Monthly Archives: November 2017


Living room art installation?


Last summer I took out a florescent tube apparatus from the 1950’s, quite a contraption, and put in a ceiling fan. I forgot the ceiling paint then, so now it becomes a project.


Plaster and sand, this is layer 1 of 2+ of tinted Killz paint to cover the tobacco brown spot of the old fixture.


Smoothing out summer triage from a mouse nest that burst through the kitchen ceiling.


Dave also put in a new trough in the horse pasture.


E & Nora stand upon an old wall of a long forgotten building that served a long ago Gerhart.


This Spruce tree was planted by my Grandfather in the 1960’s. It got a root down to the stream in the late 1980’s and hit a growth spurt. It perfectly obscured the machine shed from the house. One million acres of Montana burned this summer; standing dead forests of beetle kill exacerbated by flash-drought conditions of Global Weirding. This one tree in the yard represents hundreds of millions of trees now gone from the biosphere, probably never to return.


Bark Beetles have infested it, so I grab an axe and 1,




3 (tree fell perfectly backwards…lets review the why/how)

When cutting down a tree I’ve learned 3 key tricks to making sure it falls where you want it to. (1) Wedge-cut to 1/3 of tree and at the correct angles to the ground (or @ 80 degree angle to 1/4 of tree is even better); (2) a sly slip-in bore-cut starting a bit higher than the wedge cut and stopping at least an inch from the clean singular line of the wedge cut and; (3) The Tag/Triggerleaving a skein of wood to the outside/back to anchor the tree (steps 1 & 2 create a tripod of sorts that keep the tree standing securely till the Tag is released, and alignments of the slip-in to the wedge-cut keeps the falling tree from kicking back, rolling, or the dreaded barberchair). Stop at each point and check yourself before going on to the next. If at the last step everything is in place, i.e. no pets (in the house is best) and no people on the fall line, pop the Tag with an axe blow or the saw. A good indicator that you have screwed up is if the tree moves mid sly slip-in back-cut and traps the chainsaw. You probably didn’t pre-check for tree lean or counterweight branches, which should always be step (0). You probably didn’t stop after the wedge cut and make sure the line met clean, or remember to start the second & inward cut from near-to-far to ensure a clean line and just came in from the face like a newbie. You probably didn’t align the bore-cut just above the wedge cut, or leave a perfect inch-thick line of uncut tree between the two cuts because you didn’t back-cut first, then move forward to establish the inch-thick line and the saw jumped too far forward. While you were at it, you likely took too much from the back of the slip-in leaving mostly bark to keep the tree in place, and you certainly didn’t use a logging wedge to assist the Tag from spin or back-pressure. You probably didn’t review your process that you keep in writing with your chainsaw gear (including unused chainsaw wedges), as you don’t fell trees much at all any more and need to keep the engineering aspects certain. Doing any 1 of the 3 correctly can make a pretty decent fell, screwing them all up (while hilarious) requires knowing where to run. The chainsaw bar is stuck fast mid tree and may be bent, the tree is nearly cut clean through (and all “caddywhompus” as my stepdad would have pointed out), with a sturdy Tag being just a bit of bark-covered wood holding it from toppling.  One way forward at this point to free the saw and topple the tree, is one clean hit to the Tag with the axe; the recommended method at this point of “caddywhompus” would be to drive in a few felling wedges first for a mitigated safeguard. We can assume no wedges were employed… and E yells “RUN”. When standing right next to a falling tree you can’t really tell where it is going, just that it is going- if your spotter yells run then something has gone wrong and you dash for safety. The part before cutting with a saw, more important than parts 1-3,  a part I’m pretty fussy about, is clearing low branches and making clear paths for escape. And having a good spotter that stands well clear and can yell RUN in a such a way that you just wind up running to safety- like stealing a base in baseball. E was in charge of RUN command without even knowing it was her job, and I got the running to base part right.


Then its just A




C (with E hauling the branches far afield)




Just a bit off the top.


The logs are moved to the ice-house.

First thing this morning, after arriving back in Utah last night, was ordering two 24 packs of Mauget Tree Injectors to treat the 3 remaining Spruce trees for bark beetle, each massive tree is 30′ and higher- each tree like a giant sequoia version of the little runt that bested me. There is one behind me here, towering over the tool shed and obscuring perspective as I am far in the foreground.


I stack them in plastic wrapping inside the ice house to contain the beetles.



Leaf blowing with help from high winds.

A usual late November storm would bring a few feet of snow and daytime high temps in the single digits with night time lows dipping toward -20 or even -40. In Thankgiving of 2005 I had to wait a few days for the county snowplow to arrive before I could head back to the Utah day-job. This year Global Weirding brings 60 degree day / 50 degree night temps (that is 80-100 degrees higher than is healthy for the forests), and 60 mph winds with 80mph gusts. It won’t matter how much snow falls if it all directly evaporates into the wind…


Nora gets a hint of what summertime is like here.


A few days ago this was snow and deer beds atop a dense layer of fallen leaves.


The stream through the yard thaws completely by nightfall.


Last summer’s tree triage is all holding true.


This little nuthatch was our exotic yard bird, acrobatically catching resurrected flies.


This spring bog had an old failed springbox; replaced this fall by our lesee.


We hope things can now dry out a bit.


The climb up the narrow valley was choked with snow over slick mud, and E turned back.


Climbing out of the valley onto the high grasslands.


The wind drives the snow up the hill, pushing the grasses over in an uphill direction. It is that windy right now, but I’m in a T-shirt.


60 degrees with 60mph wind.


This far north, this is about as high as the sun gets.


Shadows sprawl out in a perpetual Evening.


Xander dreams away the snowscape.

E & I took ourselves and the pets up to the Montana ranch for a week long Thanksgiving. When we arrived I could just open the yard gate through the snow, and put the truck in 4-wheel to back along the drive. Then record high temperatures set in day and night with howling winds and the snow evaporated away.


Representatives of our residential herd from the kitchen window.

The deer had weathered the prior snowstorm in the yard, creating around 20 circular deer beds of green lawn surrounded by snow and drifts. They returned as the snow cleared off to graze the green shoots.


Doe and fawn from the living room.


The wind removed all the snow.

Version 2

The wind shrunk E’s head- no photoshop. (vestigial head of panorama mode)


Nora assertively & vocally led us away from Rodney & George’s October elk kilz.


Cape of cow elk.


Skull and foreleg, moved about by more than just coyotes according to Nora.


Turn-of-the-Century abandoned haying rig in a high hayfield.


E’s head is back to normal, with the hay rig adrift in the field below.


Steep roll up & out of the hayfield to the top.


E pulls these from a bog and carries them back to the house as souvenirs.


The clouds are made of evaporated snow.


It has been in the 60s and sunny for a week, so I grew this Pergola with autumn magic beans.

It has been in the 60s and sunny for a week, so I grew this Pergola with autumn magic beans. I worked on this in 5 stages, each stage taking me outside for the nicest part of the afternoon (after spending the nicest part of the morning out walking Nora in the hills or to the park).

I jumped up the height of two posts from the old abandoned fence line, adding two risers of 4×4″x4′. One riser is nicely fitted by cutting matching “L”s and bolting them flush, the other riser is directly under the eve of the big green tool shed and so it is connected with an overlap to the outside to jump up higher than the roofline.

The lofted structure is mainly pressure treated wood rather than Redwood, as it will be covered with the vine soon enough. The 2×4 running boards forming the outside triangle are bolted to the risers, and jointed at their ends like a woodworking nerd would do. Also, most Redwood (and many other hardwoods) is illegally harvested from Peruvian rainforest- exposed in an investigative report last week- so I limited the Redwood to four 2x2x8 runners of the top layer. The mid layer is toed on one end with pairs of 3.5” deck screws, and pinned on the opposite end with one screw- the triangle form made for some crazy drilling angles. The top layer of narrow Redwood stabilizes the structure from warping and twisting. The project was funded as an anniversary gift from my mom last summer, knowing I would eventually come up with another build-out for the yard. Thanks Mom!


The trumpet-flower vine will cover this in a jiffy next summer.


A few winters ago the dead cherry tree that the vine ensconced collapsed in an 80mph wind storm. I propped up the vine and replaced the tree with a 12′ 4×4; 3 feet in the ground and 9 feet in the air. The vine has overgrown the new pole and I had to trim it back hard this fall.


Nora has decided that this section of the yard can now be lounged in.


This is the view while writing this post. The wisteria pergola of a few summers ago is to the left, and the new trumpet pergola is straight through the middle aside the green shed.


Weld and Chase complete.

The Ibis is now ready for the watergate. I thought I had a solution in the works with a professional watergate manufacturer wanting to make the gate aspect, but it looks like it will be up to me. That idea cost me a month waiting for a bid, but luckily this project isn’t due ’til April.


Thinking about how nice it will be to have a watergate body one day.


Legs can’t really think for themselves, or contemplate the future.


Broze Ibis & Proto-Ibis


The Watergate Scandal: A local manufacturer specializing in water gates said they loved the idea and would be able to create the watergate cheaply out of spare bits since it won’t have to hold water. They were surprised when I asked for a bid, as they just wanted to get started.  A month later their bid: $3,400 and asking for a go-ahead to get started on their 2.5 month process. Nutz. Next week begins a return to plan “A” of buying a brand name gate for $860 and adding some DangerHart mods. 


Ibis migrated to the yard for some “me time” to get himself together.

The Ibis cast clean and Nora drove down to Alpine with me to fetch all the bits from the foundry. I welded the windows in place ’til parts needed chasing prior to more welding; then I went and worked on the Mustang for the rest of the afternoon, because chasing is for the birds. The ‘ol ponycar has been getting a spa-treatment radiator flush for the past 3 days, and today was the last day of the process.  I took her to a classic car show in Liberty Park last weekend, and being around car-guys got me past my procrastination.


Windows are back in place.


Trying a new method of keeping my Tungsten clean and sharp for a tidier weld, after youtubing a few welding tips vids; always room to improve on the technical.


The weld is clean, but maybe a bit too much amperage.