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Monthly Archives: September 2015

These two small figures have been coming to life at a snail’s pace. Work small and fast, I thought. Use images from a long ago trip to the Rodin gardens in Paris, I thought. Try a new molding technique, I thought. I am now ready to mix up the silicon and pour the figures, after which I will cut the molds mostly apart. Then at some point I will pick up some plastic resin casting media, and see how that works. It everything mostly works out, then these may act as foundational figures for a mashup of forms I’ve been thinkin’ on- using the new-to-me media of casting resin. Ongoing to all that, I will continue creating new figures at this small scale.

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seated female figure with marble.

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This shows the sinuous rhythms I was going for.

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10″ tall figure, when standing, around 6″ sitting- including the base.

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Trying a new mold technique, we’ll see if it works. If not, the figures are lost…

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Our highest field has a spring that rises directly into the trough- no muddy mess to spoil the view.

E and I took a tour around the ranch driving and hiking, checking 7 of 11 spring fed troughs and ponds.

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This spring feeds into a little clear pond, with cattle trails etched into the hillsides.

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The truck sits on the edge of the aquifer that feeds the pond below.

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On our last day up in July cattle were sorted in the corral, and they quickly drained the water trough and it didn’t refill. I knew I’d find something like this mess up at the headwater on the hillside far above the corral.

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Lucky there isn’t a calf or a cow half-submerged and long dead in there-  the surrounding corral is flattened and the springbox has seen some limited swimming.

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Cows wresting over a drink dented the wall of the trough.

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I tell Dave about the spring box and he comes up the next day with some solutions.

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E takes in the view while we look at the problems at the spring box.

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You can see the barn from here…

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Hauling this gooseneck to the high fields resulted in a scalped boulder.

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Under the wreckage, everything is chugging along.

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The duct tape & tube attempt at irrigation drainage. Greasy the dog knows this won’t work.

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Three runs of tubing from down in the garage fair better, but even better is Dave heading down to blast compressed air into the line at the corral- he gets a deluge of sludgey water down on his end and the springbox up on the hill empties out.

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Duane uses his atv to pull out the cow dent.

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We pile stones around the outlet tube at the bottom of the springbox to keep debris from plugging it (and I’ve piled stones bottom of image to keep the cows from pressing on the fence). Spring water runs from deep in the hillside through the black tube to feed the spring box and in turn the corral, as well as the trough we pulled the dent from.

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Panel gate is set over the spring box, then covered with steel roofing panel.

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Next we pile on heavy old boards. The little corral is fortified with 16′ stock panels and stones.

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My rosebush cutters and I ready to depart.

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Safe for cows again.

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My dad and I last refit this in 2000.

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The water from this spring feeds all the way down to the yard spigot (needs replacing, so no water for the yard), runs through the basement of the house, and ends out in a trough for the corral- the trees just block the view of the trough in the corral.

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Here is the trough in the corral, now running nicely.

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The willows are pushing into the power line, so I cut the power to the house at the relay from the power pole.

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The power is off, and with a ladder and an extendible pruning saw I can juuuuust reach the problem branches.

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The line is clear.

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While E mowed the lawn I trimmed the hedge till a paper wasp nest the size of a soccer ball stopped my progress, then I trimmed the sprawling lilacs around the house til a ground-nest of hornets erupted from within a lilac; that left me with only one other jerb.

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The Jerb: dreadnaught leaner-willow.

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A yard too small for chainsaws is not a yard at all.

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I start with the under cut, coming up about 1/3 of the way.

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The top cut sits just behind the under cut, toward the root.

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The tree begins to relax. It has lots of branches on the far end reaching in crazy directions that will tempt it to roll. The under / over cut stabilizes this tendency.

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The big monster comes down square.

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The ripped line shows a clean bottom cut, with the upper cut lining up just behind with a level snap-line to stabilize the descent. Safety at scale becomes a science.

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De-Limbing the big rollers, then sectioning it up. I use poly-wedges to assist, cutting in the top first and driving in a wedge- then cutting up from the bottom and the crushing force of the log against the wedge lifts the log. Physics are keen.

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Cleaning up.

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Dave arrives with the rest of the day’s projects, and buddies for Stanley.

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This log is from yet another branch, laid down years ago across the stream that needed the poly wedge to remove safely.

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Dave and Duane set a new gate to the horse pasture.

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It will get a new support pole next spring when the corral gets some new posts and rails, but this will definitely hold it meanwhile.

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Stanley and I look at the berm log stacks and are glad that chore is done.

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The two monsters partly in the creek will have to dry out through to next summer before I can move them any further- and they aren’t worth dulling my saw with more cuts…

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The logs to the L form a berm where the creek has cut a flood channel in the past, and the rest are just too damn big to move so I used a pry-bar to leverage them onto the tree island.

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The back yard mowed, with the willows tamed back.

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The new studio?

E and I jumped up to Montana for Labor Day, driving up on Thurs and returning on Tues. We were pushed up with a strong tail wind that blew out all the forest fire smoke of the summer, and brought in rainy fall temps in the 30’s at night and the 50’s in the day. On Friday we walked up the road and cleaned out a blue bird box already packed full of seed with a mouse nest on top. We ramped up to real work by dinking around with the contents of the built in bookshelves, and moving everything out of the parlour. The blustery day led to a late afternoon coffee break, as our big job of the trip needed starting: refinishing the Parlour floor. It is the last room needing the floor refinished, and it is the roughest of them all. With proper caffeination we stripped half of the parlour floor in a team effort with E laying on denatured alcohol with steel wool to loosen the 100 year old varnish, while I came next with a flooring blade and peeled up a layer of goo/wood that would immediately turn to black tar if not constantly wiped away. We finished the rest of the room Saturday morning, and I began pressing twine into the large and small gaps between the boards. We had to make a run to Great Falls for more twine as each gap needled multiple layers. There was also the side project of finishing out the area of the living room floor covered by the couch. These projects lasted a bit longer than the wet and wind- plus the power went out Saturday evening all over the county from the storm. The cats made their first mouse kill that night, and another the next night.

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Friendly cattle.

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Bumping along the ranch and hiking in to check the many springs, tanks, and ponds.

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The ranch in shadow.

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The big hay field, baled.

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Walking off the 10 hour drive brings the welcoming committee.

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Tiger Salamander- yet another critter living on the ranch.

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A blustery trip. Here a storm front moves over in a matter of minutes.

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The front boils over the western hills and the day darkens.

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One minute things are getting grey.

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The next minute the day goes dark and the wind arrives like a train- autumn begins.

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A few days of this means a fire in the stove all day long, and indoor chores…

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Voices enjoys sleeping with himself.

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Xandar is catching up on his reading.

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When the day goes dark, the stove lights make the kitchen cosy.

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E and I spent Friday and Saturday stripping the floor with denatured alcohol, steel wool, and a big draw-blade. Next it is time for ship-wight skills of pressing twine between the floor board gaps.

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I burn through my underestimation of twine, and we make a run to Belt but no luck, so it is on to Great Falls.

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Lay in, then use the roller to press it into the seam- layer after layer.

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The gaps are sticky with a tar of old varnish and denatured alcohol.

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Twine filled gap after sanding.

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When we finished the living room a year ago, we had to leave the section the couch covered. We strip the remaining varnish with denatured alcohol, steel wool, and the blade. Next I lay in wood fill where the floor sander (2yrs ago) ripped wood fiber.

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Next I have to sand it back- which for such a small area, makes a huge mess of dust right before bedtime. E wants my head on a pike.

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Head still in place, the next morning I stain the wood fill.

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In the parlour I painted urethane finish along all the string seaming, so I could sand the string flush with floor and use the sander to cut stray strands of fiber. I also puttied the center seam in the parlour=  palm sander for the entire floor.

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Sanded back and ready to stain the center seam, then the shop-vac.

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I set a heater in the room for a few hours, then lay on the urethane with a wool applicator.

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The parlour was the last floor in the house, and in the roughest shape- but our learning curve finally caught up to our restoration issues and it is pretty tight in there.