generator AirTabs along the rear line of the shell. The amount of horsepower available is greatly increased: sailing easily over all the mountain passes, and the ability to jump to passing speed is a bit giddying. A big debate is out there on supercharged engines vs turbocharged engines, and I now I know the advantage of no turbo-lag when punching it at speed: which is also a safety issue, just at the higher end of performance. (special thanks to Julian Edgar for aerodynamic modification discussions on you-tube)

Salt Lake City to Idaho Falls with 20mph+ headwind: 210 miles at 80 mph / 15 gallons : 14mpg. Old/11 to now/14 = 27% improvement. . 400# load in bed, plus two adults, one dog, three cats. (capacity is 900#)

Idaho Falls to White Sulphur Springs: 278 miles at 65-70mph / 15.3 gallons : 18mpg. Usual Old/15 to now/18 = 20% Lighter headwind and 400# load

Return trip with 250# load, same passengers, and still air through the first half of trip, with tailwind later. Lets see: Monarch to Bozeman: 140 miles at 65-70mph / can’t give straight number as filled up in Great Falls and drove around the ranch, but it looked like 20 mpg?. nutz. can’t be right.

Bozeman, MT to McCammon, ID: 270 miles / 15gal = 18mpg. (65mph/144miles, 70mph/53miles, 80mph/74miles). Usual Old/ 15mpg to Now/18mpg = 20%. Best Old/17 to Now/18 = 5% At the end of the 65mph zone we guestimated 20mpg, and best to best mileage of 17 v 20 is 17% gain, normal to now is 15 v 20 @ 33% gain. McCammon is the farthest ever travelled on a tank of gas from Bozeman. Usually we stop in Idaho Falls <74 miles prior>, and ONCE with a strong tailwind the entire way we made it to Pocatello <51 miles past ID Falls>.

McCammon, ID to SLC, UT: 140 miles @ 80mph (mostly)/ 9 gallons : 15.5mpg with tailwind. Best Old/13mpg to Now/15.5mpg = 19% (half tank remaining, we usually get home with the fuel light just coming on, a 1/4 tank at best, or having had to fill up outside Ogden).

How does all this mpg play out at Blue Highway speeds? Best Old (17) to Avg Now (18) @ 5%. Avg Old (15) to Avg Now (18) @ 20%. Avg. Old (15) to Best Now (20) @ 33%

How does all this mpg play out on 80mph Interstate? Headwind Old (11) to Headwind Now (14.5) @ 31%. Tailwind Old (13) to Tailwind Now (15.5) @ 19%.

The secret sitting space.
Garden path.
Panther in the Iris jungle.
3 dozen floating water hyacinths introduced to clean the water, among the yellow pond-iris.
Lucky’s stable is a Hummingbird haven with Coral Bells and a feeder under the eve at top R.
Same bunch-grass divots as in MT, same girl lounging between them.
So much more brushing in her future…lots of ranch burrs came out yesterday.
The yarding ladies like to check in with each other.
This rose spills over the fence from the front yard.
The view we give the neighbors. They do not return the favor.
The roses from the front yard.
Xeriscape mini-garden continues the front lawn footprint reduction.
The Queen of Hearts white roses.
The front bed of Ohio Black Iris, same variety as in the first few images, but backlit for nutzo-level irradiance.
Bubblicious Black Grape is their bubblegum flavor note; it permeates the front and back yard. Delicious.

Breezy with chilly sunlight, Nora is in her element.
Time for the big charismatic pines to take their meds against pine beetles and disease.
3/8 to 1/2 inch deep holes every 6 inches or so, then tap in the tube, then snap on the med kits and pump them. The meds are taken up by the tree over the course of a few hours.
5 left over treatments for the leafy yard tree. The vaccine works across species.
Cows are scheduled to arrive tomorrow, but we’ll see. Time to secure the barb wire fence around the house (the only fence work done on the entire property so far this year…). I drove in two new posts here, and another around the L side along the creek. Then I split some 140 year old cedar posts, retired from their fence line duty long ago- and kept for this new application as “stays” between the driven posts.
The cedar alternate between the driven posts. They are light and strong, maintaining tension on the wire.
New Stays all the way up to the corner. I also headed up the road to fix a barbwire gate that was Dave-Fixed last fall; the lead post and a mid post had snapped in two (driven over when left on the ground most likely), with a “fix” of webbing pulling each section of broken lead post to the anchor post. This negates the gate’s function, but does stand it back up again, mostly. No picts of all that.
While at it, I braced the corner with a stout and long old run of cedar. I dug a footing for the end in the ground, cut a notch in the portion against the corner post so it seats nicely, pounded it down putting tension on the corner, and anchored it with two big timber screws.
We headed over the hill for a quick Bluebird house installation, and deer, deer, deer- Antelope!
Zoomed in from the last image.
I found this little soldier off its post and on the other side of the road up against the barb wire fence. It needed fixes from some rough treatment, but can redeploy. The new bird house we brought up replaced a haggard old soldier made of delaminating plywood- my field triages had held it together for 10 years, but it had finally succumbed to the elements.
The old aluminum extension ladder we brought up from SLC years ago was outrigged with a big stabilizing brace, and now it is no problem to get up to the high spots. That vent up top needed caulking around the edges to seal out wasps and flies.
This much higher vent needed the same. I turned off the electricity to the house before heading up.
E has been plugging away at aerating the front patch of yard.
A very slow and stuttered stroll around this piece of yard. Better than looking at a computer screen.
The holes are from digging up all the bunch grass (the yard looks like an angry golfer smashed out divots everywhere), seeded by invading cows over the course of decades. Nora did not partake in any of the digging. She probably would dig a hole to express herself, but has never needed to articulate anything of that nature.
Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology.
We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.
The handrail is set, it took 20 pilot holes to find two studs- the wall needs replacing anyway as it is under the leaky spot from last post.
This spot, in case you forgot seeing this mess.
It is mitigated; drywall over the blow-in section to L, and the adjacent gable roof with new drywall panel. The water catchment saw a few more drips as things dried out, but we have had days and days of rain and it has remained dry. Still drying out.
This area had damage from a leak starting at the chimney, coupled with two planes of roof meeting and ice dams forcing down through the joint and bursting out under the soffit- all prior to the metal roof. I fixed the collapsed soffit a few summers ago, but in removing this damaged bit inside I could see a gap in my fix out there- about a thumb’s worth of hole, and behind the panel were massive paper-wasp nests from prior seasons. So I foamed the hole closed from the inside and set the new drywall panel.
The wind is gusting at 50mph, and the old pink bedroom breathes heavily as those gapped planks are the skin of the house, covered outside by clapboard and the roof. Enormous wasps walk in and out of the gaps with the wind. Sprayfoam. I’ll tidy it up at some point.
The pink board is a manufactured plaster/lathe board, quite a few generations from drywall. The white paint may be “fixes” from holes in the board (water damage) when the room was still occupied. Just going for envelope right now.
In the big upstairs bedroom above the cold parlor / guest bedroom. Long standing water damage to the plaster and lathe, with areas of bare lathe board and loose plaster. On the ladder is my oscillating tool with a cutting diamond horseshoe fitting. It cuts through the aggregate plaster endlessly. I cut away the bad sections to fit drywall.
Peeling off the dead plaster and chucking it in a steel bucket, but mostly it crashes to the floor (onto a thin padded sheet).
One big hole filled with drywall, and little holes to the L and center still needing fill.
This keystone section above the door has five planes. It had been a disaster.
Disaster training.
Already so much better.
Next I ground down to the plaster along all the cracks in the wall, then cleaned the crack itself by grinding along it with the wafer edge of the diamond tool. Next I wiped it clear with a big sponge and discovered that these rooms aren’t painted, they are colored with a tinted plaster/lime topcoat. It dissolves when wet. This also means that if I ever want to paint these rooms, I’ll need to find a plaster/lime solution. Or make one.
Prepped and ready for plaster.
First coat of plaster. Everything is sealed up tight and secure. Uneven and wonky, but no gaps = no bugs and less upstairs funk.
I left this picture from the tear-down, cut-away, and drywall step to show the ceiling lathe board section.
Here is the ceiling and wall with drywall and ready for plaster. The “pie pan” on the wall is a special fitted cover to the old chimney shunt, as this room had a stove at one time. I took a look inside the chimney, and it is full of old honey bee honeycomb (empty of honey). The chimney was unused since at least the 50’s, is enclosed at the ceiling down below, and capped at the roof when the metal roof was installed decades ago.
Mid afternoon rainy darkness, chilly up here, but done. For now.
The other side of the room with all the cracks prepped; and last summers refurbished window.
Cracks plastered. Still the worst bedroom of plaster/lathe trouble- the one with the access panel shown a few days back. I’m low on plaster board screws, as I tightened up the lathe panel boards in the large bedroom with the fixed/drying leak, and that ate quite a few. I’ll clean up in here, bring up the rest of the drywall, and have it ready for next time. There’s always other projects…

Quiddler Poem Generator: Bean Hoax

The FAX default was Aqua / A Meer step from Rain, We Ran / Closer than a Rat scrambling to Get / the COVID Puke Jab / we would Taxi around the Shoddy square / we would Cling like Tiny Bees / Ooh! Dueling / We fell for every Bean Hoax / every Junker Alien craft.

18 degrees this morning, but that should be it for the snowy cold. The day will warm up to 40. We headed to town yesterday, as the snowy dirt road is much better than the muddy dirt road. I picked up some drywall and plaster to see what can be done about the upstairs…
First up, with the wasps up in the attic slowed down by the cold I headed up through a bare access hole (that I had stapled plastic over years ago), to fix the peak vents and knock down the wasp nests. I’d thought I would need to screen-wire the vents after watching from outside last fall as flies swarmed at them, but the vents were put in with their own wire fittings back in the day. The hole cut through the wall for them was irregular with big gaps, which illustrates what I’m always up against. No access for flies now because- sprayfoam. This area only gave me access to the North addition to the house, and there is no access to the other portions: that means ladders, yarg. Next was making a panel for the access hole.
The access panel is insulation board sandwiched between wood panel, suspended from the 2×4 ceiling joists. Roll-out fiberglass insulation with paper backing facing down against the lathe board is still mostly intact up there. It may look a mess, but that is what I picked up the plaster board for (not nearly enough though). The panel can be fit with plaster board to match the ceiling- when I get around to all that. Then I put in a handrail up the steep steps to the upstairs, because safety comes eventually. I’ll put a pic in of that later.
Before any other jobs get started, I need to take care of an ancient leak in the roof that runs down the inside of the wall from the upstairs all the way down to the laundry room. This exposed area was covered by the one of two drywall panels in the house. The drywall was mostly ruined by water, and I’m guessing had been put in place after “fixing” the leak, prior to cutting the holes (filled with sprayfoam just above the floor) for blow-in insulation: that would be in the 1960’s when my uncle was upgrading the old place. A dry bay of insulation is on the left, with the classic 3/4 fill. Other than never entirely filling the bays, blow-in also traps any moisture that might invade the envelope of the house leading to rot. In this case the insulation was a mix of wet and frozen in the center bay, that I removed. To the right is lathe board faced on the other side with the only other drywall panel in the house, in the bedroom I’d just fitted the access panel closure. This is also a joint of two outside walls meeting- where I could see daylight, so more sprayfoam. But none of this is the problem. This is just a mess caused by the problem above…
I cut away a portion of the gable ceiling. The right side is where I’d laid in some rockwool last summer in a dry joist-bay, which is still dry. The left side was rotted out and dripping down into a plastic container I’d put on the floor, and was nearly overspilling. I cut out all the rotten wood, the old cedar shingles, and the tar/sand shingles, and arrived at the new steel roof. This is a section where two pitches of roof converge, on the N side of the house. An ice dam holds back a whole mess of snow and melt and ice. I’ve been up there a few times in summer to tar the surface gaps; oh well.
I scrounged around and found my old painting pallet from 1998, it is clear acrylic sheeting, and cut it to overfit the hole. I slid it up under the tar/sand shingles, and over the top of the old roofing at the bottom. I went to squeeze some caulk along the edges, and the tube exploded out the back end, so I troweled it into place then sprayfoamed the gap at R between the 2×4 trestle and the acrylic. The water is running over the acrylic panel nicely, but I still don’t know where the leak is, this is just where it breaks through. Fixing a leaking roof from inside the house isn’t really a thing anyway.
Our 6 inches of snow is nearly melted away, and a big rainstorm is forecast for tomorrow- so we’ll see whether my roof fix continues to hold up so things can dry out.
6 am and things are blue.
6:10 a.m. and the blue is toning out.
6:30 and we are on to white. The fire is started and the cats are fed, and the back porch is shoveled. A quick tour of the yard while the coffee brews.

For some evening fun, E and I have modified the card game Quiddler into a poem generator, as follows:

Ten Inner keggles / An hour Put The / Lean on the backside of her Glute / Her Divine Toy / could Quack, press Oat milk, with Club-Core gusto / Her Lady-Gear Aped / a hard Box to the Jaws / Paid Zero Wages / offered No Mix of blind Scent / and gave men the Doey-Vue of a Cow.

Megadrought West. SLC in May has a new normal (30yr avg) of one 90 degree day: May 1st was 91 degrees.
Springtime at Coatsville already saw the window shades go up for summer, the day before we headed out to MT.
A week ago it had been driving snow, we arrive to 70 degrees that ramps up to the mid 80’s (July temperatures). The little creek that runs through the yard is dry, but there is still snow up on the mountains and through the forests, so maybe it will still come on. The grass is just greening up, the Willows are budding out and full of bumble bees (I’ve never seen/heard so many bumble bees), and Lilacs are just greening up.
The yard is thick with fallen branches, sticks, and twigs. E helps with the big branches, then I rake up the rest.
A close mow-down is an illusion of a nice lawn. Now I rake it again to get the hidden sticks out.
Just this back bit of yard turns out this mass of mess. I toss it over the slat fence into the corral for the cattle to crush to bits- the cattle are still a week out from their drive to our summer pasture.
With all the big detritus removed, it is time to thatch-mow. My old mower is fitted with a thatcher, which is a flat bar holding twin rake tine / springs. The rake tines will eventually break away, and I have two full sets and one remaining on the bar from a thatching years ago- so five tines altogether, and I’ll go through them all.
A mower blade creates lift and blows grass into the bagger, a thatching bar creates no lift and all the mulched dusty obliteration of leaves and dead grass makes a heavy mat. It is too heavy for the mower to lift and bag, so I rake it all, then drop the mower to its bottom pins and “vaccum” up another big lift of mulch.
Finally we arrive at a starting place.
Each section of yard gets its own dumping site; to keep the levels manageable, as well as keeping me from lugging time eating wagon loads all about.
Now water, air, and sunlight can reach the soil. I wanted to rent a plug aerator, but it is too big to fit in the truck without removing the shell, and also too heavy for me to get it out/back in.
The front yard is clear of sticks, and sun hammered- so just three mower steps of 1: short mow, 2: thatch mow, 3: vacuum mow with no raking before and between each mow. The green sward is the roll-off from the driveway, I left that alone on both sides of the drive to conserve my thatching tines.
The big south yard with a full buzz-cut, and a stripe of the “driveway”.
The prep work is now finished. Prep for what? Micro clover. I’m overseeding the front and south yard with a special white clover, bred for tiny leaves and short growth. Under the willows and on part of the north yard I spread a different (exponentially cheaper big-box store) white clover, the regular large form for filling in bare ground and blocking out weeds. A grass/clover mix withstands drought better than grass alone, and the clover traps nitrogen into the soil feeding the grass- while the grass gives the clover cover. I’m hoping this helps the yard survive the onslaught of giant thistles overwhelming the landscape, and the merciless new levels of heat and megadrought and spikes of flash drought. Before the days of sprinkler systems, grass/clover mix was common in yards. One of the older houses in our SLC sugarhood has an ancient mix still providing green all summer long- I overseeded my SLC yard with micro-clover this spring as well, though using a thatch rake instead of a mower.
Overburden of the front and south yard buries the wild carrot crop and stinging nettle along the dry creek and under a willow. The entire thatching project was a two-day push, with another half-day to string-trim and lay in the clover seed. Snow is coming.
Three tines down. Soon will be down to one.
The last tine gives out. Knowing it was about to fail, I only raked a path for two passes. I made it half way.
Just to show the big pile of detritus from back in the day when my dad had me put all the cleanup in one spot; it is in the center and nearly 10 feet tall. He planned to remove it with the tractor, but the creek stayed flowing for years and the little marsh opposite the pile would have sunk the tractor. It gets crushed down by the elements every year, and every year it gets more big branches: some British gardeners consider a big brush pile essential to a heathy wild yard, and ours houses wild rabbits.
This is the West section looking across the cleared out creek bed on the R, and showing another area for detritus spreading to the L made of sectioned logs of willow helping berm the creek at center, then mulched grass, sticks, and big branches.
I’ve been building this mulching area for a few years, and it serves double duty in choking down the wild carrot and other huge charismatic weeds that had laid in when the creek had split around the willows.
The creek was choked with leaves and branches, perfect time to clear it all out.
Cleared through the little cascades, with a shoreline of old roofing to block out the overburden of stinging nettle and bramble-rose.
Elizabeth recognizes the song of the Oriel. He is way up in the willows…we both found old Oriel nests while clearing the grounds- partly made with blue bailing twine from the days of my father’s herd.
The rain started after dark, and at 8am the snow began.
I hope this bit of weather is just perfect to set the overseeding. On to the inside projects…
Xander dreams of Goldfinches; none have visited the feeder since last fall.
The yellow Iris at the studio’s south facing wall have bloomed, the rest of the yard are budding in.
Sunrise on Iris.
Yellow on Yellow.
Out in the yard we have one bloom, and more on the way.
The tree is wrapped in heavy aluminum foil to foil WeeOne’s scratching-post behavior. So far it has worked for the Service Berry tree.
So what is going on here with the group of Miss Kim lilacs?
WeeOne just got p-od by the aluminum foil, and nearly girdled the tree just above the foil, the foil ended just below the foliage/braches, which is just where I can’t see without standing on my head, so I hadn’t noticed till the tree was nearly destroyed. The trunk was shredded down to the hardwood and on up to the branches, she put most of her fury to the front of the trunk. Hopefully the tree can survive with the little bit of connective tissue wrapping around the back side. I treated all the Miss Kim’s with our protective tree solution to keep bugs from infesting the wounds. With a “this is why we can’t have nice things” I went about finding a solution for the little Bitchington’s tree murdering. I rounded up all the bits of pvc pipe from other projects, cut them in half lengthwise, and made hard shields around the trees. This one also was given a wire mesh of protection for the branches.
I offered up this Bitchington Scratching Post as a compromise. I had just rewound all the scratching posts in the house the day before, as they were all torn to bits.
Miss Kim #2 is shielded, and wasn’t nearly as damaged as the first.
This Miss Kim has struggled to leaf out, and WeeOne hadn’t laid a claw on it. No fun in killing the weak.
We planted this tree in the fall of 2013- we had been looking for this variety all summer when a spindly little one appeared to E in a late season sale at Home Depot. We weren’t home to see it flower last spring, and it really put on a show for us this year.
The central branch is about the size of the entire tree when we brought it home back in the day.
The blooms don’t have a scent, but they still seem tasty.
Kitty station is a flower-power seat. Not one goldfinch at the feeder yet this season. They are usually around through the winter, but have been scarce since the starvation mass-die-off during their migration last summer.
The lilacs hit a growth spurt a few years back, and have kept coming back strong. The whole back yard is perfumed.
The crabapple tree is blooming as well.
Crabapple blooms. They don’t last long!
Nora takes the shady spot on the trail.
These were the last tulips up, emerging after nearly all the others were gone. A 91 degree May Day burned them off.
Nora and WeeOne are beasty-besties.